7.4 A small match
It has not been easy for human civilization to reach its present state.
Three billion years ago, the first organic molecules that could replicate themselves appeared in the primordial ocean.
300 million years ago, animals landed from the ocean.
Three million years ago, ancient apes clumsily stepped out of the trees and hobbled forward on their legs.
30,000 years ago, primitive humans began trying to sow seeds in an attempt to anchor the sun.
Three hundred years ago, when Newton first systematically described science, Watt was ready to improve the steam engine.
Earth’s civilization passed through layer after layer of sieves.
In 1969, amidst the roar of the Saturn V rocket, mankind thought that the stars were so close and that mankind was a race of heavenly dependents.
But mankind may now be in real trouble.
Looking back at the history of mankind, it is a history of chasing negative entropy flows. In the early stage, if we overpopulated a certain area and ate all the output on the ground, we migrated to the place where there was food. Slowly, humans moved out of the African savannah. Migration was the most common means by which human civilization solved the pressure of survival. Eventually, mankind spread all over the world.
But right now, humans are under pressure again.
Maintaining the present industrial civilization requires a massive amount of negative entropy. Humanity’s annual energy needs are so great that the fossil fuels created over hundreds of millions of years would be exhausted in a matter of centuries. Nuclear fission, however, is a finite resource that now accounts for only a small percentage of human primary energy consumption, and if we rely entirely on nuclear fission, even if there are breeder reactors, they can only last a limited amount of time. Even if humans can break through the earth’s crust to obtain deep resources, we are lighting a fire in a closed chamber, and the accumulation of toxic gases in the atmosphere will kill the future of humans.
Not to mention the difficulty of providing the power needed for high-speed spaceflight from conventional energy sources (some users have calculated that it would be difficult for a chemical rocket to reach Kepler 452b if it burned all the material of one planet).
Sometimes I wonder what the future of other civilizations would be if they had just a little bit less oil and coal on their planets before they could fire their reactors, before they could fire their gas pedals, before they knew much about nuclear energy.
According to mankind’s current level of technology, new energy sources are far from being an adequate substitute for fossil energy, let alone on a level higher than traditional fossil energy. Perhaps mankind will never have the chance to talk about “the others”. It is highly unlikely that we will ever have time to ignite a fusion reactor.
Mankind has been working on controlled fusion for nearly 60 years, with virtually no substantial progress. No other technology in the history of human science has taken so long, and seems to be within reach, but a breakthrough has yet to be found.
Earth’s civilization has reached a critical point. Some have called it a tipping point for civilization!
In the darkness of the cosmic forest, the fossil energy source on the planet is a small match. If one can light the wood provided by the universe, then one will gain the whole forest, or rather, break through the Earth’s egg and hatch successfully, gaining a vast new space in the universe; if not, then one will be trapped on Earth, like the silent planets, relying on solar energy and geothermal heat to sustain a low-level civilization.
From the point of view of the great silence of the universe, the possibility of a successful human breakthrough is extremely slim.
The sieve in front of us may be the ultimate destiny of mankind.
The endless starry sky is the driving force behind mankind’s progress, but it may also be the goal that mankind will never reach.
1 Civilization and technology
1.1 Rough talk about paradigm
1.2 The paradigm shift experienced by human civilization
1.3 Science Theory stagnation
1.4 The gap between science and technology
2 The paradigm spring dream advocated by scientific and technological interest groups: the so-called technological explosion
2.1 Rendering and brainwashing
2.2 Papers and patents: the absurdity behind astronomical numbers
2.3-2.4 The bit world and the real world / Part and whole
3 The shadow outside the paradigm spring dream
3.1 The technological dilemma faced by humans
3.2 Numerous technical gimmicks
3.2.5 New gimmicks in recent years
3.3 Frustration of PhD laborers and biotechnology
4 The dilemma of low-entropy body and the technical steps faced
4.1 From the second law of thermodynamics
4.2 The backbone and forks of the technology tree
4.3 Forever 50 years and controlled nuclear fusion
4.4 The future is not always better
5 The Pit Before 5 Steps: The Fate of Human Society
5.1 The Sociological Significance of Dissipative Structure Theory
5.2 The disappearance of the big competitive environment
5.3 Differences erased by globalization and the thermodynamic balance of human society
5.4 Aging self-locking
5.5 How to fill the hole?
6 The essence of 6 steps: complexity devil
6.1 What is complexity
6.2 Two rules behind the complicated world: survival of the fittest and expectation of return on capital
6.3 Technological progress and technological revolution: changes in complexity
6.3.1 Evolution example of transportation / power system
6.3.2 The characteristics and complexity of the technological revolution
6.3.3 The high-complexity science devil facing
6.3.4 Dilemma originating from technical foundation
6.4 Many evil consequences brought by high complexity ( more is different)
7 Silent Star implied by the prospect of terror
7.1 The Great Silence and Fermi Paradox
7.2 Three scenarios for contemplating extreme fear
7.3 The Great Sieve of the Universe
7.4 A small match
8 reflection and summary
8.1 The tragedy of Easter Island
8.2 Calmness does not mean pessimism
8.3 R&D requires a paradigm revolution