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In science news which has blown our tiny little minds, researchers have suggested that the Earth might be an intelligent being.
The International Journal of Astrobiology has published a new paper written by Adam Frank, which explores the concept of “planetary intelligence”.
Frank, who is professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, teamed up with colleagues David Grinspoon at the Planetary Science Institute and Sara Walker at Arizona State University to conduct the study.
At its heart, the paper ‘broadens the idea of intelligence as a collective property at a planetary scale’, exploring how the Earth's relationship with the biosphere has evolved over time.
The abstract reads: “Conventionally, intelligence is seen as a property of individuals. However, it is also known to be a property of collectives. Here, we broaden the idea of intelligence as a collective property and extend it to the planetary scale.”
It continues: “We consider the ways in which the appearance of technological intelligence may represent a kind of planetary scale transition, and thus might be seen not as something which happens on a planet but to a planet, much as some models propose the origin of life itself was a planetary phenomenon.”
Could the earth be an intelligent being?Pixabay
According to the new research, the planet could share processes which living beings have.
The paper also cites the Gaia hypothesis, which posits that the Earth has learned to maintain itself through the relationship between the biosphere non-living systems of air, water and land.
“Right now, our civilisation is what the researchers call an 'immature technosphere', a conglomeration of human-generated systems and technology that directly affects the planet but is not self-maintaining,” a press release for the study reads.
“For instance, the majority of our energy usage involves consuming fossil fuels that degrade Earth's oceans and atmosphere. The technology and energy we consume to survive are destroying our home planet, which will, in turn, destroy our species.
“The biosphere figured out how to host life by itself billions of years ago by creating systems for moving around nitrogen and transporting carbon. Now we have to figure out how to have the same kind of self-maintaining characteristics with the technosphere,” Frank added.
There's still much to learn, but if the theory of planetary intelligence is indeed true, it could prove hugely significant as the Earth moves into its next stage.
“Planets evolve through immature and mature stages, and planetary intelligence is indicative of when you get to a mature planet. The million-dollar question is figuring out what planetary intelligence looks like and means for us in practice because we don't know how to move to a mature technosphere yet.”