Kardashev scale

Kardashev scale

The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement. It was first proposed in 1964 by the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev. The scale has three designated categories called "Type I", "II", and "III". These are based on the amount of usable energy a civilization has at its disposal, and the degree of space colonization. In general terms, a Type I civilization has achieved mastery of the resources of its home planet, Type II of its solar system, and Type III of its galaxy. [Zubrin, Robert, 1999, "Entering Space — Creating a Spacefaring Civilization"]

Energy Use

Energy is a static quantity and is denoted in joules. Power is a measure of energy over time, and is denoted in watts (joules per second). The three levels of the Kardashev Scale can be quantified in units of power (watts) and plotted on an increasing logarithmic scale.

* Type I — a civilization that is able to harness all of the power available on a single planet — has approximately 1016 or 1017 W available. [http://www.coseti.org/lemarch1.htm "Detectability of Extraterrestrial Technological Activities" by Guillermo A. Lemarchand] ] Earth specifically has an available power of 1.74 ] but any civilization with the technological ability to produce or collect anti-matter [cite web
last = Weidenspointner
first = Georg
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = An asymmetric distribution of positrons in the Galactic disk revealed by big gamma-rays
work =
publisher = Nature
date = 2008-01-08
url = http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7175/abs/nature06490.html
format = Journal
doi = 10.1038/nature06490
accessdate = 2008-02-19
] in large quantities cheaply, would have a mechanism to produce power on a scale several factors above our current level of technology. In antimatter-matter collisions, the entire rest mass of the particles is converted to kinetic energy. The energy per unit mass is about 10 orders of magnitude greater than chemical energy (compared to TNT), about 4 orders of magnitude greater than the energy that humans liberated today using nuclear fission, and about 2 orders of magnitude greater than the best possible from fusion. [cite conference | first = Steve K. | last = Borowski| authorlink = Lewis Research Center| coauthors = | title = Comparison of Fusion/Anti-matter Propulsion Systems for Interplanetary Travel| booktitle = Technical Memorandum 107030| pages = p. 1–3| publisher = National Aeronautics and Space Administration | date = 1987-07-29| location = San Diego, California, USA| url = http://gltrs.grc.nasa.gov/reports/1996/TM-107030.pdf | accessdate = 2008-01-28|format=PDF] The reaction of 1 kg of anti-matter with 1 kg of matter would produce 1.8 × 1017 J (180 petajoules) of energy (by the mass-energy equivalence formula "E" = "mc"²), or roughly the equivalent of 47 megatons of TNT. For energy comparisons see anti-matter as a fuel source
*Solar energy — converting sunlight into electricity by either solar cells or indirectly through wind and hydroelectric power. Currently, there is no known way for human civilization to successfully utilize the equivalent of the Earth's total absorbed solar energy without completely coating the surface with man-made structures, which is presently not feasible. However, if a civilization constructed very large space-based power satellites, Type I power levels might be achievable.

Type II civilizations might employ:

*A Dyson sphere or Dyson swarm and similar constructs are hypothetical megastructures originally described by Freeman Dyson as a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely enclose a star and capture most or all of its energy output. [Citation
first=Freeman J.
author-link=Freeman Dyson
editor-last = Marshak
editor-first = R. E.
title=The Search for Extraterrestrial Technology
newspaper=Perspectives in Modern Physics
publisher = John Wiley & Sons
place = New York
*Perhaps a more exotic means to generate usable energy would be to feed a stellar mass into a black hole, and collect photons emitted by the accretion disc. [cite web
last = Newman
first = Phil
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = New Energy Source "Wrings" Power from Black Hole Spin
work =
publisher = NASA
date = 2001-10-22
url = http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20011015blackhole.html
format = web
doi =
accessdate = 2008-02-19
] [cite book
last = Schutz
first = Bernard F.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = A First Course in General Relativity
publisher = Cambridge University Press
year = 1985
location = New York
pages = p.304, 305
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=qhDFuWbLlgQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Bernard+Schutz+%22A+First+Course+in+General+Relativity%22&sig=ANhQ9t-d7EOu7T35omnoTvrY-IA#PPT1,M1
doi =
id =
isbn = 0521277035
] Less exotic would be simply to capture photons already escaping from the accretion disc, reducing a black hole's angular momentum; known as the Penrose process.
*In sufficiently large number of stellar systems, absorbing a small but significant fraction of the output of each individual star.

Type III civilizations might use the same techniques employed by a Type II civilization, but applied to all of the stars of one or more galaxies individually. [Kardashev, Nikolai. " [http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?1985IAUS..112..497K On the Inevitability and the Possible Structures of Supercivilizations] ", The search for extraterrestrial life: Recent developments; Proceedings of the Symposium, Boston, MA, June 18–21, 1984 (A86-38126 17-88). Dordrecht, D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1985, p. 497–504.] They may also be able to tap into the energy produced from a supermassive black hole which are believed to exist at the center of most galaxies.

Dr. Michio Kaku has discussed a type IV civilization, which could harness "extragalactic" energy sources such as dark energy, in his book "Parallel Worlds".cite book
last = Kaku
first = Michio
authorlink = Michio Kaku
coauthors =
title =
publisher = Doubleday
year = 2005
location = New York
pages = p.317
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0713997281

Civilization implications

There are many historical examples of civilizations undergoing large-scale transitions, such as the Industrial Revolution. The transition between Kardashev scale levels could potentially represent similarly dramatic periods of social upheaval, since they entail surpassing the hard limits of the resources available in a civilization's existing territory. A common speculation [cite journal
last = Dyson
first = Freeman
authorlink = Freeman Dyson
coauthors =
title = Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation
journal = Science
volume = 131
issue = 3414
pages = p.1667–1668
publisher = W. A. Benjamin, Inc
location = New York
date = 1960-06-03
url = http://www.islandone.org/LEOBiblio/SETI1.HTM
doi = 10.1126/science
id = 131.3414.1667
accessdate = 2008-01-30
doi_brokendate = 2008-06-26
] suggests that the transition from Type 0 to Type I might carry a strong risk of self-destruction since there would no longer be room for further expansion on the civilization's home planet, similar to a Malthusian catastrophe. Excessive use of energy without adequate disposal of heat, for example, could make the planet of a civilization approaching Type I unsuitable to the biology of the dominant life-forms and their food sources. If Earth is an example, then sea temperatures in excess of 35 °C would jeopardize marine life and make the cooling of mammals to temperatures suitable for their metabolism difficult if not impossible.

Extensions to the original scale

The sub-Type I state that human civilization currently occupies was not originally included in the Kardashev scale but is now referred to as "Type 0" or by its "K" value using Sagan's logarithmic formula (described above).

Zoltan Galantai has defined a further extrapolation of the scale, a Type IV level which controls the energy output of the visible universe; this is within a few orders of magnitude of 1045 W. Such a civilization approaches or surpasses the limits of speculation based on current scientific understanding, and may not be possible. Frank J. Tipler's Omega point would presumably occupy this level, as would the Biocosm hypothesis. Galantai has argued that such a civilization could not be detected, as its activities would be indistinguishable from the workings of nature (there being nothing to compare them to).cite web| url=http://longfuture.inno.bme.hu/long_futures_article1.pdf| title=Long Futures and Type IV Civilizations| format=PDF| first=Zoltan| last=Galantai| accessdate=2006-05-26| date=September 7 2003]

However, Milan M. Ćirković has argued that "Type IV" should instead be used to refer to a civilization that has harnessed the power of its supercluster, or "the largest gravitationally bound structure it originated in".cite journal | title = Forecast for the Next Eon : Applied Cosmology and the Long-Term Fate of Intelligent Beings | author = Milan M. Ćirković | journal = Foundations of Physics | publisher = Springer Netherlands | volume = 34 |month=February | year=2004
issn = 0015-9018 (Print) 1572-9516 (Online)
doi = 10.1023/B:FOOP.0000019583.67831.60
pages = 239–261
] For the Local Supercluster, this would be approximately 1042 W.

In contrast to simply increasing the maximum power level covered by the scale, Carl Sagan suggested adding another dimension: the information available to the civilization. He assigned the letter A to represent 106 unique bits of information (less than any recorded human culture) and each successive letter to represent an order of magnitude increase, so that a level Z civilization would have 1031 bits. In this classification, 1973 Earth is a 0.7 H civilization, with access to 1013 bits of information. Sagan believed that no civilization has yet reached level Z, conjecturing that so much unique information would exceed that of all the intelligent species in a galactic supercluster and observing that the universe is not old enough to effectively exchange information over larger distances. The information and energy axes are independent, so that even a level Z civilization would not need to be Kardeshev Type III. [cite book |last=Sagan |first=Carl |authorlink=Carl Sagan |coauthors= |editor= Jerome Agel|others= Freeman J. Dyson, David Morrison|title= Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective |origdate= |origyear= 1973|origmonth= |url= http://books.google.com/books/cambridge?id=lL57o9YB0mAC&pg=PA156&sig=jb28BQKb9M7yxd_FqHM6xRkxxog|format= |accessdate= 2008-01-01|accessyear= |accessmonth= |edition= |series= |date= |year= 2000|month= October|publisher= Cambridge Press |location= |language= |isbn= 05-21-7830-38|oclc= |doi= |id= |pages= |chapter= |chapterurl= |quote= ]


It has been argued that, because we cannot understand advanced civilizations, we cannot predict their behavior; thus, Kardashev's visualization may not reflect what will actually occur for an advanced civilization. This central argument is found within the book "". Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart: "Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life", Ebury Press, 2002, ISBN 0-09-187927-2 ]

ee also

* Astroengineering
* Clarke's three laws
* Drake equation
* World energy resources and consumption
* Orders of magnitude (power)
* Orders of magnitude (energy)


Further reading

* Dyson, Freeman J. "Energy in the Universe" Article in September 1971 Scientific American magazine (Special September Issue on "Energy")
* [http://www.hawaii.gov/dbedt/ert/femp/cannonfiles/sld006.htm Wind Powering America]
* [http://web.idrc.ca/en/ev-64514-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html Clean Energy for Planetary Survival: International Development Research Centre]
* [http://www.lbl.gov/Science-Articles/Archive/global-warming.html LBL Scientists Research Global Warming]
* [http://www.oit.doe.gov/e3handbook/appenf.shtml E³ Handbook]
* [http://web.gat.com/hydrogen/images/pdf%20files/clarke_h2_energy_systems.pdf Clarke H2 energy systems]
* [http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/S/Shkadov.html Shkadov Thruster]
* Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. "Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth." Moscow: URSS, 2006. ISBN 5-484-00414-4 [http://urss.ru/cgi-bin/db.pl?cp=&lang=en&blang=en&list=14&page=Book&id=34250] .

*cite journal| last=Kardashev| first=Nikolai| title=Cosmology and Civilizations | journal = Astrophysics and Space Science | volume = 252 | month = March | year = 1997

*"Supercivilizations as Possible Products of the Progressive Evolution of Matter": also by Kardashev
*"Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation", by Freeman J. Dyson
*"The Radio Search For Intelligent Extraterrestral Life", by Frank Drake
*cite book| first=Robert A.| last=Freitas Jr.| title=Energy and Culture (chapter 15)

External links

* [http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/K/Kardashevciv.html Kardashev civilizations]
* [http://www.coseti.org/lemarch1.htm Detectability of Extraterrestrial Technological Activities]
* [http://www.ibiblio.org/astrobiology/index.php?page=concepts04#1 Flash Animation on Civilizations]
* [http://contactincontext.org/cic/v2i2/farewell.htm After Kardashev: Farewell to Super Civilizations]

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