The Most Advanced Civilization In The Universe

The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement, based on the amount of energy a civilization is able to use for communication. The scale has three designated categories:

·         Type I civilization—also called a planetary civilization—can use and store all of the energy which reaches its planet from its parent star.

·         Type II civilization—also called a stellar civilization—can harness the total energy of its planet's parent star (the most popular hypothetical concept being the Dyson sphere—a device which would encompass the entire star and transfer its energy to the planet(s)).

·         Type III civilization—also called a galactic civilization—can control energy on the scale of its entire host galaxy.

The scale is hypothetical, and regards energy consumption on a cosmic scale. It was proposed in 1964 by the Sovietastronomer Nikolai Kardashev. Various extensions of the scale have since been proposed, including a wider range of power levels (types 0, IV and V) and the use of metrics other than pure power.

By Indif [CC BY-SA (3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kardashev defined three levels of civilizations, based on the order of magnitude of power available to them:

          Type I

Technological level of a civilization that can harness all the energy that falls on a planet from its parent star (for Earth-Sun system, this value is close to 7x1017 watts), which is more than five orders of magnitude higher than the amount presently attained on earth, with energy consumption at ≈4×1019 erg/sec (4 × 1012 watts). The astronomer Guillermo A. Lemarchand stated this as a level near contemporary terrestrial civilization with an energy capability equivalent to the solar insolation on Earth, between 1016 and 1017 watts.

     Type II

A civilization capable of harnessing the energy radiated by its own star—for example, the stage of successful construction of a Dyson sphere—with energy consumption at ≈4×1033 erg/sec. Lemarchand stated this as a civilization capable of utilizing and channeling the entire radiation output of its star. The energy utilization would then be comparable to the luminosity of our Sun, about 4×1033 erg/sec (4×1026 watts).

Type III

A civilization in possession of energy on the scale of its own galaxy, with energy consumption at ≈4×1044erg/sec. Lemarchand stated this as a civilization with access to the power comparable to the luminosity of the entire Milky Way galaxy, about 4×1044 erg/sec (4×1037 watts).

Current status of human civilization

Michio Kaku suggested that humans may attain Type I status in 100–200 years, Type II status in a few thousand years, and Type III status in 100,000 to a million years.

Carl Sagan suggested defining intermediate values (not considered in Kardashev's original scale) by interpolating and extrapolating the values given above for types I (1016 W), II (1026 W) and III (1036 W), which would produce the formula

where value K is a civilization's Kardashev rating and P is the power it uses, in watts. Using this extrapolation, a "Type 0" civilization, not defined by Kardashev, would control about 1 MW of power, and humanity's civilization type as of 1973 was about 0.7 (apparently using 10 terawatt (TW) as the value for 1970s humanity).

In 2012, total world energy consumption was 553 exajoules (553×1018 J=153,611 TWh), equivalent to an average power consumption of 17.54 TW (or 0.7244 on Sagan's Kardashev scale).

In 2015, total world energy consumption was 550.451 exajoules (550×1018 J=13147.3 million BBL), equivalent to an average power consumption of 17.35 TW (or 0.7239 on Sagan's Kardashev scale). This represents a 1.08% drop over 3 years.

At the current time, Humans are a Type 0 civilization.

Energy development

Type I civilization methods

·      Large-scale application of fusion power. According to mass-energy equivalence, Type I implies the conversion of about 2 kg of matter to energy per second. An equivalent energy release could theoretically be achieved by fusing approximately 280 kg of hydrogen into helium per second, a rate roughly equivalent to 8.9×109 kg/year. A cubic km of water contains about 1011 kg of hydrogen, and the Earth's oceans contain about 1.3×109 cubic km of water, meaning that humans on Earth could sustain this rate of consumption over geological time-scales, in terms of available hydrogen.

·      Antimatter in large quantities would have a mechanism to produce power on a scale several magnitudes above our current level of technology. In antimatter-matter collisions, the entire rest mass of the particles is converted to radiant energy. Their energy density(energy released per mass) is about four orders of magnitude greater than that from using nuclear fission, and about two orders of magnitude greater than the best possible yield from fusion. The reaction of 1 kg of anti-matter with 1 kg of matter would produce 1.8×1017 J (180 petajoules) of energy. Although antimatter is sometimes proposed as a source of energy, this does not appear feasible. Artificially producing antimatter—according to current understanding of the laws of physics—involves first converting energy into mass, so no net gain results. Artificially created antimatter is only usable as a medium of energy storage, not as an energy source, unless future technological developments (contrary to the conservation of the baryon number, such as a CP violation in favour of antimatter) allow the conversion of ordinary matter into anti-matter. Theoretically, humans may in the future have the capability to cultivate and harvest a number of naturally occurring sources of antimatter.

·      Renewable energy through converting sunlight into electricity—either by using solar cells and concentrating solar power or indirectly through wind and hydroelectric power. There is no known way for human civilization to use the equivalent of the Earth's total absorbed solar energy without completely coating the surface with human-made structures, which is not feasible with current technology. However, if a civilization constructed very large space-based solar power satellites, Type I power levels might become achievable—these could convert sunlight to microwave power and beam that to collectors on Earth.

Type II civilization methods

·      Type II civilizations might use the same techniques employed by a Type I civilization, but applied to a large number of planets in a large number of planetary systems.

·      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 enclose a star completely and capture most or all of its energy output.

·      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. Less exotic would be simply to capture photons already escaping from the accretion disc, reducing a black hole's angular momentum; this is known as the Penrose process.

·      Star lifting is a process where an advanced civilization could remove a substantial portion of a star's matter in a controlled manner for other uses.

·      Antimatter is likely to be produced as an industrial byproduct of a number of megascale engineering processes (such as the aforementioned star lifting) and, therefore, could be recycled.

·      In multiple-star systems of a sufficiently large number of stars, absorbing a small but significant fraction of the output of each individual star.

Type III civilization methods

·      Type III civilizations might use the same techniques employed by a Type II civilization, but applied to all possible stars of one or more galaxies individually.

·      They may also be able to tap into the energy released from the supermassive black holes which are believed to exist at the center of most galaxies.

·      White holes, if they exist, theoretically could provide large amounts of energy from collecting the matter propelling outwards.

·      Capturing the energy of gamma-ray bursts is another theoretically possible power source for a highly advanced civilization.

·      The emissions from quasars can be readily compared to those of small active galaxies and could provide a massive power source if collectable.

Civilization implications

There are many historical examples of human civilization 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 suggests that the transition from Type 0 to Type I might carry a strong risk of self-destruction since, in some scenarios, there would no longer be room for further expansion on the civilization's home planet, as in a Malthusian catastrophe. Excessive use of energy without adequate disposal of heat, for example, could plausibly 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 (95 °F) would jeopardize marine life and make the cooling of mammals to temperatures suitable for their metabolism difficult if not impossible. Of course, these theoreticalspeculations may not become problems in reality thanks to evolution or the application of future engineering and technology

Also, by the time a civilization reaches Type I it may have colonized other planets or created O'Neill-type colonies, so that waste heat could be distributed throughout the planetary system

The idea of what a Type III civilization would look and be like, being dreamed up by a civilization that does not even yet qualify as a Type I civilization, is essentially ludicrous.  These were just proposals by a theorist that wanted to scale down a concept into something that we (the masses) might be able to comprehend.  

However, it does not even yet truly qualify as a theory, as there is virtually no way to test it with current technological know how or mathematics.  Though it is true that Sagan was very adept at teaching the masses about what little we truly know about the nature of the universe,  it is also safe to say that even he had doubts about his own beliefs on life throughout the universe.

If in fact there are any true Type III civilizations out there, we cannot conceive of how they might manipulate the universe and exist throughout it, nor can we know how they would move onto manipulating the now highly anticipated and theorized multi-verse.  As such, to suggest that the Great Void is potentially a hiding place for them, is just wishful thinking at best.  And because the universe that we know of is believed to be roughly 14 billion years old, and is very large, it is also safe to say, that if one Type III civilization has evolved out there, then there must be unknown countless other Type III civilizations (the resources that that make up the universe are essentially built from the same ingredients every where; albeit not necessarily to the same plurality everywhere).  

In which case the one thing that we can be certain of is this: there would be enormous competition for all of that space out there.  As such it is highly unlikely that any one civilization could so successfully dominate so vast a region of space without drawing the attentions of its competition for long.  Thus the ability to defend such a massive region of space long term (in the grand scheme of things),  becomes highly suspect.

Thanks to Wikipedia: Kardashev Scale

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