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How Advanced Are We As A Civilisation?

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 18:34:42 -0500
Archived: Tue, 11 Dec 2007 18:34:42 -0500
Subject: How Advanced Are We As A Civilisation?

Source: FirstScience.Com - London, UK


10 Dec 2007

How Advanced Are We As A Civilisation?
By Adrian Stuart  

In 1964 soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev proposed a scale for
measuring the technological advancement of an extraterrestrial

Kardashev divided civilisations into three categories which
reflected the amount of energy which they were able to use. Some
researchers found this scale to be useful, particularly those
who were involved in the search for extraterrestrial
intelligence =96 or who were making efforts for modelling or
predicting the future for human beings on earth. Others, more
critical, dismissed Kardashev=92s scale as science fiction and so
far in the realm of speculation that it had no practical value.

Perhaps the greatest positive effect of grand ideas such as the
Kardashev scale is not that it is an accurate description of
what exists =96 but that it is a concept capable of producing
debate. An open exchange of perspective and opinion is always
beneficial to the advancement of science =96 and to our future. As
we=92ll find later in this article, there are some interesting
questions of an environmentally significant nature which arise.

What types of civilisations are on the Kardashev scale?

Type I =96 a civilisation which can utilise all of the power
available on a single planet

Type II =96 a civilisation which is able to harness all of the
power from a single star

Type III =96 a civilisation that is able to harness all of the
power of a single galaxy

Kardashev is working from the premise that =91since civilizations
always face problems that require continuously greater activity,
it is likely that supercivilizations will undertake activities
and construct structures on a very large scale.=92

In 1984, Kardashev produced a paper entitled =91On the
inevitability and the possible structures of supercivilizations=92
=96 which was presented at the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
symposium that year. The ideas set forward imply that there is a
natural and unavoidable direction to civilisations =96 that they
always start in small areas and grow to occupy a much larger
territory. As well, entrenched in Kardashev=92s position is his
assertion that the energy use of a growing civilisation will
always rise.

Kardashev states that evidence of highly advanced
extraterrestrial civilisations should be possible to be observed
from earth. That the machines, objects and technologies deployed
by these cvilisations would =91=85have a very large mass, a large
energy potential and a high information volume.=92 As well, that
they would tend to exist for billions of years.

We might question these sorts of statements if they are put
forward as a general rule for the evolution of civilisations.
After all, we have no evidence to either absolutely support or
dispute this point of view. Our history on this planet and
especially our technological history seems far too short to
insist on a general rule of this sort.

However, even if ALL civilisations don=92t exhibit technological
growth, some of them could.

How might we find evidence for a civilisation on the Kardashev

Looking for Type 1 civilisations

Over the last decades, astronomers have been able to predict the
existence of dozens of planets orbiting various stars outside
our solar system. Much of this work is done by observing the
=91wobble=92 of a star. Planets will cause their parent stars to
=91sway=92 as both planet and star are actually both revolving
around a common centre of gravity which is not in the middle of
the star. Another method used is to measure the light from the
star dimming as a planet passes in front of it.

In 2005, astronomers confirmed that they have produced an image
of a planet five times the size of Jupiter orbiting a star 200
light years away from us. As you can see in the image, the
planet is a fuzzy orange ball. Telescopes will have to be far
larger than those which exist today in order to produce an image
of oceans, land and cities.

If ET lives on a planet orbiting a distant star and has invented
something like television or radio, then radio telescopes may
pick up these signals. A strong collection of radio waves which
continue over time may be our best way of finding a Type 1
civilisation. SETI, the well known Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence is well known for searching for signals of this
type. Powerful and persistent radio signals are most likely our
only currently available method to spot an extraterrestrial Type
1 civilisation.

Looking for Type II civilisations

Kardashev=92s scale indicates that civilisations of this type have
been able to harness the power of a star =96 presumably the one
around which their species originates from.

One way of doing this was proposed by physicist Freeman Dyson in
1959. Dyson suggested that perhaps a civilisation advanced to a
sufficient degree could break apart the planets in their solar
system and use the material to form other =91island=92 habitats
orbiting the sun in a =91swarm=92. This would allow much, much more
of the energy from the star at the centre to be used than what
could be gathered on the surface of a planet.

These =91Dyson spheres=92, as they are commonly and inaccurately
called, would most likely appear to have odd peaks of radiation
and brightness as the sun they surrounded would be visible
periodically when the swarm of islands orbiting it passed
through our line of sight.

Again, radio telescopes could spot a Type II civilisation which
had constructed a gargantuan structure of this kind around a
star =96 as well as astronomical telescopes.

Looking for Type III civilisations

If Dyson spheres hinted at science fiction, then Type III
civilisations which utilise the power of an entire galaxy will
remove all doubt. If ET has had enough time to travel thoughout
his home galaxy then perhaps we would find hundreds or millions
of radio signals or the tell-tale flickerings of Dyson spheres.
Or perhaps on a more precarious limb of speculation,
civilisations of this magnitude would have learned how to draw
power directly from more energetic phenomenon such as black
holes or pulsars.

Possibly the biggest problem facing any serious effort to locate
an extraterrestrial civilisation is the size of space =96 and the
scale of time. At the most extreme estimate human beings on
earth have only organised themselves in cities over the last
8000 years. We have only had radio communication during the last
hundred of those years =96 and the tiny signal from our earliest
radio and television communications would have only radiated out
less than 100 light years from our solar system in all
directions. As our galaxy is a disc about 100,000 light years
wide and 1000 light years thick, any creatures looking for us
would be practically our neighbours. The nearest galaxy to us,
Andromeda is 2.5 million light years away =96 others are much

Where is human civilisation on the Kardashev scale?

Famously, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku is known to
regularly state that we are Type 0 on the Kardashev scale - we
are still engaged in burning dead plants and animals for energy.

Looking at when we might achieve a Type I status on the scale we
ourselves have designed, some hint might be found in the
publications of the International Energy Agency=92s World Energy
Outlook. The predictions of this organisation are that global
energy demand will rise to 50% greater than current levels by
2030 =96 much of this in coal, oil and gas. According to some very
speculative analysis, this would put as at 0.7 on the Kardashev

Recently, Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change were awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel
committee made their decision based on their opinion that
efforts to make nations and individuals more responsible and
aware of energy demand, consumption and the effects on the
environment are necessary and essential to avoid future
conflicts and wars over natural resources.

As mentioned earlier, it=92s not necessary that the Kardashev
scale is true or accurate - but it is certainly interesting as
seed ground for debate. Perhaps the 2007 Nobel committee was not
mistaken in it=92s concern that conflicts may await on the horizon
of the future. And with this in mind and taking a step further,
perhaps there is a general rule which explains why we haven=92t
yet spotted any kind of extraterrestrial civilisation: that most
of them don=92t make the leap to a Type 1 civilisation without
wiping themselves out.

For more information

Procedings of The Search for Extraterrestrial Life symposium - 1984

The World Energy Outlook

[Thanks to Stuart Miller of http://uforeview.net/ for the lead]

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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