Have you ever wondered about how far our civilization can grow and advance? If we will manage to mitigate the Threats to Humanity, advancement in science and technology is showing us an exponential growth in the rate of our progress.
Such exponential growth could one day lead us to colonize the Moon and Mars. Mine the asteroid belt, and live on the moons of Jupiter. Even vacation and sail the methane seas of Neptune. One day, our descendants will be able to leave our solar system and travel and colonize other solar systems. They might even be able to expand to the entirety of the Milky Way Galaxy and also colonize other Galaxies. The line between science and science fiction is fading.
One way we can put this cosmic future adventure into perspective and quantify the progress by rating the development of our current civilization via the Kardashev’s Civilization classification scale. The Russian astrophysicist Kardashev proposed this scale in 1964. Kardesciev classified what he perceived as possible advanced civilizations into three categories. These categories, according to Kardashev, are classified according to how much energy the culture collects and stores, which will allow it to power communication across vast distances.
Kardashev was not trying to theorize or predict humanity’s future. He believed that it is more plausible to hear or tap into communications from a hypothetical preexisting civilization than to encounter one physically. His classification categorized the hypothesized advanced civilizations into three categories based on calculating the energy needed to power the civilization’s stellar communications.
- Type I civilization, can stream communication sustainably anywhere in its local solar system and require around 4×1012 Watts of energy to sustain the connection. That is equivalent to the amount of harvested and stored solar energy that hits its entire planet.
- Type II civilization can send information and stream communication across solar systems and require 4×1026 Watt to do so. That is equivalent to harnessing and storing all of the energy that a sun produces.
- Type III civilization can send information and maintain a stream of communication across galaxies and will require 4×1037Watt to do so. That is equivalent to harnessing and storing all the energy produced from every sun in our Galaxy.
(More insight on the physics of deriving the Power quantities mentioned above is available in the “Nerd Alert” section at the end of this article)
Many Scientists, Mathematicians, and physicists hypothesized their own scales based on the Kardeschivs initial scale. My favorite is Carl Segan’s interpolated Kardashev scale. He improved it by first interloping and extrapolating the power quantities to form a unit base continuous scale. Where type I is 4×1016Watts, Type II is 4×1026 Watts, and type III is 4×1036 Watts with ten orders of magnitude diference between each. Another improvement that Carl Segan did was add a second axis to the definition of the civilization type. One that is not strictly interdependent on the Power Axis. The second axis is the quantity of information a civilization produces. He assigned a Letter attached to the classification. Type A civilization has 106 Bits of information available to it, and thus Type Z will have 1033 Bits.
Our current Classification is calculated to be around Type 0.74I (I = 1014)
With the advent of new and improved technologies across the board, we might experience an exponential increase in the generation of new information – through the improvement of AI, and the complexity of Quantum computing models – and the exponential increase in power generation and storage through both upgraded and new developed technologies like Fusion power.
With some luck and common sense, we might make it to a type I in the coming centuries!
The following equation by Kardescieve show the calculation of the power P discussed above:
100 KTN = PA / 4πr2Δf
TN is the noise temperature that a receiving antenna collects.
Δf is the system bandwidth transmitted
P is the power needed for a transmitter to transmit Δf of system bandwidth across r distance through TN cosmic noise.
A is the area or the receiver catching the signal or transmission.
Kardeschieve assumed that in the above formula, we need 100 fold of signal than cosmic noise for the transmission to be reliable. So, for maximum Δf, we need to increase the receiver’s surface area or increase the transmitter’s power. Increasing power is more plausible than the surface area because to build such structures to be as big as planets or solar systems, we might need to increase power as much to make the structures themselves never the less operate them.
Food for Thought
We would detect Type II and type III Signals as an electromagnetic signal that ranges from narrowband Radio signals to microwave radiation, near and extreme ultraviolet radiation to x-ray, and Gamma radiation. With our technology, that signal might look like a radio wave burst, infrared to Gamma radiation bursts – similar to a supernova explosion or a pulsing star, or a black hole ejection – or even background microwave radiation. Sound Familiar?
Astronomers at the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Collaboration in Canada have been monitoring a Fast Radio Burst (FRB) designated as FRB 180916.J0158+65. This FRB follows the same pattern every 16.35 days. The Astronomers at CHIME have observed and released a report that from September 2018 till February 2020, they have recorded 38 repeating FRB where the majority of the bursts happen in a five-day phase window; furthermore, the astronomers recorded 50% of the bursts in a 0.6-day phase window. The Article titled “Periodic activity from a fast radio burst source” was published on 17 June 2020, in Nature.