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Are advanced are we as a civilization ?

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MessagePosté le: 21/12/2007 12:44:20    Sujet du message: Are advanced are we as a civilization ? Répondre en citant

Source: FirstScience.Com - London, UK

Arrow How advanced are we as a civilisation?

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 civilisation.

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 - or who were making efforts for modelling or predicting the future for human beings on earth. Others, more
critical, dismissed Kardashev's 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 - 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 - and to our future. As we'll 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 - a civilisation which can utilise all of the power available on a single planet

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

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

Kardashev is working from the premise that 'since 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.'

In 1984, Kardashev produced a paper entitled 'On the inevitability and the possible structures of supercivilizations'
- 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 - that they always start in small areas and grow to occupy a much larger
territory. As well, entrenched in Kardashev's 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 '.have a very large mass, a large energy potential and a high information volume.' 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't exhibit technological growth, some of them could.

How might we find evidence for a civilisation on the Kardashev scale?

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 'wobble' of a star. Planets will cause their parent stars to 'sway' 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's scale indicates that civilisations of this type have been able to harness the power of a star - 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 'island' habitats orbiting the sun in a 'swarm'. 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 'Dyson spheres', 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 - 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 - 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 - and the tiny signal from our earliest radio and television ommunications 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 - others are much further.

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 uurselves have designed, some hint might be found in the publications of the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook. The predictions of this organisation are that global energy demand will rise to 50% greater than current levels by 2030 - much of this in coal, oil and gas. According to some very speculative nalysis, this would put as at 0.7 on the Kardashev scale.

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's 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's 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't yet spotted any kind of extraterrestrial civilisation: that most of them don't make the leap to a Type 1 civilisation without wiping themselves out.

Kalinoux Respect
RGB - Serenity is not freedom from the storm but peace within the storm (Native American Proverb)
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