Tuesday, 11 August 2020

kardashev scale

From Kottke’s Quick Links, we are treated to another lucid and illuminating vignette from Kurzgesagt on anthropic limitations when comes to looking for intelligent life elsewhere in the Cosmos and how energy signatures might be the one common thread of evidence, as it were, when it comes to recognising alien civilisation and looking beyond our limited and biased horizons.
Proposed in 1964 by astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev (*1932 – †2019), the eponymous scale was a way to gauge the technological state of a culture—terrestrial or otherwise—based on the amount of energy that they are able to use efficiently and to what ends. Type I can effectively harness all the light and heat energy that falls on the planet from its home star(s)—which is about four magnitudes greater than what humans generally generate mostly from fossil fuels but possibly attainable if we continue with scientific advancement. Type II would be capable of harvesting the net energy of its solar system, possibly isolating itself and obscuring its existence with a Dyson Sphere. Type III could harness the energetic output of their entire galaxy. Alternatively, mathematician John David Barrow has inverted the scale and finds greater economy in miniaturisation and what he has classified as microdimensional mastery—going from human scale construction and manipulation down to chemistry, nanotechologies, genetic manipulation, atomic tinkering and eventual alternation to the fabric of space-time.