The Physics of Extra-Terrestrial Civilizations fwded by DGW.
> The Physics of Extra-Terrestrial Civilizationsand
> How advanced could they possibly be?
> By Michio Kaku
> The late Carl Sagan once asked this question, "What does it mean for a
> civilization to be a million years old? We have had radio telescopes and
> spaceships for a few decades; our technical civilization is a few hundred
> years old... an advanced civilization millions of years old is as much
> beyond us as we are beyond a bush baby or a macaque."
> Although any conjecture about such advanced civilizations is a matter of
> sheer speculation, one can still use the laws of physics to place upper
> lower limits on these civilizations. In particular, now that the laws ofmay
> quantum field theory, general relativity, thermodynamics, etc. are fairly
> well-established, physics can impose broad physical bounds which constrain
> the parameters of these civilizations.
> This question is no longer a matter of idle speculation. Soon, humanity
> face an existential shock as the current list of a dozen Jupiter-sizedplanet
> extra-solar planets swells to hundreds of earth-sized planets, almost
> identical twins of our celestial homeland. This may usher in a new era in
> our relationship with the universe: we will never see the night sky in the
> same way ever again, realizing that scientists may eventually compile an
> encyclopedia identifying the precise co-ordinates of perhaps hundreds of
> earth-like planets.
> Today, every few weeks brings news of a new Jupiter-sized extra-solar
> being discovered, the latest being about 15 light years away orbitingaround
> the star Gliese 876. The most spectacular of these findings wasphotographed
> by the Hubble Space Telescope, which captured breathtaking photos of ain
> planet 450 light years away being sling-shot into space by a double-star
> But the best is yet to come. Early in the next decade, scientists will
> launch a new kind of telescope, the interferome try space telescope, which
> uses the interference of light beams to enhance the resolving power of
> For example, the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM), to be launched early
> the next decade, consists of multiple telescopes placed along a 30 footlimits
> structure. With an unprecedented resolution approaching the physical
> of optics, the SIM is so sensitive that it almost defies belief: orbitingastronaut
> the earth, it can detect the motion of a lantern being waved by an
> on Mars!be
> The SIM, in turn, will pave the way for the Terrestrial Planet Finder, to
> launched late in the next decade, which should identify even moreearth-like
> planets. It will scan the brightest 1,000 stars within 50 light years ofthe
> earth and will focus on the 50 to 100 brightest planetary systems.of
> All this, in turn, will stimulate an active effort to determine if any of
> them harbor life, perhaps some with civilizations more advanced than ours.
> Although it is impossible to predict the precise features of such advanced
> civilizations, their broad outlines can be analyzed using the laws of
> physics. No matter how many millions of years separate us from them, they
> still must obey the iron laws of physics, which are now advanced enough to
> explain everything from sub-atomic particles to the large-scale structure
> the universe, through a staggering 43 orders of magnitude.the
> Physics of Type I, II, and III Civilizations
> Specifically, we can rank civilizations by their energy consumption, using
> the following principles:
> 1) The laws of thermodynamics. Even an advanced civilization is bound by
> laws of thermodynamics, especially the Second Law, and can hence be rankedbased
> by the energy at their disposal.
> 2) The laws of stable matter. Baryonic matter (e.g. based on protons and
> neutrons) tends to clump into three large groupings: planets, stars and
> galaxies. (This is a well-defined by product of stellar and galactic
> evolution, thermonuclear fusion, etc.) Thus, their energy will also be
> on three distinct types, and this places upper limits on their rate ofgrow
> energy consumption.
> 3) The laws of planetary evolution. Any advanced civilization must grow in
> energy consumption faster than the frequency of life-threatening
> catastrophes (e.g. meteor impacts, ice ages, supernovas, etc.). If they
> any slower, they are doomed to extinction. This places mathematical lowerbillions.
> limits on the rate of growth of these civilizations.
> In a seminal paper published in 1964 in the Journal of Soviet Astronomy,
> Russian astrophysicist Nicolai Kardashev theorized that advanced
> civilizations must therefore be grouped according to three types: Type I,
> II, and III, which have mastered planetary, stellar and galactic forms of
> energy, respectively. He calculated that the energy consumption of these
> three types of civilization would be separated by a factor of many
> But how long will it take to reach Type II and III status?10
> Shorter than most realize.
> Berkeley astronomer Don Goldsmith reminds us that the earth receives about
> one billionth of the suns energy, and that humans utilize about one
> millionth of that. So we consume about one million billionth of the suns
> total energy. At present, our entire planetary energy production is about
> billion billion ergs per second. But our energy growth is risinghow
> exponentially, and hence we can calculate how long it will take to rise to
> Type II or III status.
> Goldsmith says, "Look how far we have come in energy uses once we figured
> out how to manipulate energy, how to get fossil fuels really going, and
> to create electrical power from hydropower, and so forth; we've come up into
> energy uses in a remarkable amount in just a couple of centuries compared
> billions of years our planet has been here ... and this same sort of thingthat,
> may apply to other civilizations."
> Physicist Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study estimates
> within 200 years or so, we should attain Type I status. In fact, growingat
> a modest rate of 1% per year, Kardashev estimated that it would take onlythe
> 3,200 years to reach Type II status, and 5,800 years to reach Type III
> Living in a Type I,II, or III civilization
> For example, a Type I civilization is a truly planetary one, which has
> mastered most forms of planetary energy. Their energy output may be on the
> order of thousands to millions of times our current planetary output. Mark
> Twain once said, "Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does
> anything about it." This may change with a Type I civilization, which has
> enough energy to modify the weather. They also have enough energy to alter
> the course of earthquakes, volcanoes, and build cities on their oceans.
> Currently, our energy output qualifies us for Type 0 status. We derive our
> energy not from harnessing global forces, but by burning dead plants (e.g.
> oil and coal). But already, we can see the seeds of a Type I civilization.
> We see the beginning of a planetary language (English), a planetary
> communication system (the Internet), a planetary economy (the forging of
> European Union), and even the beginnings of a planetary culture (via massfrequency
> media, TV, rock music, and Hollywood films).
> By definition, an advanced civilization must grow faster than the
> of life-threatening catastrophes. Since large meteor and comet impactstake
> place once every few thousand years, a Type I civilization must masterspace
> travel to deflect space debris within that time frame, which should not bebalance.
> much of a problem. Ice ages may take place on a time scale of tens of
> thousands of years, so a Type I civilization must learn to modify the
> weather within that time frame.
> Artificial and internal catastrophes must also be negotiated. But the
> problem of global pollution is only a mortal threat for a Type 0
> civilization; a Type I civilization has lived for several millennia as a
> planetary civilization, necessarily achieving ecological planetary
> Internal problems like wars do pose a serious recurring threat, but theyexhaust
> have thousands of years in which to solve racial, national, and sectarian
> Eventually, after several thousand years, a Type I civilization will
> the power of a planet, and will derive their energy by consuming theentire
> output of their suns energy, or roughly a billion trillion trillion ergsper
> With their energy output comparable to that of a small star, they should
> visible from space. Dyson has proposed that a Type II civilization mayeven
> build a gigantic sphere around their star to more efficiently utilize itsmust,
> total energy output. Even if they try to conceal their existence, they
> by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, emit waste heat. From outer space,and
> their planet may glow like a Christmas tree ornament. Dyson has even
> proposed looking specifically for infrared emissions (rather than radio
> TV) to identify these Type II civilizations.nearby
> Perhaps the only serious threat to a Type II civilization would be a
> supernova explosion, whose sudden eruption could scorch their planet in asuch
> withering blast of X-rays, killing all life forms. Thus, perhaps the most
> interesting civilization is a Type III civilization, for it is truly
> immortal. They have exhausted the power of a single star, and have reached
> for other star systems. No natural catastrophe known to science is capable
> of destroying a Type III civilization.
> Faced with a neighboring supernova, it would have several alternatives,
> as altering the evolution of dying red giant star which is about toexplode,
> or leaving this particular star system and terraforming a nearby planetaryIII
> However, there are roadblocks to an emerging Type III civilization.
> Eventually, it bumps up against another iron law of physics, the theory of
> relativity. Dyson estimates that this may delay the transition to a Type
> civilization by perhaps millions of years.at
> But even with the light barrier, there are a number of ways of expanding
> near-light velocities. For example, the ultimate measure of a rocketsseveral
> capability is measured by something called "specific impulse" (defined as
> the product of the thrust and the duration, measured in units of seconds).
> Chemical rockets can attain specific impulses of several hundred to
> thousand seconds. Ion engines can attain specific impulses of tens ofas
> thousands of seconds. But to attain near-light speed velocity, one has to
> achieve specific impulse of about 30 million seconds, which is far beyond
> our current capability, but not that of a Type III civilization. A variety
> of propulsion systems would be available for sub-light speed probes (such
> ram-jet fusion engines, photonic engines, etc.)with
> How to Explore the Galaxy
> Because distances between stars are so vast, and the number of unsuitable,
> lifeless solar systems so large, a Type III civilization would be faced
> the next question: what is the mathematically most efficient way ofimmortalized
> exploring the hundreds of billions of stars in the galaxy?
> In science fiction, the search for inhabitable worlds has been
> on TV by heroic captains boldly commanding a lone star ship, or as theA
> murderous Borg, a Type III civilization which absorbs lower Type II
> civilization (such as the Federation). However, the most mathematically
> efficient method to explore space is far less glamorous: to send fleets of
> "Von Neumann probes" throughout the galaxy (named after John Von Neumann,
> who established the mathematical laws of self-replicating systems).
> A Von Neumann probe is a robot designed to reach distant star systems and
> create factories which will reproduce copies themselves by the thousands.
> dead moon rather than a planet makes the ideal destination for Von Neumanncopies
> probes, since they can easily land and take off from these moons, and also
> because these moons have no erosion. These probes would live off the land,
> using naturally occurring deposits of iron, nickel, etc. to create the raw
> ingredients to build a robot factory. They would create thousands of
> of themselves, which would then scatter and search for other star systems.fashion,
> Similar to a virus colonizing a body many times its size, eventually there
> would be a sphere of trillions of Von Neumann probes expanding in all
> directions, increasing at a fraction of the speed of light. In this
> even a galaxy 100,000 light years across may be completely analyzedwithin,
> say, a half million years.set
> If a Von Neumann probe only finds evidence of primitive life (such as an
> unstable, savage Type 0 civilization) they might simply lie dormant on the
> moon, silently waiting for the Type 0 civilization to evolve into a stable
> Type I civilization. After waiting quietly for several millennia, they may
> be activated when the emerging Type I civilization is advanced enough to
> up a lunar colony. Physicist Paul Davies of the University of Adelaide hasmoon,
> even raised the possibility of a Von Neumann probe resting on our own
> left over from a previous visitation in our system aeons ago.film,
> (If this sounds a bit familiar, that's because it was the basis of the
> 2001. Originally, Stanley Kubrick began the film with a series ofscientists
> explaining how probes like these would be the most efficient method ofbeen
> exploring outer space. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Kubrick cut the
> opening segment from his film, and these monoliths became almost mystical
> New Developments
> Since Kardashev gave the original ranking of civilizations, there have
> many scientific developments which refine and extend his originalanalysis,
> such as recent developments in nanotechnology, biotechnology, quantum"There's
> physics, etc.
> For example, nanotechnology may facilitate the development of Von Neumann
> probes. As physicist Richard Feynman observed in his seminal essay,
> Plenty of Room at the Bottom," there is nothing in the laws of physicswhich
> prevents building armies of molecular-sized machines. At present,scientists
> have already built atomic-sized curiosities, such as an atomic abacus withwill
> Buckyballs and an atomic guitar with strings about 100 atoms across.
> Paul Davies speculates that a space-faring civilization could use
> nanotechnology to build miniature probes to explore the galaxy, perhaps no
> bigger than your palm. Davies says, "The tiny probes I'm talking about
> be so inconspicuous that it's no surprise that we haven't come across one.yard.
> It's not the sort of thing that you're going to trip over in your back
> So if that is the way technology develops, namely, smaller, faster,cheaper
> and if other civilizations have gone this route, then we could besurrounded
> by surveillance devices."genetic
> Furthermore, the development of biotechnology has opened entirely new
> possibilities. These probes may act as life-forms, reproducing their
> information, mutating and evolving at each stage of reproduction toenhance
> their capabilities, and may have artificial intelligence to acceleratetheir
> Also, information theory modifies the original Kardashev analysis. The
> current SETI project only scans a few frequencies of radio and TV
> sent by a Type 0 civilization, but perhaps not an advanced civilization.single
> Because of the enormous static found in deep space, broadcasting on a
> frequency presents a serious source of error. Instead of putting all yourthen
> eggs in one basket, a more efficient system is to break up the message and
> smear it out over all frequencies (e.g. via Fourier like transform) and
> reassemble the signal only at the other end. In this way, even if certainfantastic
> frequencies are disrupted by static, enough of the message will survive to
> accurately reassemble the message via error correction routines. However,
> any Type 0 civilization listening in on the message on one frequency band
> would only hear nonsense. In other words, our galaxy could be teeming with
> messages from various Type II and III civilizations, but our Type 0 radio
> telescopes would only hear gibberish.
> Lastly, there is also the possibility that a Type II or Type III
> civilization might be able to reach the fabled Planck energy with their
> machines (10^19 billion electron volts). This is energy is a quadrillion
> times larger than our most powerful atom smasher. This energy, as
> as it may seem, is (by definition) within the range of a Type II or IIIsuperstring
> The Planck energy only occurs at the center of black holes and the instant
> of the Big Bang. But with recent advances in quantum gravity and
> theory, there is renewed interest among physicists about energies so vastis
> that quantum effects rip apart the fabric of space and time. Although it
> by no means certain that quantum physics allows for stable wormholes, thismay
> raises the remote possibility that a sufficiently advanced civilizations
> be able to move via holes in space, like Alice's Looking Glass. And ifthese
> civilizations can successfully navigate through stable wormholes, thendown
> attaining a specific impulse of a million seconds is no longer a problem.
> They merely take a short-cut through the galaxy. This would greatly cut
> the transition between a Type II and Type III civilization.If
> Second, the ability to tear holes in space and time may come in handy one
> day. Astronomers, analyzing light from distant supernovas, have concluded
> recently that the universe may be accelerating, rather than slowing down.
> this is true, there may be an anti-gravity force (perhaps Einstein's"...All
> cosmological constant) which is counteracting the gravitational attraction
> of distant galaxies. But this also means that the universe might expand
> forever in a Big Chill, until temperatures approach near-absolute zero.
> Several papers have recently laid out what such a dismal universe may look
> like. It will be a pitiful sight: any civilization which survives will be
> desperately huddled next to the dying embers of fading neutron stars and
> black holes. All intelligent life must die when the universe dies.
> Contemplating the death of the sun, the philosopher Bertrand Russel once
> wrote perhaps the most depressing paragraph in the English language:
> the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all thethe
> noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast
> death of the solar system, and the whole temple of Mans achievement must
> inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins..."
> Today, we realize that sufficiently powerful rockets may spare us from the
> death of our sun 5 billion years from now, when the oceans will boil and
> mountains will melt. But how do we escape the death of the universeitself?
> Astronomer John Barrows of the University of Sussex writes, "Suppose that
> extend the classification upwards. Members of these hypotheticalmanipulate
> civilizations of Type IV, V, VI, ... and so on, would be able to
> the structures in the universe on larger and larger scales, encompassingCivilizations
> groups of galaxies, clusters, and superclusters of galaxies."
> beyond Type III may have enough energy to escape our dying universe viatrillion
> holes in space.
> Lastly, physicist Alan Guth of MIT, one of the originators of the
> inflationary universe theory, has even computed the energy necessary to
> create a baby universe in the laboratory (the temperature is 1,000
> degrees, which is within the range of these hypothetical civilizations).our
> Of course, until someone actually makes contact with an advanced
> civilization, all of this amounts to speculation tempered with the laws of
> physics, no more than a useful guide in our search for extra-terrestrial
> intelligence. But one day, many of us will gaze at the encyclopedia
> containing the coordinates of perhaps hundreds of earth-like planets in
> sector of the galaxy. Then we will wonder, as Sagan did, what acivilization
> a millions years ahead of ours will look like...http://groups.yahoo.com/group/changingplanet/messages
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