SETI public: Kardashev Type I, II, and III Civilizations

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Date: Fri May 10 2002 - 06:58:17 PDT



Type I, II, III Civilizations
An excerpt from the book of Michio Kaku: Visions : How Science Will
Revolutionize the 21st Century (1998)

Futurology, or the prediction of the future from reasonable scientific
judgments, is a risky science. Some would not even call it a science at all,
but something that more resembles hocus pocus or witchcraft. Futurology has
deservedly earned this unsavory reputation because every scientific" poll
conducted by futurologists about the next decade has proved to be wildly off
the mark. What makes futurology such a primitive science is that our brains
think linearly, while knowledge progresses exponentially. For example, polls
of futurologists have shown that they take known technology and simply
double or triple it to predict the future. Polls taken in the 1920s showed
that futurologists predicted that we would have, within a few decades, huge
fleets of blimps taking passengers across the Atlantic.

But science also develops in unexpected ways. In the short run, when
extrapolating within a few years, it is a safe bet that science will
progress through steady, quantitative improvements on existing technology.
However, when extrapolating over a few decades, we find that qualitative
breakthroughs in new areas become the dominant factor, where new industries
open up in unexpected places.

Perhaps the most famous example of futurology gone wrong is the predictions
made by John von Neumann, the father of the modern electronic computer and
one of the great mathematicians of the century. After the war, he made two
predictions: first, that in the future computers would become so monstrous
and costly that only large governments would be able to afford them, and
second, that computers would be able to predict the weather accurately.

In reality, the growth of computers went in precisely the opposite
direction: We are flooded with inexpensive, miniature computers that can fit
in the palm of our hands. Computer chips have become so cheap and plentiful
that they are an integral part of some modern appliances. Already, we have
the "smart" typewriter (the word processor), and eventually we will have the
"smart" vacuum cleaner, the "smart" kitchen, the "smart" television, and the
like. Also, computers, no matter how powerful, have failed to predict the
weather. Although the classical motion of individual molecules can, in
principle, be predicted, the weather is so complex that even someone
sneezing can create distortions that will ripple and be magnified across
thousands of miles, eventually, perhaps, unleashing a hurricane.

With all these important caveats, let us determine when a civilization
(either our own or one in outer space) may attain the ability to master the
tenth dimension. Astronomer Nikolai Kardashev of the former Soviet Union
once categorized future civilizations in the following way. A Type I
civilization is one that controls the energy resources of an entire planet.
This civilization can control the weather, prevent earthquakes, mine deep in
the earth's crust, and harvest the oceans. This civilization has already
completed the exploration of its solar system. A Type 11 civilization is one
that controls the power of the sun itself. This does not mean passively
harnessing solar energy; this civilization mines the sun. The energy needs
of this civilization are so large directly consumes the power of the sun to
drive its machines. The civilization will begin the colonization of local
star systems.

A Type III civilization is one that controls the power of an entire galaxy.
For a power source, it harnesses the power of billions of star systems. It
has probably mastered Einstein's equations and can manipulate space-time at
will. The basis of this classification is rather simple: Each level is
catergorized on the basis of the power source that energizes the
civilization. Type I civilizations use the power of an entire planet. Type
II civilizations use the power of an entire star. Type III civilizations use
the power of an entire galaxy. This classification ignores any predictions
concerning the detailed nature of future civilizations (which are bound to
be wrong) and instead focuses on aspects that can be reasonably understood
by the laws of physics, such as energy supply.

Our civilization, by contrast, can be categorized as a Type 0 civilization,
one that is just beginning to tap planetary resources, but does not have the
technology and resources to control them. A Type 0 civilization like ours
derives its energy from fossil fuels like oil and coal and, in much of the
Third World, from raw human labor. Our largest computers cannot even predict
the weather, let alone control it. Viewed from this larger perspective, we
as a civilization are like a newborn infant.

Although one might guess that the slow march from a Type 0 civilization to a
Type III civilization might take millions of years, the extraordinary fact
about this classification scheme is that this climb is an exponential one
and hence proceeds much faster than anything we can readily conceive.

With all these qualifications, we can still make educated guesses about when
our civilization will reach these milestones. Given the rate at which our
civilization is growing, we might expect to reach Type I status within a few

For example, the largest energy source available to our Type 0 civilization
is the hydrogen bomb. Our technology is so primitive that we can unleash the
power of hydrogen fusion only by detonating a bomb, rather than controlling
it in a power generator. However, a simple hurricane generates the power of
hundreds of hydrogen bombs. Thus weather control, which is one feature of
Type I civilizations, is at least a century away from today's technology.

Similarly, a Type I civilization has already colonized most of its solar
system. By contrast, milestones in today's development of space travel are
painfully measured on the scale of decades, and therefore qualitative leaps
such as space colonization must be measured in centuries. For example, the
earliest date for NASA's manned landing on the planet Mars is 2020.
Therefore, the colonization of Mars may take place 40 to 50 years after
that, and the colonization of the solar system within a century.

By contrast, the transition from a Type I to a Type II civilization may take
only 1,000 years. Given the exponential growth of civilization, we may
expect that within 1,000 years the energy needs of a civilization will
become so large that it must begin to mine the sun to energize its machines.

A typical example of a Type II civilization is the Federation of Planets in
the "Star Trek" series. This civilization has just begun to master the
gravitational force-that is, the art of warping space-time via holes-and
hence, for the first time, has the capability of reaching nearby stars. It
has evaded the limit placed by the speed of light by mastering Einstein's
theory of general relativity. Small colonies have been established on some
of these systems, which the starship Enterprise is sworn to protect. The
civilization's starships are powered by the collision of matter and
antimatter. The ability to create large concentrations of antimatter
suitable for space travel places that civilization many centuries to a
millennium away from ours.

Advancing to a Type III civilization may take several thousand years ore.
This is, in fact, the time scale predicted by Isaac Asimov in his c
Foundation Series, which describes the rise, fall, and re-emergence of a
galactic civilization. The time scale involved in each of these transitions
involves thousands of years. This civilization has harnessed the energy
source contained within the galaxy itself. To it, warp drive, ad of being an
exotic form of travel to the nearby stars, is the standard means of trade
and commerce between sectors of the galaxy. Thus although it took 2 million
years for our species to leave the safety of the forests and build a modem
civilization, it may take only thousands of to leave the safety of our solar
system and build a galactic civilization.

One option open to a Type III civilization is harnessing the power of
supernovae or black holes. Its starships may even be able to probe the
galactic nucleus, which is perhaps the most mysterious of all energy
sources. Astrophysicists have theorized that because of the enormous size of
the galactic nucleus, the center of our galaxy may contain millions of black
holes. If true, this would provide virtually unlimited amounts of energy.

At this point, manipulating energies a million billion times larger than
present-day energies should be possible. Thus for a Type III civilization,
with the energy output of uncountable star systems and perhaps the galactic
nucleus at its disposal, the mastery of the tenth dimension' becomes a real


>From Space Daily, 6 May 2002

New Theory Asserts The Existence Of Mirror Matter

Melbourne - May 06, 2002

Invisible asteroids and other cosmic bodies made of a new form of matter may
pose a threat to Earth, asserts Australian Physicist Dr. Robert Foot.

In a revolutionary new theory, Dr. Robert Foot of the University of
Melbourne argues that meteorites composed of `mirror matter' -- a candidate
for the invisible dark matter that astronomers say is necessary to explain
their observations -- could impact with the Earth without leaving any
ordinary fragments.

Indeed, the theory seems to provide a simple explanation for the puzzling
Tunguska event - the blast which destroyed a huge area of Siberian forest in

While scientists have attributed this explosion to an ordinary meteorite, no
traces of such an object have ever been found. Moreover, there are frequent
smaller such events, occurring on a yearly basis, which are even more

The idea of mirror matter comes from the established fact that the
interactions of the known elementary particles, such as the electrons,
protons and neutrinos, violate mirror symmetry -- they have left-handed

This experimental fact motivates the idea that a set of `mirror particles'
exist. The left-handedness of the ordinary particles can then be balanced by
the right-handedness of the mirror particles.

In this way mirror reflection symmetry can exist but requires something
profoundly new -- a new form of matter called `mirror matter'.

In a recently published book -- Shadowlands, quest for mirror matter in the
Universe -- the scientific case for the existence of mirror matter is given.

At the very least, there is a range of fascinating evidence for its
existence including: astronomical observations suggesting that most of our
galaxy is made from a new form of matter - dark matter, puzzling Jupiter
sized planets only a few million miles from their host star, and the
mysterious slowing down of spacecraft in our solar system. Remarkably, it is
also possible that Pluto -- the most distant planet in our solar system --
might even be a mirror world, which can explain various anomalous features
of its orbit.

Perhaps, the most important consequence of all this -- if true -- is the
possibility of actually extracting the mirror matter from the Tunguska
impact site and other such sites around the world.

The mirror matter idea has not attracted a huge following among physicists.
In a recent UPI article, Howard Georgi of Harvard University says: "Foot's
ideas have not attracted a huge following in the community that cares about
these things, perhaps because the problems they solve, while interesting,
are not the most critical puzzles that we are wrestling with."

Nevertheless, mirror matter, if it exists, would be a completely new type of
material with a potentially huge commercial value.

Its scientific value would be of no less importance

Copyright 2002, Space Daily

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