July  2008
Potent Quotes Department:
From quantum astrophysicist, author Michio Kaku—VISIONS
- Human knowledge is doubling every ten years.
- In the past decade, more scientific knowledge has been created than in all of human history.
- Computer power is doubling every eighteen months.
- The Internet is doubling every year. The number of DNA sequences we can analyze is doubling every two years.
- The quantum theory, has now given us an almost complete description of matter, allowing us to describe the seemingly infinite multiplicity of matter we see arrayed around us in terms of a handful of particles,
- Quantum theory reduced the mystery of matter to a few postulates. First, that energy is not continuous as the ancients thought but occurs discrete bundles called “quanta”
- There are about 200 billion stars in our galaxy and trillions of galaxies in outer space.
- Applying the laws of thermodynamics and energy, astrophysicists who scan the heavens have been able to classify hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations into three types, based on the ways they utilize energy. Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev and Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson label them Type 1, II, and III civilizations.
- A Type I civilization is one that has mastered all forms of terrestrial energy. Such a civilization can modify the weather, mine the oceans, or extract energy from the center of their planet. Their energy needs are so large that they must harness the potential resources of the entire planet. Harnessing and managing resources on this gigantic scale requires a sophisticated degree of cooperation among their individuals with elaborate planetary communication. This necessarily means that they have attained a truly planetary civilization, one that has put to rest most of the factional, religious, sectarian and nationalistic struggles that typify their origin.
- Type II civilization have mastered stellar energy. Their energy needs are so great that they have exhausted planetary sources and must use their sun itself to drive their machines. Dyson has speculated that, by building a giant sphere around their sun, such a civilization might be able to harness their sun’s total energy output. They have also begun the exploration and possible colonization of nearby star systems.
- Type III civilizations have exhausted the energy output of a single star. They must reach out to neighboring star systems and clusters, and eventually evolve into a galactic civilization. They obtain their energy by harnessing collections of star systems throughout the galaxy.
- (To give a sense of scale, the United Federation of Planets described in Star Trek probably qualifies for an emerging Type II status, as they have just attained the ability to ignite stars and have colonized a few nearby star systems.)
- The system of classifying civilizations is a reasonable one because it relies on the available supply of energy. Any advanced civilization in space will eventually find three sources of energy at their disposal: their planet, their star, and their galaxy. There is no other choice.
- With a modest growth rate of 3 percent per year—the growth rate typically found on earth—one can calculate when our planet might make the transition to a higher status in the galaxy. For example, astrophysicists estimate that, based on energy considerations, a factor of ten billion may separate the energy demands between the various types of civilizations. Although this staggering number at first seems like an insurmountable obstacle, a steady 3 percent growth rate can overcome even this factor. In fact, we can expect to reach Type 1 status within a century or two. To reach Type II status may require no more than about 800 years. But attaining Type II status may take on the order of 10,000 years or more (depending on the physics of interstellar travel). But even this is nothing but the twinkling of an eye from the perspective of the universe.
- Where are we now? You might ask. At present, we are a Type O civilization. Essentially, we use dead plants (coal and oil) to energize our machines. On this planetary scale, we are like children, taking our first hesitant and clumsy steps into space. But by the close of twenty-first century, the sheer power of the three scientific revolutions will force the nations of the earth to cooperate on a scale never seen before in history. By the twenty-second century, we will have laid the groundwork of a Type I civilization, and humanity will have taken the first step toward the stars.