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Measuring Cosmic Progress: The Kardashev Scale's Impact on Future Societies

Author: Emily Jiang

Editors: Flynn Ma and Sophia Chen

Artist: Jade Li

Our civilization continues to grow and develop over time. But how can we keep track of how far we are in terms of advancement technologically? Especially with the question of whether extraterrestrial life exists, how do we categorize, compare, and rank civilizations? The answer to these questions lies in the Kardashev Scale. The Kardashev Scale classifies a civilization’s development based on its ability to harness and utilize energy. As a civilization progresses, energy consumption increases due to population growth and technological advancements. The scale offers three ranks for civilizations: Type I, Type II, and Type III. Earth, in its current state, is classified as Type 0.7276 and will need a good amount of time before reaching Type I. The Kardashev Scale puts our civilization into perspective on how much potential humanity has for growth and development.

The amount of energy a Type I civilization can utilize is 10¹⁶W, a Type II is 10²⁶W, and a Type III is 10³⁶W. A Type I civilization needs to be able to use and store all the energy from their original planet, for instance, the energy from the sun, minerals, and wind. For Earth to be considered a Type I civilization, humanity must be able to control the weather and natural disasters. Following, a Type II is when the civilization can completely draw upon the energy right from its star, as well as being able to control its star, known as “Star Lifting.” The concept of “Star Lifting” is when a civilization can manipulate and transport stars from one place to another. A hypothetical method to do so is the Dyson sphere, which would surround the star and collect most, if not all, the energy from it. Lastly, a Type III civilization must be capable enough to gather all the energy within its entire galaxy. Intergalactic transmission, light-speed travel, and even the concept of “galaxy lifting” would all become feasible at this point.

Since its creation, the Kardashev Scale has evolved, introducing more types like Type 0, Type 4, and Type 5. Types 4 and 5 involve controlling entire universes or even multiple universes, while Type 0 refers to the phase of pre-industrialization. Despite our journey from the Stone Age to the modern day, we have not yet reached the level of a Type I civilization. This shows the endless possibilities humanity has for technological innovations, and that our search for extraterrestrial life will continue as we delve deeper into the depths of space.

 

Citations:

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Creighton, Jolene. “The Kardashev Scale – Can We Advance beyond a Type 3 Civilization?”

Futurism, Recurrent Ventures Inc, 21 Aug. 2019, futurism.com/the-kardashev-scale-type-

i-ii-iii-iv-v-civilization.

Hughes, Alex. “Kardashev Scale: What Is It and Where Is Earth Listed?” BBC Science Focus

Magazine, Our Media 2023, 18 May 2022, www.sciencefocus.com/future-

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Williams, Matt. “What Is the Kardashev Scale?” Universe Today, Universe Today, 13 Mar.

2022, www.universetoday.com/153167/what-is-the-kardashev-scale/.

Zhang, A., Yang, J., Luo, Y. et al. Forecasting the progression of human civilization on the

Kardashev Scale through 2060 with a machine learning approach. Sci Rep 13, 11305

(2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-38351-y

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