Scale of civilisations :Kardashev Scale

Proposed by Russian astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964, it is a scale for predicting a civilisation’s advancement level. It originally had three types : type I, II and III or planetary, stellar and galactic (Spoiler : We are not even type I). The scale was later improved by Carl Sagan, another astronomer.

The scale is logarithmic. The Kardashev reading of a civilisation is determined by the amount of power it can produce :

Type 0 – 10^6 Watts

Type I – 10^16 Watts

Type II – 10^26 Watts

Type III – 10^36 Watts

Thus, to smoothen the scale we can consider a formula :

Kardashev reading = (log(P) – 6)÷10, Where P is power produced by the civilisation.

Let us discuss the types in detail :

Type 0 :

It is the type of civilisation which has just started it influence its own planet and is just an amateur in utilising its resources, a defination in which our civilisation seems to perfectly fit. In fact, considering our current energy input, we are indeed a type 0.73 on the scale. We are yet to achieve a lot.

Type I :

These civilisations are capable of harnessing and using all the energy of their home planet. Such a civilisation could travel easily in its solar system and might have settled on many other planets or moons. They would be capable of mining asteroids for resources. It might take us a few thousand years to reach this level. If we ever meet aliens, they would probably belong to this type.

Type II :

This one has the technology capable of harnessing the energy of a whole star. How? Science Fiction has already imagined such a hypothetical megastructure. Dyson Spheres. They envelope the entire star like a shell and have solar panels on the inside which absorb the star’s radiation. This much energy can be used to power their titanic-scale projects like terraforming whole planets and colonising distant star systems. They might build a galactic empire.

Type III :

They will have access to all the energy of all the stars of their galaxy. The whole galaxy will become their playground and they will use the monstrous amount of energy for whatever they want. They might be able to travel faster than light and have technology which is impossible according to our current understanding of physics.

Beyond the Original Scale :

Kardashev thought that human advancement may not go any higher than type III but some scientists believe that even higher levels might be possible.

Type IV :

A civilisation which could harness entire universe’s energy might not seem to be possible. However, our current understanding of physics might be incomplete. These people could play with physics for their good.

Type V :

They are literally Gods. They might have technology which may seem magic to us. They could be able to alter the laws of our universe and create new universes.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” –Arthur C. Clarke

This brings us to ….. us. We already have technology which might be magic to anyone a thousand years ago. We would be gods to them. But we are demons to ourselves. We have technology capable of destroying ourselves and are threatening our own existence. But if want to achieve any significant position on the Kardashev scale, we need to develop not only our technology but also the wisdom to use it.

By Abhinav Singh.

Butterfly Effect

Small changes in initial conditions cause big changes in the final condition.

We all have the idea that the world today is as it is because of the big events occured in the past like wars, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc.

The Butterfly effects however, presents a different idea. It says that even small changes can compound to a very different effect over time. The weather, for instance, cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy no matter how much advanced our technology gets. This is because, to do so we have to know the exactly how fast and in which direction each and every particle in the atmosphere is moving which is practically impossible.

“Even a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a tornado in US.”

One day, Edward Lorentz was using an old computer to calculate weather patterns by running simulations. Firstly, he entered the variables till six decimal places. Then, he entered the numbers again to run the simulation again but this time he entered only till three decimal places thinking that it won’t affect the results much. To his surprise, the results were drastically different. This was a new discovery revealing that complex systems like the weather are very sensetive to initial conditions.

Thus, even small events in the past lead to major events in the future. Here are a few examples :

Three days after Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, Charles Sweeney was ordered to drop Fat Man on Kokura. The weather on that day was cloudy over Kokura. After flying over the city for hours, Sweeney finally had to go to the secondary target Nagasaki as he was unable to detect the original target because of the clouds. 75 thousand people that day in Nagasaki while Kokura was spared. Even a small change in the weather patterns that day could have drastically changed the world today. In fact, every factor which caused the weather to be cloudy that day also caused Kokura to be spared. Only if any of these factors was not the same the 75 thousand people of Nagasaki would have lived.

During the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 when the USSR placed nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba to counter USA’s move of putting ballistic missiles in Turkey, an incident occured which could have started a nuclear war. The US dropped a signalling depth charge to signal a USSR submarine to come to the surface. Those on board mistook it as an attack and thought that the war has begun. Two of the three commanders agreed to launch nuclear missiles and attack USA. The reason world didn’t end in a nuclear war is that Vasili Arkhipov denied on the proposal of launching the missile. Such a small decision of an individual can decide the fate of the whole civilisation.

The Butterfly Effect is based on the field of mathematics Chaos Theory which studies complex systems sensetive to changes in initial conditions. Everything from the beautiful patterns of gases on Jupiter to election results emerges form chaos. Similarly, the weather is too chaotic to predict i.e. it has too many variables. However, it is not random. If we could exactly know the initial conditions of a system we would be able to predict its future and past. Thus, this is termed as deterministic chaos, chaos which can be determined (in theory of course).

This tells us that literally everything that has ever happened has caused you reading this blog, every event no matter how insignificant it might seem. This is like a message directly from the universe that you are not insignificant, in fact no one is.

By Abhinav Singh.

Multiverse Theory

The ‘Many universes theory’:

The multiverse theory or rather the multiverse hypothesis states that there could be many universes that may or may not resemble ours. It predicts the existence of a bigger multiverse inside which many universes co-exist.

Here are three ways in which the multiverse may exist:

1. Bubbles:

It is believed that there can be many universes existing in a bubble-like shape. Each of these universes could have their own set of physical laws and could sustain their own realities. The ones with physical laws which could keep them stable may survive long enough for life to evolve. Some might collapse the moment they are born. Others might remain dead and uninteresting. Some might even have life intelligent enough to build their own universes. In this way, survival of the fittest might take place among universes.

2. Membranes (or Branes):

Another hypothesis says that multiple universes may exist not in bubbles but parallel to each other in a higher dimension (see the image). Imagine a newspaper whose pages are 3 dimensional instead of 2. Now imagine the pages as universes. This was predicted by string theory which promises more dimensions than the 3 we see in the real world (4, if we consider time as a dimension too)

3. Parallel Universes:

This one is probably the weirdest. In quantum mechanics, a particle may exist in superposition i.e. it may exist in two or more possible states simultaneously till it is observed, on which the superposition collapses and the particle is found in one of the possible states. According to this hypothesis, when the superposition collapses, the universe splits into many similar universes, each of them having one of the possible states of the particle.

This can be applied to the macro level too. We are also unnoticeably controlled by the quintillions of quantum particles inside our brains. Whenever someone makes a choice between two options, the universe may split into two with each of the two choices. Thus, there could be a universe where you never failed that test you did or where Hitler never invaded Poland and the World War 2 never began.

By Abhinav Singh