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Thursday, 6 July 2017

Richard Pearson look at the Universe Today, Part 5: ‘Advanced Civilisations ..’

11182339_794895210596542_8220998414791220126_nThe origin of the Universe occurred 13.8 billion years ago in an event astronomers call the Big Bang. Our universe then sprang into existence through a phase of rapid inflation. It then took 9.3 billion years for the solar system to form along with life and humanity to evolve to the point it is today. It has only been in the last decade that we have been able to search and discover extra solar planets around nearby stars in our own Milky Way galaxy. as of 1 July 2017, there have been 3,621 exoplanets, in 2,712 planetary systems and 611 multiple planetary systems, confirmed detections. This seems a large amount, however in terms of the size of our expanding universe it is miniscule. There are a lot of parameters in play just for life to have a chance of creation and evolving. Anyone who has read Charles Dwain’s Origin of the Species will know that the steps that follow are delicate, and there are many branches of different kinds of life before one is successful and leads humanity. Our own solar system formed 4.5 billion years, and life first took hold on the earth 3.8 billion years ago. It has taken this long for humanity to become the dominant species with a reasonable level of intelligence.

The first galaxies came into existence 200 million years after the big bang, however, this does not mean that the conditions were favourable for life begin on a planet. Our own sun is a third generation star, which means that two stars existed in its place following the big bang, each of which cooked chemical elements in there interiors and exploded as supernova, spreading their contents around as a nebula. It was out of this proto-planetary material our sun and solar system evolved. While we now know that there was more iron in this baby universe, the first stars only contained hydrogen and lithium, which was not sufficient for life to start, there needed to be first, and or second generation stars before hand to cook the heavier elements in their cores.

The question I get asked rather a lot, is: ‘Do you think there is intelligent life in the universe?

There was not sufficient elements around after the first stars died for life to form. Second generation stars are needed to cook the elements further, so my answer is that there is not enough time the supper intelligent beings to exist in the universe today.

I said earlier that the laws of physics are not the same everywhere in the universe, so it is possible that life could have formed earlier on the first planets orbiting distant stars. Here again the parameters have to be just right, with the planet orbiting its parent star inside its habitable zone, and the star being similar to our sun and stable in nature. If the spark of life did happen on a planet with a second generation star, it’s my opinion that the inhabitants would not have evolved more than half way along a Type 1 civilisation on the Kardashev Scale.

The Kardashev Scale was originally designed in 1964 by the Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev ((born 1932 in Moscow). It has three base classes, each with an energy disposal level: Type I (10¹⁶W), Type II (10²⁶W), and Type III (10³⁶W).

The human race is not on this scale yet. Since we still sustain our energy needs from dead plants and animals, here on Earth, we are a lowly Type 0 civilization and we have a about 100 – 200 years to go before being promoted to a type I civilization.

A Type I designation is a given to species who have been able to harness all the energy that is available from a neighbouring star, gathering and storing it to meet the energy demands of a growing population. This means that we would need to boost our current energy production over 100,000 times to reach this status. However, being able to harness all Earth’s energy would also mean that we could have control over all natural forces. Human beings could control volcanoes, the weather, and even earthquakes! These kinds of feats are hard to believe, but compared to the advances that may still be to come, these are just basic and primitive levels of control.

nagyon-magas-felhokarcolok-2A Type II civilization can harness the power of their entire star (not merely transforming starlight into energy, but controlling the star). Several methods for this have been proposed. The most popular of which is the hypothetical ‘Dyson Sphere.’ This device would encompass every single inch of the star, gathering most (if not all) of its energy output and transferring it to a planet for later use. Alternatively, if fusion power had been mastered by the race, a reactor on a truly immense scale could be used to satisfy their needs. Nearby gas giants can be utilized for their hydrogen, slowly drained of life by an orbiting reactor.

What would this much energy mean for a species? Well, nothing known to science could wipe out a Type II civilization. Take, for instance, if humans survived long enough to reach this status, and a moon sized object entered our solar system on a collision course with our little blue planet–we’d have the ability to vaporize it out of existence. Or if we had time, we could move our planet out of the way, completely dodging it. But let’s say we didn’t want to move Earth… are there any other options? Well yes, because we’d have the capability to move Jupiter, or another planet of our choice, into the way.

A Type III civilisation is where a species then becomes galactic travellers with knowledge of everything having to do with energy, resulting in them becoming a master race. In terms of humans, hundreds of thousands of years of evolution – both biological and mechanical – may result in the inhabitants of this type III civilization being incredibly different from the human race as we know it. These may be cyborgs (or cybernetic organism, beings both biological and robotic), with the descendants of regular humans being a sub-species among the now-highly advanced society. These wholly biological humans would likely be seen as being disabled, inferior, or un-evolved by their cybernetic counterparts.

At this stage, we would have developed colonies of robots that are capable of ‘self replication’; their population may increase into the millions as they spread out across the galaxy, colonizing star after star. And these being might build Dyson Spheres to encapsulate each one, creating a huge network that would carry energy back to the home planet. But stretching over the galaxy in such a manner would face several problems; namely, the species would be constrained by the laws of physics. Particularly, light-speed travel. That is, unless they develop a working warp drive, or use that immaculate energy cache to master wormhole teleportation, they can only get so far.

At this stage, we would have developed colonies of robots that are capable of ‘self replication’; their population may increase into the millions as they spread out across the galaxy, colonizing star after star. And these being might build Dyson Spheres to encapsulate each one, creating a huge network that would carry energy back to the home planet. But stretching over the galaxy in such a manner would face several problems; namely, the species would be constrained by the laws of physics. Particularly, light-speed travel. That is, unless they develop a working warp drive, or use that immaculate energy cache to master wormhole teleportation (two things that remain theoretical for the time being), they can only get so far.

Kardashev believed a Type IV civilization was ‘too’ advanced and didn’t go beyond Type III on his scale. He thought that, surely, this would be the extent of any species’ ability. Many think so, but a few believe there is a further level that could be achieved. (I mean, surely there is a limit?) Type IV civilizations would almost be able to harness the energy content of the entire universe and with that, they could traverse the accelerating expansion of space (furthermore, advance races of these species may live inside supermassive black holes). To previous methods of generating energy, these kinds of feats are considered impossible. A Type IV civilization would need to tap into energy sources unknown to us using strange, or currently unknown, laws of physics.

Type V might just be the next possible advancement to such a civilization. Here beings would be like gods, having the knowledge to manipulate the universe as they please. Now, as I said, humans are a very, very long way from ever reaching anything like this. But it’s not to say that it cannot be achieved as long as we take care of Earth and each other. To do so, the first step is to preserve our tiny home, extinguish war, and continue to support scientific advances and discoveries.

Will the universe come to an end in a big crunch or a big freeze? We cannot be sure that our universe will end one day in the distant future … I don’t think it will. A very advanced civilisations would be able to manipulate the unified laws of physics to stabilise our universe so it exists for-ever, which is a lovely thought.

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