Let’s put our self deprecating pants on. This is way too soon in an article, but time for some number crunching, because this is some serious business. What am I talking about? Our position on the Kardashev Scale. According to this scale, there are 3 types of civilizations – Type I, Type II and Type III. Type II civilization is capable of harnessing the power of the home star, using a Dyson Sphere. That wasn’t a whole lot of number crunching after all, hmm.. We aren’t even ‘on’ the scale right now, with a meager 0.73.
Too much jargon? Let’s start from the top. What if you could rank civilizations? Nikolai Kardashev, a Russian Astrophysicist proposed a three grade scale for the same.
Type 1 Civilisation:
Also dubbed as planetary civilization. If you have what it takes to gobble up all the energy that ever comes your way, You’re type 1 Civilization. This is to say, if life gives you lemons you will be able to make the proverbial juice out of it. There are multiple ways of doing this. One, is of course, blowing up the entire planet, but a more practical solution would be, large scale application of fusion power. We will need to boost our Energy harnessing power by a factor of 100,000. This means we can control the natural forces, which is the basic idea. Next time you want it to rain on your ex-girlfriend, you just have to push that button.
Type 2 Civilisation:
Step it up a bit, and you get yourself a Type II civilization, where you have the home star under your control. For this reason, it’s also called “Stellar Civilization”. This is done by constructing a marvel of a mega-structure called “Dyson Sphere” around it. This device (to give it a modest name) encompasses the entire star and directs all its energy to the planet which owns it. The gas giants can be used for hydrogen. This kind of tech means, nothing known to science can so much as even touch a type II civilization. We, at TechQuila will be sure to review it once it comes to existence
Type 3 Civilisation:
Going up the scale, this has obviously got to be something huge, and it is. A type III civilization, or, a galactic civilization is where the species becomes galactic travelers. Species have now become a master race, and they have the knowledge of everything – Everything related to energy. In human terms, they are way more evolved, at least by a 1000 years. Come 3018, and we will see what we have become. They can extract the energy of the entire galaxy. It is speculated that Galactic Empire of Star Wars lay somewhere between Type II and Type III, but there’s no definitive proof to categorize it into one.
Nikolai Kardashev thought this was the most advanced a civilization could be, but several people have come up with a Type IV – A civilization that can tap that dark energy (Yes, you heard me right, and here we are, not even being able to “detect” it) and a Type V – A civilization that can not only work under one universe, but multiple.You Literally have to play god and not lose, to be able to do that.
Coming to Our Object of Interest- Dyson Sphere. It is something that is usually found in a Type II civilization. It is still, just a thought experiment, but as Albus Dumbledore said
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
It was popularized by Freeman Dyson in his 1960 paper “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation”. However, it was first introduced by a sci-fi writer- Olaf Stapledon in his novel Star Maker, back in 1937!
A Dyson Sphere (Actually, a shell) is typically a shell that covers entirety of a star. The energy hitting the inside surface of such a shell would be collected, processed and used by the civilization. Dyson introduced this concept as a logical solution that may be adopted later to cope with escalating energy needs of an advanced technological civilization. This was a solution for “Long term Survival”.
Tabby’s Star and Dyson Sphere
In 2015, Tabetha Boyajian, an American Astrophysicist discovered a weird phenomena with a star called KIC 8462852, which was later to be called “Tabby’s Star” in her honor. She investigated the highly unusual light curve of the star and wrote a paper called “Where’s the Flux” in September 2015. This was thought to be a consequence of the fact that maybe, just maybe, it was actually a “Dyson Sphere” and that maybe, aliens do exist. However, it was ruled out later, as it was a comet shower that caused it. She did remind everyone that alien matters should be treated with extreme skepticism. To quote the woman herself
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and it is my job, my responsibility, as an Astronomer to remind people that alien hypotheses should always be a last resort.”
Read more about structures of supercivilizations here.
1: A Dyson sphere is actually NOT a sphere (nor a shell), as that is physically impossible (at least within the current known laws of physics) and even the original author, freeman dyson, didn’t propose such a thing.
It’s a swarm of ‘tiny’ things going from mere solar panels satellites up to space stations that all orbit the sun/star up until they manage to produce an opaque cloud around it by simple virtue of how thick said cloud is.
Just like a cloud in the sky doesn’t need to be made of a solid continuous material to occult the sun that passes behind it.
2: Kardashev scale is way more simple that you make is sound:
type 1= uses all the energy the Earth receives from the Sun (around 3 x 10^26 watts)
type 2= uses all the energy the Sun produces (around 4 x 10^33 watts)
type 3= uses all the energy produces by all the stars in the galaxy (MAYBE 10^45 watts, but probably much more)
Note: give or take an order of magnitude or two since planets and stars obviously aren’t equal in how much energy they receive/produce
The extended type are even more theoretical
type 4= uses all the energy in the universe (good luck finding an estimation here, assuming it’s even possible)
type 5= multiple universes