Just For Fun Abusing The Kardashev Scale For Fun And Profit Discussion

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11:03:04 PM Sep 28th 2017
"* The planet Earth in Friends appears to be technologically advanced about as much as the Earth of the real world."

As this does not really add anything to the article, I have opted to remove it.
12:45:23 PM Apr 11th 2015
How about the alien civilization we see in "Contact?" Where do they fall?
01:32:50 PM Apr 11th 2015
04:08:22 PM Jun 17th 2013
This article's discussion of power is tenuous at best.

Sure, Tsar Bomba or gamma ray bursts involve instantaneous releases of energy at or above Kardashev scale levels. But the whole point of the scale is harnessing *continuous* power outputs at that level. Type I isn't just "10^16 Watts," it's 10^16 Watts continuously (i.e. Watt-hours per hour if that makes more sense).

Humanity is not Type I. We're not even close. Our global power consumption is around 10^14 Watt-hours per year, which translates to ~10^10 W continuous output. That puts us around Kardashev 0.5 - and we're doing most of that (~80%) artificially, using leftovers of Earth's insolation (fossil fuels, nuclear).
09:38:08 PM Jul 23rd 2014
edited by
04:14:57 AM Jan 21st 2016
Actually we're somewhere in 0.72 actually based on power consumption.
03:42:01 PM Jun 4th 2012
An important distinction - and I'm not sure whether or not the below topic actually addresses it - is "the amount of usable energy a civilization has at its disposal" (quoted from the Wikipedia article) vs. the amount of energy a civilization is actually using at a given moment. If a civilization has the constructed, functioning infrastructure to harness 1E18 watts, but only uses 8E15 watts of that (leaving a vast, vast quantity of their available power unused or directed to batteries), are they Type 0 (because they're using 8E15 watts) or Type 1 (because they could use 1E18 watts if they wanted to)?

(My opinion: the latter is the case, and they're a Type 1. This avoids problems with civilizations wiggling between K-types, like the Death Star "[putting] the civilization well into Type III for as long as it was firing", unless firing the weapon destroyed the power source.)
07:03:22 AM May 11th 2012
The Tsar Bomba created 10^24 W? That's just two magnitudes below our sun, if that number is correct. This needs an explanation.
12:51:32 PM Jun 5th 2012
edited by Etherjammer
The Tsar Bomba had a yield of 50 megatons, or 2.1e17 joules. According to http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Library/Teller.html (and I make no attestations as to its veracity), the output duration of a Teller-Uram fusion bomb is 20-40 nanoseconds. Assuming the longest possible explosion, that's (2.1e17)J/(4e-8)sec, or 5.3e24 watts.
12:18:47 PM Apr 15th 2012
Regarding the Firefly example, somebody who knows how to do the math can factor in that Serenity weighs 2,400 tons according to the RPG.
01:11:01 PM Sep 28th 2010
It's been remarked in the archived discussion, and stated on the page itself, but some entries seem not to follow that this is all about how much power you use, not what you do with it. If your spaceship can turn off its inertia and cross the universe in a minute powered by a potato battery, your tech is probably crazy advanced, but your civilization might not rate type 1 on the Kardashev scale. If you use the mass-energy of a trillion cosmoses to make coffee each morning, you're type 4 whether or not there's other shiny tech or even other individuals. I think that there should be a stronger explanation at the top to this effect, and that the entries should be resorted/cut keeping this criterion in mind. If no one objects, I'll look into it when I have some time.
08:44:44 PM Oct 1st 2010
There is an issue with blowing up stars (and perhaps hydrogen/helium rich gas giants). Unlike planets, which take some doing to upset the natural order, stars are big piles of fusion fuel, and blowing one up doesn't say a whole lot about the power use of whatever technology set it off  * . After all, most stars will disperse themselves anyway if given time. It's like tossing a match and starting a forest fire: the match only puts out a few hundred Watts tops, and you can't really take credit for the gigawatts the burning forest puts out... unless you use it to power something with a reasonable efficiency  * . Or you could use a super-match with sufficient heat output to burn the trees directly without relying on the wood for fuel, but that requires a separate GW scale power source. A litmus test I'd use would be something like "would technology X perform task Y against object Z if Z were made of an inert substance instead of explodium?" Does anyone know how these examples are supposed to work?  *  *  *

Some entries gave no real evidence for where it should go, and I'm not familiar enough/didn't have enough time to research to place them myself.  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Some others I'm not sure of:  *  *  *  *

Also, some explanation for where I put certain planet busters. The Death Star blew up Alderaan with debris shooting out at a significant percentage of light speed, meaning it overcame the gravitational binding energy by a factor of millions or so, requiring power well into Type III territory. The two-stage cyclonic torpedos of WH 40 K can also blow up planets, but are noted to just "usually" blow them apart, indicating that their yield is on about the same scale as the planet's binding energy, which puts them into Type II as they detonate.
12:15:04 PM Oct 7th 2010
edited by socom
On the topic of destroying stars, I respectfully disagree. Stars are hardly made of explodium and it is not at all easy to disrupt a star until it brews up on its own. If you want a "forest fire" comparison, try setting fire to a dripping-wet freshly-cut log in the midst of a torrential downpour. Sure it'll be flammable some day, but meh... Imho civilizations which are capable of blowing up stars fully deserve the Type II designation.
07:24:59 PM Oct 9th 2010
But why do most stars blow up on their own? Because they really are big piles of fusion fuel (i.e. hydrogen and helium) kept on the edge of fusing by temperature and pressure. That is, after all, why main sequence stars shine as they support themselves against gravitational collapse. When stars are shocked such that temperature and pressure increase where they are already high, the resulting fusion can increase temperature and pressure further, resulting in a runaway (rather explosive) fusion reaction. This is what happens in supernovas; what prevents it from happening in sunlike stars is not the fuel present but the lack of sufficient pressure in the core to cause a sudden collapse that shocks the already hot and dense plasma of the core. Rather than a dripping wet fresh log, a star is more like a dry and already smoldering log.

Why does this matter for Kardashev Scale rankings? Because setting up such a disturbance would reasonably take several orders of magnitude less energy than actually expending the energy to dismantle a star yourself, especially if phlebotinum is involved. The gravitational binding energy of a sunlike star is about 7E41J, and a weapon that can expend that represents, not a Type II power use, but transient mid Type III or a borderline Type III that can divert several hours of an entire galaxy's output to a single target. The other activities of the civilizations mentioned to destroy stars in my above post do not remotely approach that. Compare with the Sun Crusher of Star Wars, where the established technological capabilities of the Empire are already within a few orders of magnitude, but that doesn't matter, because the Sun Crusher is explicitly said to use the star's own mass to power the explosion via a self-sustaining chain reaction that doesn't work on things that aren't stars.

And so I proposed the test of "would this star destroying weapon work against something that's not a big pile of fusion fuel?" Does this seem reasonable?
09:22:33 AM Jun 17th 2011
On the inconsistency of the Transformers (particularly in the films):

Firstly, the humans are making them look bad. Humans manage to be a significant factor in the combat between Decipticons and Autobots, despite using tech which is only marginal in fighting Transformers. If they were involved in overwhelming numbers this would make sense, but there are few human combatants. Their most effective units (the jet fighters) spend most of their time trying to not get shredded by Starscream.

Secondly, the may not really be very good at combat. Here they are, most of them have spent more time in combat than humans have existed, and humans are a real threat to them, even with marginal tech.

Thirdly, while they might once have had the equipment to do Class II or Class III level operations, there is the small matter of that multi-million-year inconclusive civil war. The first rule of warfare is that stuff gets damaged. In a prolonged war, the deciding factor is not your ability to kill enemy soldiers, but your ability to prevent them being resupplied with critical resources needed to fight. For Transformers, this includes the energy needed to fight and to create replacement soldiers, so high on the list of priority targets would be the power collection hardware needed to do Class II or Class III power collection.
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