The Anthropocene Will Help Astrobiologists Understand Alien Worlds


 Bild: NASA
Researchers propose a new alternative to the Kardashev Scale.

By Daniel Oberhaus | MOTHERBOARD

In 1964, the Soviet astronomer and OG alien-hunter Nikolai Kardashev devised a system for thinking about the extraterrestrial civilizations he hoped to soon discover. The Kardashev Scale is a three-tiered classification rubric that ranks civilizations on an astronomical scale of development based on their energy use. On this model, a type 1 civilization could direct all the energy on its home planet to its own ends. Earth is quickly approaching this level of development, but still falls a bit short. A type 2 civilization would have control over the energy of its host star, and a type 3 civilization would have free reign to use the energy of its host galaxy as it saw fit.

The Kardashev Scale makes for some trippy speculation, but a group of researchers led by University of Rochester physicist Adam Frank have proposedwhat they believe to be a better model of a civilization’s evolution.

As detailed in a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Anthropocene, Frank and his colleagues argue that the evolution of planetary-scale civilizations is best understood as a process of „non-equilibrium thermodynamics.“ Simply put, this is the idea that any intelligent species is bound to impact energy flow on their host planet by forcing this energy out of balance through the use of planetary resources.

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