Barriers to Becoming a Kardashev Civilization
This episode is brought to you by NordVPN. A glorious and bright future awaits us if we can become a Kardashev Civilization, but what barriers stand between us and that bright future. So, this episode marks the 8th Anniversary of our first episode of Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur, and I thought for SFIA’s 8th Birthday, it would be a good time to revisit the core concept behind our original episode on megastructures, which is what a Kardashev-scale civilization really would tend to look like compared to our classic science fiction and space opera interstellar empires and federations. I think in many ways, that’s best discussed by way of by what the barriers are to reaching that level, but first let’s review what the Kardashev Scale is. Now there are 3 levels of Kardashev civilizations known as K1, K2, and K3, and each level on that scale has its own barriers to reaching it and challenges to overcome once there. But first, if you’d like to help the Channel reach a new level, make sure to hit those like and subscribe buttons.
The Kardashev Scale’s originator, Astronomer Nikolai Kardashev, suggested it as a classification for advanced civilizations based on how much power they’d consume, and the scale is on astronomical grades – Planetary, Solar, and Galactic. It has come to also imply a civilization’s technological level, but honestly, it is not really good for measuring that. The basic notion is that your typical planet should be getting around 10^17 watts of sunlight hitting it at any moment and the same radiated away as heat or reflected back into space unused. A civilization that comes to use all that energy directly is called a
K1 Civilization. We are of course not considered to be one. How you define ‘use’ is a bit tricky, since photosynthesis by plants used to grow food for citizens would seem to count, but as an example of how the Kardashev scale isn’t the best scale we could come up with when attempting to describe a civilization’s technological level, an intelligent world-spanning fungus or algae with no technology; just a naturally evolved planet-brain, would be nearly K1. Now, a justification for using technology levels interchangeably with Kardashev levels is that presumably, a giant planet-wide brain would be likely to have far greater mental capacity (than humans do) for reaching advanced technological levels quickly, as might any civilization with 2x10^17 watts of power at its disposal, which is how much sunlight Earth gets and is also 10,000 times the average total power consumption of humanity these days. Imagine what we could do with that much power? 10,000 times what we have now? That’s K1 and it’s the lowest level.
The funny thing is that, while we do need a bit more technology to get to K1 ourselves, we should have all of that by this century’s end, and that technology could take us to levels K2 and K3 as well. A K2 civilization is just one that uses all the power generated by its star, rather than just all the sunlight that star puts on their planet. But once they’ve built the megastructures to capture all the energy radiated onto a planet, they don’t need higher tech megastructures to encase a star, just a lot of them. And K3 just means they use all the power generated by an entire galaxy. Categorizing civilizations by their power usage is great for astronomy and SETI purposes – the search for extraterrestrial intelligence – because that usage will determine how you can detect those civilizations. Stars and planets have some very specific traits when most or all of their energy is being used technologically, and especially so when talking about an entire galaxy. It is widely believed that energy can be neither
created nor destroyed, just changed in type. Planets, or any other bodies in space that are absorbing sunlight energy, will get hotter and hotter as they absorb light, until they begin radiating it away as fast as they absorb it. The color, or spectrum, of the light emitted will look roughly like a Bell Curve but with a peak based on its temperature too. Earth’s peak is at a wavelength of about 10 micrometers, corresponding to our typical temperature of about 290 Kelvin. This is the infrared band, which is huge and covers everything from 3 Kelvin to 4000 Kelvin, in terms of emission peaks, but we divide the band into subgroups, near-infrared, the hottest and the majority of what most stars actually emit, short-wavelength IR, which about 1000-2000 Kelvin, Mid-wavelength IR, which is everything between the boiling point of water at one atmosphere, up to 1000 Kelvin, and Long-Wavelength IR, which is what we usual call Thermal IR, and would include every animal on the planet, and the planet itself, down to Antarctic temperatures.
We have Far IR after that and this is what basically every other celestial body gives off that’s neither a star, nor close to one, and is 3-193 Kelvin, most asteroids, comets, and moons are in this territory, and right under that we get microwave radiation. As a quick reminder 273 Kelvin is the same as 0 Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit, what water freezes at here on Earth, and 373 Kelvin is Boiling point, 100 Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit. And we assume any life based on the principles we know of must come from a planet in this temperature range where liquid water is possible, or one just a bit cooler perhaps. And again, Earth glows with infrared emissions at roughly 290 Kelvin, in the Long Wavelength Infrared or LWIR, or Thermal Infrared range, 290 Kelvin is 17 Celsius or 62 Fahrenheit, and that’s the average Temperature of Earth.. Now our Sun is about 20 times hotter, so has a peak about a twentieth the wavelength, half a micrometer. This actually corresponds to the color zone of blue-green, but the Sun
is white in appearance if you look at it – which you absolutely should not do – and atmospheric scattering results in that yellow-ish look around it during mid-day. When we use light as a power source, it ends up as heat in the object using it and eventually radiates out at a characteristic temperature. The amount and spectrum of light a star gives off matches very tightly with its mass and brightness, so someone using a big portion of a star’s light for powering their civilization is going to alter that star’s spectrum a lot and it would stand-out like a fighter jet on a highway. It should be pretty easy for us to spot any K2 civilizations that existed at a time where their light could possibly have reached us, even with the equipment we have today, same as it should be easy to spot any K1 civilization that is absorbing or emitting more power than we would expect it to naturally. Any given planet has a specific orbital period around its star based on the star’s mass and that planet’s distance from it, so if we see a planet around a star of known brightness orbiting every X number of Days, we know how much radiation it should be giving off, either as reflected and scattered sunlight or emitted as infrared. We can add those
up and throw in modifications for greenhouse gasses altering that ratio, and if it is off, we know we’ve got someone making tons of power there, presumably by nuclear fusion, or beaming it in from orbital solar arrays. Where the Kardashev scale is originally about detecting civilizations, this is how that can be done. And we tend to assume you could see this if their emitted power or wavelength was 10% or more off from what we’d expect from an uninhabited planet, maybe even lower like 1%. Same notion for galaxies. So that’s why the classifications: K1 and K2 and K3, they are useful specifically in astronomy, we’d expect to see if there was a sizable distortion to a planet or star or galaxy’s natural light output. These are really big ranges though, because planets can vary in luminosity quite a lot and still be habitable, especially when technology comes into play, and they vary in size a lot too. So, our own
planet’s luminosity of about 2x10^17 watts, or our galaxy’s luminosity of about 5x10^36 watts, can easily vary by an entire order of magnitude or two; between two different planets or two different galaxies. Stars are even worse, our sun, at 4x10^26 Watts, is 2 billion times brighter than earth and a bit under 10 billion times dimmer than our galaxy, but our Sun is also 10,000 times brighter than the dimmest red dwarfs stars are, and there are hypergiants that are a million times brighter than our Sun, that’s 10 orders of magnitude or a factor of 10 billion between dimmest red dwarfs and might hypergiants. So, it isn’t that we could say a civilization is Kardashev 2 if it gives off 386 Trillion-Trillion Watts like our own sun does, or standardize it as Carl Sagan suggested to 10^16 watts being K1, 10^26 being K2, and 10^36 being K3, or doing that in megawatts to drop the 6’s. It’s just that, from an astronomical perspective, if that specific object is varying enough from what we would expect, and if that variation falls within the scope of what our instruments would detect as a clear anomaly, with continued observation, it might be enough to label it as artificial and alien.
So basically, if we had good telescopes we could spot a sub-K1 civilization on Pluto that was causing just 1% variation of its normal emissions – which would correspond to some subterranean cities 4 trillion watts of power generation that radiates away as heat, slightly raising Pluto’s temperature, and that’s about a fifth of humanity’s current power generation too, but on the Sagan Scale, if we were to do it calculator-style with 4x10^12 Watts reading as 4E12 watts, and Earth reading 2E17 watts, we could presumably replace the E with a K and then subtract 6, again putting it in megawatts, and divide by ten for the power number. So a default K1 Earth is, on this Sagan Scale version, 2K1.1, and this hidden Pluto civilization would be 4K0.6, and modern Earth civilization, ignoring all our agriculture and free lighting,
would be a 2K0.7. We’ll usually just round on that first digit to say, in that case, K0.7 As usual, you don’t need to memorize any of this, there’s no pop quiz coming, and I’m not a big fan of using the Kardashev Scale for anything other than SETI efforts, where it’s really more about how much the objects are varying from what we would expect than what their actual power output is, but again, we’re kinda stuck with it in that other context, so we might as well be systemized about it. Folks discussing it in our channel forums usually are systemized too, but use different systems, so maybe that will streamline it for discussion. Thus, a full Dyson around our Sun would be a 4K2.0 civilization, whereas a quarter Dyson or one around a Sun a fourth as bright as our own would be a 1K2.0 or just K2 civ. Some Rungworld around our Sun might be a K1.8 and a Niven Ringworld could be viewed as a K1.5.
Larger modern nations are in the K0.6 range, the biggest might hit K0.7 in our lifetimes. The thing is, it’s all about *what* you do, not just how much you’ve got, and it's so easy to get more once you’re in space. Solar is ridiculously simple, especially solar thermal, on an asteroid. It's then very easy to mine that asteroid out to make solar mirrors and panels that are tinfoil thick and have an area that is comparable to that of a planet. You can then wrap a star in those and you’ve got a dyson swarm of power collectors, which can very easily power either giant beaming systems to move systems up to relativistic speeds or even to make antimatter, even with a 10 million-to-one loss ratio, for interstellar ships to use as fuel. Though we can probably do better than 10 Million to one, see our Antimatter Factories episode for more discussion of that. In this context, becoming a Kardashev civilization is real easy once you get to our point, and implies no advanced technology, just the stuff we expect to get this century or already have.
That could get us to K2 inside a century, with dumb robots on asteroids, mass-producing power collectors, but it doesn’t necessarily imply much technology beyond that, or a purpose for having it, whereas, that tiny little Pluto civilization 4K0.6 might be super-technologically-advanced in comparison. Though again, we would assume access to that level of power would let you improve your tech very quickly. And with that in mind, let’s shift to discussing what that power really means. In many ways this is just as variable because efficiency can help you get a lot more done with a lot less. Now, efficiency isn’t a magic wand either, an electric motor or gas engine isn’t really going to get more efficient at doing work, your irrigation pumps for water thus can’t improve much, but various technologies can make you need less irrigation per acre, or get more food out of an acre or waste less between field and table. Indeed, we
often contemplate post-human societies running an entire civilization on less power than the typical modern household uses, see our civilizations at the end of time series for details. Let us imagine an entirely baseline human civilization though, regular modern humans, not cyborgs or AI, but up in space. One that just built an additional acre or half a hectare of land, be that as an arcology, space habitat or domed colony, and did that for every human born, and added on a megawatt of power generation. Almost all of which is going to be used as artificial sunlight for forest, lawn, garden, farm, etc. Even just with modern technology, with that much power generation, you can make all the food, clothes, and goods someone needs and power them, right down to reversing the process to turn water and carbon dioxide back into gasoline if you want.
We’ll refer to this society as a Megawatt Society for the rest of the episode and its Kardashev level Population is 10^10 for K1, 10^20 for K2, and 10^30 for K3, conveniently easy to work with. This is of course an intentionally round number and show regulars know we’ve run calculations showing how even 2 kilowatts (or even less) might be enough for a person, with hydroponics, we’ll refer to this as a Kilowatt society going forward. But critically, there’s no free sunlight here, either you’re using the sunlight for power generation, including running artificial lighting, or you’re bouncing or channeling it around to use directly. In all probability you’re doing both but this is the difference between a K1 and what we are now, and it’s the difference between the amount of us and them. We’re a planet of nearly 8 billion, with many in great need and with an endangered ecology which often forces tradeoffs. They, at a megawatt each, would have 200 billion people living in better circumstances than your typical wealthy upper-middle class modern human and without ecological concerns. Their population could be at 100 trillion using the 2 kilowatt
figure, but that is definitely a many-layered Ecumenopolis mega-city whereas the Megawatt figure is more like garden-parks and arcologies. In situations like this though, I tend to think your best bet where nature is concerned, is to build thousands of O’Neill Cylinders and other space habitats to use as dedicated nature preserves, rather than trying to do that on Earth. Also, there are a lot of barriers to getting to a place like this, not least of which is the barrier of whether or not we want to, and many of those may be political or ideological but critically, in this example, it wouldn’t matter which political, economic, or religious system you went with so long as it wasn’t opposed to the final product as described. I’m sure some would be better or worse at getting you there but everyone’s mileage is likely to vary on that matter. One of those big barriers is population growth, because a relatively simple improvement in automation and power generation might let us start knocking out kilometer-wide solar panels from random asteroids as fast as we felt like building them, and that same technology leads to the kinds that let you churn out space habitats or arcologies for folks to live in; faster than we could grow people, so to speak, even if everybody was having a dozen kids a piece. Nobody agrees on population growth rates, nor should they, models of how fast populations grow often seem as reliable as next week’s weather forecast and for similar reasons, its a system that’s just chaotic and has a lot of variables with big and hard-to-predict impacts, including human opinions.
As a result, the channel’s default philosophy is that the future offers us greater productivity, health, and longevity per person than we have now and that most people like being parents, so we assume that while resources are plentiful, or felt too plentiful, folks will opt to have kids and probably repeatedly, especially if they’re not confined to having kids between their late teens and forties, and I’d be willing to bet we will see that latter restriction crumble in the next few decades, with improved fertility treatments. Predicting population this century is hard because we are a civilization currently very confined in our growth urges by ecological and resource-limitation concerns. We know that and it influences people deciding on when and how big to have a family. I would guess that by the year 2100, we’ll either have those issues mostly solved or we’ll pretty much cease as a civilization in the modern context, and by that same time, I would expect average lifespan to have risen to well over 100 and with no effective limit on what age an adult could have a child at, there are just too many technological pathways emerging for that not to be the case. It is possible other factors might come into play that inclined us to negative growth, unknown feedback effects and so on, but the simplest interpretation of folks living longer and being fertile longer is more people being around and having more kids over their personal lifetime. Reality is often
counterintuitive though and an obvious and fair rebuttal would be that people used to live shorter lives and generally had more kids then, but for the moment, let's accept that interpretation that longer lives and fertility periods inclines to more population growth, and that greater personal knowledge and age bringing wisdom, people are more inclined to act strategically in a longer-lived society, which would be to choose growth when it was a good option and not when it wasn’t. Such being the case, by the year 2100, we are presumably back to being a growth civilization – not that we aren’t now, but there are definitely many folks currently hesitating on having families, or that are limiting family size or delaying having a family for worries it could hurt the planet, civilization, or their career. Those concerns aren’t magically waved away but don’t really seem to apply as growth limits as strongly in early Kardashev Civilizations. Note that I say “early”, because, if you are in a growth phase, even if the Universe were infinite, you still bottleneck if you’re growing in number faster than you’re growing in resources or efficiency in utilizing those resources, and an absence of Faster Than Light travel, FTL, generally implies as much. This is much as we’re a bit bottlenecked on Earth right now,
needing to temper our growth while we get more efficient with our resources, to be K1, and off into space to get more worlds and resources. We would expect you would get those bottlenecks in K2 and K3 civilizations as well, though the variety and specific reasons are bound to vary a lot on how space colonization works out in a practical sense, and probably would go through epochs much like Earth and humanity’s growth have undergone. I can't really call these barriers though, or even hurdles, just periods or conditions of harder growth. If you grow faster than your resources do, you hit a limit, if you stop getting more efficient, you hit a limit, if your resources are expended when you use them, you hit a limit. And all of those would appear to be true under known science, so there is an actual limit as to how many folks you can keep on a planet or in a K2 Dyson Swarm, but things like Birch Planets obviously stretch that, since they are a K3 civilization all on their own and one so compressed – onto a single galaxy-mass planet, light months wide – that even the normal K3 limit on a cohesive civilization isn’t in play.
Nonetheless, we want to be careful where we assume those barriers are. As an example, our megawatt-per-person civilization would number 4 billion-trillion humans around our own Sun. Now, we have to remember that our sun will eventually run out of fuel, but in the process it actually gets bigger and brighter every year, about 1% every hundred million years, which means a millionth of a percent per year, or every year it adds about 4x10^18 Watts of new sunlight to our solar system, enough to support another 4 trillion people. So, it’s insignificant growth in terms of total solar output but that insignificant amount is still huge in modern terms, 500 times our current population. Stars die-off weirdly in that way, burning brighter, then blowing-up into red giants, with most ending as white dwarfs and your typical white dwarf is only a thousandth as bright as our Sun after a billion years of that white dwarf cooling. And those are not really typical either, only the largest stars have died thus far, our Sun is in the top 5% of stars by mass and only those about our size or bigger can actually have burned out yet, most dead stars were bigger than our sun. Now, we do have ways of living after stars
burn out, indeed, even around black holes, which similarly get brighter with time, not dimmer, but by default your white dwarf civilization is going to be a tiny remnant of what it was, not even a percent. Though, it's hard to imagine any K2 Civilization lying down meekly for that to happen, and posthuman digital civilizations can do way better, and stars can also be refueled, see our Civilizations at the end of time series for more discussion of those. That’s all billions of years down the road though. In the here and now, or a century or two from now, we can probably build power generation way faster than we can build people, and we can add power through patience or by building up more fusion reactors or black hole generators or similar.
Your first barrier is getting production capacity off-Earth, and is the one we probably focus most on here at SFIA. And my writing really is more focused on climbing the Kardashev Ladder than exploring cool or strange new worlds, that to me is more of how to incentivize growing and expanding civilization for others. The next step after you get decent off-world production, which probably means lots of automation but doesn’t have to, is simply patience. Everything about colonizing the galaxy once you get that first foothold off-Earth is patience, patience, and more patience. The second half of this third millennium is likely to see us having, at an individual level, insane amounts of power production per person, essentially as much as you want if you don’t mind not being too close to others to avoid heat building up. I don’t
think we’re going to see growth rates like we did in the 20th century, even if we get radical life extension, but if we did, by the year 2500 we would number a stunning thousand times more people than are alive now, 8 trillion. But even that megawatt society would then only need 8x10^18 watts, or 20 billionths of the light the Sun gives off, and just about 40 times what hits Earth. Even very crude clanking self replicators that required a lot of human oversight should have had the time and ability to utterly englobe our Sun in power collectors by then, and had they done so, those 8 Trillion people would each have 50 trillion watts of power each, enough to run a mighty modern nation, just for them. That’s assuming very fast growth by humans and honestly rather slow work by constructor swarms. Life extension continues to make progress, for my part I think people are alive now who will live to see an end of aging, and indeed, I think if we even show tangible progress to pushing back the maximum lifespan and slowing aging, we’ll see a big uptick in folks opting to be frozen in their old age for eventual restoration. I think come the year 2500 a lot of folks watching this episode on the day that it airs are still going to be around, and assuming we haven’t obliterated ourselves or been replaced by something that is not in any way human or fond of humans, then it’s a civilization in a golden age of post-scarcity where there really shouldn’t yet be any pressure to limit growth or usage of power. Later probably, but
not for a millennia or so, and this is probably the phase where we’re launching colony fleets off by the millions, each to claim their own star This is another example of the K1-2-3 scale not really fitting, odds are, more countries and effective discrete civilizations will exist around at this point than nowadays, but some are already around other stars and many are living in orbit of Earth, there’s nothing to really point at and say “That’s K1”. Indeed, a fully populated Planet Swarm for Earth would be more like K1.4, and might come into existence before our first interstellar colonies had even grown to count as a lightly populated planet, unlike in your typical space opera, and ironically that lone Planet Swarm would have the troops, resources, and material to beat the snot out of the typical Space Opera galactic empire. A K1.4 civilization, one with 10^20 watts of power, as a Megawatt Society, would number 100 Trillion people and presumably have no problem fielding a trillion soldiers and billions of battlecruisers. Keep that in mind when contemplating colonies in the solar system or even the neighboring star systems breaking away and going independent or rebel. And keep in mind that that’s still only
about a millionth the scale of a Dyson Swarm and not even a trillionth of a smaller Birch Planet. Incidentally, see the Megastructure Compendium if any of these structures aren’t familiar to you. Your next barrier though, comes at deciding how to get your raw materials for building all those megastructures. You’re not there at 8 trillion folks, or even 100 trillion, which is why I view this as a golden age period. Even if everyone wanted their own O’Neill Cylinder, one per family perhaps, basically a county of garden and nature preserve all to yourself, well that’s a gigaton of habitat per person and that means even 100 trillion people have only used up 10^20 kilograms of mass, which is a few percent of the asteroid belt. Keep in mind that even this ludicrous standard of living for that enormous population that would require record growth rates to reach by the end of next millenia, would have needed just 1% of 1% of Earth’s own mass, acquired from various asteroids and moons and barely denting the stockpile of them, and not even a millionth of what we have in the system, as we will see in a moment.
This is the phase though, where you’ve got trillions of O’Neill Cylinders and other giant space habitats, where you need to start looking at moons and even planets for raw materials and I think this would represent a crunch period. Folks probably live on those and while they can be used more efficiently as space habitats, by a factor of many thousands or even a million-fold, this argument might not be super persuasive to those already there when folks would be whining in their eyes about not having a whole O’Neill Cylinder to themselves and maybe having to squeeze a million people into space habitats the size of large modern country. They’re probably likely to say that should be fine or they can get their butts on a colony ship to one of the half-trillion empty star systems in the galaxy. And another camp is going to be talking about engaging in starlifting to pull resources from the Sun and extend its lifespan, which is definitely something you want to do because it's got thousands of times more building material of metals than Earth and the other rocky planets and moons and asteroids combined have, and even extends the lifespan of the star. But, it is not an easy task and it's one that everyone in the solar system is going to want some hand in controlling and regulating, what with it involving ripping planets worth of super-heated gas off our Sun. That may be something that can be practically done at a far smaller scale, but that’s going to be the emerging hurdle, probably for the 4th millennium. Do we disassemble planets or mine the sun or just
mine other solar systems? If the latter, do we opt to set up planet harvesting on new worlds rather than colonization, or starlifting up around virgin stars before settlers got there? It could be some combination of all of the above but that’s the next hurdle to becoming K2 for a megawatt society, and would hit a kilowatt society even faster, as those would tend to be more mass per person. I don’t really want to use the term gigawatt society as that gets terribly non-specific but that would be the kind where everyone has a modest spacehab to themselves or hundreds of acres or hectares of land inside some arcology or spacehab, or your own interplanetary spaceship. I’d tend to expect anything beyond this scale is so post-human that their anatomy consists of kilometers of computer chips, semi-immortal hoarders, or so post-scarcity they can afford to be embarrassed about their lavish waste and focus on growing their numbers rather than their watts per person. Other than patience, your remaining barriers really would tend to be existential ones, trying to decide what your civilization’s purpose is and what your goal is and if you’re willing to be coercive about making that happen and how much and in what ways. This could go
a lot of ways and we’ve looked at that more in our post-scarcity civilizations series. As to the technology needed for getting to these points, I normally say more helps but that isn’t necessarily true, technology beyond a certain point might be destructive to civilizations, and we did examine the possibility of low-tech Kardashev civilizations a couple years back. In the end though, those are the big barriers you need to beat to become a Kardashev Civilization, you’ll always be fighting heat dissipation and entropy, and humanity’s various internal divisions, but getting off Earth with our production capacity, getting decently automated with it, deciding what lifestyles we want to live in terms of resources and energy, getting those raw materials, and finally, just finding a sense of purpose for civilizations themselves, are the barriers to getting to Kardashev Civilization Status, K1, K2, K3 or beyond.
For my part, I think we’ll get there, and that ‘we’ will actually be some of us listening today, and I think the journey there will be an amazing time to be alive too. So we have a couple announcements coming up including what a K4 civilization would be, but first, we suggested today that the big barriers to moving forward are often going to be more conceptual than technology and science options, like a civilization not believing in free will anymore, or which can’t trust the information they’re getting as true, not propaganda, or lacking a feeling of privacy, and next week we’ll look at concerns over options like that as reason technological progress might be intentionally slowed or halted completely. In the meantime though, it does often seem technology is making ambitiously leaps forward in the arena of removing our privacy and for my part, I don’t like my personal data, major or mundane, vulnerable to misuse by any entity that lacks scruples or lacks a good security system, which in my book is nearly everybody. That’s where a virtual private network, or VPN, like NordVPN can help. Whether you just don’t like the idea of any random webpage knowing
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your internet activity encrypted and private, anymore than why you like curtains on your windows or don’t have your home address and phone number stenciled on your clothes for all to see. No more bandwidth throttling, no more geo-restrictions on which videos and games you can play based on location, and NordVPN’s Threat Protection upgrade offers an enhanced layer of protection against malware, intrusive ads and web trackers. You can check out their website to learn all the benefits NordVPN offers, just go to NordVPN.com/isaacarthur to get a 2-year plan plus 4 additional months with a HUGE discount. It’s risk-free with Nord’s 30-day money-back guarantee! So this episode comes out two days before the 8th anniversary of our original episode, the Megastructure Summary, and just a few days before my own 42nd birthday, and as 42 is my lucky number, it is a birthday I’ve been looking forward to. Since it is the birthday of the show and myself, it has become a bit of a tradition to make a pitch for donating to support the show, and you can do that on Patreon, Subscribestar, Paypal, Subscribing to Nebula, or even snail-mail, see our website or the episode description, and for that matter every time you check out one of our sponsors or watch and ad on the channel it helps. So does hitting the like and subscribe buttons, leaving a comment, or sharing the video.
I wanted to thank everyone for watching and supporting this channel as we enter year 9 and most of that as a weekly show, six and a half years now. Which wouldn’t have been possible without so many people volunteering time and effort to edit scripts, moderate forums, donate art or music, help me brainstorm episode ideas, or a dozen other things that make doing a half-hour long show every week plus two Sundays a month possible. A lot of them are listed in our credits and do hang out on our forums and if you bump into them on a thread, let them know how much their effort means to us all, because I can never thank them enough.
So, one of the big things that I love about Kardashev civilizations is literally those big things, Megastructures, and I want to give a shout out to Neil Blevins, the artist who compiled Megastructures: A Visual Compendium, and the artwork in it is stunning, and the personal note in the copy he sent me was very touching. I’ve often felt I should make a book along those lines and never had the time. But now that I’ve seen this one, I’m glad I didn’t, because it did it better than I ever could have. It’s a must have if
you enjoyed our original episode or its more recent upgrade The Megastructure Compendium. So almost every time the Kardashev Scale comes up someone is bound to ask what qualifies as a K4 civilization and in between now and when I wrote this episode’s script I also did one on the Grabby Aliens perspective on the Fermi Paradox, and I finally found something that seemed like a good in between step on the scale between galactic and the observable Universe, and that’s what for the moment I’m going to call a Hanson Bubble, and a K4 Civ, and we’ll discuss that more in our grabby aliens episode in two weeks. Before that though, next week we’ll be discussing post-science civilizations, both those that might abandon research and those which find they have either hit a wall or learned all the science there is to know. Then we’ll have our livestream Q&A on
Sunday, September 25th, at 4pm Eastern Time, and as usual, my lovely wife Sarah will cohost that and relay on your questions from the live chat. As always, if you want alerts when those and other episodes come out, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel and hit the notifications bell. And if you enjoyed today’s episode, and would like help support future episodes, visit our website, or check out the links in the episode description, for ways to support the show or for our forums for discussing all these awesome topics and many more. You can also
try out our audio-only versions available on itunes, spotify, audible, amazon music, soundcloud, and many more, or get our extended editions and exclusive episodes on Nebula. Until next time, thanks for watching, and thanks for giving this show another great year!