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The Tsiolkovsky Civilization Scale


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I never was fond of the Kardashev civilization scale, mainly because few in popular scifi media ever hit all the points required to fit any part of the scale, plus I think some of it is really eccentric and unnecessary (just because you can put a ginormous dyson sphere shell around your sun does not mean you will).

 

So here I will provide another civilization scale, based in the rocket equation. I really do think a civilization's level of rocketry is a strong indicator of their technology level.

 

Tech level 0: Nothing in space. Rockets? What are those?

Tech Level 1: Basic chemical and solid propellant rocketry.

Tech Level 2: Nuclear powered rocketry is both developed and used for space flight, but only goes so far due to weakness of materials.

Tech Level 3: New elements and materials are synthesized and forged, leading to better propellant and rocket development.

Tech Level 4: Finally nuclear rocketry's great potential can be more readily unlocked thanks to better materials.

Tech Level 5: More material forging as well as stronger magnetic fields.

Tech Level 6: Better antimatter contaiment through new materials and probably magnetism.

Tech Level 7: Breakthrough, antimatter is produced more easily.

 

The rest is fairly predictable frome here.

 

What do you think?

 

Edited by Spacescifi
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Tsiolkovsky had his own civilization project, and it was... erm... very specific.
(From the modern pov. While absolutely usual for the epoch.)
So, he wouldn't wish another project named after him.

Like Esperanto was invented not as a universal language but as a language application for the project of a universal society,
the Tsiolkovsky's "aethereal settlements" (orbital colonies) were a part of future civilization, based on total Eugenics-Order-Discipline with artificial sorting out and doing everything "on my whistle" (in "at 08:00 all elder boys and girls get from their parts of the campus and go to the garden to communicate till 10:00" style).

Edited by kerbiloid
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4 minutes ago, Shpaget said:

There are no gaps in the periodic table, so any newly discovered element will be well in the region of being so radioactive that it's entirely unusable.

 

New materials will be made of the same stuff as the present.

Basically, I am talking about metallicizing gases.

Liquid or solid metallic methane, ditto with helium and other gases.

Oxygen has been made solid on tiny scales, but requires. a forcefield (magnetic) I believe to hold it's form. Release the field and returns to gas.

Would be nice if we could make metastable metallic gases. Even if we had to make them alloys to keep them stable.

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This is not possible. Only hydrogen was ever theorized to be metastable, and now we know it isn't. New materials will be some sort of carbon allotrope, and it won't have miraculous properties, either. What will change is the scale at which we could make them. Eventually, it should be possible to make objects out of a single, gigantic carbon molecule. That will, I'd imagine, be the ultimate material. Barring that, amorphous carbon is also really nice, if very hard to make.

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5 hours ago, Dragon01 said:

This is not possible. Only hydrogen was ever theorized to be metastable, and now we know it isn't. New materials will be some sort of carbon allotrope, and it won't have miraculous properties, either. What will change is the scale at which we could make them. Eventually, it should be possible to make objects out of a single, gigantic carbon molecule. That will, I'd imagine, be the ultimate material. Barring that, amorphous carbon is also really nice, if very hard to make.

Yeah, I don't think it makes sense to make assumptions like that about things we, by their very definition, haven't discovered yet.

And to be fair to metallic hydrogen, "know" is a strong word at the moment. Definitely need more research to actually say that, outside of a couple of random, not-yet-reproduced isolated experiments with different results.

I really like the "make everything out of a single, giant carbon molecule" idea, though. And why limit ourselves to just Carbon? There's a lot of possibilities there.

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8 hours ago, Shpaget said:

There are no gaps in the periodic table, so any newly discovered element will be well in the region of being so radioactive that it's entirely unusable.

https://xkcd.com/2214/

 

 

(Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability. Still radioactive, but perhaps usable, in the same way other radioactive isotopes are used)

(Or if you want something more hypothetical but also more useful, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continent_of_stability)

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27 minutes ago, ThatGuyWithALongUsername said:

(Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability. Still radioactive, but perhaps usable, in the same way other radioactive isotopes are used)

(Or if you want something more hypothetical but also more useful, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continent_of_stability)

Spoiler

we-need-to-go-deeper-21752911.png

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotic_atom

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypernucleus

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12 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

 

Just now, kerbiloid said:

Problem here is that most of these don't last very long. Can't do much with these if the only last a couple microseconds at best.

Still think there's more to mess with here though... there's no way we're anywhere close to trying all combinations of subatomic particles to say that nothing will work, right?

Of course, we are insanely far off from being able to make any useful, stable particles from this, much less produce it in mass quantities, but there's no reason to say it couldn't be done sometime in the distant, distant future. at least, I think so, I'm not gonna pretend to understand even the basic principles of particle physics here.

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Rockets are actually a fairly limited technology - even antimatter rockets.

Rather than using rocketry technology I think civilizations can be judged based on a few criteria:

1.) Heat rejection - how do they get rid of waste heat? We just dump it into the atmosphere which eventually takes care of it but at higher energies this will become less practical. More advanced species will likely have more advanced methods for waste heat management.

2.) Mastery of dynamic structures such as dynamic compression members, launch loops, and orbital rings. Such structures greatly expand a civilization’s ability to do things, and orbital rings in particular have some insane applications like suspending artificial surfaces over gas giants, stars, and black holes or even providing direct transport to other celestial bodies. 

3.) Particle accelerator technology. The higher the collision energy any civilization is capable of will be beneficial, potentially allowing them to understand more of the universe such as GUTs and if they get to high enough energies maybe even quantum gravity or theories of everything.

There’s a lot more, but those are some of the big ones in my mind.

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11 hours ago, Bill Phil said:

Rockets are actually a fairly limited technology - even antimatter rockets.

Rather than using rocketry technology I think civilizations can be judged based on a few criteria:

1.) Heat rejection - how do they get rid of waste heat? We just dump it into the atmosphere which eventually takes care of it but at higher energies this will become less practical. More advanced species will likely have more advanced methods for waste heat management.

2.) Mastery of dynamic structures such as dynamic compression members, launch loops, and orbital rings. Such structures greatly expand a civilization’s ability to do things, and orbital rings in particular have some insane applications like suspending artificial surfaces over gas giants, stars, and black holes or even providing direct transport to other celestial bodies. 

3.) Particle accelerator technology. The higher the collision energy any civilization is capable of will be beneficial, potentially allowing them to understand more of the universe such as GUTs and if they get to high enough energies maybe even quantum gravity or theories of everything.

There’s a lot more, but those are some of the big ones in my mind.

 

Stronger magnetic fields with a way to control them better I think is the key to many futuristic rockets. Also better plasma control and understanding.

Profitable fusion is beyond our reach due to our inability to keep the plasma from slipping out of the magnetic fields we create.

If we do achieve sustained fusion drive rockets one day and a magnetic field that won't leak, then we could use a nuclear lightbulb drive to reach space, and engage the fusion drive in orbit, since fusion, at least the easier methods, spew radioactive exhaust.

 

Edited by Spacescifi
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23 hours ago, Shpaget said:

There are no gaps in the periodic table, so any newly discovered element will be well in the region of being so radioactive that it's entirely unusable.

there is that theoretical island of stability. though manufacturing those elements is going to be very hard and rather dubious as you need to put more energy in than you can get out of them if you are using them for reactor fuel amd compact nuclear weapons. unless there is an as of yet unforeseen application of those elements. 

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6 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

Stronger magnetic fields with a way to control them better I think is the key to many futuristic rockets. Also better plasma control and understanding.

Profitable fusion is beyond our reach due to our inability to keep the plasma from slipping out of the magnetic fields we create.

If we do achieve sustained fusion drive rockets one day and a magnetic field that won't leak, then we could use a nuclear lightbulb drive to reach space, and engage the fusion drive in orbit, since fusion, at least the easier methods, spew radioactive exhaust.

Not true. Fusion exhaust is, in most cases, helium nuclei of some sort. Now, with most designs they are radiation, because of high Isp, but they would have the form of a particle beam (so as long as you don't stand directly behind the exhaust, you'll be fine). If you inject cold propellant into exhaust to boost thrust, it won't be radioactive. Many fusion reactions also make neutrons, but those radiate in all directions from the engine, and must be shielded against. 

Better control over magnetic fields is a key to many futuristic technologies. There's a lot of things you can do with magnets and plasma. The barrier to "profitable" fusion isn't physics problems themselves, but the fact that they are very expensive to solve. This applies to many other plasma technologies, as well.

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10 hours ago, Dragon01 said:

Not true. Fusion exhaust is, in most cases, helium nuclei of some sort. Now, with most designs they are radiation, because of high Isp, but they would have the form of a particle beam (so as long as you don't stand directly behind the exhaust, you'll be fine). If you inject cold propellant into exhaust to boost thrust, it won't be radioactive. Many fusion reactions also make neutrons, but those radiate in all directions from the engine, and must be shielded against. 

Better control over magnetic fields is a key to many futuristic technologies. There's a lot of things you can do with magnets and plasma. The barrier to "profitable" fusion isn't physics problems themselves, but the fact that they are very expensive to solve. This applies to many other plasma technologies, as well.

 

I think our understanding of physics and and development of technology or lack thereof is the barrier.

If I removed money from the equation and threw all the resources that the USA, Russia, and China combined could really throw at the challenges of spaceflight, we still would be limited by our tech development and our limited understanding of physics.

 

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10 hours ago, Dragon01 said:

Not true. Fusion exhaust is, in most cases, helium nuclei of some sort. Now, with most designs they are radiation, because of high Isp, but they would have the form of a particle beam (so as long as you don't stand directly behind the exhaust, you'll be fine). If you inject cold propellant into exhaust to boost thrust, it won't be radioactive. Many fusion reactions also make neutrons, but those radiate in all directions from the engine, and must be shielded against. 

Better control over magnetic fields is a key to many futuristic technologies. There's a lot of things you can do with magnets and plasma. The barrier to "profitable" fusion isn't physics problems themselves, but the fact that they are very expensive to solve. This applies to many other plasma technologies, as well.

You want charged particles as output even if this result in lower performance as this would be %c reaction mass and not just heat. Helium probably work here as it would be way to hot to have electrons. 

Our main problem is that we don't know who future breakthroughs who is significant. Energy is important but we are pretty sure its no dyson swarms in our galaxy. 
Good fusion would be an obvious milestone because its so useful. Might make an dyson swarm irelevant.
One other major milestone would be to have an fully self sufficient colony outside your planet. Having another planet with compatible life in your solar system would make this way easier.
 

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1 hour ago, Spacescifi said:

I think our understanding of physics and and development of technology or lack thereof is the barrier.

If I removed money from the equation and threw all the resources that the USA, Russia, and China combined could really throw at the challenges of spaceflight, we still would be limited by our tech development and our limited understanding of physics.

These limits would be far beyond the current state of art. Economics are the primary limiting factor for both spaceflight and fusion research. ITER, for example, is under steady construction, and if you increased its budged to some degree, it could be sped up (but not too much, rushing things is never good). We're pretty sure ITER will work, and with enough resources thrown at the problem, we could probably make a fusion engine. It would require a nuclear reactor to power it, because we don't even have breakeven (well, we do, but by a definition that disregards loses in the ignition system), nevermind making it produce enough energy to both power and propel itself, but a fusion engine does not need breakeven. It just needs fusion, which is well within our capabilities. Such a fusion drive would not be very energy efficient, but it would have high Isp expected of a fusion drive. Basically, a nuclear-electric drive on steroids.

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I think the Kardashev civilization scale is better as it isn't so specific as:

On 10/26/2019 at 4:04 AM, Spacescifi said:

Better antimatter contaiment through new materials and probably magnetism.

And when you're talking about species who are completely unpredictable due to having no data, measuring theoretical species based on ability to harness energy and not specific milestones is much better. A species could a good portion of their light cone but not know what atoms are and never go past tech level 2 on the Tsiolkovsky Civilization Scale.

On 10/26/2019 at 4:04 AM, Spacescifi said:

mainly because few in popular scifi media ever hit all the points required to fit any part of the scale

The Kardashev civilization scale wasn't about sci-fi and what little humans can make up for their stories.

On 10/26/2019 at 4:04 AM, Spacescifi said:

plus I think some of it is really eccentric and unnecessary (just because you can put a ginormous dyson sphere shell around your sun does not mean you will).

You don't specifically need a dyson sphere to harness a star's energy. If your home star is actually a quickly spinning black hole, you could harness photons that have been blueshifted by the ergosphere.

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6 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

The main problem of classification of civilizations is that

  Reveal hidden contents

we have exactly one civilization to classify.

So, any reasonable classification system looks like:

  Reveal hidden contents

Class A. We.

 

 

True, also we are pretty sure its no Class 3 civilizations as they will be very visible. Even an class 2 or close to it would be too, an halfway to 2 would look a lot lake Tabbys star but probably even more extreme. 

 

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