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Kelvin Tam
EW1023 Progression 3 Draft 1
In 1964, Russian scientist Nikolai Kardashev proposed three levels of civilization. These
classifications are derived from the energy capacity of the civilization and jointly make up the
Kardashev Scale. A Type I civilization has the energy capability of an entire planet. A Type II
civilization controls the energy output of a solar system, or a star that is comparable to the sun. A
Type III controls the energy of an entire galaxy, similar to our own Milky Way galaxy. The
Kardashev Scale serves as a prophecy of the future of human civilization but it is a prophecy that
lacks specificity. It offers no insight on when these transitions from one level of civilization to
another will take place and more importantly, the characteristics of these civilizations.
In the half century that has elapsed since Kardashev first proposed his scale, society has made
significant progress towards a Type I civilization. Perhaps the biggest step taken towards this goal in
recent years is the discovery of the particle known as the Higgs Boson. The Higgs Boson is a piece
of a grand model of the universe called the Standard Model, which is a collection of equations and
formulas that describes the behavior of the observable universe and connects the four branches of
physics. Before the existence of the Boson, scientists faced the problem of creating a formula for
mass in the standard model. Simply put, it didnt belong in the model even though it was a trait that
subatomic particles were known to have.
In 1964, a Peter Higgs and group of physicists proposed the existence of a field that could break
the symmetry of the laws proposed in the Standard Model. This unique field could explain how
fundamental elements of matter such as quarks and electrons possessed came to possess mass. In
order to confirm the existence of this field, known as the Higgs Field, scientists sought to

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experimentally confirm a particle given off by the Higgs Field known as the Higgs Boson. On July
4th 2012, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland announced the discovery
of a particle that closely resembled the theorized Boson. As of March 2013, the particle is tentatively
confirmed to exist.
If the particle is confirmed, the long awaited Standard Model will be complete. With the
completion of the Standard Model, the complexities and unpredictability of the universe will collapse
into a simple, predictable set of equations. For Gretel Ehrlich, this may come as an unsettling
thought. In her essay Spring Ehrlich reckons with the unpredictability of the universe and arrives at
the conclusion that this complexity is a fundamental element of life. Life has meaning because its
creation and destruction are completely random, or is simply controlled by forces that we do not
comprehend. In a world governed by simple, known laws there is no room for anomaly or change.
But perhaps the search for the Boson is not a search for simplicity.
The theoretical model provided by the Standard Model predicts only its physical characteristics.
Henry Reich, the creator of a Youtube channel called MinutePhysics says the Higgs Boson may very
well be the final puzzle piece of the Standard Model, but even scientists don't want that. The
completion of the Standard Model would mean the termination of a theory that succeeds only in
explaining everything in the observable universe, which makes up a mere ten percent of the entire
universe. Reich hopes that the Boson's discovery isn't one that gives a well rounded explanation of
the universe, but rather one that connects our present puzzle to other puzzle pieces that have yet to be
discovered. In short, it appears that the ultimate goal of completing the Standard Model isn't for the
sake of simplicity, but rather a search for complexity. Complexity is an outlet for more knowledge,

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whereas simplicity is an exhaustible resource.
But as we answer more and more mysteries about the universe, we invariably simplify it. After
all, knowledge is the process of internalizing a complex idea into a simple, understandable form.
That lack of comprehension we face before understanding something generates a respect for the
knowledge that has yet to be investigated. But once we become capable of teasing out a rational
pattern to the universe, we look to it with a manipulative eye. The focus of exploration shifts from a
quest of answers to a quest for personal gains that diminishes the bit of respect we once possessed.
An understanding of the universe means a heightened ability to manipulate it. This has
historically been the case; from the discovery of fire at the dawn of humanity to the industrial
revolution. The tendency to constantly reshape one's surroundings means the gradual loss of respect
for that environment. This is manifested in our everyday lives, from the wars countries fight over oil
to the oil spills in the Persian Gulf. The BP oil spill lasted a total of 87 days and released over 200
million gallons of crude oil into a strip of land 125 miles long, making marine life in these areas
impossible. Similarly, the ozone layer is gradually depleted by the green house gasses released by the
use of fossil fuels.
In the essay "Hiroshima," John Berger gives a horrific account of the release of the first
atomic bomb. Berger calls the victims of the bombing hibakuskithose who have seen
hell.(Berger, 142). He states what happened was consciously and precisely planned, (Berger,
144) an act of destruction intended to terminate the lives of fellow humans. Today, the countries all
around the world possess perfected versions of the atomic bomb that wiped out Hiroshima. At any
given moment, humanity can level planet earth and all life that exists on it centuries before reaching

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Type I civilization. On the day when humans actually achieve this status, will there still be a world to
call home? Or will humanity have to migrate to other planets in order to escape the destruction
caused to its own?
Perhaps another point of consideration is the humanity of these advanced civilizations. Science
fiction as popularized the image of humans who display ambivalence towards others in futuristic
environments. The Higgs Boson may very well be the first step to the transformation by providing an
understanding of the origin of the universe and its elements. Professor Lawrence Krauss of Arizona
State University stated the following about the Higgs Boson:
The background 'Higgs' field permeates all of space and is largely responsible for the
existence of stars, planets and humans. The confirmation of the existence of this field
strongly supports what modern physics has said for years: The many features of our
universe can be largely accidental consequences of the conditions associated with the
universes 'birth,' consistent with the laws of physics.
In his summary of the Boson, Krauss calls the features of the universe "accidental consequences" of
the birth of the universe that are supplemented by the laws of physics. This proposition seems to
imply that the creation of stars, solar systems, and even human life stem from an anomaly to the laws
of natures that existed in a preexisting grand order. The message it carries then, is one fundamentally
opposes the teachings of religion. In many faiths, life is a gift delegated by a divine being. The
process of creating life was intentional and a meticulous process, not some accident that was never
meant to happen. If the Higgs Boson provides a means to confirm that our existence is in fact an
"accident" then it will fundamentally destroy the ideas that holds religion together. Similarly, when
Copernicus was able to prove that the sun revolved around the earth, he posed an immediate threat to
the church.