Cafe Scientifique Orlando is a gathering of scientifically-inclined people in Central Florida, who meet at a cafe, coffee house, pub, or nonacademic location to discuss events and ideas in the world of science. We enjoy beer and wine, and we use plain language to talk about extraordinary ideas.

Full Title: 
The Urgent Need to Become a Space-Faring Civilization
Metzger, Philip T.
Wednesday, 5 June 2013 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm
717 W. Smith Street
Postal Code:
United States

Kardeshev classified civilizations in terms of energy: a Type-I civilization is one that uses all the energy of a single planet, a Type-II uses all the energy of a single solar system, and a Type-III uses all the energy of a single galaxy. These energy levels represent barriers in the sense that we cannot grow a civilization beyond those levels unless we make radical changes in the very nature of the civilization. For example, at the limit of a Type-I civilization, we suddenly discover that we must bring the rest of the solar system into our economic sphere. Unfortunately, the distances between the space resources and the Earth are vast, the transportation costs are high, the environment is harsh for human bodies, and the technologies that are needed to accomplish this have not been developed for any prior economic purpose. Compared to expanding across the globe, even across the oceans, it is much more difficult to expand across interplanetary space. Thus, the Kardeshev classification represents natural barriers that we will hit, waypoints in civilization that require unusual sacrifices, new investments, and extraordinary political will. Business-as-usual driven by the familiar forces of economics will not work — by definition — when we reach one of these barriers. This puts humanity’s global challenges into the correct historic perspective as well as suggesting how they must be addressed. We are presently concerned about global warming, peak oil, resource depletion in general, overpopulation, resource wars, and so on. Rather than thinking of these as separate problems, we should recognize them as elements of the first Kardeshev barrier. If we want to address any of these global challenges effectively, we need to recognize them for what they are and address the basic problem behind them. We need to bring the solar system into Earth’s economic sphere. This talk will discuss the challenges and provide a strategy for getting over the first barrier affordably within our generation. This strategy incorporates the OASIS concept developed by this year’s International Space University plus the Affordable Rapid Bootstrapping concept for lunar and asteroid industry, developed by the speaker.

Philip T. Metzger, Ph.D. works at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as the lead research physicist and founder of the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations (GMRO) Lab, part of the Surface Systems Swamp Works.

Phil has worked in the space program since 1985. He was a part of the Space Shuttle launch team and later with the International Space Station Program testing and assembling spaceflight hardware. For the past 10 years, he has performed research and technology development for solar system exploration (Moon, Mars, asteroids, etc.).

He earned a B.S.E.(electrical engineering) from Auburn University in 1985, a M.S. in physics from the University of Central Florida in 2000, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Central Florida in 2005. His doctoral work focused on the theoretical statistical mechanics of granular materials with applications to the mechanics of lunar and planetary soils.

Past Café Scientifique Events

Race to the Moon 18 November, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Good Bacteria 9 September, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Marine Ecosystems 8 August, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Solar System 7 July, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Robotics 6 June, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Cloud Computing 13 May, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Nanoscience 8 April, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Fire Ants 11 March, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Food Preservation 5 March, 2014 - 19:00 Eden Bar at...
Marine Mammals 11 February, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Bees 14 January, 2014 - 18:30 downtown library
Frankenfood 10 December, 2013 - 18:30 downtown library

Topics We'd Love to See

What are some topics you’d like to have? Tell us in your comments below. See our full schedule to know what we’ve had and plan to have, before adding something new.

Additionally, if you are a scientific expert interested in presenting a topic, please email us.