Kardashev scale

The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization ‘s level of technological advancement, based on the amount of energy a civilization is reliable to use for communication. [1] The scale has three designated categories:

    • AT Type I civilization -also called a planetary civilization -can use and store all of the energy that reaches its planet from its parent star .

  • AT Type II civilization -also called a stellar civilization -can harness the total energy of its planet’s parent star (the most popular hypothetical concept being the Dyson sphere -a device which would encompass the entire star and transfer its energy to the planet (s)) .
  • AT Type III civilization -also called a galactic civilization -can control energy on the scale of its entire host galaxy . [2]

The scale is hypothetical, and looks at energy consumption on a cosmic scale. It was proposed in 1964 by the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev . Various extensions of the scale have been proposed, including a range of power levels (types 0, IV and V) and the use of metrics other than pure power.


In 1964, Kardashev defined three levels of civilization, based on the order of magnitude of power available to them:

Type I
This is a quantum leap from the parent earth (for Earth-Sun system, this value is close to 7×10 17 watts), which is more than five orders of magnitude higher than the presently attained on earth, with energy consumption at ≈4 × 10 19 erg / sec (4 × 10 12 watts). [1] The astronomer Guillermo A. Lemarchand has a terrestrial civilization with an energy capability equivalent to the solar insolation on Earth, between 10 16 and 10 17 watts. [3]
Type II
A civilization capable of harnessing the energy radiated by its own star-for example, the stage of successful construction of a Dyson sphere -with energy consumption at ≈4 × 10 33 erg / sec. [1] Lemarchand stated this as a civilization capable of utilizing and channeling the entire radiation output of its star. The energy utilization would be comparable to the luminosity of our Sun , about 4 × 10 33 erg / sec (4 × 10 26 watts).[3]
Type III
A civilization in possession of energy on the scale of its own galaxy , with energy consumption at ≈4 × 10 44 erg / sec. [1] Compared with the US, this compares to a comparable light in the Milky Way Galaxy, about 4 × 10 44erg / sec (4 × 10 37 watts). [3]
Energy consumption estimated in three types of civilizations defined by Kardashev scale

Current status of human civilization

Physicist and futurist Michio Kaku suggests that humans may attain Type I status in 100-200 years, Type II status in a few thousand years, and Type III status in 100,000 to a million years. [4]

Carl Sagan: Defining the value of intermediate values ​​(not considered in Kardashev’s original scale) by interpolating and extrapolating the values ​​for I (10 16 W), II (10 26 W) and III (10 36 W), which would produce the formula

{\ displaystyle K = {\ frac {\ log_ {10} P-6} {10}}},

Where value K is a civilization’s Kardashev rating and P is the power it uses, in watts. Using this extrapolation, a “Type 0” civilization, not defined by Kardashev, would be about 1 MW of power, and humanity type as of 1973 was about 0.7 (apparently using 10 terawatt (TW) as the value for 1970s humanity). [5]

In 2012, total world energy consumption was 553 exajoules ( 553 × 10 18 J = 153.611 TWh), [6] equivalent to an average power consumption of 17.54 TW (or 0.7244 on Sagan’s Kardashev scale).

In 2015, total world energy consumption was 550,451 exajoules ( 550 × 10 18 J = 13147.3 million BBL), [7] equivalent to an average power consumption of 17.35 TW (or 0.7239 on Sagan’s Kardashev scale). This represents a 1.08% drop over 3 years.

At the current time, Humans are a Type 0 civilization.

Observational evidence

In 2015, a study of galactic mid- infrared emissions came to the conclusion that “Kardashev Type III civilizations are either very rare or not existing in the local universe”. [8]

On October 14, 2015, the detection of an unusual light curve for KIC 8462852 raised speculation that Dyson Sphere (Type II civilization) may have been discovered. [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] The SETI Institute’s initial radio recognition of KIC 8462852, however, found no evidence of technology-related radio signals from the star. [14] [15] [16]

In 2016, Paul Glister, author of the Centauri Dreams website, Described Apparently a signal from the star HD 164595 have Requiring the power of a Type I or Type II civilization, if produced by extraterrestrial lifeform. [17] However, in August 2016 it was discovered that the signal is most likely to be a satellite orbiting the Earth. [18]

Energy development

See also: Energy development

Type I civilization methods

  • Large-scale application of fusion power . According to mass-energy equivalence , Type I implies the conversion of about 2 kg of matter to energy per second. An equivalent energy release Theoretically Could be Achieved by fusing Approximately 280 kg of hydrogen into helium per second, [19] has spleen Roughly equivalent to 8.9 x 10 9 kg / year. A cubic km of water contains about 10 11 kg of hydrogen, and the Earth’s oceans Contain about 1.3 x 10 9 cubic km of water , meaning That humans on Earth Could sustain this rate of consumption over geological time-scales, in terms of available hydrogen .
  • Antimatter in large quantities would have a mechanism to produce power on a scale several magnitudes above our current level of technology. In antimatter-matter collisions, the whole rest mass of the particles is converted to radiant energy . Their energy density (energy released by mass) is about four orders of magnitude greater than that of using nuclear fission , and about two orders of magnitude greater than the best possible yield from fusion. [20] The reaction of 1 kg of anti-matter with 1 kg of matter would produce 1.8 × 10 17  J (180 petajoules) of energy. [21]Although it is possible to propose a source of energy, this does not appear feasible. Artificially producing antimatter-according to current understanding of the laws of physics-involves first converting energy into mass, so no net gain results. Artificially created antimatter is only usable as a medium of energy storage, not as an energy source, UNLESS future technological Developments (Contrary to the conservation of the baryon number , Such As a CP violation in favor of antimatter) allow the conversion of ordinary matter into antimatter. Theoretically, humans may in the future have the ability to cultivate and harvest a naturally occurring sources of antimatter. [22] [23] [24]
  • Renewable energy through converting sunlight into electricity—either by using solar cells and concentrating solar power or indirectly through wind and hydroelectric power. There is no known way for human civilization to use the equivalent of the Earth’s total absorbed solar energy without completely coating the surface with human-made structures, which is not feasible with current technology. However, if a civilization constructed very large space-based solar power satellites, Type I power levels might become achievable—these could convert sunlight to microwave power and beam that to collectors on Earth.

Type II civilization methods

  • Type II civilizations might use the same techniques employed by a type I civilization, but applied to a large number of planets in a large number of planetary systems.
  • A Dyson sphere or Dyson swarm and similar constructs are hypothetical MegaStructures Originally Described by Freeman Dyson as a system of orbiting solar power satellites Meant to enclosed a star completely Call and capture MOST or all of icts energy output. [25]
  • Perhaps a more important source of energy would be a stellar mass into a black hole , and collect photons emitted by the accretion disc . [26] [27] Less exotic would be simply to capture photons already escaping from the accretion disc, reducing a black hole’s angular momentum ; this is known as the Penrose process .
  • Star lifting is a process where an advanced civilization could remove a substantial portion of a star’s control.
  • Antimatter is likely to be produced as an industrial byproduct of a number of megascale engineering processes, and, therefore, could be recycled. quote needed ]
  • In multiple-star systems of a large number of stars, absorbing a small but significant fraction of the output of each individual star.

Type III civilization methods

  • Type III civilizations might use the same techniques employed by a type II civilization, but applied to all possible stars of one or more galaxies individually. [2]
  • They are also able to tap into the energy released from the supermassive black holes which are believed to exist at the center of most galaxies.
  • White holes , if they exist, theoretically could provide large amounts of energy from collecting the material propelling outwards.
  • Capturing the energy of gamma-ray bursts is another theoretically possible source of power for a highly advanced civilization.
  • The emissions from quasars can be compared to those of small galaxies and could provide a massive power source if collectable.

Civilization implications

There are many historical examples of human civilization undergoing broad-scale transitions, such as the Industrial Revolution . The transition between Kardashev and the Kardashev scale may have represented similarly dramatic periods of social upheaval, since they have surpassed the hard limits of the resources available in a civilization’s existing territory. A common speculation [28] suggests that the transition from Type 0 to Type I might carry a strong risk of self-destruction since, in some scenarios, there would be no room for further expansion on the civilization’s home planet, as in a Malthusian disaster. Excessive use of energy without adequate disposal of heat, for example, could plausibly make the planet of a type I civilization approach to the biology of the dominant life-forms and their food sources. If Earth is an example, then sea temperatures in excess of 35 ° C (95 ° F) would have a negative impact on marine life and make it easier to metabolize it . Of course, thesis theoretical speculations May not Become Problems in reality thanks to Evolution or the implementation of future engineering and technology . Also, by the time a civilization reaches Type I it may have colonized other planets or createdO’Neill-type colonies , so that waste heat could be distributed throughout the planetary system.

Extensions to the original scale

Many extensions and modifications to the Kardashev scale have been proposed.

  • Types 0, IV, and V Kardashev Rating: The most straightforward extension of the scale to even more hypothetical Type IV who can control or use the entire universe Type V who control collections of universes. This would also include Type 0 civilizations, who do not rank on the Kardashev scale. The power output of the visible universe is within a few orders of magnitude of 10 45 W. Such a civilization approaches or exceeds the limits of speculation based on current scientific understanding, and may not be possible.
    • Zoltán Galántai has argued that such a civilization could not be detected, as its activities would be indistinguishable from the workings of nature (there being nothing to compare them to). [29]
    • In his book Parallel Worlds , Michio Kaku has discussed type IV civilization that could harness “extragalactic” energy sources such as dark energy . [30]
  • Kardashev Alternate Rating Characteristics: Other proposed changes in the scale of different metrics such as ‘mastery’ of systems, amount of information used, or progress in control of the very small as opposed to the very large.
  • Planet Mastery (Robert Zubrin): Metrics other than pure power usage have been proposed. One is ‘mastery’ of a planet, system or galaxy rather than considering energy alone. [31]
  • Information Mastery (Carl Sagan): Alternatively, Carl Sagan suggests adding another dimension in addition to pure energy use: the information available to the civilization.
    • He assigned the letter A to represent 10 6 unique bits of information, and each successive letter to represent an order of magnitude increase, so that a level civilization would have 31 bits.
    • In this classification, 1973 Earth is a 0.7 H civilization, with access to 10 13 bits of information.
    • Sagan Believed That no civilization HAS yet atteint level Z, conjecturing That So much unique information Would Exceed That of all the smart species in a galactic supercluster and observing que la universe is not old enough to exchange information Effectively over larger distances.
    • The information and energy axes are not strictly interdependent, so that even a level Z civilization would not need to be Kardashev Type Ⅲ. [5]
  • Microdimensional Mastery (John Barrow): John D. Barrow , going by the fact that humans have found it to be more cost-effective to extend their ability to manipulate their larger or smaller size. -minus to Omega-minus type:
    • Type Ⅰ-minus is capable of manipulating objects over the scale of themselves: building structures, mining, joining and breaking solids;
    • Type Ⅱ-minus is capable of manipulating genes and altering the development of living things, transplanting or replacing parts of themselves, reading and engineering their genetic code;
    • Type Ⅲ-minus is capable of manipulating molecules and molecular bonds, creating new materials;
    • Type Ⅳ-minus is capable of manipulating individual atoms, creating nanotechnologies on the atomic scale and creating complex forms of artificial life;
    • Type Ⅴ-minus is capable of manipulating the atomic nucleus and engineering the nucleons that compose it;
    • Type Ⅵ-minus is capable of manipulating the most elementary particles of matter (quarks and leptons) to create organized populations among populations of elementary particles; culminating in;
    • Omega-minus type is capable of manipulating the basic structure of space and time. [32]

According to this scale, humans, having wide expertise in various branches of Chemistry and Biology have passed the Stage of Type III-minus. Type IV-minus have been seen in areas like nanotechnology , semiconductors , materials science and genetic engineering . While Type V-minus has a large scale application in the field and subfields of nuclear physics . Type VI-minus has had extensive research in the field of particle physics with particle colliders such as the Large Hadron Collider .

  • Civilizational Range (Robert Zubrin): Robert Zubrin adapts the Kardashev scale to refer to a widespread civilization is in space, rather than to its energy use.
    • In his definition, a Type I civilization has spread across its planet.
    • Type II has extensive colonies in its respective stellar system, and
    • A Type III has colonized its galaxy. [31]


It has been argued that, because we can not understand advanced civilizations, we can not predict their behavior. Thus, the Kardashev scale may not be relevant or classifying extraterrestrial civilizations. This central argument is found in the book Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life . [33]

See also

  • Sustainable development portal
  • Technology portal
  • Energy portal
  • Engineering portal
  • AstroEngineering
  • Clarke’s three laws
  • Drake equation
  • Radio signal from HD 164595
  • KIC 8462852
  • Orders of magnitude (power)
  • Orders of magnitude (energy)
  • terraforming
  • White’s Law
  • World energy resources and consumption


  1. ^ Jump up to:d Kardashev, Nikolai (1964). “Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations”. Soviet Astronomy . 8 : 217. Bibcode : 1964SvA ….. 8..217K .
  2. ^ Jump up to:b Kardashev Nikolai . ” On the Inevitability and the Possible Structures of Supercivilizations “, The search for extraterrestrial life: Recent developments; Proceedings of the Symposium, Boston, MA, June 18-21, 1984 (A86-38126 17-88). Dordrecht, D. Reidel Publishing Co., 1985, p. 497-504.
  3. ^ Jump up to:c Lemarchand, Guillermo A. “detectability of Extraterrestrial Technological Activities” . COSETI.
  4. Jump up^ Kaku, Michio (2010). “The Physics of Interstellar Travel: To one day, reach the stars” . Retrieved 2010-08-29 .
  5. ^ Jump up to:b Sagan, Carl (October 2000) [1973]. Jerome Agel, ed. Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective . Freeman J. Dyson , David Morrison. Cambridge Press. ISBN  0-521-78303-8 . Retrieved 2008-01-01 . I would suggest Type 1.0 as a civilization using 10 16 watts for interstellar communication; Type 1.1, 10 17 watts; Type 1.2, 10 18 watts, and so on. Our present civilization would be classed as something like Type 0.7.
  6. Jump up^ “Total Primary Energy Consumption 2008-2012” (cfm) . Statistical Review of World Energy 2008-2012 . US Energy Information Administration.
  7. Jump up^ “BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016” (PDF) . British Petroleum.
  8. Jump up^ Garrett, Michael (2015). “The application of the Mid-IR radio correlation to the $ \ hat {G} $ sample and the search for advanced extraterrestrial civilizations”. Astronomy & Astrophysics . 581 : L5. arXiv : 1508.02624  . Bibcode : 2015A & A … 581L … 5G . doi : 10.1051 / 0004-6361 / 201526687 .
  9. Jump up^ Andersen, Ross (2015-10-13). “The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy” . The Atlantic . Retrieved 2015-10-15 .
  10. Jump up^ Kaplan, Sarah (2015-10-15). “The strange star talking about an alien megastructure” . The Washington Post . ISSN  0190-8286 . Retrieved 2015-10-15 .
  11. Jump up^ Aron, Jacob (2015-09-18). “Citizen scientists catch cloud of comets orbiting remote star” . New Scientist . Retrieved 2015-10-15 .
  12. Jump up^ Pleat , Phil (2015-10-14). “Did Astronomers Find Evidence of an Alien Civilization? (Probably Not. But Still Cool.)” . Slate . ISSN  1091-2339. Retrieved 2015-10-15 .
  13. Jump up^ Williams, Lee (2015-10-14). “Astronomers may have found alien ‘megastructures’ orbiting star near the Milky Way’ . The Independent . Retrieved 2015-10-15 .
  14. Jump up^ “Looking for Deliberate Radio Signals from KIC 8462852” (Press release). The SETI Institute. November 5, 2015 . Retrieved 8 November2015 .
  15. Jump up^ Harp, GR; Richards, Jon; Shostak, Seth; Tarter, JC; Vakoch, Douglas A .; et al. (July 2016). “Radio SETI Observations of the Anomalous Star KIC 8462852”. The Astrophysical Journal . 825 (2). 155. arXiv : 1511.01606  . Bibcode : 2016ApJ … 825..155H . doi : 10.3847 / 0004-637X / 825/2/155 .
  16. Jump up^ Schuetz, Marlin; Vakoch, Douglas A .; Shostak, Seth; Richards, Jon (July 2016). “Optical SETI Observations of the Anomalous Star KIC 8462852”. The Astrophysical Journal Letters . 825 (1). L5. arXiv :1512.02388  . Bibcode : 2016ApJ … 825L … 5S . doi : 10.3847 / 2041-8205 / 825/1 / L5 .
  17. Jump up^ “An Interesting SETI Candidate in Hercules” . 2016-08-27 . Retrieved 2016-08-29 .
  18. Jump up^ “Alien signal detected by Russian astrophysicists turns out to be terrestrial disturbance” . tass.com . St. Petersburg, Russia: TASS. 2016-08-30 . Retrieved 2016-09-02 .
  19. Jump up^ Souers, PC (1986). Hydrogen properties for fusion energy . University of California Press. p. 4. ISBN  978-0-520-05500-1 .
  20. Jump up^ Borowski, Steve K. (1987-07-29). “Comparison of Fusion / Anti-matter Propulsion Systems for Interplanetary Travel” (PDF) . Technical Memorandum 107030 . San Diego, California, USA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration . pp. 1-3 . Retrieved 2008-01-28 .
  21. Jump up^ By themass-energyformulaequivalenceE = mc². Seeanti-matter as a fuel sourcefor energy comparisons.
  22. Jump up^ Than, Ker (August 10, 2011). “Antimatter Found Orbiting Earth-A First” . National Geographic News .
  23. Jump up^ Adriani; Barbarino; Bazilevskaya; Bellotti; Boezio; Bogomolov; Bongi; Bonvicini; Borisov (2011). “The discovery of geomagnetically trapped cosmic ray antiprotons”. The Astrophysical Journal . 736 (29): L1. arXiv :1107.4882  . Bibcode : 2011ApJ … 736L … 1H . doi : 10.1088 / 2041-8205 / 736/1 / L1 .
  24. Jump up^ Palmer, Jason (2011-01-11). “Antimatter caught streaming from thunderstorms on Earth” . BBC News . Retrieved 2015-12-29 .
  25. Jump up^ Dyson, Freeman J. (1966). Marshak, RE, ed. “The Search for Extraterrestrial Technology”. Perspectives in Modern Physics . New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  26. Jump up^ Newman, Phil (2001-10-22). “New Energy Source” Wrings “Power from Black Hole Spin” . NASA . Archived from the original on 2008-02-09 . Retrieved 2008-02-19 .
  27. Jump up^ Schutz, Bernard F. (1985). A First Course in General Relativity . New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 304, 305. ISBN  0-521-27703-5 .
  28. Jump up^ Dyson, Freeman (1960-06-03). “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation” . Science . New York: WA Benjamin, Inc. 131 (3414): 1667-1668. Bibcode : 1960Sci … 131.1667D . doi : 10.1126 / science.131.3414.1667 . PMID  17780673 . Retrieved 2008-01-30 .
  29. Jump up^ Galántai, Zoltán (September 7, 2003). “Long Futures and Type Ⅳ Civilizations” (PDF) . Retrieved 2014-11-03 .
  30. Jump up^ Kaku, Michio (2005). Parallel Worlds: The Science of Alternative Universes and Our Future in the Cosmos . New York: Doubleday. p. 317.ISBN  0-7139-9728-1 .
  31. ^ Jump up to:b Zubrin, Robert (1999). Entering Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization . ISBN  978-1585420360 .
  32. Jump up^ Barrow, John (1998). Impossibility: Limits of Science and the Science of Limits . Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 133. ISBN  978-0198518907 .
  33. Jump up^ Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart:Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life, Ebury Press, 2002,ISBN 0-09-187927-2

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *