What is Kardashev Scale ?

Sam Huntington defined Civilization as the highest cultural grouping of the people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have, short of that which distinguishes humans from other species. Civilization is based on common history, culture, tradition, geography but the most important parameter that defines a civilization is the collective aspiration.

What is Kardashev Scale ?

This aspiration differs for every civilization. What would be the collective aspiration of the world if we treat all the population of earth belonging to one big civilization? That collective aspiration would be energy. With decreasing sources of energy on the Earth and with ever growing needs, we have to search for new energy sources.

Based upon our ability to harness energy and be able to build an advance civilization, Russian physicist Nikolai Kardashev devised a scale known as Kardashev Scale to rank various civilizations. What is that scale and what is its meaning for the civilization like us?

Kardashev built this scale to measure the technological advancement of a particular civilization. Kardashev scale consists of various levels such level 1, 2, 3 and it can exceed up to level 4 and 5 too.

Each level defines up to what level a civilization has been able to harness energy from the universe. Not only the scaling but Kardashev has calculated the energy requirements that must be achieved with respect to each level of the civilization.

Type I Civilization

According to Kardashev, the minimum energy or power generation of first level would be 10^16 watt. In this level of civilization, the people are able to harness complete energy that falls on a planet from its parent star.


Since the population is able to manipulate all energy from the home planet, it can completely control the nature such as rain patterns, storm and other physical phenomenon. This type of civilization is the epitome of the civilization on a particular planet and this civilization can exist till the energy resources on the planet get eliminated.

Type II Civilization

The energy generation of second level is calculated approximately 10^26 watt. Previous civilization has completely consumed the energy resource on the planet and to fulfill the energy need, one has to extract all the energy coming from the parent star.

We can generate energy from the parent star but most of the energy gets dissipated or absorbed by various factors such as atmosphere. Using solar panel on the earth to extract solar energy is not very efficient and we can only extract up to 10% of the total energy available from the sun. Freeman Dyson devised a method to extract complete energy from the star.

We can build a megastructure known as Dyson Sphere that can completely cover the star and all the energy coming from the star would be extracted through various sources using the suitable techniques. Such megastructure is still not the possibility in today’s world but the Level 2 civilization will certainly be able to build it and extract 100% energy from the parent star.

Type III Civilization

Level 3 will be able to generate 10^36 watt of energy. This level will be able to harness the energy of not only the parent star but all the stars present in the galaxies.

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Now the civilization is competing at the galactic level and various other civilization are harnessing the energy from their own galaxies. The power generation is so much that the movement of planets can be changed and manipulated.

The energy coming from the supernova can be absorbed to increase the production of annual energy output. To travel between planets and solar systems, the technological advancement has reached its peak and Cybernetic organisms are being developed to survive the condition of space.

Quantum teleportation can be achieved during this level of civilization and faster than light travel may be a possibility. Kardashev believed a Type IV civilization was too advanced and didn’t go beyond Type III on his scale.

He thought that, surely, this would be the extent of any species’ ability. Many think so, but a few believe there is a further level that could be achieved.

Type IV Civilization

Total energy generation during at Type 4 level of civilization is 10^46 watt. At this level a grand civilization is being able to harness the total energy of the universe itself.

Faster than light transportation makes it possible to travel throughout the universe in no time. Warp drives with warp factor high enough used to break the time barrier. Entire galaxies can be consumed and their movements can be manipulated.

Type V Civilization

At this level, not only the energy of this universe but the energy of all other parallel multi-universes can be consumed. This level is similar to a civilization achieving the status of Galactus or in more radical terms we can say this level has reached the level of God.

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As we move on from level 1 to level 5, things starts to sound more like science fiction but no one knows what could be possible if we truly able to harness that much of energy and that level of technological advancement. But where do we stand on this Kardashev scale?

We are not even reached the level 1. At present, we are mathematically at the level 0.73. American physicist Michio Kaku had predicted that we can the reach Level 1 in about 100-200 year.

Within few century humanity will be able to see the reality of reaching the conditions of level 1 and if it will be slightly close to the prediction, it will be a motivation to aim for the higher levels.

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