A (somewhat hypothetical) method of measuring the technological advances of a species or civilization, based on how much energy they are able to use


Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev proposed it in 1964, with three well defined levels, in his paper Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations

What's the scale?

  1. "A level near contemporary terrestrial civilization with an energy capability equivalent to the solar insolation on Earth, between 1016 and 1017 watts." - Guillermo A. Lemarchand
  2. "A civilization capable of harnessing the energy radiated by its own star (...) with energy consumption at ≈4×1033 erg/sec." - Kardashev
  3. "A civilization in possession of energy on the scale of its own galaxy, with energy consumption at ≈4×1044 erg/sec." - Kardashev

More numbers or metrics?

  1. Interpolation/extrapolation formula by Carl Sagan (according to which Homo sapiens, with 17.54 TW of average consumption, ranked at 0.724 in 2012):
    K = (log10 P - 6) / 10
    • K is the Kardashev rating
    • P is the power consumption in watts
  2. Type IV and V civilizations: able to control an entire universe/multiple universes worth of energy - Michio Kaku
  3. Information mastery: Civilization type A (106 bits of information available to the civilization) through type Z (1031 bits) - Carl Sagan
  4. Microdimensional mastery: mastery of increasingly smaller dimensions of matter, from manipulation of matter in larger-than-own sizes (buildings, type I-minus) through manipulation of elementary particles (quarks, leptons, type VI-minus) - John D. Barrow
  5. Civilizational range: how widespread a civilization is, from Type I (across a planet), through type II (colonies in a stellar system) to Type III (across a galaxy) - Robert Zubrin

Moar facts!

BQ2016: 291

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