Kardashev Scale – Stages of Civilization Development

We generally say that today human civilization has reached to a very good stage in technology. But do you know that there is a scale to measure these technological advancements of a civilization and that scale is Kardashev Scale. So let us know about this scale and stages of civilization development.

Kardashev Scale:

Nikolai Kardashev, a Russian astrophysicist created the so called Kardashev civilization classification scale.

Kardashev scale classifies civilizations depending on the basis of their energy harvesting and consuming capabilities. On that basis the civilizations are classified into three categories namely Type-1, Type-2 and Type -3 but Type-4 and Type-5 civilization can also be imagined.

Carl Sagan suggested a rough formula to rate the civilization on the basis of their energy consumption (Note: this formula is not a part of Kardashev theory). The formula is:

Kardashev Scale

K = rating of civilization

P = power used by the civilization

Putting our energy use as P = 17.54 Tera Watt we get a rating as 0.7244 but according some researchers human civilization is not even at 0.7 and would take around 150 more years to reach Type-1 level.

So let us know about each type of civilization in detail.

Type 1 Civilization:

This is that type of civilization which can harness all kinds of energy on a planet with 100% efficiency. This means that they can harness all forms of energy like hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, coal, oil, nuclear etc. energies and we know that human civilization haven’t reached this level yet. Even after these many advances we are able to harness solar energy at a maximum of 22% only, which tells at what level we are.

This civilization would have access to energy between 1016   – 1017 watts which is a lakh times more than the energy we have access to. To have such energy level we need to have fusion energy and we should also have access to energy from antimatter. Type-1 civilization would do this on their planet itself.

Type 2 Civilization:

This type of civilization would be able to harness complete energy of their solar system.

They would be able to construct hypothetical structures like Dyson Sphere, Dyson swarm, Matrioshka brain etc. Let me explain those things in brief (consider reading about them by visiting the link provided)

  1. Dyson Sphere: It is a hypothetical megastructure built around sun to harness large part of energy sun radiates into the space. Human civilization is just able to launch small satellites to Sun till now. I don’t know when we will be able to construct something like Dyson Sphere around Sun.
  2. Dyson Swarm: Large number of small energy harvesting units densely clustered around sun constitutes a Dyson Swarm. Dyson Swarm seems to be a little realistic and possible thing when compared to Dyson Sphere. There are many variants in this Dyson concept.
  3. Matrioshka brain: This is a literally computer which would harness power from something similar to a Dyson Sphere and would give immense computational power to the civilization.

So that was a briefing about those mega structures, these were only a few but there are lot of such hypothetical structures which a Type-2 civilization would probably build.

Once Kepler found a star which is believed to have something like a Dyson Sphere, you can watch the following Ted Talk where in one of the researchers mentioned about this.

They would probably be able to harness energy from Black holes by collecting photons emitted by them. It is absolutely possible to harness energy from black holes also (To know more you can read this article).

This civilization would have access to energy of the order of 1026 watts at any point of time.

Type 3 Civilization:

This civilization would use various techniques used by Type-2 at the level of their galaxy that means that they would be able to harness almost all the energy of their galaxy. They would be able to collect energy from supermassive black holes, gamma bursts, quasars and what not. They would have access to energy of the order of 1037 watts at any point of time. They would be able to extract energy from almost all the stars by building something like Dyson Sphere around them. Once imagine about such civilization, how advanced it would be.

Now if type-3 civilization can exist we can also have type-4 and type-5 civilizations wherein Type-4 civilization would be able to control whole universe and Type-5 civilization would operate at multiple universe level and will be equivalent to God as they would be able to do literally anything. Some people also talk about higher types also which could do unimaginable things.

But the big question is that if such civilizations really exist why they didn’t meet us or invade us, this question is answered by Fermi Paradox, following is a video about Fermi Paradox which would help you understand this complex paradox by fermi.


And below are some Research Papers and articles that you can read to get much deeper understanding of things like Kardashev scale and Dyson sphere:

  1. Paper on Kardashev Scale and improvements in it
  2. Dyson Sphere
  3. Energy from Black holes

So, that’s it for this article guys, I hope that you got to learn something interesting from this article, if yes do subscribe to our newsletter. If you have read this till here means that you have found this interesting, if yes, share it with your curious friends through the buttons below.


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