Kardashev Scale: Stages of Civilization Development

Kardashev Scale: Stages of Civilization Development

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

What is Kardashev Scale?

Kardashev scale classifies civilizations depending on the basis of their energy harvesting and consuming capabilities. On that basis, the civilizations were classified into three categories namely Type-1, Type-2, and Type-3.

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

With time, the Kardashev scale got some modifications and a major modification was done by physicist Carl Sagan. Sagan came up with an interpolation formula for the Kardashev theory to rate the civilization on the basis of their energy consumption. (Note: This formula is not a part of original Kardashev theory). This formula converted the discrete scale into a continuous one.

Kardashev Formula

Kardashev Formula

K = Rating of civilization
P = Power used by the civilization

Humanity on Kardashev Scale

In 2018, the world energy consumption was 18.40 TW which puts humanity at 0.73 on the Kardashev scale.

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

Type 1 Civilization

Type 1 civilization 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 hasn’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. 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

Type 2 civilization would be able to harness the complete energy of their solar system.

They would be able to construct hypothetical structures like the 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 the sun to harness a large part of the energy that the sun radiates into 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 a Dyson Sphere around the Sun.
  2. Dyson Swarm: A large number of small energy harvesting units densely clustered around the sun constitutes a Dyson Swarm. Dyson Swarm seems to be a little realistic and possible thing when compared to the Dyson Sphere. There are many variants in this Dyson concept.
  3. Matrioshka brain: This is literally a computer that 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 megastructures, these were only a few but there are a lot of such hypothetical structures which a Type-2 civilization would probably build.

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 the energy of the order of 1026 watts at any point in time.

Type 3 Civilization

Type 3 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.

This civilization would have access to the energy of the order of 1037 watts at any point in time. They would be able to extract energy from almost all the stars by building something like a 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 the 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 a big question here is that if such civilizations really exist why they didn’t meet us or invade us, this question is answered by Fermi Paradox. Here is a video on Fermi Paradox

Fermi Paradox

And below are some Research Papers and articles that you can read to get a much deeper understanding of things like the 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 you have read this till here means that you have found this interesting, so, share it with your curious friends through the buttons below.

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