Kardashev scale

Kardashev scale

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Encyclopedia
The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring an advanced civilization's
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

 level of technological
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

 advancement. The scale is only theoretical and in terms of an actual civilization highly speculative; however, it puts energy consumption of an entire civilization in a cosmic
Cosmos
In the general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from the Greek term κόσμος , meaning "order" or "ornament" and is antithetical to the concept of chaos. Today, the word is generally used as a synonym of the word Universe . The word cosmos originates from the same root...

 perspective. It was first proposed in 1964 by the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 Nikolai Kardashev
Nikolai Kardashev
Nikolai Semenovich Kardashev is a Russian astrophysicist, and is the deputy director of the Russian Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.Kardashev graduated from Moscow State University in 1955, following up at...

. The scale has three designated categories called Type I, II, and III. These are based on the amount of usable energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

 a civilization has at its disposal, and the degree of space colonization. In general terms, a Type I civilization has achieved mastery of the resources of its home planet, Type II of its solar system, and Type III of its galaxy.
When extra- and interpolating the scale to include values in hundredths, the human civilization as of 2011 is currently somewhere around 0.72.

Definition


In 1964, Kardashev defined three levels of civilizations, based on the order of magnitude of the amount of power
Power (physics)
In physics, power is the rate at which energy is transferred, used, or transformed. For example, the rate at which a light bulb transforms electrical energy into heat and light is measured in watts—the more wattage, the more power, or equivalently the more electrical energy is used per unit...

 available to them:
  • Type I: a civilization with a power output of about 4 W, i.e. a "technological level close to the level presently [1964] attained on earth". This type was apparently later redefined to signify a civilization able to harness all of the power available on its planet
    Planet
    A planet is a celestial body orbiting a star or stellar remnant that is massive enough to be rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and has cleared its neighbouring region of planetesimals.The term planet is ancient, with ties to history, science,...

    , approximately 1016 to 1017 W. Earth specifically has an available power
    Earth's energy budget
    The Earth can be considered as a physical system with an energy budget that includes all gains of incoming energy and all losses of outgoing energy. The planet is approximately in equilibrium, so the sum of the gains is approximately equal to the sum of the losses.Note on accompanying images:...

     of 1.74 W (dominated by the incoming solar radiation).
  • Type II: a civilization that is able to harness all of the power available from its home star
    Star
    A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

    , approximately 4 W. The Sun
    Sun
    The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

     outputs approximately 3.86 W.
  • Type III: a civilization that is able to harness all of the power available from a whole galaxy
    Galaxy
    A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias , literally "milky", a...

    , approximately 4 W. The actual value of this figure is extremely variable, since galaxies vary widely in size; the stated figure is the approximate power output of the Milky Way
    Milky Way
    The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Solar System. This name derives from its appearance as a dim un-resolved "milky" glowing band arching across the night sky...

    .

Current status of human civilization



Human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 civilization is currently somewhere below Type I, as it is able to harness only a portion of the energy that is available on Earth. The current state of human civilization has thus been named Type 0. Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 suggested to define intermediate values (not considered in Kardashev's original) by interpolating
Interpolation
In the mathematical field of numerical analysis, interpolation is a method of constructing new data points within the range of a discrete set of known data points....

 and extrapolating
Extrapolation
In mathematics, extrapolation is the process of constructing new data points. It is similar to the process of interpolation, which constructs new points between known points, but the results of extrapolations are often less meaningful, and are subject to greater uncertainty. It may also mean...

 the values given above for types 1, 2 and 3, by using the formula
,

where value K is a civilization's Kardashev rating and MW is the power it uses for interstellar communication, in megawatts.
He calculated humanity's civilization type (in 1973) to be about 0.7, with respect to this extrapolation (apparently using 10 terawatt (TW) as the value for 1970s humanity).

International Energy Agency
International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency is a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization established in the framework of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in 1974 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis...

 World Energy Outlook (2005) and section 7 of Key World Energy Statistics project values for planetary power utilization yielding these corresponding Kardashev scale estimates (but using total power output, not just that used for interstellar communication alone):
Year Energy production Kardashev rating
Exajoule
Joule
The joule ; symbol J) is a derived unit of energy or work in the International System of Units. It is equal to the energy expended in applying a force of one newton through a distance of one metre , or in passing an electric current of one ampere through a resistance of one ohm for one second...

s/year
Terawatt
Watt
The watt is a derived unit of power in the International System of Units , named after the Scottish engineer James Watt . The unit, defined as one joule per second, measures the rate of energy conversion.-Definition:...

s
Quads
Quad (energy)
A quad is a unit of energy equal to 1015 BTU, or 1.055 × 1018 joules in SI units.The unit is used by the U.S. Department of Energy in discussing world and national energy budgets. The global primary energy production in 2004 was 446 quad, equivalent to 471 EJ...

/year
Mtoe/year
1900   21     0.67   20      500 0.58
1970 190   6.0 180    4,500 0.67
1973 260   8.2 240    6,200 0.69
1985 290   9.2 270    6,900 0.69
1989 320 10    300    7,600 0.70
1993 340 11    320    8,100 0.70
1995 360 12    340    8,700 0.70
2000 420 13    400 10,000 0.71
2001 420 13    400 10,000 0.71
2002 430 14    410 10,400 0.71
2004 440 14    420 10,600 0.71
2010 510 16    480 12,100 0.72
2030 680 22    650 16,300 0.73


, the Kardashev rating is approximately 0.72, calculated using BP's primary energy consumption chart for 2007. It is important to note that as Sagan's Kardashev rating is base-10-billion logarithmic, a value of 0.72 means we are using approximately 0.16% of the total available planetary energy budget.
The baseline value, K = 0, can be imagined as the status of an early civilization with the manual labor of ~10000 adults, or with a team of ~1000 horses (see orders of magnitude
Orders of magnitude (power)
This page lists examples of the power in watts produced by various sources of energy. They are grouped by orders of magnitude, and each section covers three orders of magnitude, or a factor of one thousand.-zeptowatt :...

).

Michio Kaku
Michio Kaku
is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, the co-founder of string field theory, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science...

 suggested that humans may attain Type I status in about 100–200 years, Type II status in a few thousand years, and Type III status in about 100,000 to a million years.

Type I civilization methods

  • Large-scale application of fusion power
    Fusion power
    Fusion power is the power generated by nuclear fusion processes. In fusion reactions two light atomic nuclei fuse together to form a heavier nucleus . In doing so they release a comparatively large amount of energy arising from the binding energy due to the strong nuclear force which is manifested...

    . According to mass-energy equivalence
    Mass-energy equivalence
    In physics, mass–energy equivalence is the concept that the mass of a body is a measure of its energy content. In this concept, mass is a property of all energy, and energy is a property of all mass, and the two properties are connected by a constant...

    , Type I implies the conversion of about 2 kg of matter to energy per second. While there is no known method to convert matter (by itself) completely into energy, an equivalent energy release could theoretically be achieved by fusing approximately 280 kg of hydrogen
    Hydrogen
    Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

     into helium
    Helium
    Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

     per second, a rate roughly equivalent to 8.9×109 kg/year. A cubic km of water contains about 1011 kg of hydrogen, and the Earth's ocean
    Ocean
    An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

    s contain about 1.3×109 cubic km of water, meaning that this rate of consumption could be sustained over geological time scales, discounting the protium-deuterium imbalance.
  • Antimatter
    Antimatter
    In particle physics, antimatter is the extension of the concept of the antiparticle to matter, where antimatter is composed of antiparticles in the same way that normal matter is composed of particles...

     in large quantities would have a mechanism to produce power on a scale several factors above our current level of technology. In antimatter-matter collisions, the entire rest mass of the particles is converted to kinetic energy
    Kinetic energy
    The kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses due to its motion.It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. Having gained this energy during its acceleration, the body maintains this kinetic energy unless its speed changes...

    . Their energy density
    Energy density
    Energy density is a term used for the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume. Often only the useful or extractable energy is quantified, which is to say that chemically inaccessible energy such as rest mass energy is ignored...

     (energy released per mass) is about four orders of magnitude greater than that from using nuclear fission
    Nuclear fission
    In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

    , and about two orders of magnitude greater than the best possible yield from fusion
    Nuclear fusion
    Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

    . The reaction of 1 kg
    Kilogram
    The kilogram or kilogramme , also known as the kilo, is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units and is defined as being equal to the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram , which is almost exactly equal to the mass of one liter of water...

     of anti-matter with 1 kg of matter would produce 1.8×1017 J
    Joule
    The joule ; symbol J) is a derived unit of energy or work in the International System of Units. It is equal to the energy expended in applying a force of one newton through a distance of one metre , or in passing an electric current of one ampere through a resistance of one ohm for one second...

     (180 petajoules) of energy. Although antimatter is sometimes proposed as a source of energy, this is currently infeasible. Artificially producing antimatter according to current understanding of the laws of physics involves first converting energy into mass, so there is no net gain. Artificially created antimatter is only usable as a medium of energy storage but not as an energy source, unless future technological developments (contrary to the conservation of the baryon number, such as a CP Violation
    CP violation
    In particle physics, CP violation is a violation of the postulated CP-symmetry: the combination of C-symmetry and P-symmetry . CP-symmetry states that the laws of physics should be the same if a particle were interchanged with its antiparticle , and left and right were swapped...

     in favour of antimatter) allow the conversion of ordinary matter into anti-matter. There are a number of naturally occurring sources of antimatter we may theoretically be able to cultivate and harvest in the future.
  • Solar energy through converting sunlight into electricity by either solar cell
    Solar cell
    A solar cell is a solid state electrical device that converts the energy of light directly into electricity by the photovoltaic effect....

    s and concentrating solar power or indirectly through wind
    Wind power
    Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

     and hydroelectric power. Currently, there is no known way for human civilization
    Civilization
    Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

     to successfully utilize the equivalent of the Earth's total absorbed solar energy without completely coating the surface with man-made structures, which is presently not feasible. However, if a civilization constructed very large Space-based solar power Satellites, Type I power levels might be achievable.



Type II civilization methods

  • A Dyson sphere
    Dyson sphere
    A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure originally described by Freeman Dyson. Such a "sphere" would be a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely encompass a star and capture most or all of its energy output...

     or Dyson swarm and similar constructs are hypothetical megastructure
    Megastructure
    A megastructure is a very large manmade object, though the limits of precisely how large this is vary considerably. Some apply the term to any especially large or tall building....

    s originally described by Freeman Dyson
    Freeman Dyson
    Freeman John Dyson FRS is a British-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum field theory, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson is a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists...

     as a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely enclose a star
    Star
    A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

     and capture most or all of its energy output.
  • Perhaps a more exotic means to generate usable energy would be to feed a stellar mass into a black hole
    Black hole
    A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

    , and collect photons emitted by the accretion disc
    Accretion disc
    An accretion disc is a structure formed by diffuse material in orbital motion around a central body. The central body is typically a star. Gravity causes material in the disc to spiral inward towards the central body. Gravitational forces compress the material causing the emission of...

    . Less exotic would be simply to capture photons already escaping from the accretion disc, reducing a black hole's angular momentum
    Angular momentum
    In physics, angular momentum, moment of momentum, or rotational momentum is a conserved vector quantity that can be used to describe the overall state of a physical system...

    ; known as the Penrose process
    Penrose process
    The Penrose process is a process theorised by Roger Penrose wherein energy can be extracted from a rotating black hole...

    .
  • Star lifting
    Star lifting
    Star lifting is any of several hypothetical processes by which a highly advanced civilization could remove a substantial portion of a star's matter in a controlled manner for other uses. The term appears to have been coined by David Criswell.Stars already lose a small flow of mass via solar wind,...

     is a process where an advanced civilization could remove a substantial portion of a star's matter in a controlled manner for other uses.
  • Anti-matter is likely to be produced as an industrial byproduct of a number of megascale engineering
    Megascale engineering
    Megascale engineering is a form of exploratory engineering concerned with the construction of structures on an enormous scale. Typically these structures are at least 1,000 kilometers in length—in other words, at least 1 megameter, hence the name...

     processes (such as some of the Star Lifting above).
  • In multiple-star systems
    Star system
    A star system or stellar system is a small number of stars which orbit each other, bound by gravitational attraction. A large number of stars bound by gravitation is generally called a star cluster or galaxy, although, broadly speaking, they are also star systems.-Binary star systems:A stellar...

     of a sufficiently 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 of the stars of one or more galaxies individually. They may also be able to tap into the energy released from the supermassive black hole
Supermassive black hole
A supermassive black hole is the largest type of black hole in a galaxy, in the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of solar masses. Most, and possibly all galaxies, including the Milky Way, are believed to contain supermassive black holes at their centers.Supermassive black holes have...

s which are believed to exist at the center of most galaxies.

Civilization implications


There are many historical examples of human civilization undergoing large-scale transitions, such as the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

. The transition between Kardashev scale levels could potentially represent similarly dramatic periods of social upheaval, since they entail surpassing the hard limits of the resources available in a civilization's existing territory. A common speculation suggests that the transition from Type 0 to Type I might carry a strong risk of self-destruction since, in some scenarios, there would no longer be room for further expansion on the civilization's home planet, similar to a Malthusian catastrophe
Malthusian catastrophe
A Malthusian catastrophe was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production...

. Excessive use of energy without adequate disposal of heat, for example, could plausibly make the planet of a civilization approaching Type I unsuitable to the biology of the dominant life-forms
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 and their food sources. If Earth is an example, then sea temperatures in excess of 35 °C would jeopardize marine life and make the cooling of mammals to temperatures suitable for their metabolism
Metabolism
Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that happen in the cells of living organisms to sustain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories...

 difficult if not impossible. Of course, these theoretical speculations may not become problems in reality
Reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

 thanks to the application of future engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 and technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

. Also, by the time a civilization reaches Type I it may have colonized other planets or created O'Neill-type colonies
Island Three
The O'Neill cylinder is a space settlement design proposed by American physicist Gerard K. O'Neill in his 1976 book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space....

, so the amount of waste heat could be distributed throughout the solar system.

Extensions to the original scale


The state that human civilization currently occupies was originally Type I in the Kardashev scale, but has a K value below 1 using Sagan's logarithmic formula (described above).

Zoltan Galantai has defined a further extrapolation of the scale, a Type IV level which controls the energy output of the visible universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

; this is within a few orders of magnitude of 1045 W. Such a civilization approaches or surpasses the limits of speculation based on current scientific understanding, and may not be possible. Frank J. Tipler
Frank J. Tipler
Frank Jennings Tipler is a mathematical physicist and cosmologist, holding a joint appointment in the Departments of Mathematics and Physics at Tulane University. Tipler has authored books and papers on the Omega Point, which he claims is a mechanism for the resurrection of the dead. It has been...

's Omega point would presumably occupy this level, as would the Biocosm hypothesis. Galantai 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).

However, Milan M. Ćirković has argued that "Type IV" should instead be used to refer to a civilization that has harnessed the power of its supercluster
Supercluster
Superclusters are large groups of smaller galaxy groups and clusters and are among the largest known structures of the cosmos. They are so large that they are not gravitationally bound and, consequently, partake in the Hubble expansion.-Existence:...

, or "the largest gravitationally bound structure it originated in." For the Local Supercluster, this would be approximately 1042 W.

Dr. Michio Kaku
Michio Kaku
is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, the co-founder of string field theory, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science...

 has discussed a Type IV civilization, which could harness "extragalactic" energy sources such as dark energy
Dark energy
In physical cosmology, astronomy and celestial mechanics, dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and tends to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most accepted theory to explain recent observations that the universe appears to be expanding...

, in his book Parallel Worlds
Parallel Worlds (book)
Parallel Worlds; A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos is a popular science book by Michio Kaku first published in 2005.-Part I: The Universe:* Chapter One: Baby Pictures of the Universe...

.

In contrast to simply increasing the maximum power level covered by the scale, Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

 suggested adding another dimension: the information available to the civilization. He assigned the letter A to represent 106 unique bits of information (less than any recorded human culture) and each successive letter to represent an order of magnitude increase, so that a level Z civilization would have 1031 bits. In this classification, 1973 Earth is a 0.7 H civilization, with access to 1013 bits of information. Sagan believed that no civilization has yet reached level Z, conjecturing that so much unique information would exceed that of all the intelligent species in a galactic supercluster and observing that the universe is not old enough to effectively exchange information 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.

Type I

  • The humans from Stargate Universe
    Stargate Universe
    Stargate Universe is a Canadian-American military science fiction television series and part of MGM's Stargate franchise. It follows the adventures of a present-day, multinational exploration team traveling on the Ancient spaceship Destiny many billions of light years distant from the Milky Way...

    use the power of the planet Icarus, with a crust containing massive amounts of a power-generating element, to route enough power to the Stargate
    Stargate (device)
    A Stargate is a portal device within the Stargate fictional universe that allows practical, rapid travel between two distant locations. The devices first appear in the 1994 Roland Emmerich film Stargate, and thereafter in the television series Stargate SG-1 and its spin-offs...

     to encode or dial the ninth chevron, in contrast to normal intragalactic, seven-chevron addresses and intergalactic eight-chevron addresses. This allowed the gate to open to the Ancient's
    Ancient (Stargate)
    The Ancients are a humanoid race in the fictional Stargate universe. They are called "Ancients" in the Milky Way, but are also known as Lanteans or Ancestors in the Pegasus galaxy and as the Alterans in their home galaxy, and they sometimes call themselves Anquietas in their language...

     ship Destiny, which had been travelling for many millennia under solar power and had travelled through hundreds of galaxies other than our own.

Type II

  • In the Ringworld
    Ringworld
    Ringworld is a Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning 1970 science fiction novel by Larry Niven, set in his Known Space universe and considered a classic of science fiction literature. It is followed by three sequels, and preceded by four prequels, and ties into numerous other books set in Known Space...

     series by Larry Niven
    Larry Niven
    Laurence van Cott Niven / ˈlæri ˈnɪvən/ is an American science fiction author. His best-known work is Ringworld , which received Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics...

    , a ring a million miles wide is built and spun (for gravity) around a star roughly one astronomical unit
    Astronomical unit
    An astronomical unit is a unit of length equal to about or approximately the mean Earth–Sun distance....

     away. The ring can be viewed as a functional version of a Dyson sphere
    Dyson sphere
    A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure originally described by Freeman Dyson. Such a "sphere" would be a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely encompass a star and capture most or all of its energy output...

     with the interior surface area of 3 million Earth-sized planets. Because it is only a partial Dyson sphere, it can be viewed as an intermediary between Type I and Type II. Both Dyson spheres and the Ringworld suffer from gravitational instability, however -- a major focus of the Ringworld series is coping with this instability in the face of partial collapse of the Ringworld civilization.
  • The territory of Eelong in the Pendragon Series
    The Pendragon Adventure
    The Pendragon Adventure is a young adult series of science fiction/fantasy novels by D. J. MacHale. They follow the chronicles of Bobby Pendragon, a teenager who discovers that he, as well as his two best friends, Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde, must prevent the destruction of the universe.The...

     by D. J. MacHale utilizes all power from a belt of suns known as the Skaa.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation
    Star Trek: The Next Generation
    Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production...

    episode "Relics", the Enterprise discovers an abandoned Dyson sphere
    Dyson sphere
    A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure originally described by Freeman Dyson. Such a "sphere" would be a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely encompass a star and capture most or all of its energy output...

    .
  • In Bob Shaw
    Bob Shaw
    Bob Shaw, born Robert Shaw, was a science fiction author and fan from Northern Ireland. He was noted for his originality and wit. He won the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 1979 and 1980...

    's 'Orbitsville
    Orbitsville
    Orbitsville , published in 1975, is a science fiction novel by Bob Shaw about the discovery of a Dyson sphere-like artifact surrounding a star. It has won the 1976 British Science Fiction Award for the best novel...

    ', the giant sphere which encases a sun is presumed to have been built by using the output of the star itself. In the sequel, 'Orbitsville Departure', more spheres are confirmed and may escalate the builders to Type III.
  • In the Halo
    Halo (series)
    Halo is a multi-million dollar science fiction video game franchise created by Bungie and now managed by 343 Industries and owned by Microsoft Studios. The series centers on an interstellar war between humanity and a theocratic alliance of aliens known as the Covenant...

     universe, the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and the hostile alien society known as the Covenant have both attained type II status. The UNSC is shown to be able to induce a star to go supernova and have colonized more than 800 planetary systems.

Type III

  • In Star Maker
    Star Maker
    -External links:*...

    by Olaf Stapledon
    Olaf Stapledon
    William Olaf Stapledon was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.-Life:...

    . The stellar energy output of the whole galaxy is utilized by the Galactic Community of Worlds.
  • The Tyranids
    Tyranids
    The Tyranids are a fictional race from the Warhammer 40000 tabletop game and its spin-off media. They are known to the Imperium generally as Tyranids, because Tyran is the first known planet they devoured and where they were first encountered...

    of the Warhammer 40k Universe allegedly travelled to the galaxy after consuming their own, making them a Type III civilization.
  • Galaxia, the ultimate destiny of humanity in Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

    's Foundation series, interconnected all human minds with the material of the galaxy, enabling them to utilize all its resources.
  • In the movie Men in Black
    Men in Black (film)
    Men in Black is a 1997 science fiction comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith and Vincent D'Onofrio. The film was based on the Men in Black comic book series by Lowell Cunningham, originally published by Marvel Comics. The film featured the creature effects...

    , agent J and K must recover a galaxy stored inside a small ball as an energy source.

Above Type III / "Type IV"

  • The backstory of The Dancers at the End of Time
    The Dancers at the End of Time
    The title of this volume comes from the poem "The Last Word" by Ernest Dowson.Reunited at the end of Time, Jherek and the other inhabitants of the End of Time have returned to their preferred amusements of parties and games. They are interrupted by a ship of alien musician/pirates, the Lat...

     series by Michael Moorcock
    Michael Moorcock
    Michael John Moorcock is an English writer, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published a number of literary novels....

     describes a civilization which consumed all the energy in all the stars in the universe, save Earth's own sun, in order to fuel an existence in which the inheritors of Earth lived as near omnipotent gods.
  • In a rare mention of the scale within a work of fiction, the Doctor Who
    Doctor Who
    Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

     novel The Gallifrey Chronicles
    The Gallifrey Chronicles (2005 novel)
    For the John Peel book of the same name, see: The Gallifrey Chronicles The Gallifrey Chronicles is a BBC Books original novel written by Lance Parkin and based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who...

    , a Time Lord
    Time Lord
    The Time Lords are an ancient extraterrestrial race and civilization of humanoids in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, of which the series' eponymous protagonist, the Doctor, is a member...

     named Marnal asserts that "the Time Lords were the Type-4 civilization. We had no equals. We controlled the fundamental forces of the entire universe. Nothing could communicate with us on our level."
  • The Priors in the House of Suns
    House of Suns
    House of Suns is a 2008 science fiction novel by Welsh author Alastair Reynolds . He announced the title on June 7, 2007, when he was about halfway through writing it...

    by Alastair Reynolds
    Alastair Reynolds
    Alastair Preston Reynolds is a British science fiction author. He specialises in dark hard science fiction and space opera. He spent his early years in Cornwall, moved back to Wales before going to Newcastle, where he read physics and astronomy. Afterwards, he earned a PhD from St Andrews, Scotland...

     could be placed as a Type IV, being surmised by one of the characters for being responsible for the apparent emptiness of the Boötes void
    Boötes void
    The Boötes void or the Great Void is a huge and approximately spherically shaped region of space, containing very few galaxies. It is located in the vicinity of the constellation Boötes, hence its name...

     some 250 million light years distance.
  • The Xeelee
    Xeelee
    The Xeelee are a fictional hyperadvanced species from Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence. They were first remotely mentioned in the 1994 novel Timelike Infinity and were later central actors of several novels and a substantial number of short stories...

     in the Xeelee Sequence
    Xeelee Sequence
    The Xeelee Sequence is a series of novels and short stories by British science fiction author Stephen Baxter. The novels span several billions of years, describing the future expansion of Mankind, its war with its arch-nemesis , and the Xeelee's own war with dark matter entities called photino birds...

     by Stephen Baxter
    Stephen Baxter
    Stephen Baxter is a prolific British hard science fiction author. He has degrees in mathematics and engineering.- Writing style :...

    . They modified their own history and have spread across the universe, typically being concentrated in the heart of galaxies where they use the black holes for their own purposes.
  • During Grant Morrison
    Grant Morrison
    Grant Morrison is a Scottish comic book writer, playwright and occultist. He is known for his nonlinear narratives and counter-cultural leanings, as well as his successful runs on titles like Animal Man, Doom Patrol, JLA, The Invisibles, New X-Men, Fantastic Four, All-Star Superman, and...

    's run on New X-Men
    New X-Men
    New X-Men was a superhero comic book series published by Marvel Comics within the X-Men franchise. After the end of Grant Morrison's run on X-Men , titled New X-Men, the title was used for a new series, New X-Men: Academy X, serving as a continuation of the second volume of New Mutants...

    , one character placed the Shi'ar
    Shi'ar
    The Shi'ar are a fictional species of aliens in the Marvel Comics universe. The Shi'ar Empire also called the Aerie, is a vast collection of alien species, cultures and worlds situated close to the Skrull and Kree Empires, and alongside them, is one of the three main alien empires...

     alien empire as a Type V civilization.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation
    Star Trek: The Next Generation
    Star Trek: The Next Generation is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry as part of the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller served as executive producers at different times throughout the production...

    , the god-like Q Continuum
    Q Continuum
    In the fictional televised Star Trek universe, the Q Continuum is an extradimensional plane of existence inhabited by a race of extremely powerful, hyper-intelligent beings known as the Q...

     could be considered above Type III.
  • The Players of The New Cosmogony, a fictional Nobel Prize oration in A Perfect Vacuum
    A Perfect Vacuum
    A Perfect Vacuum is a 1971 book by Polish author Stanisław Lem. It is an anthology of reviews of nonexistent books. It was translated into English by Michael Kandel...

    by Stanisław Lem, are altering the laws of physics for their own purposes.

Connections with sociology and anthropology


Kardashev's theory can be viewed as the expansion of some social theories, especially from social evolutionism. It is close to the theory of Leslie White
Leslie White
Leslie Alvin White was an American anthropologist known for his advocacy of theories of cultural evolution, sociocultural evolution, and especially neoevolutionism, and for his role in creating the department of anthropology at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor...

, author of The Evolution of Culture: The Development of Civilization to the Fall of Rome (1959). White attempted to create a theory explaining the entire history of humanity. The most important factor in his theory is technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

: Social systems are determined by technological systems, wrote White in his book, echoing the earlier theory of Lewis Henry Morgan. As measure of society advancement he proposed the measure energy consumption of a given society (thus his theory is known as the energy theory of cultural evolution). He differentiates between five stages of human development. In the first stage, people use energy of their own muscles. In the second stage, they use energy of domesticated animals. In the third stage, they use the energy of plants (which White refers to as agricultural revolution
Agricultural revolution
Agricultural Revolution or Agrarian Revolution may refer to:*The Neolithic Revolution , the initial transition from hunting and gathering to settled agriculture in prehistory...

). In the fourth stage, they learn to use the energy of natural resources—such as coal, oil, and gas. Finally, in the fifth stage, they harness nuclear energy
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

. White introduced a formula P=E×T, where P measures the advancement of the culture, E is a measure of energy consumed, and T is the measure of efficiency of technical factors utilizing the energy.

Criticism


It has been argued that, because we cannot understand advanced civilizations, we cannot predict their behavior; thus, Kardashev's visualization may not reflect what will actually occur for an advanced civilization. This central argument is found in the book Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life.

Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin is an American aerospace engineer and author, best known for his advocacy of the manned exploration of Mars. He was the driving force behind Mars Direct—a proposal intended to produce significant reductions in the cost and complexity of such a mission...

 uses the terms to refer to how widespread a civilization is in space, rather than to its energy use. In other words, a Type I civilization has spread across its planet, a Type II has extensive colonies in its respective stellar system, and a Type III has colonized its galaxy.

See also


  • Astroengineering
    Astroengineering
    Astroengineering is the construction of megastructures in space by technologically advanced beings. It is a form of megascale engineering. Typically proposed feats of astroengineering are on the scale to remake an entire stellar system....

  • Clarke's three laws
    Clarke's three laws
    Clarke's Three Laws are three "laws" of prediction formulated by the British writer and scientist Arthur C. Clarke. They are:# When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right...

  • Drake equation
    Drake equation
    The Drake equation is an equation used to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. It is used in the fields of exobiology and the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence...

  • Michio Kaku
    Michio Kaku
    is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, the co-founder of string field theory, and a "communicator" and "popularizer" of science...

  • Orders of magnitude (power)
    Orders of magnitude (power)
    This page lists examples of the power in watts produced by various sources of energy. They are grouped by orders of magnitude, and each section covers three orders of magnitude, or a factor of one thousand.-zeptowatt :...

  • Orders of magnitude (energy)
    Orders of magnitude (energy)
    This list compares various energies in joules , organized by order of magnitude.-SI multiples:-See also:*Conversion of units of energy*Energies per unit mass*List of energy topics*Metric system*TNT equivalent*Scientific notation-Notes:...

  • Sustainability
    Sustainability
    Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of well being, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of union, an interdependent relationship and mutual responsible position with all living and non...

  • Technological singularity
    Technological singularity
    Technological singularity refers to the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such an intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as...

  • White's Law
    White's law
    White's law, named after Leslie White and published in 1943, states that, other factors remaining constant, "culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased".White spoke of...

  • World energy resources and consumption
    World energy resources and consumption
    ]World energy consumption in 2010: over 5% growthEnergy markets have combined crisis recovery and strong industry dynamism. Energy consumption in the G20 soared by more than 5% in 2010, after the slight decrease of 2009. This strong increase is the result of two converging trends...


Further reading


  • Dyson, Freeman J. Energy in the Universe Article in September 1971 Scientific American
    Scientific American
    Scientific American is a popular science magazine. It is notable for its long history of presenting science monthly to an educated but not necessarily scientific public, through its careful attention to the clarity of its text as well as the quality of its specially commissioned color graphics...

     magazine (Special September Issue on Energy)
  • Wind Powering America
  • Clean Energy for Planetary Survival: International Development Research Centre
  • LBL Scientists Research Global Warming
  • E³ Handbook
  • Clarke H2 energy systems
  • Shkadov Thruster
  • Supercivilizations as Possible Products of the Progressive Evolution of Matter: also by Kardashev
  • Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation, by Freeman J. Dyson
  • The Radio Search For Intelligent Extraterrestral Life, by Frank Drake
    Frank Drake
    Frank Donald Drake PhD is an American astronomer and astrophysicist. He is most notable as one of the pioneers in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the founding of SETI, mounting the first observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1961 in Project...



External links