Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Kardashev Scale

  1. Jan 4, 2007 #1
    The Kardashev Scale is a scale (duh) that judges civilizations based on their energy output.

    There are Three Types:

    Type I: 1.74×1017 W

    Type II: 3.86×1026 W

    Type III: 10^36 W

    Now, its is said that civilizations will grow like this:

    Type I: Uses the energy output of One Planet

    Type II: Uses the energy output of a star and its planets.

    Type III: Uses the energy of an entire galaxy, the blackholes, stars, and planets in it.

    But here is a problem: the examples used to describe these types (Star Wars, Star Trek, and others) may not be true types.


    The Star Wars Civilization covers most of its galaxy, yet its main power sources are disputed, claiming its energy output does not make it a type three.

    If we assume this is true, its power source is still a galaxy, but not enough energy o make it a type III.

    So the question is:

    Which is more important? Size? or energy output?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I believe that the defintion is based on total energy used by the civilization averaged over a 1 year time period. This gives the possibility for a fairly low-tech civilization that spawns a galaxy to have a high Kardashev rating.

    However, if you look at http://www.stardestroyer.net/Empire/Tech/Beam/DeathStar.html

    for instance, you'll see that Star Wars technology can apparently generate at least 2*10^32 joules in one shot, suggesting that the Star Wars tech level can control and generate very high levels of energy. (Most of the movie does not portray this, though, this is more or less an isolated incident.)

    The capability of making 50 such shots in a year would put Star Wars at the K2 level, considering only the Death star's power requirements.

    Why a K2+ level civilization is messing around with manually piloted fighters is somewhat of a mystery, though. Star Wars doesn't really make sense if you try to take it seriously on a scientific level.

    I rather like Ian Banks "The Culture" as a fictional representation of a K2-K3 level civilization. It probably doesn't make any actual sense either, but it's not quite as grossly inconsistent as Star Wars.
  4. Apr 19, 2007 #3
    is it really possible to harness all the energy from one planet without converting all the mass into energy?

    assuming you are using only that planet, not a whole galaxy to achieve K1 status...
  5. Aug 1, 2008 #4
    Dr. Michio Kaku and Type 1, 2 and 3 Civilizations

    The Kardashev scale is a general method of classifying how technologically advanced a civilization is. It was first proposed in 1964 by the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev. The scale has three designated categories called Type I, II, and III. These are based on the amount of usable energy 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.


    We would be a Type 0 Civilization in transition to a Type 1.

    Here's some interesting info on this:

    Here's a video by Dr. Michio Kaku.

    What do you think of Type 1, 2 and 3 Civilizations?

    Do you think we will make it to a Type 1 Civilization?
  6. Aug 1, 2008 #5


    User Avatar

    Re: Dr. Michio Kaku and Type 1, 2 and 3 Civilizations

    Like most things in cosmology (e.g. Drake equation), it's hard to tell if this is absolutely retarded or absolutely genius. I'm going with the prior because let's face it, a sample size of "1" doesn't really help when classifying civilisations.

    Why don't we look to Earth and assume it's like a fractal? We have first world, second world and third world countries with exponential increase in resource usage as we go up. I guess that's the same principle, and I'm not sure if that's utterly stupid or utterly clever.

    We're not in any fit state to progress, that's damned well assured.
  7. Aug 1, 2008 #6
    Re: Dr. Michio Kaku and Type 1, 2 and 3 Civilizations

    maybe...either that or we die. It will be an epic battle of epic proportions...causing us to eliminate each other.
  8. Aug 1, 2008 #7
    Re: Dr. Michio Kaku and Type 1, 2 and 3 Civilizations

    and yes...you make some sense. The transition from Old Order to New Order is still taking up time and effort.
  9. Aug 1, 2008 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    emason, please search for similar threads before you start a new one.

  10. Aug 7, 2008 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Considering that this scale seems to start out on a planetary level, and we only know of one such civilization (our own), I fail to see how this is a scientific topic (N=1?). I'm moving this to philosophy.
  11. Aug 7, 2008 #10
    Re: Dr. Michio Kaku and Type 1, 2 and 3 Civilizations

    I can't get the kids to turn out the lights when they leave a room. My house is on the verge of becoming a type II civilization.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook