Talk:Kardashev scale

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Former featured article candidate Kardashev scale is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Kardashev scale:
  • Check Grammar.
  • Correct erroneous references to power figures (watts) as "energy". Rkeene0517 (talk) 21:30, 26 January 2012 (UTC) Yet most all articles on Kardashev refer to Energy Resources so the use of energy is correct?
  • Correct the reference to "5kg of energy per second"

cut out science fiction examples?[edit]

fancruft and unneeded, IMO, even though I just edited it. -- (talk) 21:23, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

I think the science fiction examples are very useful for a non-specialist like myself because quite dry material has a context that I can engage with. But I do see, and respect, the perspective of proper scientists who might see Scifi as "fluffy" distraction. Dom Russell--Dominic Russell (talk) 12:22, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

One problem with the sci-fi examples is that nobody can really classify where a sci-fi civ fits into the Kardashev scale, partially because Kardashev scale itself was just a notional off-the-cuff undeveloped idea that doesn't seem to have been thought through particularly well (e.g. with respect to use of non-renewable resources, or even with respect to fusion and fission of matter). In any case, sci-fi examples can not come from the novels/cartoons themselves - they should be supported by reliable third sources, per WP:OR and WP:RS. Otherwise they violate Wikipedia policy and must be removed. AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 02:01, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I also think the science fiction examples are very useful for the layman, and even popularizations of the Kardashev scale use them when talking about it. The problem I have with the sci-fi examples are many of them do not specifically reference Kardashev, and thus are OR and secondly the list violates WP:STYLE as it's a perfect example of a inappropriate Embedded list WP:LIST. So there needs to be a compromise between having examples that a laymen audience sink their teeth into, and also a list which satisfies and separates the science savvy from the science fiction audience. My suggestion would be to create a Kardashev scale "List of sci-fi civilizations according to Kardashev scale".--Sparkygravity (talk) 18:50, 16 July 2010 (UTC)
"List of" articles were a major source of discontent a year or two ago. Unless you can reference each listed civ, it can't be done acceptably. You hit the nail on the head with WP:OR and WP:CRUFT; unless a citation can be given which asserts the civ was Kardashev level whatever, it should not be listed. As for making the article more approachable, would a better idea be to go to the original sources and add more of their explanation of the Kardashev scale? But I wouldn't put too much effort into this... if making articles more comprehensible by the layman is important, then maybe Wikipedia should first fix the thousands of articles on quantum mechanics and string theory, before going to too much trouble rewriting an article about an idea that one guy invented once which has no real application. AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 14:30, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
I'd say cut it out. Of course, science starts with speculation, but this is absurd. Kortoso (talk) 17:45, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
I also say cut it out. the list belongs on TVTropes or Starship Battles, not here. --Ryubyss (talk) 17:32, 2 November 2014 (UTC)
I think the sci-fi analogies are generally useful but "The Precursor's [sic] from Halo are on this level" is so not helpful. (talk) 23:02, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Extensions to the original scale in science-fiction: Spaning vs Energy Production[edit]

Just because a civilization spans an entire galaxy, it does not necessarily mean that it is a type III civilization. Kardashev's scale primarily deals with energy output not territorial space. The same would be true of a type IV civilization. Just because the civilization can travel to other galaxies it does not mean that its energy output is equal to all those galaxies. If this is the case then the Ancients from StarGate would not qualify as a type IV civilization. Nothing i've seen suggests their total energy output to be anywhere near or above 4 × 1037 W. The Galactic Empire from Foundation would also not be a type III civilization as they only harness power on the stellar level. The Transformers have solar harvesters that can convert one star at a time to energon but they do not generate anything near the total output of a galaxy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:20, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

Reading some of the science fiction examples of a giving type civilization, I agree with the above. a lot of the examples i think are placed in the wrong catagory being in a higher catagory than should be in. the Federation of star trek...should be a type 1 and the transformers a type 2. the ancients of stargate a type II almost a type III. whoever did the examples didn't exactly pay close attention to the definitions of each catagory.Gulielmi2002 (talk) 21:42, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Considering the above, and the fact I have really engaged with the sciencefiction elements of the article I wonder if it requires a page of its own. I also agree that some of the civilisations are in the wrong catagory notably the Imperium of Man. The scale of the imperium is a source of drama not because it is efficient or technical but rather because it relys upon quazi-religious psychic powers the emperors psychic beackon in warp space being the prime example. Second consider that the TimeLords must be off the scale because they use blackholes to power their Tardis' (Tardi? What is the collective noun for a group of Tardises?) in the form of the Eye of harmony. --Dominic Russell (talk) 12:32, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

I have addressed all of the type IV civilisation requirements for the Ancients from Stargate: The Ancient Janus created a time machine. (Atlantis S1E15 Before I sleep). In SGU the use of seeding ships involves seeding galaxies with ships and gates effectively allowing them to extract energy, information and raw materials from any galaxy in the known universe. The ancients have also been show to 'ascend' to a higher plane of existance making them immortal and omnipotent with universe scale influence (Ark of Truth). The use of vacuum energy dwarfs the use of any matter energy source, in S2E6 of Atlantis project arcturus was an energy generation device potentially capable of generating galaxy output levels of energy, they compare their normal VPM technology (2x1025W per module) to be an 'alkaline battery by comparison', assuming a normal battery gives out 1W the arcturus device can output(2x1025)2 = 4x1050W which is around 40 billion galaxies energy output. As seen in the Atlantis transporters to move around the city ship so they have the ability to teleport. Why are they not seen at a type IV civilisation since they seem to demonstate all of the requirements given in the article? --Aedazan (talk) 08:47, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Because this is just stuff from a sci-fi TV series. Anything added to this article has to be sourced, or else the article will bloat into something unmanageable: everyone loves adding their own sci-fi examples to the article but it's not encyclopedic to do so. AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 16:07, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • The output of the Arcturus Device is not known as it was not tested at maximum power but Rodney did say that "It is the ultimate power source—something that would make Zero Point Modules seem like alkaline batteries in comparison.". This is where my math comes from. I do not know if he is referring to the Arcturus Device (it could be similar to a 1/(1-n) where as the device nears 100% its output becomes massive (or infinite), eg, Lorentz factor type math) or the concept in general although if he means the concept Zelenkas comment would seem to supersede it. --Aedazan (talk) 14:31, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Numbers confusion[edit]

The "energy use" section states that Type 1 energy consumption is 10^17W, presumably the power of the sunlight hitting the surface (although this derivation is never mentioned). The "current status" section uses a formula that assumes Type 1 being 10^16W, presumably the power practically achievable by actually covering the Earth's surface with solar cells. The "methods to achieve Type 1" section doesn't say which benchmark is used.

Well, a disk with radius of 6371 km (Earth's mean radius) has an area of 127.5 x 10^12 m2. If we multiply this by the Solar constant of 1361 W/m2, we get 1.735 x 10^17 Watts, which can be thought of as a first approximation of the insolation upon Earth. For a better approximation, you need to consider mean albedo and how much power the Earth radiates out to space, too, but since Kardashev scale is logarithmic anyway, we only need to consider orders of magnitude, and that's 10^17. -- (talk) 12:44, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

On a different point, I'd like to say that it'd be nice if in the "current status" the K value was broken down by country. For example, America presently uses as much energy as it'd be able to generate by covering 2% of its land surface with solar cells. I think that's significant in this discussion, as it's eerily close to [Sagan's 10^16W defintion of] Type 1.

On a totally different point, the "methods to achieve Type 1" section should obviously mention fission. It's a technology that already works and could very possibly be scaled up to 10^16W. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:17, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

I tried to add that information (that 1 km^3 of earth crust contains ~20 000 tonnes of thorium-232 on avarage, which is enought to produce over 10^21 Joules of energy in thermal nuclear reactor like Molten Salt Reactor) but is has been rejected due to lack of source. I was strange becouse tge section about using fusion power hasn't been rejected despite of lack of the source and despite of the miscalculations (5 kg of matter equals 4.5*10^17 Joules which is much more than 10^16 - 10^17 Joules per second needed for type I civilization, there should probably be 0.5 kg of matter, 100 kg of hydrogen and so on...)
 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:12, 24 November 2009 (UTC) 

Isnt this mistaken?[edit]

"Anti-matter production is still beyond our civilization's ability to utilize as a power source..." (on how could a civ reach Type 2 section)

Can anti-mater be a power source? Using laws of conservation of energy, we would atleast get the same energy used to produce it by colliding it with matter, isnt that right?

-- (talk) 20:14, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

Anti-matter can conceivably be used as a power source in the same way that solar power can. We harvest solar power but do not provide the input energy. Energy is still conserved, but we, the human users, are making a net gain. Similarly, we could scour the galaxy looking for already existing sources of antimatter, such as LMXBs, or else we could use some future technology to move objects into a LMXB configuration to act as power generators. So no, it is not a mistaken concept, just utterly beyond our current capabilities. SpinningSpark 21:45, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
I think the problem here is that the article uses the phrase, "produce or collect anti-matter", and that can leave a reasonable reader with the impression that you're somehow liberating more energy from antimatter than it took to make the anti-matter, which is, indeed, a violation of conservation of energy. The article would be better served by leaving out any talk of production of anti-matter and being explicit that it is talking about collecting naturally produced antimatter. (Of course it's true that antimatter could be used as an intermediary medium to store energy produced in some other way, but that's clearly beyond the scope of this article.) --Nick (talk) 18:07, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Type I Solar[edit]

In the Type I section, under 'solar', it says "Currently, there is no known way for human civilization to successfully utilize the equivalent of the Earth's total absorbed solar energy without completely coating the surface with man-made structures". The Type I energy level is 174 PW, which is almost entirely covered by incoming solar energy. So, as I understand it, the statement is true by definition and therefore confusing because it has nothing to do with the current levels of technology. Reaching the Type I energy level would require harnessing all solar energy. And that even with a 100% efficiency. It would make more sense to state that that 174 PW is the incoming solar energy. Or do I misunderstand something? Amrad (talk) 12:43, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

You have to think outside the box on this one... who said anything about the solar panels being on earth soil as a requirement?--Sparkygravity (talk) 08:33, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Solar energy could be collected by units in space; see The High Frontier (Gerard K. O'Neill, 1976) and similar works. From photovoltaic arrays on satellites (as currently in use) to a full Dyson swarm, total collected power is limited only by the number of units deployed and the solar energy output. This is currently not economically feasable for larger scales, but the physics is simple and the engineering looks straightforward. Wyvern (talk) 15:25, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Type III Quasars[edit]

As far as I'm aware, all quasars ever discovered are very very highly redshifted. They're all very far away, and hence very early galaxies in the universe's history. Unless then you have a society capable of going back in time, I don't believe it's ever possible to harness a quasar's emissions. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:36, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

  • Unless that is, you had a civilization capable of either wormhole travel or FTL travel, thought both of those are unlikely. KydonShadow 16:17, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Many, perhaps most galaxies have at their core a massive or supermassive black hole, making them potential active galaxies (quasars). This includes our own Milky Way's galactic centre (see Cygnus X-1). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:47, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

type IV civilisation[edit]

In fiction at least i can name two type IV civilisations. The first being The Combine from Half Life 2, who enslave alternate universes via quantum entanglement teleportation, and then tap their entire resources for their empire, the second being The Ancients from Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis TV shows, who use 'Zero Point Modules' to tap vast amounts of energy from an alternate reality of subspace. Note that in the case of The Ancients, they artificially create a macro-universe from which to tap energy. They have in a previous show revealed that in the past they did attempt to tap energy directly from an alternate universe but this proved unsustainable and dangerous.

These fictional references and perhaps some others should possibly be included, thoughts?

Brain Digitalis (Talk) (Edits) 18:43, 11 January 2009 (UTC)

If you check the discussion page archives, many used to be included. This article has been through some major downsizing The snare (talk) 21:33, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

This should be re-evaluated, a type IV civilization(and possibly a type III) would be collecting any and all fissionable matter to combat entropy. Not unlike the ending of Andromeda, but in a singular local universal model. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:20, 26 August 2011 (UTC)


Could somebody add to the part about available information by explaining how it is actually measured? The concept of information can be seen in many contexts, and especially when expressing it into bits, the way it is explained now is ambiguous at best and nonsensical at worst. For example, if to get to the Sagan figure, you count every bit of digitally stored information on somewhat-permanent record (hard disk, DVD, ...), you can get a certain figure, but even that can be considered meaningless since a lot of this information is duplicate. Also a lot - I'd daresay the vast majority - of information isn't even stored digitally, and is difficult (and using current technology probably impossible) to express in bits. Take, for example, the collective memory of all humans. Everyone has a huge load of memories. These are often quite detailed and more than sufficient for communication, but practically impossible to express in bits unless you found a way to individually map the state of each neuron related to memory storage.

Another example: analogue media. The information on vinyl records is also very difficult to express as bits. The information on a vinyl record is exact enough to be useful, but can only be counted accurately as bits by methods like using a predefined baud rate, or by mapping the entire surface of the record with an atomic force microscope, and so on. Practically every method will yield an immensely different bit count.

Based on the above, I believe an explanation of the method of counting these bits is in order, or that paragraph really doesn't make much sense. --Link (tcm) 10:39, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

Yup. Plus the figure 10^13 bits is off by any measure. That's just 1 TB, which is a lot less than even a conservative estimate of the Library of Congress. Today, Seagate alone claims to be shipping 10^21 bits per year. 10^31 really doesn't seem so impressive. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:28, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

why the obsession with power?[edit]

Another facet of civilisations is they learn to control their populations and reach equilibria. Even with the most ridiculously wasteful technology why should energy growth keep increasing what possible need would a fixed number of beings have for that much energy? (talk) 21:32, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

  • I thought too, a civlisation doesn't require that much energy ( such as energy from their sun should be more than sufficient, energy from the galaxy is not required)..@Photnart. (talk) 09:48, 10 December 2009 (UTC).
Maybe it's the result of extrapolating the capitalist addiction to 3% y/y growth over millions of years? Yes, the topic is ripe for a post-Marxist critical analysis. AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 19:06, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
    • Because with effectively infinite living space (which even a Type I would have the space travel capability for) there is no longer any need or reason to limit population growth. More people = more minds = more ideas and advancements etc. ... if you have effectively unlimited resources you wouldn't want to control population, and if you have cheap space travel you do have effectively unlimited resources. A dyson swarm with 1 billion times earth land area could support quadrillions... a type III would be well beyond dyson swarms. A type III could easily support SEPTILLIONS of inhabitants (1 quadrillion/dyson swarm, 1 billion dyson swarms = 1 billion stars is a rather SMALL galaxy!) And that assumes a Type I/II/III would have population densities as low as ours, which is not necessarily likely. Artificial ecosystems (space colonies/dyson spheres) might devote far more of their biomass total to the intelligent population, and could have tremendously more efficient primary production (highly engineered plants, or artificial photosynthesis, or whatever).
Yes, and "640K should be enough for anybody" too :).. -- Foogod (talk) 22:44, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

= Power is defined as the rate at which energy is used to do work. The energy "available" depends on the technology. The energy available on the Earth is grossly miscalculated in these things. Use of primary production is a significant fraction of the total. The Energy "available" on Earth is: 1) input from Sun and rest of universe 2) the difference in the elemental composition of the Earth and the same mass of Iron (which isotope IDK) 3) the Chemical and potential energy 4) momentum 5) electromagnetic fields, etc. How much work could we derive from dropping the Earth into Sag A? This whole thing is best characterized as inconsistent, ill-defined and superficial. (talk) 18:33, 14 November 2010 (UTC)

  • I'm not sure if any of yoou above me touched on this, or even said it, but I believe what the article means is that the civilization is capable of building such a construct that could harness the power of a galaxy. KydonShadow 16:24, 17 May 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kydon Shadow (talkcontribs)

Antimatter as powersource?[edit]

Sry, but this is non sense! Since there is no anti-matter on earth, in solsys or anywhere nearby (we would see the anihilation radiation that is released in the border beweeen matter and antimatter) So only way is to produce antimatter ourselves. but so produce antimatter, at least equal energy is needed as is released when fused again with regulat matter. (A simple fact of energy conservation.. if you take into account, that it's impossible to reach eta=1 (german: Wirkungsgrad, dont know the englich word) you'll always have to invest more energy than you get. you could maybee in a far distant future use it to store energy (if it'll ever be possible to generate energy from the anihilation radiation, with is rather difficult, because of the kind of the radiation (neutrinos)), but not as a power source. these are hard facts from physics, i'm sry... rafik (no account, student of physics) -- (talk) 11:34, 14 June 2009 (UTC)

Your correct that there is no anti-matter on earth, but there is a small collected quantity above the atmosphere near the poles, where the magnetic field catches positrons from the sun, then they are annihilated by escaped other escaped emissions from the sun or planet, in fact there is a link to a Nasa paper on the feasibility of collecting the positrons from low earth orbit.--Sparkygravity (talk) 20:34, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
No, you're incorrect. There is anti-matter on Earth. As one example, there are several unstable isotopes whose decay process includes antiparticles. Antimatter is also created in thunderstorms. If you've ever had a PET scan, you've been intentionally exposed to antimatter. It's all around you, but the density of this antimatter isn't going to blow up Manhattan, but they frequently result in gamma radiation (high energy photons, also all around you all the time) which could be bad for your health (but the levels, usually, are not high enough to result in a high enough probability of immediate health risk). :P — al-Shimoni (talk) 12:28, 9 November 2011 (UTC)

Source of Energy[edit]

Wouldn't a civ which used say a generator on their single planet that produces as much energy as their surrounding galaxy NOT by definition be a Type III because even though it generates all the energy in the surrounding galaxy you are still NOT using all the energy available in the galaxy (ie- the surrounding galaxy itself) The snare (talk) 04:40, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

I'd agree, though the question is how anyone can generate a galaxy's worth of energy on one planet. They'd have to be doing something more efficient than the fusion reactions of billions of suns.

AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 19:04, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Does it occur to you that if you concentrate a sun's (let alone a galaxy's) worth of energy on a single planet, the planet would vaporize? There is one word missing from this whole article and that is the word "thermodynamics". [March 21, 2014]

It's "energy EQUIVALENT to" a planet/star/galaxy. So if we did really major fusion power, or enormous space solar collectors, we could be type I without ACTUALLY tapping all the solar/wind/tide energy of Earth. (Probably the only way to practically do it in fact; you can't 100% cover the earth in solar panels!)
Incorrect, it's mastery of all the energy available to a planet/star/galaxy, according to the article. So a Kardashev 1 civilization on earth will be using all the solar and wind power available on the planet (yes, covering it with solar panels), plus everything else available. However, yes, as far as this article is telling us, the Kardashev scale says diddly-squat about non-renewable resources. You could stick the entire planet in a fusion reactor to boost us to Kardashev-2 temporarily, but then you'd be left with nothing but Uranium - which isn't very nutritious. AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 00:58, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Where does 10^16W come from?[edit]

Where does the 10^16W number come from, is there any information on why it was picked as basis for the calculations? (..some sort of estimate for how much of the 1.74^17W available on Earth might realistically be used, or a guess by Kardashev or Sagan for the average available on a planet with a civilization, or just an old incorrect estimate for Earth's energy budget?) It makes the article/concept a bit confusing, for example "we are using approximately 0.16% of the total available planetary energy budget" is incorrect as 15TW / 174PW surely means we are only using 0.0086% ? (we'd be somewhere around 0.59 on the scale instead of 0.72 if the formula used the true estimate for Earth instead of 10^16W). Not sure how to change the article without making it more confusing though, would adding another column in the year-table with the "% out of Earth's 1.74^17W" help? Tomtefarbror (talk) 20:20, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

The estimation was done by Kardashev himself, it pertains to all estimated fuel reserves at the time, in addition to speculative estimates of unknown reserves. I'm unsure about whether it pertained to geothermal energy or solar energy as I have not read the original research papers.--Sparkygravity (talk) 18:56, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
I saw copy of original Kardashev papers (but on the paper, not in electornic form, so cannot give source reference) and the 3 tresholds were 4*10^22, 4*10^33 and 4*10^44 ergs/s (which equals 4*10^15, 4*10^26 and 4*10^37 watts). So there is probably some mistake in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:49, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
In fact, the electronic version of Kardashev's paper [1] linked to in the article gives an even lower value for type I of only 4*10^19 erg/s, i.e. just 4*10^12 watts (the other two values are correct as stated by the previous poster). Kardashev defined "Type I" as corresponding to his days' (1964) humanity's consumption, not to all fuel reserves or Earth's solar input. The source [2] given for the higher value in the article claims to cite Kardashev, but obviously doesn't, so I don't consider it reliable. --Roentgenium111 (talk) 23:36, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

Type V Civilisation[edit]

I'd like to extend the scale. Someone else already made mention of civilisations tapping other universes for energy. Surely this leads to another tier above the ones already established. A type V civilisation would be one that is able to harness all the energy available from all the universes within the Multiverse. I think it should be mentioned for the sake of completeness, if nothing else. 2010-04-25T17:39:48

If you have a verifiable, reliable secondary source that defines the extension to Type V civilisations, then just BE BOLD and do it. But if there is no source, don't do it since Wikipedia is not a place for original research or synthesis. N2e (talk) 15:42, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
I'd like to extend the scale to a type 7 civilization which harness all the energy from all the Level I, II and III multiverses, per Tegmark's classification. It also harness all the dark energy. Before embarking on this mission however, it realizes that the energies cancel out, and so it abandons this superficial mission altogether. --IO Device (talk) 08:38, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Type V is already pushing it a bit... a type VII would be too ridiculous. KydonShadow 16:28, 17 May 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kydon Shadow (talkcontribs)

Reference update[edit]

For someone who knows the appropriate way to update a reference... Ref #6 is a dead link, but the following year's publication can be found here:

removing Kardashev graph - see image talk page[edit]

I decided to take a closer look at the graph I previously endorsed, and now find the original uploader (who created the graph) made it largely out of bunk, and the caption is definitely in error (there is no singularity projection).

Various Kardashev scale projections through 2100. One results in a singularity.

Full details are at the talk page, with the original image page also updated with the actual meaning of the lines. SamuelRiv (talk) 07:16, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

Is there any procedure to remove errors?[edit]

I tried few times to indicate that expression "5 kg of energy per second" is false information, so you will never get reference (for example in "Numbers confusion"). All paragraph of using fusion power have no reference and should probably be removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:39, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

Contradictory numbers[edit]

In the "Methods by which a civilization could feasibly advance to Type I" section, there are two contradictory numbers presented. Under "fusion", it states "Type I implies the conversion of about 5 kg of matter to energy per second.", but under "antimatter", it also states "The reaction of 1 kg of anti-matter with 1 kg of matter would produce 1.8 × 1017 J (180 petajoules) of energy." (which implies 1kg+1kg matter/antimatter per second would be required for Type I) Since the antimatter reaction of 1kg+1kg should produce the same energy as the total conversion of 2kg of matter, this is inconsistent with the 5kg number in the previous paragraph (and thus one (or both) of these numbers should be corrected). -- Foogod (talk) 22:57, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

I have found what appears to be a fairly reliable citation for numbers on the exact energy theoretically achievable by hydrogen->helium fusion reactions, and added it to the article. Unfortunately, according to this source and some simple unit conversion, it became clear that the mass numbers in this article for the amount of required hydrogen were off by nearly an order of magnitude, so I've corrected those as well. -- Foogod (talk) 23:59, 27 October 2010 (UTC)


"On a more direct level, since the Kardashev scale rates a civilization according to how much energy it is capable of harnessing, it "penalizes" a civilization that invents ways of making more efficient use of the energy already available to it, instead of simply harnessing yet more energy. An extremely advanced civilization might also choose to forgo either the projects or the materialistic growth (expansion) humanity associates with high energy demand."

This above statement seems like original research. But regardless, even aliens are restricted by the laws of thermodynamics, so it doesn't matter how efficient they are at extracting energy, they still have to acquire new energy sources in order for their civilization to grow. So I'm not sure what the point of the argument is, an advanced civilization, no matter how efficient, is still going to grow and acquire new energy sources. ScienceApe (talk) 16:50, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

It still penalizes. A bus can haul lots of people, or they could take SUVs separately. Both groups are using a similar level of automotive technology but the bus people can use less while having the same capacity. (talk) 18:06, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Fusion Numbers Incorrect[edit]

The section describing available energy from fusion calculates source longevity from available sources of hydrogen in seawater. It should have used amounts of available D and T from seawater, which are much less prevalent. (talk) 15:28, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

This is a very good point, but with two counters: 1. There are many ways to achieve useful fusion, D-T being the one used in bombs, but other good ones for reactors include D-D, D-3He, p-He, etc. 2. D is quite common (200ppm in water) and T is made from hydrogen by neutron bombardment - D could be synthesized in the same way if necessary. So all we will ever need is water. SamuelRiv (talk) 02:06, 14 January 2011 (UTC)

Antimatter production can produce more power then invested into it[edit]

The issue I have is with the line that says "Artificially producing antimatter involves first converting energy into mass, so there is no net gain. Antimatter is only usable as a medium of energy storage but not as an energy source."

This fails to take into account how antimatter reacts with normal matter. If you use the energy needed to produce 1 kg of antimatter, to get the energy back you'll need to react it with 1 kg of ordinary matter, which we have plenty of. The reaction converts 2 kg of mass to energy (1 kg of antimatter and 1 kg of normal matter).

Meaning for the energy needed to produce 1 kg of antimatter you can get up to 2 kgs worth of energy back. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:01, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

No, because you produce antimatter by making pairs of particles and anti-particles, so to produce 1 kg of antimatter you also have to make 1 kg of normal matter.
—WWoods (talk) 18:43, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Any energy source requires more power to make than can actually be used. The point of an energy source, be it coal, uranium, hydrogen fuel cells, the sun, or, in this case, antimatter, is so that the energy is available on-demand in a usable manner. The whole reasoning of this section, then, completely misses the point. SamuelRiv (talk) 14:39, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
It is sort of a silly point to make in this article, since no method is going to create energy from nothing. It's not a given that a method that converts energy into anti-matter has to simultaneously create an equal amount of matter. It's highly likely that symmetry has violations; they just skew towards regular matter in the current understanding. The original poster here may be correct using a currently unknown method. The article actually acknowledges this, but the whole section on anti-matter is so convoluted it's hard to see it. It says things like "this is currently infeasible" and stipulates "future technological developments" but those kind of things can really be left out in an article that is about futuristic space civilizations.
I kind of suspect a group of people in discussion section 4 dug into it without anyone calling out the faulty base assumption they made that anti-matter annihilation will produce energy equal to the mass of the anti-matter annihilated. The article has since been edited into a kind of accuracy where the conditions necessary for anti-matter's use as an energy source without harvesting it from the universe are listed (asymmetrical baryogenesis in favor of anti-matter and/or conversion of matter into anti-matter), but it is very confusing. It never spells out that an anti-matter engine without harvesting anti-matter wouldn't actually consume anti-matter to run. The anti-matter would just act as a sort of catalyst for the annihilation of matter and would need to be regenerated using some of the energy from the annihilation.Erleichdatpb (talk) 03:39, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Error in formula[edit]

The formula should be K = [log(10)W - 6] / 10 where W is the power output. Disregard this, my friend just point out to me that the power is in megawatts. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mooreth (talkcontribs) 23:48, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Source used for numbers[edit]

The article uses external data such as report from the International Energy Agency in coming up with the chart File:KScale.svg and numerical estimates in the body. However, scanning the source data does not reveal any mention of the Kardashev scale. A concern is thus that these estimates may be considered original research or original synthesis (synthesizing world energy data with an equation). Can anyone find a source which explicitly mentions the Kardashev scale for such numbers? Shawnc (talk) 11:55, 22 November 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately I can't, but I feel that the amount of OR or SYNTH involved here is fairly minor, and as far as I understand policy, simple calculations are allowed. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:50, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
You could ask a third opinion on WP:NORN, however. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 13:53, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
By the way, note that OR and SYNTH are not necessarily forbidden on WP under all circumstances: the individual case always needs to be considered, and sometimes it may be justifiable to ignore the rules, as pointed out on Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Traditional English pronunciation of Latin. Always ask yourself if deleting the offending paragraph/section/image/article (or whatever) improves Wikipedia, or if it does not (and in fact, may rather have the opposite effect). --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:55, 22 November 2011 (UTC)
The citation used to support the "0.72" rating uses the "million tonnes oil equivalent" of "primary energy comprises commercially traded fuels only." If a reader looks at this citation, the number, 11099.3, needs to be converted into a form suitable for use with, apparently, Carl Sagan's equation, which involves power used "for interstellar communication, in megawatts" which is materially different from "commercially traded fuels only".
The article should have citations for numerical inputs for the the Kardashev scale which do not need multiple conversions. As such, I believe that original research is a non-trivial issue here. The provision of erroneous figures would significantly mislead readers. Shawnc (talk) 00:12, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

suspect data[edit]

I can't find the raw data for the table presented in the article. The text immediately before the table appears to suggest someone may have unwisely constructed it from data from multiple sources, possibly using different methodologies. According to this table, global energy production was 4,500 Mtoe in 1970 and 6,200 Mtoe in 1973, an increase of 37.8% in just three years. I am skeptical of that. By way of comparison, the average annual growth rate from 1973-2004 (according to the values in the table) is 1.7%.

This source (from BP) gives values of 4,970 Mtoe in 1970 and 5,726 Mtoe in 1973 — a still impressive 15.2% increase (4.8% annual growth rate), but far less than the table reflects.

"Fixing" the table with values from the BP source would probably run afoul of WP:OR or WP:SYNTH, so I'm not going to do that, but I think this calls the table data into question and it needs to be addressed, either by finding a reliable source for the table or by removing it. Capedia (talk) 21:35, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

Type 0[edit]

I have recently seen a talk on youtube that discusses our current transition from a Type 0 (zero) to a Type I.

Type 0 Being civilizations using plant base energy sources such as Wood, Coal, and Petroleum. Also Type 0 is local in warfare, local in culture, and usually mono-cultural and theistic. Our current world problems have a lot to do with various groups (e.g. terrorists) trying to retain a type 0 monoculture, and others trying to move forward to a type 1 multicultural, global world.

It looks like the idea of Type 0 is obviously not part of the original Kardashev scale, but is often mentions in conjunction with it.

Maybe do a short entry mentioning this is a latter addition to the idea?

Michio on Type 0

Type 0 1 2 3

Blog antries and mentiojns a book, "Hyperspace", theorical physicist Michio Kaku

May be a flaky source?

Rkeene0517 (talk) 21:22, 26 January 2012 (UTC)

What are the Reapers from Mass Effect?[edit]

It's not at all clear what this "race's" energy consumption is, but it's clear that they're just interplanetary badasses whose sole purpose it is to annihilate other races. Do they count somewhere on this scale above III? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:36, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure that the reapers and intergalactic bad asses, considering the fact that they stay dormant in the space between galaxies. So i think it's safe to say that they are at least a type IV,

and their purpose want to annihilate other races, the leviathan's gave them a task to find a solution the the problem that which plagued every species it visiter, i.e., the AI's made by them revolted, always, so the only solution they could find was too kill them before they created AI's, that is, until the joining of the catalyst and crucible opened up new options for them — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:30, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

Is it complete nonsense?[edit]

Many people take the scale serious. Has nobody ever declared it nonsense? Kardashev says, energy consumption can increase infinitely with same rate as during last 100 years. We know, that that is not possible. --Hans Eo (talk) 15:26, 11 August 2012 (UTC)

Kardashev doesn't say this; he doesn't make any energy consumption predictions for humanity AFAIK. --Roentgenium111 (talk) 17:33, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Yeah. He says absolutely nothing about expansion. He only says that this could be used to measure it. Also, why do you take meters seriously? It's ridiculous to think that the length of something can increase infinitely. (talk) 21:32, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
Nonsense, of course, until First Contact. Kortoso (talk) 22:32, 27 November 2013 (UTC)


Should the MtG universe be mentioned under Fictional Type V races? The fact that some individuals have the magical ability to travel through the multiverse and alter cosmic events isn't really a good scale for the level of technology of the races in that multiverse.

The Infinite Consortium is a terrible example in any case, as it consists of normal individuals led by a few planeswalkers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:57, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

Complete nonsense?[edit]

Kardashews theories are often cited. These and also his (very extreme) calculations about information exchange by radio. Is there no text of experts who criticise him sharply? In our think-tank we concluded, that both is more nonsense than realistic science. We are looking, so far without success, for wiki-citable documents. --Hans Eo (talk) 16:30, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

The more energy that a civilization uses, and the more it modifies its environment, the more easily detectable it becomes. Science hasn't seen such a thing, unless we are staring at it, while rationalizing it as something else.
I anticipate your "think tank" creating something quotable.

Kortoso (talk) 17:55, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Formula: 6 v. 7[edit]

Quoting the article:

Carl Sagan suggested defining intermediate values (not considered in Kardashev's original scale) by interpolating and extrapolating the values given above for types I (1016 W), II (1026 W) and III (1036 W), which would produce the formula


Using the formula:

Arthur Rubin (talk) 05:38, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Promoting Forerunners[edit]

I was thinking if maybe the Forerunners from Halo should be moved to a Type IV. We've seen they can teleport, they can manipulate time (First Strike) and according to Silentium (I don't have the book with me right now, so I'm only writing this from memory) their power sources draw vacuum energy from alternate universes. And the original twelve Halo's were strong enough to affect life beyond our galaxy. Not to mention they are percieved as gods by the Covenant. So, what do you think? (talk) 17:07, 3 October 2013 (UTC)

Video game for science? Kortoso (talk) 17:57, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, what are you saying? I really don't understand your comment. (talk) 23:09, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
Being able to "affect life beyond our galaxy" doesn't make them Type IV. That implies being able to affect life all across the universe; going a little beyond a single galaxy isn't even close to qualifying. It would be like calling humans Type II because we've sent satellites outside out solar system. -- (talk) 03:40, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Precursors (Halo)[edit]

I think the Precursors of the Halo universe should be added to the list of Type IV civilizations. Even the Forerunners did not know the full extent of their reach and influence. The book series reveals that the Forerunners' Domain was the Precursors' Organon, a sought after device by some Forerunners, including one of the main characters Bornstellar. (talk) 18:00, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Move examples in science fiction[edit]

Should — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:23, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

Move "examples in science fiction"?[edit]

Should "examples" section be moved to List of Kardashev scale civilizations in science fiction as theyve done so with other lists? Seems like examples section wants to be a list. Separating speculative works from the theoretical aspects could help emphasis the articles key points. -- (talk) 08:27, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

The examples should be eliminated from this article and not put anywhere else. The only ones that should be kept are ones that third-party sources specifically analyze in the context of the Kardashev scale. WP:RS and WP:NOT are the rules to follow. AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 15:16, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
It seems to me that the primary use of the Kardashev scale is in discussing science fiction. Yes, there's some vague real-life application to things like SETI, but there's not much real science to it (e.g., no one coming up with specific things to scan the galaxy for in hopes of finding a Type II civilization). Plenty of real-life scientists have talked about it of course, like Kip Thorne and Michio Kaku—but they don't usually say much beyond, "Wouldn't it be cool if we made it to Type II one day", and then go into a discussion of science. Which means that really, the article should be stripped down to the basic introduction, a few citable examples from science fiction (e.g., Micho Kaku's examples of each type), and that's it. -- (talk) 03:45, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Connections with sociology and anthropology[edit]

Leslie White's ideas do not make much sense as they are reported here. It is obviously inconsistent as man was probably burning firewood (plants) before animals were domesticated. We tend to define our epochs of civilization by energy technologies such as smelting: Stone Age (fire was and is still used to modify the properties of stones), Bronze Age, Iron Age, Age of Steel and Nuclear Age. White's muddled exposition may have been enlightening in the past, but looks inconsistent and self-contradictory today. Kardeshev's Scale is obviously part of a continuum that can be usefully described. But someone must have written something that makes more sense than White's scale. (talk) 09:28, 15 April 2014 (UTC)


Shouldn't the history of CTA-102 be mentioned here?

In 1963 Nikolai Kardashev proposed that the then-unidentified radio source could be evidence of a Type II or III extraterrestrial civilization on the Kardashev scale. Follow-up observations were announced in 1965 by Gennady Sholomitskii, who found that the object's radio emission was varying; a public announcement of these results caused a worldwide sensation. The idea that the emission was caused by a civilization was rejected when the radio source was later identified as one of the many varieties of a quasar.
- Kortoso (talk) 21:19, 21 October 2014 (UTC)

Deleted "theoretical examples" section[edit]

I deleted the "theoretical examples" section because it repeats information given elsewhere in the article, and serves as a stunningly powerful magnet for unsourced fancruft. This article has been a cruft-collector for years now, let's see if we can clean it up? AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 21:53, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Cruft notwithstanding, it could have been retained in this talk section. Why delete something that others have spent hours contributing to? Is there any way to get the complete list of examples back, even if it's for my own interest? Sandman1142 (talk) 12:48, 7 July 2016 (UTC)
Certainly. I did a search in the history of the article and retrieved the text from 2015, though it was poorly sourced. The following is the text though I removed the headers to make it easier to read. Dimadick (talk) 16:47, 10 July 2016 (UTC)
Thank you. There was another section with a list of examples, possibly from further back. Is it possible to get the whole list? Much appreciated! Sandman1142 (talk) 13:22, 13 July 2016 (UTC) :

A Type 0 civilization extracts its energy, information, raw-materials from crude organic-based sources (i.e. food/wood/fossil fuel); pressures via natural disaster, selection, and societal collapse creates extreme (99.9%) risk of extinction; it is capable of orbital spaceflight; in fiction, societies that fail to improve social conditions, environmental and medical understanding concurrently with other advancements, frequently accelerated their own extinction.[1][2] It could be considered similar to 21st-century Earth.

A Type I civilization extracts its energy, information, and raw-materials from fusion power, hydrogen, and other "high-density" renewable-resources; is capable of interplanetary spaceflight, interplanetary communication, megascale engineering, and colonization, medical and technological singularity, planetary engineering, world government, trade and defense, and stellar system-scale influence; but is still vulnerable to extinction. Many science fiction stories that take place in the near (100-1000 year) future are type I.

A Type II civilization extracts fusion energy, information, and raw-materials from multiple solar systems; it is capable of evolutionary intervention, interstellar travel, interstellar communication, stellar engineering, terraforming, and star cluster-scale influence; the resulting proliferation and diversification would theoretically negate the probability of extinction. The fictional Federation of Star Trek would fall under this category. The races from Wing Commander are on this level. Most races in The Homeworld universe are on this level. Many of the races in Mass Effect are type II civilizations.

A Type III civilization extracts fusion energy, information, and raw-materials from all possible star-clusters; it is capable of intergalactic travel via wormholes,[3] intergalactic communication, galactic engineering and galaxy-scale influence. The Asgard of the Stargate franchise are a type III civilization as well as the Galactic Empire of Star Wars[citation needed]. The Races from Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda are on this level. The Scrin from the Command & Conquer series are shown to be an interstellar empire that seeded tibereum across the universe, and are able to make wormholes. The Engineers from Prometheus had created humanity & seeded the foundations of life on many planets across the galaxy. The progenitors from Homeworld came from another galaxy & their technology was more advance then the younger races, it was also believed that they seeded life across the universe. The Nephilim from Wing Commander are able to create wormholes between dimensions to travel.

A Type 4 civilization harnesses the power of its own universe. Such a civilization in fiction would be seen to a lowly type 0 civilization, as an omnipotent deity.[citation needed] A type 4 would be effectively immortal and omnipotent. A civilization this advanced could tap into the mysterious dark matter, and which could manipulate the basic fabric of space-time. Their capabilities may include Instantaneous matter-energy transformation, teleportation, and time travel.[citation needed] In fiction there are a few such as the Forerunners from Halo that occupy this level, as they are capable of basic time manipulation and basic control over gravity. The Daleks from Doctor Who and The Celestials from Star Wars seem to be at this level.

A Type V civilization, would be advanced enough to escape their universe of origin and possibly explore the theoretical multiverse. Such a civilization would have mastered technology to a point where they could build a custom universe. Once a Type V civlization has achieved this height, they would have to have mastered the physics of different universe and thus almost complete control over all basic parts of nature. Devices such as the monolith would be examples of their technology. The Q from Star Trek would occupy this level, as they are capable of gathering energy from outside their universe. The Time Lords from Doctor Who would also occupy this level[citation needed], as they are able to leave their universe as well as travel to and from the theoretical multiverse.

Just as an explanation: The problem with the above section is that it's WP:SYNTH. That is, it's just the personal opinions of past Wikipedia editors without any external sourcing. Some of it is even baseless assertion with no connection to the theory whatsoever ("teleportation and time travel" does not in any way equate to harnessing all the power of a universe). That's why I deleted it: if it's unencyclopedic, unsourced, unsourceable and original work, the rule has always been to delete it. And btw as noted above, Wikipedia does not need to preserve deleted material on talk pages: everything ever written in every article is already preserved in the article histories, as Dimadick shows above (except when deleted for WP:BLP violations). AllGloryToTheHypnotoad (talk) 13:56, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

luminous galaxies and excess infrared[edit]

these might be relevant articles that can have aspects integrated a bit.... Luminous infrared galaxy, Infrared excess --Smkolins (talk) 15:24, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

Criticism deleted[edit]

It looks like there was once a section titled "Criticism", which is usually an important component of evaluating any theory. It goes a little like this:

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 within the book Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life.
Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart: Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life, Ebury Press, 2002, ISBN 0-09-187927-2
On a more direct level, since the Kardashev scale rates a civilization according to how much energy it is capable of harnessing, it "penalizes" a civilization that invents ways of making more efficient use of the energy already available to it, instead of simply harnessing yet more energy. An extremely advanced civilization might also chose to forego either the projects or the materialistic growth (expansion) humanity associates with high energy demand.
Robert Zubrin uses the terms to refer to how dominant a species is, rather than energy use. In other words, a Type I civilization has spread across it's planet (making present human civilisation Type I), a Type II has extensive colonies in it's stellar system, and a Type III has colonized the galaxy.

Thoughts? Kortoso (talk) 16:44, 22 October 2015 (UTC)

Hi, Kortoso. It looks like those have been incorporated into the article at other appropriate places, rather than just standing them alone in a negatively-weighted 'Criticism' section; for instance, Zubrin is mentioned twice in §Extensions to the original scale, and the Cohen & Stewart challenge is mentioned at the end of §Connections with sociology and anthropology. — Sasuke Sarutobi (talk) 18:50, 22 October 2015 (UTC)

The new Kardashev movement[edit]

This is about changes to this article from an IP User that added new content without discussion in Talk Page or with reliable sources. I have reverted it in Good Faith hoping the user would restate the claims, but with sources. I would appreciate help from editors working with this article. Historiador (talk) 19:25, 30 November 2015 (UTC)

He's been hitting some other articles in like manner. See history Biocentric universe. Must be on holiday break. Kortoso (talk) 22:02, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
@Kortoso:, thanks for letting me know. Perhaps the message below may help. Historiador (talk) 20:56, 4 December 2015 (UTC)

This message is about @'s repeated additions to Kardashev scale without a proper explanation and sources. A brief description of your addition in the commentary section WP:EDS is the first indication that your contribution is in good faith. And if you look in this page WP:CITE you would see that every input in any article should be accompanied with sources, particularly, in cases like yours, which is about a new movement. Even if the information your are including is common knowledge among people familiar with the topic, sources are a requirement, for many reasons (which are explained in the articles above). If sources cannot be provided, you can at least leave a comment on the article's talk page. 1) summary of contribution, 2) sources, and/or 3) comments on the article's talk page. I, shall revert the changes, but at the same time I invite you to return to the article and make it better in the way I explained above. Look forward to your contribution. Cheers Historiador (talk) 20:56, 4 December 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Incorrect use of the term 'Solar system'[edit]

This is my first ever suggested edit so please bear with me if I get any formatting or etiquette wrong (feedback on either is most welcome).

The following sections of the article use the term 'Solar system' incorrectly

  • Type II civilization methods
    "Type II civilizations might use the same techniques employed by a Type I civilization, but applied to a large number of planets in a large number of solar systems."
  • Civilization implications
    "Also, by the time a civilization reaches Type I it may have colonized other planets or created O'Neill-type colonies, so that waste heat could be distributed throughout the solar system."

I suggest replacing solar with planetary in each case. There is only one star called 'Sol', which occupies the centre of the 'Solar System'. All other such systems should be referred to as 'planetary systems' or by their given names.

Supporting Wikipedia articles:
Planetary_system ("Solar systems" actually redirects here)[4]

Unixanalyst (talk) 10:31, 25 August 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ "The Dark Side of Technology", at, interview with Michio Kaku
  2. ^ "The Birth-Pangs of a Planetary Civilization", at, interview with Michio Kaku
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Interstellar_Travel was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^