The Kardashev Scale is a measurement created by Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev, meant to measure the scale of a civilization’s technological advancement, measured through energy output. In theory this could allow astronomers to predict the advancement of an alien civilization the same way as observing the luminosity of stars. Though the Kardashev Scale failed in its original purpose, it became quite popular amongst Science Fiction communities and theoretical scientists.

The original Kardashev Scale possessed 3 categories, these were:

  • Type Ⅰ: "Technological level close to the level presently (here referring to 1964) attained on earth, with energy consumption at ≈4×1E19 erg/sec (4 × 1E12 watts)" Guillermo A. Lemarchand stated this as "A level near contemporary terrestrial civilization with an energy capability equivalent to the solar insolation on Earth, between 1E16 and 1E17 watts."
  • Type Ⅱ: "A civilization capable of harnessing the energy radiated by its own star (for example, the stage of successful construction of a Dyson sphere), with energy consumption at ≈4×1E33 erg/sec." Lemarchand stated this as "A civilization capable of utilizing and channeling the entire radiation output of its star. The energy utilization would then be comparable to the luminosity of our Sun, about 4 × 1E26 watts."
  • Type Ⅲ: "A civilization in possession of energy on the scale of its own galaxy, with energy consumption at ≈4×10E4 erg/sec." Lemarchand stated this as "A civilization with access to the power comparable to the luminosity of the entire Milky Way galaxy, about 4 × 1E37 Watts."

As time passed, the Scale was expanded, with Type 0 Civilizations (Those who have yet to master the Geothermal Energy of their home planet) and Type IV Civilizations (Civilizations that can drain the available power of an entire universe) being added.

Much later, using extrapolation based on the original 3 categories, cosmologist and astrophysicist Carl Sagan suggested a mathematical formula for defining intermediates:

$ K = \tfrac{\log_{10}(P)-6}{10} $

Where K is the civilization’s development on the Kardashev Scale and P is the civilization’s entire available power in Watts. For instance, in 2008, the world’s average power consumption was 16 terawatts (1.6 x 1E13 W), with Sagan’s formula that equals (log(1.6*10^(13))-6)/10 = 0.72

The following scale expands beyond the Original three types, and the added two types, to fully encapsulate the most powerful civilizations that can be encountered in science fiction.

However, it should be noted that being higher on the Kardashev Scale does not always dictate greater firepower, as the scale measures only the energy which the civilization uses.

The Scale

Type 0: 0 – 1E16 watts. A civilization that harnesses a significant portion of the energy of its home planet, but not to its full potential.

  • Humanity (Real Life) (Type 0.73)
  • Holy Britannian Empire (Code Geass)

Type I: 1E16 – 1E26 watts. A civilization that can harness the entirety of the geothermal energy of Earth.

  • The United Federation of Planets (Star Trek)
  • The Imperium of Man (Warhammer 40,000) (Borderline Type II)

Type II: 1E26 – 1E36 watts. A civilization that can harness the energy of a star.

  • DAoT Humanity, Pre-Fall Aeldari, the T’au Empire and The Necrons (Warhammer 40,000)
  • The Old Republic (Star Wars)
  • Humanity (Blame!)

Type III: 1E36 – 1E46 watts. A civilization that can harness the energy of a galaxy.

  • The Forerunners (Halo)
  • The Culture (The Culture)

Type IV: 1E46 – 1E56 watts. A civilization that can harness the energy of a galactic supercluster.

  • The Precursors (Halo)

Type V: 1E56 – 1E69 watts. A civilization that can harness all of the energy of its universe.

  • Asgard (Marvel Comics)
  • Marble Aliens (Men in Black)
  • Mazoku / Shinzoku (Slayers)

Type VI: 3.9 x 1E69 watts and above. A civilization that generates more energy than the universe every second.

  • The Celestials (Marvel Comics)
  • The Q (Star Trek)

Type VII: Immeasurable. Civilizations beyond any known quantification of joules.

  • The Time Lords and the Daleks (Doctor Who)
  • The Downstreamers (Manifold)
  • The Beyonders (Marvel Comics)

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