The scale was devised by Nikolai S. Kardashev
, a Soviet-era cosmologist who is still active today.
Though he's 81, Kardashev works as the deputy director of the Russian Space Research Institute at Moscow's Russian Academy of Sciences.
During the 1950s, while both his parents were in Stalin's slave labor camps, he became an astronomy student at Moscow University's Mechanics and Mathematics department.
primary interest was in astrophysics and the theoretic potential for wormholes, but he
also shared a fascination with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (ETIs).
began to wonder if a good number of alien civilizations might be millions of years ahead of us, and if so, what their radio signatures might be like.
Just how "loud," he
surmised, could alien transmissions truly get?
This prompted Kardashev to write his
seminal 1963 paper, " Transmission of Information by Extraterrestrial Civilizations.
In it, he
proposed a simple numbering system - from one to three - that could be used to classify hypothetical alien civilizations according to the amount of energy at their disposal.
More specifically, he
wanted to quantify the power available to them for their radio transmissions.
wrote that a Type I civilization would be at a "technological level close to the level presently attained on the Earth, with energy consumption ~4 x 1019 erg/sec.
That's about 4 x 1012 Watts.
Law and Kurzweil's
Law of Accelerating Returns, Kardashev
noticed that the rate of humanity's energy consumption was increasing steadily.
described a Type III like this: "A civilization in possession of energy on the scale of its own galaxy, with energy consumption at ~4 x 1044 erg/sec.
never went past a Type III, others have taken his
idea to the next level.