Nikolai Kardashev, 1932-2019

Nikolai Kardashev

Russian astrophysicist and SETI pioneer Nikolai Kardashev passed away on August 3, 2019. Known for the Kardashev scale of extraterrestrial civilizations, in 1963 he conducted the first Soviet search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) by examining the quasar CTA-102 for signs of a technological civilization. In the following year, Kardashev organized the first Soviet conference on communication with extraterrestrial intelligence (CETI) at Byurakan Observatory in Armenia. Also in 1964, Kardashev proposed a scale that now bears his name, which is used for classifying extraterrestrial civilizations in terms of their energy use. Civilizations ranked on the Kardashev Scale range from Type I civilizations capable of using the energy resources of a single planet, to Type II civilizations that use the full energy of a star, to Type III civilizations that have access to the energy of an entire galaxy.

In 1971, along with other Soviet astronomers and American Carl Sagan, Kardashev organized a Soviet-American conference on CETI, also held at Byurakan Observatory. Kardashev became a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1976, and in 1994 he became a full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. A decade later, he was awarded the Demidov Prize for his work in astrophysics.