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Memory Beta, non-canon Star Trek Wiki
Memory Beta, non-canon Star Trek Wiki

The Richter Scale of Culture was a method of describing, quantifying and comparing the development and achievement of numerous disparate cultures encountered on different worlds.

The Richter Scale of Culture is similar to the Technological/sociopolitical index.


Developed by Dr. Alonzo Richter in the 2200s, it took into account information across a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines. A Richter Scale descriptor could include up to three preface letters, 21 explanatory qualification digits, five exception letters, and twelve philosophical-comparison pointers. For most non-experts, the preface letter provided a generalized description of a cultures level, ranging from "AA" (no tool use) to "Q" (no technology beyond current Federation theoretical science). Beyond "Q" was "XX", describing a culture which appeared beyond understanding.

Alonzo Richter continued to refine his scale throughout the early and mid 23rd century, to the point of such complexity that only about 1000 specialist were able to formulate a rating for any given culture. The majority of these individuals were employed by Starfleet's First Contact Office.

In 2269, events on Talin presented the possibility that Richter might have to invent a new level in his scale to account for the ability to be aware of subspace communication without being able to receive or transmit. (TOS novel: Prime Directive)

In 2274, the planet Helva was noted for having advanced two levels on the Richter scale in three years, leap-frogging out of a stage of feudalism. Evaluations of such changes prompted an investigation by the USS Enterprise. (TOS novel: The Prometheus Design)


A society in the first level Bronze Age would be given a Richter Scale rating of A.345-34019-1 dr.1. (TOS novel: Prime Directive)

The city-dwelling lowlanders of Kyros had a D+ on the scale, though the hill clans of that same planet were more primitive and thus might not qualify for the same rating. (TOS novel: Spock, Messiah!)

Federation experts rated the Organians at level "D minus" on the Richter Scale, presumably corresponding to an agrarian culture with hand or animal powered machinery, as this race initially presented themselves. (TOS episode: "Errand of Mercy")

Civilizations that are pre-subspace and use electromagnetic radiation are close to rating C-451-5018-3 on Richter's scale of culture. (DS9 - Millennium novel: The Fall of Terok Nor)

Scale levels[]

As the scale is constantly tweaked, comparative ratings from differing sources conflict. Parentheses denote source year.

Cultural ratings[]



External link[]