A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure that totally envelops a star and captures a large percentage of its power yield. The concept is a thought experiment that endeavors to clarify how a spacefaring human advancement would meet its energy requirements once those necessities surpass what can be produced from the home planet’s resources alone. So, does the current human civilization have the capability in harnessing the power of star through Dyson Sphere.
The History of the Dyson Sphere
The principal contemporary description of the Dyson Sphere was by Olaf Stapledon in his sci-fi novel Star Maker (1937). He portrayed “each close planetary system encompassed by a gauze of light traps, which focused the escaping solar energy for intelligent use.” The idea was later popularized by Freeman Dyson in his 1960 paper “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation”. Dyson speculated that such structures would be the logical consequence of the escalating energy needs of a technological civilization and would be a necessity for its long-term survival. He proposed that looking for such structures could lead to the detection of advanced lifeforms.
The Sun produces more energy than we can comprehend. Its core reaches a predicted temperature of 15 million degrees Celsius or roughly the same temperature as an exploding hydrogen bomb. This is the scorching section of the Sun where nuclear fusion occurs. The process releases massive amounts of energy which eventually makes its way into space. But just a fraction of that energy reaches Earth. If we were to harness the total energy of the Sun, humanity would jump to Type II on the Kardashev Scale. It is a method of measuring a civilization’s level of technological advancement.
The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization’s level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy a civilization is able to use. It was proposed by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964. The scale has three designated categories:
• 1)Type I civilization-also called a planetary civilization—can use and store all of the energy available on its planet.
• 2)Type II civilization-also called a stellar civilization—can harness the total energy of its planet’s parent star. (the most popular hypothetical concept being the Dyson sphere—a device which would encompass the entire star and transfer its energy to the planet(s)).
• 3)Type III civilization-also called a galactic civilization—can control energy on the scale of its entire host galaxy.
The scale is hypothetical and regards energy consumption on a cosmic scale. Various extensions of the scale have since been proposed. Including a wider range of power levels (types 0, IV and V) and the use of metrics other than pure power.
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Right now, humanity isn’t even on the scale. So, we need to harvest far more of the Sun’s energy if we want any shot at universal dominance or even just long-term survival. The solid structure, the size of a planetary orbit, contains solar habitats, each powered by their host star’s light. But this megastructure would be impossible for humanity to pull off due to the fact that the materials needed to build it don’t exist. On top of that, environmental and gravitational stresses of the Sun would destroy the shell.
Instead, some Astro engineers believe a Dyson Sphere is the most practical design for our solar system. This concept would require the construction of an army of advanced solar panels. And which would orbit the Sun, capturing its light from all directions. The solar panels would collect the Sun’s radiation and continuously transmit the energy wirelessly back to Earth. Still, futurists say building a Dyson Sphere would require extreme measures like mining Mercury for materials – eventually destroying the planet.
Also Read: The Orion Constellation
But if we manage to successfully create a sun sucking megastructure, it will extend humanity’s survival in the solar system. And provide the power needed to colonize other planets. Considering all the advanced technology needed to make this happen. Though, it will be a very long time until any sort of Dyson Sphere takes the leap from science fiction to reality.
But, like Freeman Dyson, some people believe that aliens might already be using Dyson Sphere-like structures. And they point to a mysterious dimming star – known as Tabby’s star – as potential evidence. Believers say that the dimming is a sign of a structure surrounding the star. While many astronomers say that the dimming is likely just caused by dust. But in the far-fetched chance that there is an advanced civilization out there harnessing the power of star through Dyson Sphere. And a civilization soaking up all the energy in the universe. Let’s just hope that they will use for good, not evil.