Name: Dyson Sphere or Dyson Swarm
Named for: The late physicist Freeman Dyson, who proposed the megastructure concept in a 1960 Science paper, “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation“
Selected Science Fiction Portrayals: Across a Billion Years, a 1969 novel by Robert Silverberg; the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Relics,” which first aired in 1992; and the 1995 novel The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter.
Humankind is energy-hungry. As our civilization has industrialized over the last couple centuries, global energy consumption has spiked more than twentyfold with no end in sight. When demand outstrips what we can reap from Earth and its vicinity, what will our power-craving descendants do?
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A bold solution: the Dyson Sphere. This megastructure—usually conceived of as a gigantic shell enclosing the sun, lined with mirrors or solar panels—is designed to collect every iota of a star’s energetic output. In the case of our sun, that colossal figure is 400 septillion watts per second, which is on the order of a trillion times our current worldwide energy usage. What’s more, the interior of the Dyson Sphere could, in theory, provide far more habitable real estate than a measly planet.
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Physicist Freeman Dyson speculated that a technologically advanced race, reaching the limit of its civilization’s expansion because of dwindling matter and energy supplies, would seek to exploit their sun for all it is worth.
“One should expect that, within a few thousand years of its entering the stage of industrial development,
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