What if we could engineer a gigantic megastructure capable of harvesting every bit of the Sun’s energy? Something known as a Dyson sphere.
How long would it take to construct this megashell? Where would we find all the materials needed? And what could we do with the structure once we finally built it? Here’s what would happen if we could build a Dyson sphere around the Sun.
The idea of a Dyson sphere was… well, stolen from aliens. In 1960, an astrophysicist Freeman Dyson theorized another civilization millions of year ahead of Earth that found a way to meet their ever-increasing energy and space demands.
They rearranged their solar system. This hypothetical advanced civilization built a hollow sphere around their own sun and provided themselves with an incredible amount of energy and habitable real estate.
Aren’t they the smart ones? But what about us? How would we go about building this space-level structure?
Theoretically, if we built a Dyson sphere, we’d have access to a colossal 400 septillion watts of solar energy. That’s a trillion times more power than our entire civilization consumes today.
The problem is, no known material is strong enough to handle all the space radiation. And even if we created one in very large quantities, a tiny gravitational pull towards the Sun would make our solid sphere uninhabitable.
Not to mention that it would be totally unstable. Every meteor strike would push a part of the sphere toward the star.
But all these issues can be solved with a simple adjustment. Instead of building a solid Dyson sphere, we could build a Dyson swarm. A myriad of solar collectors with their individual orbits around the Sun.
Let’s start with a small station. One that’s able to provide the energy needed for this construction project. We’d begin on Mercury. It would become our space mine for the iron and oxygen we’d need. From those elements, we would make highly reflective solar collectors.
The giant mirrors would reflect light into a small solar power plant. From there, it would beam the energy to where we need it.
We’d probably demolish Mercury entirely before we moved on to Venus, Mars and the outer planets. Even nearby asteroids would be decimated.
However, even just deconstructing Mercury would supply us with enough energy to power up our supercomputers and boost interstellar exploration.
Maybe we’d even build Earth-like oases – large rotating space colonies in the habitable zone of our Solar System.
Maybe, if we were lucky, we’d find other, more efficient sources of energy to help us master space travel.
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