Is a Dyson Sphere the Future of Energy?

It's clear that Earth's energy resources won't last forever. Future generations will need to be resourceful if they're going to power their world. In 1960, Freeman J. Dyson theorized a grandiose energy-collection device that advanced civilizations would use to generate immense amounts of power. He called it a Dyson sphere, and it works like this: once any advanced civilization has exhausted its planet's resources, it will place solar collectors far out in space to generate energy from its star. As energy needs inevitably increase, more and more solar collectors will be added until the star is completely surrounded, allowing the civilization to capture close to 100% of its energy. Though some might imagine a Dyson sphere as a solid shell of matter, Dyson himself thought this would be impossible, conceiving instead of a cloud or swarm of objects. Because proponents of this idea consider it inevitable for any sufficiently advanced civilization, astronomers have considered searching for evidence of Dyson spheres in our galaxy as a way to detect extraterrestrial life.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. In the future, we'll build larger and larger solar arrays until we enclose the entire sun in a cloud of solar satellites. This "cloud" is known as a Dyson sphere. 00:25

  2. In 1960, physicist Freeman Dyson theorized that if future civilization could enclose our star in a rigid shell, we could generate 384 yottawatts (384 x 10^24 watts) of energy. 01:00

  3. There are many problems with the concept. 01:33

Written by Curiosity Staff May 11, 2016