Theoretical Tech For the Distant Future

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.

Is a Dyson Sphere the Future of Energy?

This theoretical swarm of solar panels could collect 100% of the sun's energy.

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

Space Elevators Sound Crazy, But They Just Might Work

This device could make it 100 times cheaper to launch things into space.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. A space elevator can launch things with only the energy it requires to go up. Sideways movement comes free with the Earth's rotation. 01:23

  2. Here's what a space elevator might look like. 02:36

  3. As a test, some have proposed first building a space elevator on the moon. 04:45

Solar Sails Use Light For Fuel

A form of propulsion that doesn't need fuel? It could be possible.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Solar sails rely on photons to give them momentum. 01:00

  2. A solar sail is designed to catch billions of photon collisions per second, and will continuously accelerate until it can no longer catch photons. 01:56

  3. Solar sails could potentially steer asteroids away from Earth, or propel spacecrafts on interstellar missions. 03:26

Warp Drives Manipulate Space-Time To Move

They could enable faster-than-light travel.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. A warp drive would theoretically manipulate space-time. The object would remain still inside a warp bubble and space would move around it. 00:52

  2. Miguel Alcubierre's 1994 drive model would require the energy equivalent of the mass of Jupiter. 01:39

  3. In 2012, Harold White proposed a drive with a differently shaped warp bubble, which could theoretically reach 10 times the speed of light. 02:15

Written by Curiosity Staff June 14, 2016

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.