How to build the “Dyson Sphere”

For any person interested in science fiction, the Dyson sphere can act almost as a Holy Grail. More than half a century ago, the famous physicist Freeman Dyson first suggested and then popularized the idea that a highly developed super-technological civilization will be able to extract as much useful energy as the whole star can produce – just build a special design around the star.

The original concept of this design Dyson proposed in the context of the desire to find extraterrestrial life. He suggested that humanity should look for new star systems and try to see in them the signs of the existence of such cosmic megastructures.

“Such an initially dark object will emit as much energy as the star itself, hiding behind it. But this radiation will be in the far infrared spectrum with a wavelength of about 10 microns. I propose to conduct a targeted search for sources of such infrared radiation, either separately or together with the search for artificial sources of radio signals. It would be more preferable to search for and study objects of the 5th or 6th magnitude … “, Dyson once wrote.

The physicist also inspired his readers with the observation that the inhabitants of the Earth once, having reached outstanding technological heights, will also be able to build their own Dyson megastructure.

“It’s possible. For several thousand years since the beginning of the industrial era, any reasonable civilization can reach the level of development and life inside an artificial biosphere located around the native star of a particular system. ”

Undoubtedly such super-scale construction is not yet feasible, but it’s never too early to start planning! And Dr. Stuart Armstrong, a researcher at the Institute of the Future of Humanity at Oxford University, decided to do this, presenting how humanity can one day build the so-called Dyson swarm (not to be confused with the “sphere”) around the Sun.

Unlike the Dyson sphere, the design, although hollow, but possessing elements with a solid sheathing, Dyson’s swarm can represent a modular design consisting of a multitude of residential modules, satellites and solar collectors, united in a common network in the form of a sphere around the star. The generated energy will be wirelessly transmitted between the modules of this swarm and the Earth itself. As an alternative, you can use millions of mirrors that will focus the energy of the Sun on a smaller number of collector stations.

So how can this grandiose idea be realized? Speaking at a lecture in 2012, Armstrong proposed an extremely abstract version. First, the entire construction process will be performed in an autonomous mode, that is, robots that have the function of self-replacement. One robot broke, several others took and produced a new one from the old spare parts. The army of similar mechanical workers will also need to be sent to Mercury, where they will extract minerals, on the basis of which the materials necessary for construction will be created. According to the scientist, only half of this planet will be useful in terms of production. Over the next 50 years, robots will multiply and build various modules and satellites, after which the resources of Mercury are likely to be depleted.

Of course one planet in the solar system, in this case, we most likely will lose, but will we be so bored by this scorched hell? Without a gram of regret, Armstrong even titled one of the slides presented at the lecture: “Forgive me, Mercury, nothing personal …”.

If you are very skeptical about the above-mentioned plan – well. It should be so, because we did not even get close to such a level of technological possibilities. Nevertheless, nobody forbid dreaming.

And yet, Armstrong presented an argument according to which the construction of Dyson’s swarm is a fully achievable task. He points out that even if in nature there are many things that should not exist in principle, then there are no reasons to believe that humanity will never be able to reach such a technological level. As two basic necessary technologies that will make it possible to approach the possibility of creating a swarm of Dyson, he led artificial intelligence and technology of cell replication. With these two fundamental tools, the only thing we need is a suitable automation technology and an advanced 3D printing technology – two directions in which humanity has already shown some success.

“The scale of construction in itself is not a factor acting as an insurmountable barrier. To disassemble a planet by pebble is the same as to disassemble an asteroid. Just do it longer, much longer, “- commented Armstrong.