View larger. | Kevin Gill from Los Angeles created this image of a Dyson sphere. To give you an idea of the scale … the bright object inside is a star, like our sun. This Dyson sphere consists of massive independently orbiting arched panels. Image via Wikimedia Commons. All that’s missing is a ravaged planet or moon … the source of the raw materials to build this giant structure.
Earth’s biggest construction project
What if humans could harness all the sun’s energy? What if extraterrestrial civilizations have already learned to harvest the energy of stars? In 1960, physicist and astronomer Freeman J. Dyson proposed to use orbiting solar collectors to accomplish this mind-boggling feat. He first explored it as a thought experiment. Nowadays, we call these giant megastructures by the name Dyson spheres. Some astronomers want to search for them!
We’ve never seen a Dyson sphere. The idea still exists in the world of thought alone. It all started with Dyson’s two-page paper in the journal Science in 1960. The title was Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation. Dyson imagined a solar-system-sized power-collection structure as a technology that would be inevitable for advanced civilizations in the universe. He ...