Category Archives: Astronomy

A Few Dyson Spheres in Every Galaxy

A Dyson Sphere is probably one the largest artificial constructs ever imagined. What is a Dyson Sphere? There are a few variants on this idea proposed by Freeman Dyson. The variant of particular interest to me is the “shell” variant; a structure completely encapsulating a star so that all of it’s energy can be harnessed. The Dyson Sphere not only encapsulates a star, it also extends past the distance of the earth’s orbit around the sun.

Let’s get some perspective on this. The sun is massive. You could fit 1.3 million earths inside of our sun. Here is a picture to scale that shows the earth and the sun. Keep in mind the distances to the planets are NOT to scale. You may have to enlarge the photo to see the earth.

The Earth is Tiny

The Earth is Tiny

As I mentioned above, the distances of the planets from the sun is not to scale in the photo above. It is actually impossible to show both the sizes and distances to scale in one photo and still be able to see our planet. Here is a picture of earth’s orbital distance to scale.

At This Scale Our Sun is Also Tiny

At This Scale Our Sun is Also Tiny

Here is a scale diagram of a Dyson Sphere. The Dyson Sphere is an absolutely GARGANTUAN structure!

An Interior Surface Area Equivalent to More than 200 Million Earths

An Interior Surface Area Equivalent to More than 200 Million Earths

Why build something like this? Every second the sun produces enough energy to supply ALL of earth’s energy needs for 500,000 years. Imagine that. If we were able to harness all of the energy from our sun for only 1 second, human kind would not have to produce any energy for 100s of 1000s of years.

How Do We Build a Dyson Sphere?

Using conventional means of construction would be out of the question when tackling the engineering feat of building a Dyson Sphere. There is simply not enough matter on earth to create a sphere millions of times bigger than earth. If we combined all of the rocky planets in our solar system, there would still not be enough matter.

There was a Star Trek episode titled “Relics”, where the crew of the Enterprise encountered a Dyson Sphere. Their sophisticated sensors did not detect the structure because of the immense gravitational distortion it caused. Unlike a star or black hole, a Dyson Sphere probably would not emit intense radiation. Present day humans and humans from the year 2368 would have a hard time detecting it.

The Enterprise ends up inside the sphere, see below. Notice how the interior becomes the living surface area with land, water and an atmosphere clinging to the inside “walls”. But why bring up Star Trek?

Star Ship Travels Inside a Dyson Sphere

Star Ship Travels Inside a Dyson Sphere – an interior surface area equivalent to 200 million earths.

Besides being a fan of Star Trek, the science fiction inventions pioneered by the show hold the answer to creating a Dyson Sphere. Einstein gave us E=MC2 (squared). Matter and energy are the same phenomenon only in different forms. Like water vs steam. In the Star Trek universe (and in our future) humans master converting energy to matter and vice versa. They use a device called a replicator. It creates food, clothing, building materials and just about everything else from energy. This is scientifically possible, but we have not discovered exactly how to do this…yet.

Eventually human kind will invent replicators, devices that create solid matter from energy. We already have manufacturing robots that can create more manufacturing robots which can in turn, create more and so on. When you combine the concept of a replicator and a self duplicating machine, we are one step closer to creating a Dyson Sphere.

Millions of self replicating, solar powered devises or factories could be stationed in orbit around a star. All of the energy needed to power and create these devises would come from the host star. However, we would not need to start with millions of these devices. We could start with 1-100. They would self replicate and their numbers would increase exponentially. Now, with a limitless supply of energy/matter, we can begin the task of building the Dyson Sphere.

If we have thought of it, chances are, other intelligent life out there, maybe thousands or millions years ahead of us has already created it. Given the fact that there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy and many more planets than that, I would bet intelligent life has arisen many times. There could be Dyson Spheres scattered through out our galaxy with trillions of life forms living inside.



A Brain the Size of the Universe

The human brain is an extremely complex organ with billions of neurons. Some estimate there to be about 100 trillion connections between the neurons in our brain. Numbers and quantities on the scale of billions and trillions are common in nature, but not so much in our every day lives. Unless you happen to be an astronomer.

Look at these two photos. One is a picture of the brain and one is a picture of galactic super clusters. The similarities are striking.

brain galaxies

Conveniently similar pictures aside, it’s important to remember that the difference in scale is enormous. Galactic super clusters are millions and sometimes billions of light years across. To put that in to some perspective, light travels at 186,282 miles per second. Light can travel around the world 7 times in one second. Yet it takes light millions of years to travel from one side of a galactic super cluster to another.

The almost unfathomable enormity of the universe forces us to constantly revisit our place in it. On a universal scale, we are “microscopic”, perhaps “subatomic”. To make a comparison, It’s as if we are on an electron orbiting a nucleus in an atom.

Electrons Orbit a Nucleus

Electrons Orbit a Nucleus

Planets Orbit A Star

Planets Orbit A Star

Orbits make the universe go round.

Suppose for a moment that there were tiny, intelligent organisms living on an electron orbiting the nucleus of one the atoms in your brain. The perspective of those organisms would not easily lend itself to understanding the nature of your brain, let alone the world you and I live in. To those organisms, the distances between atoms would be “vast”. Similar to the vastness we perceive between star systems. Yet those organisms would be living on a small building block of a much larger, cohesive entity, you. They would most likely have no way of knowing you exist. In fact, if you were to suggest to those organisms that “super massive” life forms like you existed, they would have a hard time comprehending it. Their physics, their methods of perception and perhaps their “time” would be dissimilar to ours. Their world would be one where quantum mechanics and quantum effects were in plain “sight”. They would most likely not use light as their perceptual information carrier of choice. Their carrier may have it’s own limitations, similar to our light speed limitations. So any suggestion to them that objects could travel faster than their perceptual information carriers may sound ludicrous to them.

Could we be in a situation similar to those tiny, “naive” organisms? Could we be living inside a giant brain the size of our universe? As we look out in to the universe with ever increasing depth, we find that it is NOT how we imagined it. There are super structures that are interconnected and moving and changing and evolving. The time frames in which these structures change and the scales at which they operate dwarf us to the extreme. We very well could be on the equivalent of an electron orbiting a nucleus, part of an unfathomably large structure.