Earth, the origin of humanity, the planet we call our home, is unfortunately dying. Earth is but one planet, its resources are few and with climate change not just on the horizon, but already showing its colours, the world is in between a rock and a hard place. Is there any way humanity can save itself from this situation? Well, there is one way, building a Dyson Sphere.
A Dyson Sphere, hypothesized by Physicist Freeman Dyson in 1960 is a theoretically possible megastructure that is built around a star to capture most of its energy and beam it to a receiving station. As we all know, humankind is power-hungry, but just how much power do we need? Dyson calculated that if an advanced civilisation were to grow at just 1% every year, its energy consumption would be a trillion times larger in just 3,000 years. This is a similar growth rate to humanity and sets a worrying precedent.
However, this megastructure would be one of humanity’s first steps in becoming an interstellar civilisation. Humanity uses 580 million terajoules every year in energy. However, the Dyson sphere would blow this figure out of the water. If we were to construct one around our sun, it would produce about 400 septillion joules every second. Enough to power the entirety of humanity’s energy needs for the next 700,000 years in just 1 second at current rates. This level of energy production would facilitate growth and industrialization at never before seen rates, leading to a second, eco-friendly but vastly more efficient industrial revolution.
Well, one might think that this is perfect for humanity! We should get to constructing it right away! Well, unfortunately, that’s not quite possible. Using all our current reserves of fossil fuels and uranium perfectly and efficiently, we could launch an object with the mass of Mount Everest into orbit. Far lower than the amount of material needed to surround a star. It's almost like one needs a Dyson sphere to build a Dyson sphere!
There's also another problem that arises, Earth simply doesn’t have enough resources to build it. We would need so many metals, and other materials in absurd quantities, that the only way we could obtain them is by deconstructing a planet. Look no further than Mercury. It’s close to the sun, making launch easier and chalk is full of metals needed to facilitate the building of this structure. So, if we wanted a Dyson sphere, we may have to settle for a solar system of 7 planets instead!
But wait, there’s more! Mr Dyson himself stated that it would be an impossibility to surround a star with a solid shell. All it would take is a small gravitational pull or comet to turn the Dyson sphere into Dyson debris. So, instead of a Dyson sphere, a more promising theory is that of a Dyson swarm. In simple terms, it’s a swarm of mirrors that would reflect the sun’s energy to a receiving station on earth. This would take fewer resources and energy to construct, resulting in it being much more plausible than a full-fledged Dyson sphere.
In conclusion, a Dyson sphere is vital for any advanced civilisation to progress from habiting just one planet to the entirety of its solar system and beyond. Though at present is nothing more than a dream with the technology we possess today, it is very likely that the future generations may be living with virtually infinite clean energy, green earth and of course, 1 less planet to learn about in school!