By Karina Bakshi
Earth has a very limited supply of energy. The main sources of energy are non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels and coal. Although some companies are using renewables and nuclear energy they are not able to produce the amount of energy required. However, this isn’t permanent and we will need a better solution sooner or later.
The Dyson Sphere is a hypothetical model of a megastructure made to harness solar energy. If made, we will practically have unlimited energy. Even a small portion of the sun is enough to fuel our planet for millions of years. However, the technology needed to build a Dyson Sphere seems way beyond our current technology.
But it is not completely Sci-Fi. We could get started on this project in around 50 years when humans are close to becoming a full Type 1 civilization. Dyson Spheres are sometimes depicted as a solid sphere encompassing the entire star. However, that model is not possible as the sun’s gravity, heat, and solar flares will probably damage and shatter the sphere. Humans on earth wouldn’t be getting light from the sun either, which would end life (unless the spheres are transparent, which probably also would not work out as the light inside them would reflect).
A viable option, however, would be to make a Dyson Swarm. Many mirrors, satellites, and solar energy collectors surrounding the sun, made out of many different pieces instead of just 1 giant sphere. But we would need an almost endless supply of materials to make this. The most logical solution would be to mine Mercury, as it is closest to the sun and 70% of Mercury consists of metals. Around half the planet is usable. However, to start building a Dyson Sphere, we would need a lot of energy. So how do we build a Dyson Sphere if we need the energy of a Dyson Sphere to build it? We could first build a small portion of the Dyson Sphere and using the energy we get from it, we could expand it.
To build a full Dyson Sphere, however, we might need to mine all 4 terrestrial planets. We could mine Mercury, as we probably won’t be able to terraform it, and it also has a lot of metal. Instead of the others, mine asteroids instead. Although that method would be slower, it would be better for humans in the long run.
We could start building the Dyson Sphere by making settlements on the poles of Mercury, as it has extreme temperature fluctuations and orbits very slowly. The process would have to mostly be automated as the climate is too hostile for humans. Mining robots can be placed on Mercury. The mirrors would be made and then catapulted towards the sun using electromagnetic mass drivers. We could then expand our bases to make and launch more mirrors. The mirrors would be designed to reflect the energy to a generator.
However, a big problem is the number of supplies we would need to build the Dyson Sphere. We would need an enormous amount of materials to build the Dyson Sphere so the plan may seem unrealistic. But we could build replicating robots to gather materials so with the technology of the future it will be possible.
Our plan of building a Dyson Sphere could actually be accomplished in the next few thousand years. Building a Dyson Sphere would help us in many problems. We could use the energy to terraform planets like Venus and Mars, or even leave the solar system to search for new worlds.
Building a Dyson Sphere will be a big accomplishment for humanity and a transition to becoming a type 2 civilization. We could actually achieve this goal sooner than we think!