SPAAAAAAACE 5/28/13 Dyson Sphere a-go-go
Express Flight to the ISS: LIVE
This is what most space launches look like, I think.
Click Here to watch the Flight to the ISS:LIVE
Check it out! Awhile back, we talked about how the Soyuz rocket can get to the International Space Station in roughly 6 hours, now. And man, that is quick. This is only the 2nd time astronauts have been brought to the ISS so quickly, but will probably become fairly normal.
Make sure to watch it live!
3-D printed Space Food...in SPAAAAAAAAAACE
There are a lot of issues about food, in space. Especially over long term, like the 6-month trip to Mars. But check this out:
Hopefully it is better than the ice cream bars.
Decent food might keep astronauts from going Ren-Nuts.
So, we all know that the Sun emits approximately one metric fuck-tonne of energy per second, right? It emits this energy in all directions and only a teeny weeny fraction of it reaches Earth. Have you ever thought about somehow harnessing all that energy and using it for the benefit of all mankind? Of course you have! And so did mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson when he came up with the idea for a Dyson Sphere.
There was a Star Trek episode about it.
(Dyson Spheres In Popular Culture)
Now, there are a few different kinds of proposed Dyson Spheres, and some are far more plausible than the others. For example, in a lot of sci-fi, a Dyson Sphere is represented as being a solid hollow shell constructed around a star with energy capturing capabilities, and even featuring living environments sometimes. The construction of a Dyson Sphere would only be possible in the first place by extremely advanced civilisations. This type of construct would block all of the light from the star outside of the sphere, obviously, so living environments would have to be contained within the sphere, either on planets or on specially constructed artificial living environments. The problem with this model is the sheer scale of the engineering required to construct such a structure. We are probably hundreds of years off that kind of engineering ability, but that is not to say that it is impossible, just impossible for us for now.
A more plausible, and even attainable system would be a variation of the Dyson Sphere known as the Dyson Swarm. This model is actually closer to the original concept imagined by Dyson. In this system, rather than an all encompassing solid sphere, we have a swarm of satellites in regular orbits about the star. This type of model could be built much closer to a star, and if we had one of these around the Sun, we would barely notice the dip in brightness of the light from the Sun. This system is technically achievable by today's technological standards, though it would take a very long time to complete. The problem with this model is that we would be dealing with many many satellites, each with an individual orbital path, and it would be a monumental task to keep all those little guys in line. Systems of orbits are actually fairly fragile. If one satellite went off course, it would effect the others nearby, and so on until it all went to hell. So we probably won't be making one of these anytime soon, but it is still a nice idea.
The simplest, and most achievable, form of the Dyson Swarm is the Dyson Ring, where there are far fewer satellites and they all follow the same orbital path. The energy captured from this model would be significantly less than the other types, but would still be a huge increase compared to what we receive from the Sun now. This model is certainly achievable with today's technology, and it would be much easier to control and regulate the satellites.
So, "this is all well and good", I hear you say, "but who cares?" Damn, imaginary reader, I'm getting to it!
The good folks at NASA and Fermilab care, that's who. It is thought that a sufficiently technologically advanced society would need something like this in order to power all of their super-technology gadgets and what not. So, there are at least two teams around the world working on looking for evidence of mega-structures like Dyson Spheres around distant stars. If we find one, boom! We have found aliens. Super advanced aliens, and I for one welcome our new alien overlords, if they do happen to exist.
There are currently two projects running, sifting through data to try to find evidence of the megastructures.
The first is through infrared detection, run by Dick Carrigan at Fermilab. Basically, they are looking for an exact wavelength of infrared light which might be coming from a Dyson Sphere. There have even been a few candidates found, but nothing decisive...yet.
The second is a project run by exoplanet researcher Geoff Marcy, who was given a grant to sift through the mountain of data from the Kepler telescope, in order to hunt for evidence of Dyson Spheres. In theory, any large object, or group of objects orbiting a star, should be detectable in the same way as an exoplanet.
So, long story short: We might find some super advanced alien technology from a civilisation far, far more advanced than our own!
Let's just hope we don't draw unwanted attention to our own, technologically inferior asses in the process.
Read all about it!
Dyson Sphere Wiki
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