Alien Post #13: Dyson Spheres
Geoff Marcy, an astronomer at U-Cal Berkeley, discovered 70 of the first 100 exoplanets ever found.
He worked with the robotic telescope Kepler as it harvested light from distant worlds and recently he put together a project for Kepler that has interesting implications.
The Kepler telescope watches as a stars brightness dims due to a planet moving in front of it as it orbits. This is how it finds planets. Marcy decided that assuming there are hyper-advanced alien civilizations out there somewhere, it’s possible we aren’t looking entirely at planets, but something far less natural:
Marcy was awarded $200,000 from the Templeton Foundation to search for things called “Dyson spheres”.
What are those you ask? Imagine a solar panel. Now imagine a huge array of solar panels. Now imagine a huge array of solar panels wrapped around a star. Now imagine how much energy that would generate.
These theoretical machines would be wrapped around entire stars and could produce the energy needed to support a super advanced, possibly interstellar, civilization.
Using his grant money, Marcy is going to lease time to use the Keck Observatory and develop methods to hunt for things like Dyson spheres that would indicate advanced extra terrestrial intelligence. This all while scouring through the Kepler data, looking for aberrations that would indicate we may not be looking at a planet after all.
Well, considering that Dyson Spheres are physically implausible if not impossible, that seems like a huge waste of time and money. Implausible because of the enormous gravitational pull they’d experience at the poles especially, where they don’t benefit from the centrifugal force of rotation around the parent star. Even if they wouldn’t cave in under their own weight, anything not firmly bolted down would fall off into the star.
Not to mention that a perfect Dyson Sphere would be effectively invisible, only to be seen as it blots out another star in passing, which will be extremely rare and non-periodic so very hard to confirm as actual event.