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Saru

Astronomers search for Dyson Spheres

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Three astronomers have been awarded a grant to assist them in locating Dyson Spheres in space.

Last month a trio of astronomers led by Penn State's Jason Wright began a two-year search for Dyson Spheres, a search that will span the Milky Way, along with millions of other galaxies.

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Great article, I loved the closing line:

Wright noted. "I can tell you, it's strange to write a serious research proposal and have half of your bibliography be science fiction."
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Apologies but am imagining them using a Dyson vacuum cleaner with a very, very long flex.

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lol Swarm of collectors....

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Sounds like a big waste of cash.

In searching for life elsewhere, it makes far more sense to broaden the search to cover a far wider spectrum of life indicators, than to narrow the field to only those potential civilizations using a single technology which is only a proposed theory which may only be used for a relatively short time by a single civilization.

SETI narrows the field to only those using radio transmission. Now this narrows the field further to only those using solar collectors, completely bypassing advanced civilizations using fusion, or some refinement of sources of energy we have not even dreamed of.

It make far more sense to look for life in a "big picture" sense than searching only for life that can "ride bicycles" for instance.

I am gobsmacked at how foolish this is.

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Posted (edited)

My humble take on this is that a Dyson sphere would be so expensive. I see no reasons that special nuclear power plants, especially from advanced civilizations, would not be able to produce the necessary energy.

Edited by pallidin

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Apologies but am imagining them using a Dyson vacuum cleaner with a very, very long flex.

Or indeed the ball on the back of certain models...

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I would have thought that a "Swarm of collectors" even if not a Dyson Sphere per se, would be extremely prone to Solar flare activity and other magnetic / cosmic degradation to make such a venture unviable both technically and economically.

As pointed out in Synchronomy's post - a civilisation advanced sufficiently to create a Dyson Sphere would almost certainly be sufficiently advanced to have "cracked" Fusion, and Fusion reactors orbiting the home planet (if space was a limiting factor on the planet itself) would be much easier to construct and maintain. IMO

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As the astronomers will be searching for unexpectedly high levels of mid-infrared radiation, they will, in effect, be looking for the waste heat that would probably be produced by *any* very high technology stellar civilization, whether they use Dyson spheres, or some other method of energy production. They might instead use matter-antimatter reactions, or some method we haven't any hint of yet.

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I would have thought that a "Swarm of collectors" even if not a Dyson Sphere per se, would be extremely prone to Solar flare activity and other magnetic / cosmic degradation to make such a venture unviable both technically and economically.

As pointed out in Synchronomy's post - a civilisation advanced sufficiently to create a Dyson Sphere would almost certainly be sufficiently advanced to have "cracked" Fusion, and Fusion reactors orbiting the home planet (if space was a limiting factor on the planet itself) would be much easier to construct and maintain. IMO

Clearly, being capable of one impossible feat means being capable of all other impossible feats, right?

Edited by Xetan

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By all means, let us look for artificial objects in space and gigantic constructions, if we can find any.

What was this thing, by the way?

artobkecttaurus4.jpg

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dyson shperes hah? *looks at vacuum*

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Clearly, being capable of one impossible feat means being capable of all other impossible feats, right?

Why do you consider either feat to be impossible? That is not what my post says at all.

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By all means, let us look for artificial objects in space and gigantic constructions, if we can find any.

What was this thing, by the way?

artobkecttaurus4.jpg

It would be nice to have a Link to this specifically...

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It would be nice to have a Link to this specifically...

It would be even nicer if it was on topic.

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It would be even nicer if it was on topic.

All right, I shall say no more about it. It's just one of those things that gets posted on the Internet and forgotten.

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All right, I shall say no more about it. It's just one of those things that gets posted on the Internet and forgotten.

It doesn't need to be forgotten, there are plenty of places on this site to ask your question, you shouldn't need to be told that a topic about Dyson Sphere's is not one of them.

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It doesn't need to be forgotten, there are plenty of places on this site to ask your question, you shouldn't need to be told that a topic about Dyson Sphere's is not one of them.

You will see me no more on here, Waspie.

Edited by TheMacGuffin
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I think any ideas we can come up with to try to discover extraterrestrial life is worth trying.

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Perhaps I am missing something here, but we are not talking about a planet sized sphere here, as difficult as that would be. We are talking about a sphere the size of a planet's orbit, if one is talking about encasing a star. Think about that: all the material on all the rocky planets, moons, etcetera, in our solar system would not amount to enough material to encase our sun even one meter outside of it's outer layer. Now expand that out to the orbit of the Earth (or even Mercury) and you begin to see the unreality of the problem. And if there was truly a space fairing civilization who had the ability to collect material from outside of their home star system, would it not be far easier to colonize other stellar systems then to build something of this magnitude?

Look, I am always telling people don't discount science fiction because so much of what was once fiction has become scientific fact. But something on this scale seems total unrealistic at best. There is a cost/benefit ratio and the cost would be off the charts.

And you thought we have a debt and deficit crisis!

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Though the theory of a Dyson Sphere is logical, it probably could not be built without importing materials. So, I think they would be incredibly rare based on that alone. But, perhaps the universe is filled with solar systems that have hundreds of planets....

So looking for the Dyson Sphere would be looking for the waste heat, right? If we assume that the civilization that builds a Dyson Sphere is capable of good efficiency, then you're not going to see any excess heat/IR. All the solar output will be collected. At best with poor effiency the Dyson Sphere would look like a Red Giant, and with decent effiency you'll not see it at all out past a couple parsecs, or perhaps not till you bump into it. Looking for them in the Milky Way and Andromeda would be wasteful enough, but how do they plan to find Dyson Spheres in other galaxys when their output will be less then a white dwarf?

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The prospect of using solar system material to create a 'shell' two astronomical units in diameter, that could intercept essentially all solar output has been looked into, and was found to be physically ( if not currently technically) possible. Freeman Dyson was a real physicist, and was certainly capable of doing the math.

A Dyson Sphere around a star similar to out own would make available about 40 billion times as much energy as we currently have at our disposal. Even a remarkably high level of efficiency in reclaiming waste heat could well leave a remnant that we might detect. The same would apply to any technical civilization controlling a similar amount of energy, by whatever means. The consideration of diminishing returns in adding increased efficiency vs. the cost of doing so presumably prevails everywhere.

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Perhaps Dyson spheres are invisible. I suspect that finding them would require some other kind of detection. Aliens probably dont even need to cover the entire sun. Imagine how vast a civilization must be to actually need the entire suns energy. Just make a small array that absorbs some of the sun. The star Epsilon Aurigae dims every 27 years due to a mysterious dark object eclipsing it periodically. That is a good example of what might be a partial type of sun energy absorber.

Edited by Twin Peaks
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Ok, let's say that an alien civilization builds a Dyson sphere. And then? How do they transmit the energy collected to their home planet? Through wires Astronimical Units long?

Or maybe with energon cubes?

Energon-Transformers.jpg

Maybe we'll find Cybertron?

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The original idea, I believe, was that people would live on the inside of the 'shell' (more properly a spherical swarm of objects) and that the energy would be incident on this star-ward facing surface area, ready for immediate use.

The idea that the Epsilon Aurigae star system is an example of a incomplete, or partial 'shell' of this sort is interesting, but has certain problems. The best current information on this system seems to indicate that the eclipsed body is an F0 star which has gone off the main sequence, swollen to gigantic size, and is near the end of its stellar life. The eclipsing body is thought to be a B star, with something large and diffuse surrounding it. Could this surround be a Dyson Sphere or a partial version of one? The fact that an F0 star has a lifetime of only about 4 billion years argues against there having been enough time for a technical civilization to have developed there. The lifetime of a B star is very much shorter.

I wouldn't think this a very promising system for colonization from another star system, either, given the instability of the F star. A civilization capable of constructing even a partial Dyson Sphere might also be able to re-engineer a star, to prevent it going off the main sequence, but that doesn't appear to have been done here.

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