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Science & Technology

Theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson has died

By T.K. Randall
March 2, 2020 · Comment icon 4 comments

Dyson was fascinated by the idea of intelligent alien civilizations. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Monroem
The man who envisaged that an alien race could build a 'Dyson Sphere' around its star has died aged 96.
One of the most celebrated physicists of the modern age, Dyson's work in the fields of physics and quantum electrodynamics, as well as his research and theories on intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations, made him a respected and well known figure the world over.

One of his most famous hypothetical concepts was the Dyson Sphere - a vast spherical structure constructed around a star by an advanced alien race to harness its energy.

He first wrote about such theoretical megastructures in 1960 in a short paper entitled 'Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation.' In it, he speculated that it may be possible to spot a Dyson Sphere by scanning for large objects radiating in the infrared range of the spectrum.

"One should expect that, within a few thousand years of its entering the stage of industrial development, any intelligent species should be found occupying an artificial biosphere which surrounds its parent star," he wrote.
It's an idea that has long endured - having been featured in numerous works of science fiction including in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Dyson also came up with the idea of a Dyson Tree - a genetically engineered plant that can grow on comets. He also suggested that comets could be built to contain hollow spaces filled with breathable air and could serve as future human habitats.

He even theorised that there could exist an immortal race of intelligent beings capable of extending time to infinity to escape the inevitable heat death of the universe.

Dyson is survived by his second wife, six children, a stepdaughter and 16 grandchildren.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (4)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
Damn! Damn! Damn! Freeman Dyson was a genius in the Einstein/Hawking league. but not so well known to the general public. He possessed the sort of mind that made me proud to be the same species, RIP Professor Dyson. The average I.Q. of the human race is just a little lower now that you have left us.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Festina 4 years ago
“Arguably, Dyson's most famous idea was the "Dyson sphere," a hypothetical structure a civilization might build around a star to enclose it and best harness it’s energy.  The notion has made its way into science fiction and astronomy as well. In recent years, some astronomers have even speculated that a particular star in our galaxy exhibiting odd dimming behavior might have an incomplete Dyson sphere, an "alien megastructure," around it. (That idea, however, has since been largely discredited in favor of another explanation, as Live Science previously reported.)”  Around a star?  T... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by Eldorado 4 years ago
Remembering Freeman Dyson At Scientific American: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/remembering-freeman-dyson/
Comment icon #4 Posted by third_eye 4 years ago
RIP good professor Dyson...  ~


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