One of the most pressing concerns for the survival and advancement of the human race is how to harness the Earth’s energy resources to provide enough power to continue running our machines and other devices. Clean renewable energy must surely be the future we have to strive for now. Whilst the following mini-essay may refer to a solution that is currently a long way off Onett in Year 9 speculates on the future of energy resources for the human race, looking not just on Earth but out in space!
The Dyson Sphere; (concrete noun) a megastructure encompassing a star and capturing a large proportion of its power output – the first step humans must take to expand into other planets.
The Dyson Sphere is a revolutionary idea, that was created in the twentieth century to explain how an extremely advanced civilisation will have enough energy to expand around the galaxy. It would give humans a virtually limitless quantity of energy, which will be the first step that gives us enough energy to take on projects that would otherwise be physically impossible, such as terraforming other planets in our solar system, establishing colonies of humans in space and gathering natural resources from the asteroid belt. Although this is technically hypothetical, I am confident that building one will not only be possible, but will be a vital step for our progress in the distant future.
As much as you and I want to see colonies of humans on Mars – we simply don’t have access to anywhere near the amount of energy required to do this on Earth; in fact, experts have predicted a cost upwards of twenty to forty billion US dollars to establish a small permanent settlement on the moon. In comparison, the distance between planet Earth and Mars on an average day is over 200 times the distance between planet Earth and the Moon; eventually, humans will be able to exploit 100% of all the energy available on Earth…then what happens – how will the humans progress?
Every second, the sun produces 3.86 x 1020 megawatts of energy – our Sun is one hundred quintillion times more powerful than the most efficient nuclear reactor on Earth. Although ideally, we would want a nice chunk of that, having only 0.1% of this would vastly increase the energy budget of the human race – if the world successfully harvested a thousandth of the sun’s energy, we would be able to expand into other planets in our solar system.
The actual Dyson Sphere is an incredibly simple design; a vast sea of light-reflecting objects orbiting the Sun. Traditional solar panels would be far too complex to use, so the majority of it would be huge mirrors held together with minimal metal, all of them orbiting around the Sun and focusing the light to an energy collecting station on Mercury. Mirrors – being so simple – could last for tens of thousands of years without human intervention. In terms of energy, we could send mining rovers to Mercury to use the metals in Mercury to build solar panels (for an energy collection point), mirrors (to orbit the sun) and more mining robots; because of exponential growth, the progress of creating a Dyson Sphere would vastly improve over time. Not only is Mercury so much closer – 28.5 million miles at the shortest and 58 million miles on average, compared to Earth’s 150 million miles distance – but Mercury also only has a little over one third of the gravity that Earth experiences; this makes it comparatively cheap to set up the creation of the Dyson Sphere on Mercury.
To conclude, wouldn’t it be an amazing idea to build a Dyson Sphere sometime in the future (I certainly think so)? Just like when humans discovered fire or electricity, this will be a colossal jump in the advancement of humankind.
A fascinating insight into what the future of humankind could hold! Thank you Onett for sharing your vision with us. What do you think? Could harnessing solar energy in this way be the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.