What If Humanity Built a Dyson Sphere? | Unveiled

What If We Fitted the Sun with a Dyson Sphere? The sun is the strongest source of energy
in the solar system. Every single second, 600 million tons of hydrogen
is burned as fuel to produce the heat and light we experience on Earth… it’s an
arrangement that’s set to continue for another 5 billion years. But, is there a way to truly harness all of
that power for our own use? This is Unveiled and today we’re answering
the extraordinary question; What if we fitted the sun with a Dyson Sphere? Are you a fiend for facts? Are you constantly curious? Then why not subscribe to Unveiled for more
clips like this one? And ring the bell for more fascinating content! So, what is a Dyson Sphere? Right now, it’s only an idea; a thought
experiment that physicist Freeman Dyson came up with in 1960. Dyson imagined a civilization far more advanced
than our own and the energy it would need to sustain itself. At some point, that civilization would run
out of energy on its home planet, so would likely turn to its star system for alternative
sources. How best to do this? Dyson imagined building a massive, circular
structure to enclose the home star, in some way absorbing its energy output like super-advanced
solar panels. How much energy could we really harvest with
such a device, though? Well, a lot! The sun is a massive energy source, releasing
around 380 yottawatts at any one time – that’s 380 septillion watts… while the NASA Earth
Observatory calculates that just 1,360 of those watts reaches every square metre of
the Earth’s atmosphere during daylight. Clearly our planet receives enough to survive,
but that’s a lot of energy loss between us and our star! Right now, in regard to human energy consumption,
we’re not even making the most of what we do get, although a gradual conversion toward
solar panels in recent years has pushed us toward becoming more efficient. Nevertheless, as human civilization grows
and grows, it’s expected to require more and more energy, while having to manage (and
move away from) depleting fossil fuel reserves. All things considered; a Dyson Sphere would
solve a lot of problems! The idea of actually building one, though,
is almost incomprehensible – and impossible with our current technology. To even construct something that big boggles
the mind. A structure that circles and encases the entire
sun; it’d need to be at least 870,000 miles across – but more likely the diameter would
easily break the one-million-mile mark! We don’t currently have the materials needed
to sustain such a massive energy flow, either… but if we did then life would be very different! For one, being able to absorb the full energy
of the sun means that the Dyson Sphere itself would probably be habitable, or at least advanced
enough to support some type of life much like the International Space Station does – with
high-level science experiments happening on every corner. In such a structure, people living on the
inner edges of the sphere would live as though at the bottom of a bowl, with the massive
sun searing overhead, constantly visible through a protective screen. Such an environment would naturally enjoy
a near-infinite source of energy, but it’d also be under constant threat… just one
breach between it and the star it sits so close to, and the whole thing could break
apart in a fiery mess. Once we’d devised a way to send the massive
amounts of energy we’d collect back to our home planet, life on Earth would never be
the same again, either. Solar energy is already touted as having the
highest potential of all of Earth’s other renewable resources – but it only accounts
for about 1.3% of our energy usage worldwide. With a working Dyson Sphere, solar power would
suddenly soar to being behind 100% of everything we did. Fossil fuels would definitely be a crude thing
of the past, prompting coal and oil companies to quickly go bankrupt but also dramatically
reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into our atmosphere. A Dyson Sphere would surely be the ultimate
tool in tackling climate change once it’s built (although actually building it could
well prove an incalculable strain on the planet in the first place). Crucially, though, we’d now have total control
over the solar energy we did or didn’t use. With almost unlimited power at our disposal,
we could manipulate exactly how much of that power reaches Earth. We could effectively “cool down” global
warming, simply by flicking the right switches – granting Earth time to recover and rebuild
its atmosphere. In this way, the Dyson Sphere would effectively
work as a shade, placing Earth under optimum conditions to thrive. That said, there’s a darker side to having
so much control, as well… because it might not always be used for the better. Theoretically, those working the Dyson Sphere
could choose to “turn Earth off”, to purposefully starve it of energy for one reason or another. Or else, to boil it into oblivion! Similarly, say the Sphere simply malfunctioned,
we’d grind to a total halt without any kind of back-up. In much the same way as the plain old regular
sun is essential to life – and if it ever went anywhere, we’d be in serious trouble
– we’d now be wholly dependent on the great “sphere in the sky”. For as long as it runs smoothly, though, a
Dyson Sphere would trigger other shake-ups for our planet. Energy costs would drop significantly, or
else disappear entirely, as we’d have far more power than we’d know what to do with. Meanwhile, though there’d be thousands of
job losses in the traditional energy sector, we’d see the rise and recruitment of millions
of in-demand solar technicians and engineers – most of which would also need to be trained
as long-haul astronauts! Lots of health problems related to air pollution
would disappear, saving billions in health costs every year… although doctors, nurses and surgeons would
likely face all new challenges in the age of the Dyson Sphere. The sun itself would obviously look different
in the sky, too, and we’d probably be able to look straight into it without risking our
eyesight. Rather than the glowing orb it is now, we’d
see the brightness filtered through the Dyson Sphere’s screens, beelining for Earth. And, with so much energy headed our way, perhaps
we’d even be able to create far-reaching “light spots” during night time hours. Although periods of genuine darkness would
still of course be key – with or without a Dyson Sphere, we’d still need to sleep! There have been other proposed alternatives
on the Sphere, including a “Dyson Swarm” made up of multiple, massive mirrors positioned
around the sun to redirect as much sunlight as possible to Earth (as well as to various
Earth bases). But the Dyson Sphere remains the crème de
la crème when it comes to harnessing the total energy of the sun. A super-structure to signal that humanity
had mastered its own star system, it’d grant us complete control over how, when and why
Earth uses power; it would have the potential to rewind global warming and put a stopper
in climate change; and it’d significantly alter even the sky above us. And that’s what would happen if we fitted
the sun with a Dyson Sphere. What do you think? Is there anything we missed? Let us know in the comments, check out these
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