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A Brief Primer on What It Would Take to Build a Dyson Sphere

The prospect of building a Dyson Sphere—a giant, ball of solar panels that surrounds the entire sun and sucks up all of its energy—has been an obsession of science fiction writers and real-life science fans ever since Freeman Dyson popularized it back in 1960. Obviously it's not feasible now, but would it be feasible ever?

We've covered the basics before, but PBS's Space Time just dropped a fantastic and in-depth video that covers the broad strokes nicely. In short, making a literal, solid shell around the sun is pretty much out of the question. We don't have the engineering capabilities or the materials, and can't even really fathom having them. But to accomplish the same basic concept, you could blow up Mercury and build autonomous bots to use its corpse to build a massive swarm of one-kilometer mirrors that orbit the sun in hundreds of criss-cross patterns.

The speculation only gets crazier from there, including using the energy from the aforementioned "Dyson Swarm" to create some black hole's out around Jupiter and harvest their energy by feeding them whatever matter we don't particularly need.

All of this is centuries off in the future, if it ever happens at all, but you can spot the very beginnings of it in the world today: the self-navigating vehicles, robots brains that can learn, the nascent asteroid mining industry.

Hurry up guys, I wanna see.

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