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Astronomers Search for Dyson Spheres of Alien Civilizations

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | about 2 years ago

Space 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Ross Anderson writes that Freeman Dyson predicted in 1960 that every civilization in the Universe eventually runs out of energy on its home planet, a major hurdle in a civilization's evolution, and that all those who leap over it do so in precisely the same way: they build a massive collector of starlight, a shell of solar panels to surround their home star. Last month astronomers began a two-year search for Dyson Spheres, a search that will span the Milky Way, along with millions of other galaxies funded by a sizable grant from the Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds research on the "big questions" that face humanity, questions relating to "human purpose and ultimate reality." Compared with SETI, a search for Dyson Spheres assumes that the larger the civilization, the more energy it uses and the more heat it reradiates so if Dyson Spheres exist, they promise to give off a very particular kind of heat signature, a signature that we should be able to see through our infrared telescopes. "A Dyson Sphere would appear very bright in the mid-infrared," says project leader Jason Wright. "Just like your body, which is invisible in the dark, but shines brightly in mid-infrared goggles." A civilization that built a Dyson Sphere would have to go to great lengths to avoid detection by building massive radiators that give off heat so cool that it would be undetectable, a solution that would involve building a sphere that was a hundred times larger than necessary. "If a civilization wants to hide, it's certainly possible to hide," says Wright, "but it requires massive amounts of deliberate engineering across an entire civilization.""

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