How much Power is Too much?

Let’s have a change of pace after my Christmas ramblings. I don’t believe politics is very theoretical. Anyway, this is another one of those introductory articles. This time, about technology. As you can imagine, this is going to be very advanced technology, but don’t expect anything that might be plausible in the next decade. I want to go beyond. Way beyond.

To kick us off, I’m going to start with the Dyson Sphere. No, it’s not some futuristic vacuum cleaner. It’s quiet a lot bigger than that, in fact. Dyson spheres are structures that encase suns to harvest their energy. All of it. Some might call it a glorified solar panel, but that doesn’t do it justice.

It’s fair to say that this megastructure would generate a lot of power. It would also take a lot of power to build one. From our (reasonably small) sun, we could build a sphere that hypothetically produces nearly 500 septillion watts a second. That’s a 5 followed by 26 zeros, or about one trillion times the current energy consumption of earth. That’s a lot of power. So much so that at our current usage, one second of use from a Dyson Sphere could power the earth for the next 31,000 years.

It is an understatement to say that if we could build anything close to this it would revolutionise just about every aspect of science, industry and life in general. But I guess it remains to be seen if humans will even live long enough to see rise to anything resembling one of these things. Oh well.

Of course, these structures only exist in the fantasied places that need them, like Start Trek, but one can’t help but wonder what insane devices would require so much energy. Well, I think that’s an article for another day.

Until next time, this is Theo signing off…

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