Monday, April 07, 2008

Just one reason Centauri Dreams deserves to be bookmarked:

Dyson Spheres: Hoping to Be Surprised

In trying to understand hypothetical alien cultures, we're assuming we can extrapolate forward from our own technology to what we would do if we had the necessary tools. Thus Dyson's sphere, maybe 150 million kilometers in radius, a meters-thick shell rotating around its star. We can see this as a desirable outcome, so we assume aliens would as well. But would they? Perhaps a Type II society would have made breakthroughs in energy management that would render a Dyson sphere a historical curiosity, like some early 19th Century idea of a flying machine powered by flapping wings and a steam engine.

No, I can't imagine what those breakthroughs would be, but then, that's the point. How accurate can we be about predicting what science will find down the road?


Anonymous said...

"Well, sure, the Frinkiac-7 looks impressive, don't touch it, but I predict that within 100 years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive
that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them."

-Professor John Frink

W.M. Bear said...

And then there is the admittedly highly unlikely but still finite possibility that We Are the First. Someone had/has to have been/be and this circumstance would seem/have seemed to them just as highly unlikely as it does to us. The universe may just be taking its sweet time to grow intelligence (or what passes for it, certain policians excepted).