London Futurists

Where are all the Dyson spheres? with Paul Sutter

February 21, 2024 London Futurists Season 1 Episode 73
London Futurists
Where are all the Dyson spheres? with Paul Sutter
Show Notes

In this episode, we look further into the future than usual. We explore what humanity might get up to in a thousand years or more: surrounding whole stars with energy harvesting panels, sending easily detectable messages across space which will last until the stars die out.

Our guide to these fascinating thought experiments in Paul M. Sutter, a NASA advisor and theoretical cosmologist at the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at Stony Brook University in New York and a visiting professor at Barnard College, Columbia University, also in New York. He is an award-winning science communicator, and TV host.

The conversation reviews arguments for why intelligent life forms might want to capture more energy than strikes a single planet, as well as some practical difficulties that would complicate such a task. It also considers how we might recognise evidence of megastructures created by alien civilisations, and finishes with a wider exploration about the role of science and science communication in human society.

Selected follow-ups:
Paul M. Sutter - website
"Would building a Dyson sphere be worth it? We ran the numbers" - Ars Technica
Forthcoming book - Rescuing Science: Restoring Trust in an Age of Doubt
"The Kardashev scale: Classifying alien civilizations" -
"Modified Newtonian dynamics" as a possible alternative to the theory of dark matter
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory - 1999 book by Brian Greene
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark - 1995 book by Carl Sagan

Music: Spike Protein, by Koi Discovery, available under CC0 1.0 Public Domain Declaration