Re: Dyson shell redux

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Fri Mar 16 2001 - 14:03:31 MST

On Fri, 16 Mar 2001, Doug Jones wrote:

> Dyson originally proposed myriads of free flying objects, not a single
> monolithic shell, so you've reinvented the sphere ;)

Actually, Dyson's letter to Science was rather poorly written (IMO)
because he leaves enough open for interpretation that it could be and
was misinterpreted before the ink was even dry. Science News Letters
called it a "hollow ball" within a couple of weeks and several letters
to Science objected to that architecture. Dyson qualified in his
response that he had intended orbiting satellites. The Russians
probably didn't read this because they later produced several papers
showing a ball was impossible for different reasons but that satellites
would work fine. This later showed up in discussions comparing
Tsiolkovsky's "Etherial Cities" with Dyson shells.

I asked Dyson if he thought he had indirectly gotten the idea from
Tsiolkovsky, but he said that Shklovsky gave him his first copy
of Tsiolkovsky's writings in the early '60s after he had written
the Dyson shell paper.

> Dyson sphere swarm elements would use a descendant of that program. See
> also Keith Henson's classic 1989 post on megascale engineering,
> including how to change the color of an M-dwarf star while concentrating
> its output into its ecliptic plane-

Ooooh, now this is useful! I wasn't aware of this. Thanks heaps Doug!

The link that I provided in one of my previous notes on the Dyson
Shell Retrospective that I did for the OSETI III conference goes
through all of the stuff I mention above in laborious detail so
its now part of the public record.


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