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Dyson Shells: A Retrospective


Robert Bradbury




More than 40 years have passed since Freeman Dyson suggested that advanced technological civilizations are likely to dismantle planets in their solar systems to harvest all of the energy their stars wastefully radiate into space.  Clearly this was an idea that was ahead of its time.  Since that time, dozens of SETI searches have been conducted and almost all of them have focused their attention on stars which by definition cannot be the advanced civilizations that Dyson envisioned.  I will review the data that created the confusion between Dyson spheres and Dyson shells.  The sources that disprove Dyson spheres while still allowing Dyson shells will be discussed.  The use of outmoded ideas that have biased the few searches for Dyson Shells that have occurred will be pointed out.  An update of the concept of Dyson shells to include our current knowledge of biotechnology, nanotechnology and computer science will be explored.  Finally, an approach to setting limits on the abundance of Dyson shells in our galaxy using existing optical astronomical data and future optical satellites will be proposed.



Dyson spheres, Dyson shells, evolution, megascale engineering, optical SETI, nanotechnology, technological civilizations.


  • The poster (author Web site)




Author Biography

Robert Bradbury is has educations in applied mathematics from Harvard University and microbiology from the University of Washington.  Much of his professional career has been spent doing software development for companies in such industries as finance, publishing, structured design, real time systems, and database management.  During the mid-1980's he was the UNIX Product Development Manager for Oracle Corporation and played key roles in the Oracle's success in both the UNIX and IBM markets.  He founded Aeiveos Corporation in 1992 to promote research related to resolving the relative importance of  the various theories of aging.  A significant result of this was the development of one of the first and largest internet sites organizing research on aging (www.aeiveos.com).  From 1996 thru 1997 he was the President of Aeiveos Sciences Group.  During that period it was the 2nd largest company, after Geron, conducting research into the molecular biology of aging.  For the last two years he has focused his attention on the problems of the real limits to personal longevity and intelligence, what processes govern the long term evolution of technological civilizations and currently unresolved problems in Astronomy, such as the nature of the missing mass and dark matter in the Universe.  He has a moderately deep comprehension of a relatively unique information set that includes Computer Science, Molecular Biology and Nanotechnology.

He is a member of the AAAS, IEEE and SPIE.  He is on the board of directors of the American Aging Association and the Extropy Institute and is a Senior Associate of both the Foresight Institute and the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing.  He also serves as a scientific advisor for the LifeEx Technologies, a recently formed partnership investing venture capital in corporate startups developing interventions in aging.


Author Affiliation

Aeiveos Corporation
PO Box 31877 Seattle,
WA 98103
Tel: (206) 782-9474
Email: bradbury@aeiveos.com


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