m. c. de marco: To invent new life and new civilizations...

BDO of the Day: Double Dyson

Today’s Big Dumb Object (BDO) is a double Dyson, a pair of nested Dyson spheres intended to solve the gravitational issues of a single Dyson sphere by creating a volume of atmosphere under microgravity between the two spheres. The inner shell would be transparent to the inner sunlight. In his classic megastructures essay, Larry Niven credits Dan Alderson (of disk fame) with the idea.

Living in a double Dyson would be like living in Virga, but without the pesky microsuns, complicated currents, or ice issues. Also, it would have orders of magnitude more space: inside a double Dyson you could pack about 5 billion Virgas into a layer one Virga deep.

Not much has been done with Alderson’s spheres in fiction or non-fiction, because it’s even harder to make two Dyson shells than one, one was already impossible by any known science, now one needs to be transparent to boot, and there’s still no gravity to speak of in there. So there is no standard depth to the living space enclosed between the shells. The actual living (floating) space of a double Dyson one AU in outer diameter and one Virga deep (5,000 miles) would be about half a sextillion cubic miles. At a more generous million miles deep, the volume would be a hundred sextillion cubic miles.

Roomy, if you enjoy floating around like that.