So my brother recently received a job working for ring power systems. Good for him, he can do manual labor a make a name for himself. He’s always been the runt of the litter, but there was a curious discussion we had in regards to his employment. I said “So you do construction? Do you do superstructure construction?” He replied, “No, we just do regular construction, but mostly we sell or rent the materials for construction.”
What a fool, I was hinting at the fact that ring power sounds like ringworlds, the famous superstructure from the book, Ringworld. The idea is that there is this giant world that orbits a planet, and the world is a ring. It is one of the most brilliant pieces of literature, and so I figured I’d tackle a few of my favorite superstructures.
Dyson Shell – Easily the coolest conceptual superstructure. This is a mechanical shell or shell theorem that would be built around a star to harvest the maximum amount of energy plausible. While it does come up in star trek, my favorite examples are what it does to the psyches of the people in Warhammer 40,000.
Topopolis – The to propolis is a centrifuge that creates artificial gravity. These large superstructures would extend for hundreds of millions of miles and be only a couple hundred million miles wide. This would be very similar to the types of interdimensional gates that Thor uses in most of his movies, most notably Thor 2: The Dark World. Heimdall opened the Bifrost, and it appeared very colorful and very similar to the type of galactic structure that would be present.
The Shkadov thruster – A Stellar Engine that is designed to take the majority of light produced by the sun and redirect that energy to propel the sun in a different direction. The initial concept uses several Dyson rings to be able to redirect the energy efficiently. While I’m not as fond of Dyson rings as I am Dyson shells, or Dyson spheres (see above) I do believe that this would be the best example of how to maintain our space system efficiently and to help propel us to a Tier 1 civilization.
The Space elevator – Otherwise known as, the inevitable downfall of humanity. The Space Elevator might be the greatest accomplishment that mankind can accomplish within the next thousand years. The concept is that tether a massive structure to the center of the ocean and shooting it beyond our gravitational pull to a counterweight, so as to not disrupt our field, would allow us to ferry people back and forth in an effective manner. This plan is great on paper because we will be able to send people to and from space with ease, it would decimate our fuel usage for escape velocity. However, if we make one mistake, we’re done. Too much weight on the counterweight will mean that we are flung away from our sun and into the cold death. Or toward the sun and we will incinerate. The concept is a worthwhile investment, but the risk is impossibly high because to increase our efficiency we would have to risk everything. While the reward is great, there is no reset button.