Building a Dyson sphere using ChatGPT

by Ashutosh Jogalekar

Artist’s rendering of a Dyson sphere (Image credit)

In 1960, physicist Freeman Dyson published a paper in the journal Science describing how a technologically advanced civilization would make its presence known. Dyson’s assumption was that whether an advanced civilization signals its intelligence or hides it from us, it would not be able to hide the one thing that’s essential for any civilization to grow – energy. Advanced civilizations would likely try to capture all the energy of their star to grow.

For doing this, borrowing an idea from Olaf Stapledon, Dyson imagined the civilization taking apart a number of the planets and other material in their solar system to build a shell of material that would fully enclose their planet, thus capturing far more of the heat than what they could otherwise. This energy-capturing sphere would radiate its enormous waste heat out in the infrared spectrum. So one way to find out alien civilizations would be to look for signatures of this infrared radiation in space. Since then these giant spheres – later sometimes imagined as distributed panels rather than single continuous shells – that can be constructed by advanced civilizations to capture their star’s energy have become known as Dyson spheres. They have been featured in science fiction books and TV shows including Star Trek.

I asked AI engine chatGPT to build me a hypothetical 2 meter thick Dyson sphere at a distance of 2 AU (~300 million kilometers). I wanted to see how efficiently chatGPT harnesses information from the internet to give me specifics and how well its large language model (LLM) of computation understood what I was saying. Read more »