Solar power that's truly out of this world

Scientists think they may find alien life near giant solar power plants in space

03 Dec 2012, 00:05

Here's some great news for anyone who thought the search for alien life ended when Michael Gove stepped into public life.

Yes, it seems extra terrestrial seekers all over the world are still beavering away. The Tank envisioned a team of beardy weirdos crammed into a bamboo hut in Hawaii sporting shirts so loud their co-workers need ear defenders – but sadly it seems most of the research is being done in California, Harvard and Pennsylvania.

But rather than abandon the search after finding the square-root of diddly-squat in more than 50 years of searching (so they say – Conspiracies Ed.), scientists have simply changed tack.

Now The Atlantic reports a team of Penn State researchers plan to spend the next two years scanning the heavens for enormous alien solar power stations known as Dyson spheres.

You see, in 1960 genius physicist Freeman Dyson predicted all civilisations would eventually run out of energy (assuming they were still going) and there was pretty much only one way to leap over this evolutionary hurdle: build a massive shell or ring of solar panels surrounding their home star and capturing its energy output.

So the theory goes that if you want to find alien civilisations, you should be looking for these rings, shells or swarms of solar panels. And to think energy minister John Hayes thinks a couple of wind turbines represent a blot on the landscape.

To the Tank's mind, the concept leaves the UK's target of building 22GW of solar capacity as a clear sign that we're not living in an advanced civilisation, but also, rather more reassuringly, that the government clearly isn't being ruled by a race of flying alien lizards as has been claimed in some quarters. Huzzahs all round.

  
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