Global Engineering

Theoretical Megastructures We Might Build One Day

For as long as there’s been science fiction, there have been countless ideas of the kinds of technology that humans could create one day, often ending up with the creation of incredible structures known as megastructures.

These are massive technological marvels that would signal our transition from one type of civilization to another, usually one that’s able to travel across space and hardness the incredible power of the sun.

1. Stanford Torus

The idea behind the Stanford Torus is to create ring-like habitats that are able to sustain human life. First proposed in 1975 during a program on engineering systems, the concept revolves around a fully enclosed system that’s capable of not just providing oxygen, but also constant gravity with the power of rotation.

The rings would be powered through energy harvested via the sun, but a series of mirrors would mean that everyone living on the Torus would receive the same amount of sunlight every day as would be found on earth.

2. Space Elevator

This is an idea that we’re getting closer and closer to achieving, and it might revolutionize how we’re able to enter the earth’s lower orbit. It’s also one of the oldest ideas in modern science fiction, dating back to as far as 1985.

It’s popularity lies in its ease of construction, being much easier to build than most of the other megastructures on this list. It would entail creating an elevator through the layers of the atmosphere and into space, and while it might be too dangerous for humans to use – at least at first – it would be the ultimate way for space organisations to send up supplies without needing to burn through thousands of tons of fuel, although it would require winning big with political betting in Australia in order to afford the cost to build one.

3. Ring Worlds

Similar in many ways to the Stanford Torus, a ring world is much, much larger, can house billions of inhabitants, and is fully independent of any nearby planets. It would be significantly larger than even the earth, and would be built around a central star, which would be its main source of power, although this might be a synthetic star that’s many times smaller than the sun.

At the moment, a ring world would only be found in video games or science fiction models, but if the human race is to ever leave its planet and start to colonise the stars, ring worlds would become an eventuality.

4. Dyson Sphere

Perhaps the most famous of all the megastructures in science fiction, the Dyson Sphere represents a civilisation that has truly reached the pinnacle of technology. A Dyson Sphere First suggested by Freeman Dyson in 1960, it’s become a staple of science fiction, and depicts an unimaginably massive sphere that’s able to completely surround a full star, allowing the civilization to harness that star’s full energy.

While the human race is probably at least a thousand years away from building one, it’s believed by many engineers that we are capable of developing the technology one day.