I personally think there is a less alien explanation, but there is a report making the rounds today that scientists have detected a star, KIC 8462852, that experiences very unusual and erratic dips in brightness. The brightness change is around 22%, which is far more than typically observed from planetary transits, which is more like 1%, and are generally more consistent.
While there are probably a number of more rational explanations, astronomer Jason Wright, who specializes in signs of advanced civilizations, put forth the ideal that massive solar panels arranged in orbit, could be an explanation, although even he says we should “approach it skeptically.”
A Dyson Sphere, popularized and named after mathematician and theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson, is one of a number of theoretical megastructures in which a partial or complete shell is constructed around a star, allowing for near-complete use of the energy output of the star.
Another similar structure, the Ringworld as conceived by science fiction author Larry Niven, is a ring structure around a star where the inner surface would have millions of times the area of Earth as livable space. But in order to provide something approximating a day/night cycle on such a structure, a second, inner structure exists – the “shadow squares”, enormous panels in orbit that block the sunlight from the star from a section of the Ringworld.
Sound familiar? Perhaps we should be searching for Protectors or Puppeteers in the area…
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) today announced that the 2015 recipient of the 31st Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is none other than one of our favorite authors, Larry Niven!
The multiple Hugo and Nebula winning author is best known for his Ringworld novels that helped define the megastructure genre, but he was also a prolific writer of short stories set within multiple universes, and teamed up well with other authors, notably Jerry Pournelle, with whom he shared several Hugo and Nebula nominated novels.
SFWA President Steven Gould said, “One of the great honors of being SFWA president is the announcing the latest Grandmaster recipient. One of the drawbacks is only getting to name one at a time when we have several worthy candidates. I take great pleasure in naming Larry Niven as this year’s Damon Knight Memorial Grandmaster. As Lev Grossman said in Time Magazine about Niven’s work, “It’s a bravura demonstration of technology and psychology both playing off and feeding back into each other. This feedback loop — so fundamental to great science fiction’s power — is at the heart of Niven’s work: we create tools, and our tools shape the world, but they also shape us, in unintended and unexpected ways.”
“I’ve always wanted one of these. It does definitely mean I’ve gotten old,” said Niven. “I’ve been publishing fiction for more than fifty years now. I’m convinced I picked the right career.”
Niven joins 30 other Grand Masters, with names as prestigious as Bradbury, Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov and more.
Could we yet see an adaptation of Ringworld, SF writer Larry Niven’s most well known novel? It appears so – according to EW, Michael Perry (The River, Paranormal Activity 2) is adapting it for a mini-series, and Syfy just confirmed it at the up-fronts taking place right now in New York City. Ringworld follows some explorers from several races who investigate – and crash land on – a gigantic artificial structure orbiting a star that has the surface area of millions of Earths.
In addition, EW says another classic novel, Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End is also looking at a mini-series adaptation executive produced by Michael DeLuca (The Social Network), and is about a peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war and turns the planet into a near-utopia. However, I have not seen a confirmation on this yet. [Update: This was confirmed in a press release]