Why is 'blue-sky' thinking so tough?
Reading the comments on a video discussing (and, admittedly, debunking) the practicality of humankind crafting a Dyson swarm, using Mercury as a matériel source – it's an experience.
This is an absurdly visionary project; perhaps not vastly beyond our current capabilities, but certainly an idea that demands huge investments of time and materials, and a few technological breakthroughs. It is a wild, speculative, creative, and hopeful option that might solve a future problem; a person considering it or talking about it might expect the same style of thoughts and comments. Hopeful. Wild. Creative.
Sadly, every time I see Just Folks discussing a blue-sky idea like this, comments tend to fall into one of two camps:
- "uh, maybe in a million years"
- "sure, if we invent (semi-ridiculous ultra-technology) first"
Boiled down to their respective essences:
- "we'll never get there"
- "we're not even capable of doing the things we'd need to begin"
How incredibly defeatist! There's very little wonder, almost no imagination in those reactions; they are responses more appropriate to confrontation than presentation.
Friends, respectfully: Thinking about proposals that stretch the limits of credibility should be fun. Every Dyson swarm, terraforming project, nanobot, simulated reality, teleporter, or first contact situation is an invitation to flex your creative muscle. These ideas almost beg us to solve them, even if those solutions are half-formed roadmaps with their own as-yet-unsolved issues.
These visionary concepts aren't demands; they're offerings.
In that spirit, here's my first-reaction proposal to create the Dyson swarm outlined in the aforementioned video:
Oh, you wanna turn Mercury's iron core to hematite reflectors? Well, let's focus on self-replicating atmospheric collection/separation/storage first; we can smush the oxygen together with the iron, use the other gases to propel and maneuver our second-gen Whatsits, and solar ablation could probably take care of the pesky planetary crust. 🤷
Remember: I'm a 43-year-old who dropped out of tech school and, to the best of my recollection, has not held any single job in his life for a full year. Also remember: I can't make these ideas real, and I know it.
The things I can do? I can come to new ideas with curiosity and hope. I can view things as possible, not unattainable. I can follow those possibilities, see potential hurdles, and use even my limited knowledge of the world to create my own ideas and possibilities.
In short? If someone suggests I add soy sauce to the meal I'm cooking, I can imagine a path to the Asian market 15 minutes away instead of protesting that I can't magically flit to China and back.