There are three thoughts that cross people’s minds when they’re laying around the house:
What would it be like to live outside our solar system?
What could we even do out in space?
Will this chicken noodle soup help me deal with this cold?
According to the CDC, there are “millions of cases of the common cold” each year and adults have between 2-3 colds per year. https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
Everybody knows the best treatment for the common cold is chicken noodle soup. But many people believe that our future and the solution to all our problems are in space. I am here to prove that to be the case.
Chickens, herbs, wheat, and vegetables all have two things in common. 1. They are delicious and 2. You need a lot of space to produce them. Over population is a legitimate concern, and I have heard people suggesting that we will run out of space to grow enough food to be able to sustain larger populations. Well, that might be a problem if we stay here, but not if we decide to to find more space in, well, space.
As Douglas Adams put it, “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
So why not take advantage of that?
Lets start small. We’ll begin with terminating Mars. Now given our current technology, it would take close to 100,000 years to make Mars an Earth-like planet. I’m not patient so lets say we already did it. to save you from over exposure to math and numbers, Mars has just over 1/4 the surface area of Earth. No problem, keep the vast majority of humanity back on earth and dedicate mars to agriculture and produce production.
Having an entire planet dedicated to food production is… overkill given our current population. At least, that’s what my friends keep telling me. But they’re wrong. They underestimate my love for chicken noodle soup.
So, lets go bigger.
Lets make a Dyson sphere. A swarm of habitats in orbit around the sun providing a surface area of, well, the numbers are too big to compare to earth so lets just say: a lot. This will probably take 10-100 times longer than terraforming Mars, but, like last time, lets say we had already done it. We’re getting closer to our ideal goal but that’s just not enough chicken noodle soup. Besides, building a Dyson sphere, making ourselves a Kardeshev 1 civilization, that’s for chumps. We need to go bigger. Also, I forgot to build that Dyson sphere around a different star so now Earth has begun turning into an ice planet and everybody is getting colds on a scale never before deemed possible.
Ah yes. We’re finally here. A giga-structure so large, so mind-bogglingly massive that we might just sate that craving for that sweet, delicious, warm chicky noodle soup. From the tormented mind of a British author, Paul Birch, we get to the biggest and baddest of all, the Birch Planet. This impossibly huge shell will be built around the super-massive black hole in the center of the Milkyway galaxy. The size of this structure is so large that its diameter would be similar to that of Saturn’s orbit. The surface area would be 1.5 trillion times that of Earth’s. Even though Earth is now a solid sphere of ice, this bad mamma-jamma would be able to provide more than enough soup for myself, and the rest of humanity.
So, what’s my point? Why bother writing about these massive structures with a comedic edge? To that I say; why do you day dream? This is just a fun thought experiment. Hopeful, whimsical, and mathematical ideas to toy around with in ones free time. Sure, it’s ridiculous. Who on earth would dare try to tame a horse and ride it, or make an internal combustion engine to outrun that horse, or even try to make a magical flying machine? Who in their right mind would go from making cars, to rockets, to brain implants and have the end goal to live on another planet (Elon Musk)? These things are bold, ambitious, often ridiculed, and have made Humanity better for accomplishing it.
You might start to day dream about such grandiose ideas, but what if one person saw this and dedicated their life to trying to accomplish one of these impossible tasks? I say it was worth it.
Also, I’m kind of sick of chicken noodle soup now. Next time I’ll talk about making a machine that has 2 goals, self replication, and making tamales, and how it will end with the entire observable universe becoming one solid mass of tamales. How wonderful.
For those who want to learn more about these wild subjects, I recommend looking for Isaac Arthur on YouTube. He’ll show you the math behind these concepts.