The Stapledon-Dyson Artificial Globe

Olaf Stapledon


Freeman Dyson

Disturbing the Universe





In Disturbing the Universe (1979), Freeman Dyson credits Olaf Stapledon's 1937 Star Maker with the idea that is now called the Dyson Sphere. According to Wikipedia, Dr. Dyson wished the concept had not been named after him.

OK, let's call it a "Stadyshell", which can be an abbreviation for "STApledon DYson shell", or a "STAtite DYnamic" shell. Stapledon gets more letters, though is metabolically static, while Dyson gets two letters befitting his modesty and his metabolically dynamic status. This site describes a dynamic statite shell, light pressure balancing gravity, with a tiny amount of dynamic control keeping it stable. Not much control is needed; at 50 AU (7.46e12 m), the Sun's gravitational force is 2.4 μm/s2 (1.327e20/7.46e122 m/s2^) , and a 0.1% control error over one minute is a displacement error of 4 μm.

The relevant passages scanned from Starmaker (Dover, implying public domain, no copyright notice, correct me if I am wrong):

Chapter IX, The Community of Worlds, Section 4, Triumph In a Subgalaxy Paragraph 5:


Chapter X, A Vision of the Galaxy, 3rd to last paragraph:


The highlighted excerpt is quoted on page 211 of the first hardback edition of Disturbing the Universe.

Many are inspired by Star Maker. I found it almost unreadable. It is quite imaginative and daring, and with more forbearance I could translate the 1937 ideas into modern form - "telepathy" to "brain interface", for example. So, I will do my best to credit Stapledon for his imagination, and Dr. Dyson for his rigor, but will read science and imagine/design technology instead.

StapledonDyson (last edited 2015-10-23 04:55:26 by KeithLofstrom)