© 2007 All Rights Reserved. Do not distribute or repurpose this work without written permission from the copyright holder(s).
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Humanity’s home is far from factory-fresh these days. Frankly, the Earth has received its share of scratches and dents, including large asteroid impacts, megavolcanoes, earthquakes, ice ages, and heat waves. It’s to be expected. There are over four billion years on the clock, after all.
Though it has long been clear that Earth 1.0 is in need of an upgrade, it was not until a few years ago that someone began to take the notion seriously. In 2004, at a respected international design exhibition called the Venice Architecture Biennale, a young artist and architect named Christian Waldvogel displayed his plans for total global annihilation and the creation of Earth 2.0.
According to Waldvogel, a brave new world could be built from the remains of our current one. The circumference of this construction— dubbed Globus Cassus, or ‘hollow sphere’ in Latin— would be comparable to the giant planet Saturn. During the multi-million year assembly period, massive hoses would worm deep into the Earth’s fiery bowels and suck liquid metal and magma into orbit through four space elevators sited at equal distances around the equator. This material would be squirted out and transformed into a lattice framework to support the rest of the edifice. As the Earth gradually shrivels and shrinks under this onslaught, its gravity would weaken. Over generations, the skies would darken with the relentless encroachment of the enormous structure above.
Of course it would be easy to dismiss the idea as ridiculous fantasy, one belonging only on the pages of the very pulpiest science fiction. Yet the Globus Cassus concept is outlined in all seriousness, with the same level of detail as befits any other entry in an eminent international architectural exposition. While there is much that is quibble-worthy about the plan— both in engineering terms and in its underlying rationale— Waldvogel makes a good case for the idea as an intellectual and philosophical exercise. He presents his scheme as both an architectural design, and as a thought experiment that could turn the way we think about our current planet— and human society— inside out.
Waldwogel’s suggestion involves the redistribution of the Earth’s material from its present clumpy solid-ball form to that of a 150 km (93 mi) thick hollow shell– one with a diameter of 85,000 km (52,817 mi), around seven times that of our current planet. People, plants and animals would live on the inside surface, with rotation of the giant habitat providing a centrifugal gravity-effect to hold everything in place. The habitable surface area would be approximately ten times that of the Earth’s. The geometrical construction would take the form of a rounded twenty-faced icosahedron, with air, sea and lands of plenty located on the equatorial regions, and continent-scale silica glass windows allowing sunlight into the interior.
The design appears commendably thorough. Dimensions are calculated carefully with an architect’s attention to detail. The symmetrical construction processes, materials used, and function of the space elevator ‘scaffolding’ are described exhaustively. Even the issue of temporary accommodation for the future occupants is addressed: it’s proposed that while construction takes place, humans, plants and animals wait patiently— through countless successive generations— in holding areas or archival nodes in the space elevators. Nor is the provision of basic amenities like air and water overlooked. When the excavated Earth shrivels to a size where gravity can no longer retain its atmosphere and hydrosphere, the envisaged migration of gas and liquid onto the equatorial regions of the newly-built structure is described poetically as the “Great Rains”. Waldvogel uses detailed computer graphics to illustrate his ideas, and has even published a glossy coffee-table book with colourful pictures depicting the construction of his idealized new world, and the irreversible destruction of our current one.
Yet curiously there are numerous objections to the concept. Perhaps the most fundamental relates to the construction material. Our current understanding of physics dictates that no molecular bonds in any conceivable material could ever be sufficiently strong to hold the structure together: certainly Waldvogel’s proposed ferrous-nickel framework would be hopelessly inadequate. Globus Cassus would simply come apart from the internal stresses of its rotation and tidal forces from the Moon and the Sun. Carbon nanotubes form one of the strongest currently-known molecular structures, and are frequently proposed as a construction material for futuristic engineering projects— but even their great tensile strength would be insufficient to keep the hollow habitat in one piece.
Then there’s the problem of the prolonged construction time, and a related objection to one of the principal stated reasons for the project: the provision of extra living space for the ever-growing human population. The proposed temporary accommodation in the ‘archival nodes’ provides insufficient gravity at geostationary altitudes for long-term human occupancy. Yet if humans can be made to live in the nodes long-term, why the need for Globus Cassus in the first place? In fact there are numerous alternative proposals for large-scale habitats which could be built more easily: hollowed-out asteroids, giant rotating space stations such as the proposed Stanford torus or Bernal sphere, or even the terraforming of planets such as Mars or Venus.
Waldvogel is far from the first to propose the construction of giant hollow worlds in space. Visionary physicist Freeman Dyson gave his name to the concept of a ‘Dyson Sphere’– a colossal structure totally enclosing a star, capable of capturing all its energy for use by a power-hungry civilization. The dimensions of such a structure would be vastly greater than that of Globus Cassus, and rotating versions would have the same ‘artificial gravity’ acting on the equatorial regions of the inner surface, providing mind-bogglingly huge tracts of habitable land. Of course many of the same objections to Globus Cassus apply to the Dyson Sphere, and the time, energy, and technological difficulties would be correspondingly magnified. Dyson never seriously proposed one of his enormous namesake spheres for our own solar system, but he did see the idea as being theoretically feasible– suggesting a possible way to detect mega-engineering civilizations elsewhere in the galaxy. The ‘energy exhaust’ from such a construction would be predominantly in the longer wavelengths of infrared, and this tell-tale electromagnetic signature could be detected from Earth. Although a few SETI searches have been carried out with this in mind, no such signature has yet been detected.
Practical objections aside, there are more basic questions to ask of Waldvogel, Dyson, and other would-be mega-engineers. Precisely why a terrestrial or extraterrestrial civilization would want to build such structures may be beyond the grasp of our puny 21st century minds, but it’s hard to accept Waldvogel’s ‘extra living space’ justification. Apart from the aforementioned easier expansion options, it’s not explained why our near-omnipotent descendants– capable of transmogrifying simple Earth rock into impossibly strong wonder-material and fashioning it into an outlandish, outsized, inside-out living space over the course of millions of years– would still not have mastered basic birth control.
Maybe advanced civilizations would build these structures simply to test their technological prowess, or to provide enclosed habitable areas within which they can observe the evolution of life and intelligence on a far grander scale than that which mere lumps of rock can provide.
Perhaps aware of these unanswered questions, Waldvogel provides an intriguing alternative rationale for his hollow global proposal. He asks us to view the Globus Cassus concept as more than just a simple mega-architectural exercise, and suggests that much of its importance lies in its underlying philosophical foundations. With a scheme that explicitly requires the complete destruction of Earth and its rebuilding inside-out, it follows that human society might also end up with a radical re-design. The precise nature of the proposed ‘Cassian’ society is left vague and open to discussion, but it’s suggested that its values would in some way reflect the shape of the New World. Looking upward, the vision-enhanced citizens of the Globus Cassus would see, instead of blue sky, their neighbours eighty-five thousand kilometres away on the opposite side of the sphere looking back down on them. Waldwogel’s hope is that such a situation might change their perspective: with people forced to face each other in this way, maybe they would be, well, nicer. In such a large, well-resourced environment, more open social structures might have the freedom to evolve compared to the rigid hierarchies of the tired old rock-ball we now call home. Waldwogel’s website invites us to consider his proposal in these utopian terms, as a social and metaphorical ‘antipode’— or opposite— to our current Earth, as well as a physical one.
The idea’s resemblance to science fiction doesn’t deprive it of philosophical value. At a time when we are increasingly encouraged to see the Earth as something threatened, fragile and in need of ‘saving’, it’s intriguing to contemplate its complete destruction in a positive light. Perhaps in the future, crowds of conservation-minded conservatives will protest on the streets, waving placards reading “Stop Global Hollowing NOW!” and “Halt Earth Change.” As the ground starts to thrum and quiver with the work of fearsome engines, it’s easy to imagine idealistic social reformers cackling manically at their command consoles in the space elevators towering overhead, as they celebrate the dawn of Earth’s final metamorphosis.
© 2007 All Rights Reserved. Do not distribute or repurpose this work without written permission from the copyright holder(s).
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I’ve been on engineering projects of a much less grand scale. I don’t know if I would want to be on a ‘planet’ that is designed and built by humans. What is the equivalent of the ‘Blue Screen Of Death’ for a planet?
DI by the way. Thanks Matt.
Second! Congratulations, jeickhoff! And welcome!
This idea is so bizarre as to be wonderful. And as an intellectual exercise, it’s incredibly fascinating.
DI, but the idea is toooooo far fetched.
Going to the moon was far-fetched once. Not that I’m saying this could happen, but it’s a fascinating idea – but how would our society change if, when we looked up, we saw not the stars, but the other side of a sphere, with millons of other humans looking back. Would it make us more or less insular? Personally, I’d be searching for a way – any way – to escape.
DI for sure.
While blog reading this week, I came across the hollow earth theory. I know the idea has been around for many, many years and has been the subject of many sci-fi books, but what I didn’t know was that there are those who seriously believe in the hollow earth theory. I must admit that after reading several sites and blogs and listening to a number of YouTube broadcasts from the George Noory talk show, I came away less skeptical. In fact, there was talk of a scientific expedition to the North Pole to find the entrance to Inner Earth. I’d love to see a DI done on the hollow earth theory and some follow up on that expedition.
I believe that consciousness isn’t confined to human brains – it exists in supposedly insentient rock and magma, space and light. Sucking the life blood out of the earth for a silly flimsy “human habitat” is about the most heartless thing I can think of. How could we be so life denyingly selfish! Before this ever has a chance of being serious we should think about simply finding out what the earth is and why we’re really here.
THIS GUY IS A COMPLETE WACKO, AND ARROGANT BEYOND BELIEF! APPARENTLY TO HIM THE EARTH IS ALL WRONG AND HE FEELS COMPELLED TO “FIX” IT. THIS IS A CLEVER SOLUTION TO A NON-EXISTENT PROBLEM. BY THE TIME WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS, WE COULD PROBABLY TRAVEL AROUND THE MILKY WAY GALAXY WITH EASE. I THINK MY DESENDANTS WOULD RATHER LIVE ON A OONK-GLAT RANCH IN THE CANOPUS SYSTEM THAN IN THIS JOKER’S ELLIPICAL “CONDO”. GET ALONG, LITTLE OONK-GLATS!
“The idea’s resemblance to science fiction doesn’t deprive it of philosophical value”
I think that science fiction is good when it makes me think, either about something that I’ve never considered before (whether I agree with the writer’s extrapolation or not), or about something from a perspective I haven’t considered (because the science fiction distracts me from the parallels it is drawing until I stop and think about it afterwards) . That’s why I read it.
The idea that science fiction in general may deprive concepts of philosophical value except in a small number of cases seems alien to me (excuse the pun). A great example is the comment #7 from easterlingman because I had never considered that viewpoint. Whether I agree with it or not is now my own business, but at least I am being made to think.
. . . and then, countless generations later, someone comes up with the wacko idea to transform the hollow Earth into a more compact solid sphere that we would live on the OUTSIDE of . . .
Surely a civilization that is advanced enough to do this is advanced enough to terraform Mars and perhaps even other planets outside our solar system.
Wouldn’t it be easier to colonize other planets than to make a whole new one?
So after generations and generations of building this thing we get…a bit of extra living space? WOW! That sounds totally worth it!
This is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. Waldvogel is a nutjob.
1st… post here. :)
I have a hard time getting the philosophical value of an inside-out world, knowing that your neightbors are above your head won’t change alot, first who is looking at the sky? And second we are not even looking at our next-door neightbors…
Exagerating, just a bit.
And Variable Gravity – it would be greater at the equator and non-existent at the poles. Why woudn’t all of the water concentrate around the inner equator? One huge sea in a band. Travel would be interesting if you tried the polar route from one side to the other.
Damn interesting indeed, but the guy is still a complete nutjob IMO. I’m all for terraforming Mars and other planets, but trying to modify our current planet to these extremes is just asking for trouble. This is one of those ideas which definitely should NOT be allowed to be executed, no matter what ridiculous reason is given for it.
It would be easier to blast all the uncooperative, undesirable, and extraneous people out of earth orbit and then clean the place up a bit…..
The only hard part would be deciding which of us are those people.
Have a good one
Oh, I should add: Thank you for another fine thought provoking article. It would be nice to have spent the money we spent on war to find a way to stop carbon from plants and animals, dead for eons, from being re-released in to our atmosphere.
With no atmosphere to protect from meteor collisions, wouldn’t everything get sucked into outer space once the shell was breached?
This morning, one of our local radio stations had a guest interview. The issue under discussion is a local desire to develop an area which has quite a lot of previously undiscovered oil. The guest is against drilling in this area. The reason? There is a form of cactus in this area that is found nowhere else. When asked by the host of the program exactly what makes this albeit rare cactus worth saving at a time when gasoline prices are soaring, she replied that this cactus has beautiful pink flowers. The matter is in court.
Now, tell me again about restructuring the earth, please?
Those people on the other side of the world looking at you would be seven times farther from you than people on the other side of the world are now… if you took the Gravity Express.
You could make it from one pole to the other in a single jump, if you aimed correctly and carried enough food and water that you didn’t starve. The direct route between poles would have no (effective) gravity. If you were off in your aim, it would be the equivalent of skydiving from a height of about 40,000 km.
First, don’t we need the Earths mass to stay in place to allow it to continue it’s existing orbit? Doesn’t the earths mass take a decided role in dictating the distance of our orbit from the Sun?
Second, this idea, while blatantly not doable, is still a prime example of thinking outside the box. I have to believe that, if we are to survive the obsticles that are presenting themselves to society, we need that kind of thinking. Many brilliant ideas stem from ridiculous concepts.
In short, since we need this kind of thinking, should we lambast those who are brave enough to share their concepts? Or would we be wiser to give the guy a simple “adda boy!” and go about trying to make something useful from it?
Douglas Adams knew who to get rid of. I think it was in “So Long And Thanks For All The Fish” where he describes how the residents of one planet decided to get rid of the extraneous members of their society by telling them the world was about to end. All the hairdressers, accountants, direct marketers, lawyers, bureaucrats and “middlemen” were loaded into a space ship and sent to another planet whaere they were told they could set things up for the rest of the population who would catch up to them after a bit. Arthur Dent ran into them while he was running around with rabbit bones in his beard.
Eh. The Earth will kill us off before we get a chance to do something stupid like this. This whole theory just speaks to the enormous arrogance of the human race to think we can control nature and the life force of our planet. In the end, our planet will reclaim herself before humanity has a chance to wipe her out.
A Dyson sphere is not a solid object, and it certainly doesn’t produce gravity by rotation – the material strength required would be ridiculous. A Dyson sphere is envisioned as more of a solar collector that collects the entire output of the sun rather than living area. It would mostly be membrane thin it order to make it practical to make. The humans would presumably live in habitats in orbits inside the orbit of the sphere.
*turns up the heater* Oh man I’m so arrogant *turns it up more* who can stop me now… no really, its dumb to think we cant control things just because we are human. The arrogance comes when ppl asssume we all agree on certain things that are baseless and anecdotal. Just because the scale is different, it doesnt make the mechanics any different. We arent dealing with quantum physics, this is just bigger newtonian physics am I correct?
If this really wanted to be done, could we not simply build more than one, but smaller? They could revolve around each other, or be at different places in orbit around the sun. Satallite 5 anyone? I hear its quite sultry there, just dont get eaten by the jagrophess on floor 100.
However, I have a problem with my oxygen being in a bubble like this station seems to present it like. The condensed ball allows the atmosphere to condense around it, creating a sheild which is quite efficient I think. If we want more surface area to populate, why not move underground and undersea? There is also the moon that we could populate. Also what about cosmic rays? Wouldnt more surface area mean we were more succeptable to asteroids since there is no more atmosphere to burn up all the little bitty pieces flying at several thousand mph?
The upkeep alone for such a huge megastructure would become apprent real fast wouldnt it? One had essentially taken down a self repairing system to build a non-selfsufficient system that requires constant and probably expensive maintainance. Without proper sheilding, it would be a wasted endevour. No one could ever live there if the atmosphere kept leaking out the sides. This is because the distribution of mass would be so wide spread that gasses couldnt cling so densely as it does on a clump of rock.
In conclusion, volcanoes are cool! Dont take them away from me!
I can only consider his idea intellectual if, somehow, there was an alternative energy/sunlight source that was different from the ”windows” plan. If I can direct your imaginative attention to Total Recall and what happens when the ”windows” break in a man-man habitat, something like these would be a liability issue if political/religious radicals decided they wanted to make demands. My questions to Waldwogel would be,
How many people will it take to maintain this structure?
Do they need a Master’s Degree in Science or Engineering to be of any worth in Maintenance?
If scientists and other important humans are in cryo-like chambers until the station is complete, would they begin technology all over again or would there be a large storage facility where current technology is held until the final stage is complete?
Wow. DI. I’m wondering how weather would behave on this inverted Earth. Would the convection of air mass and water be affected differently than our current configuration? By having all the earth and water built on the equator and sunlight shining through huge “windows” at higher latitudes, it would be interesting to know how the Water Cycle would behave, and also the Greenhouse effect for that matter.
I think many of you were/are missing the point. Yes the writer was serious in a way to “re-create” the Earth, but I have to agree this is more of a philosophical approach to make the readers think of the problems we face now; over population, pollution, etc. I wouldn’t call it arrogance; I would call it apprehension over the future. I think the arrogance is in believing we can continue on like we are without any consequences. DI to say the least.
It would spin backward when you flushed. :)
Hey! Let’s just order one from Magrathea? I’d like a chocolate lake, a few anti gravity fun zones, a booze tree here and there and a nice set of transporter tubes to get from the booze trees to the chocolate lake and anti-grav fun zones, a whole swag of chicken growing trees would be good too, and for those that are so inclined, we can have a few pie producing trees as well to save on baking time. Hopefully it’ll be read net week or so, but i’ll have to add a few million more items that i’d like to have on tap ;-)
The atmosphere inside this Thing would behave in the following way: Very turbulent near the surface, and as you gradually gain altitude, there would be less and less air movement. Because gravity would depend on the mass of the object being affected by the centripetal force and the atmosphere having a low mass density by volume, the air in the atmosphere would be almost unaffected by the centripetal force. The main cause of air movement would be turbulent vortices near the surface caused by friction between the atmospehere and the land. Cloud formation would be greatly impeded because radiating heat from the ground would have a tendancy to radiate in all directions instead of straight up in the air, dut to the lack of gravity. People would be constantly surrounded by a misty fog of loosely condensated water dropelets.
Gravity rules. Centripetal force doesn’t, in this case.
DI, but I’m curious as to what this would actually accomplish.
All I can see is “with people forced to face each other in this way, maybe they would be, well, nicer.”. Which is cool and all, but I’m interesting in the scientific, environmental, etc. effects.
I’m curious about what the solar wind would do to this structure; push it out to a bigger orbit maybe?
The idea might work for building really big space stations or space ships out of asteroids.
By the time it was finished, the sun might be close to supernova.
Then what do you do?
Anyone interested in this should read Ringworld by Larry Niven. Good book, and describes a similar thought experiment created in a fictional setting. The Ringworld is a giant ring with a radius equal to Earth’s distance from the sun. Gravity provided on the ring’s inner surface by spinning it. Walls at the rims to hold in atmosphere. Pumps at the bottom of seas and lakes to return silt back to the tops of mountains. Clear the asteroids out of the nearby area and/or have a meteor defense system. Day/night cycles are provided by a non-spinning inner orbiting ring that alternates between opaque and transparent. Brilliant! Unfortunately for real life, even given unlimited time, material, and energy, we still can’t do it until we figure out a substance with strong enough tensile strength to hold it together.
For heavens sake if we could do that then we could terraform Mars! Probably cheaper and easier too. This guy shouldn’t get any applause for thought provoking, To me he is just an idiot! Not you Matt I am referring to Christian Waldvogel.
Hey I’m #32!! now there’s something to celebrate or not…
Is it sad that my first though while reading this was “He wants to build Halo?”?
Very DI. destroying a planet to make living possible. How… artistic.
My biggest fear if this was reality: An asteroid pierces our tiny shell and we are launched into the void like a ballon with a hole in it.
It is definately more of a philosophy question and not one of science. Can’t be done blah blah blah, Physics all wrong blah blah blah no true gravity etc. The real question meant to be asked is what would society have to be like to live in this transformed earth?
Damn you Matt! You went and made me think. I almost spent an entire day without doing that.
first i would like to say ITS A THERORHETICAL IDEA! its not realy going to happen its like an artist doing a painting of earth is a state similar to Venus its ment to raise peoples awarness of what we are going to need should we not get our selfs under control eg: Birth and food
i like the idea but i would advise againsed visiting a booze tree then going to a anti-grav fun zone …. could be messy (EEEWWWW)
i quiet like the idea of a arfificial world thow …. i think something like halo (Computer game)
a giant spinning ring around the whole planet
Now i dont know the dynamics/mechanics of it but in my limited knowlege (Providing we can find enough material without emptying the earth itself) it would be possible
i know people have been saying that there is no material strong enough but providing it was circular and thick enough it should actuely be possible …… then again what do i knoe i just like the idea of a artificial ring around the planet (Project westford) its looks cool from space
and just for the pie people eg:Floj
how about we make a giant pies shaped space craft we can propell it with nuclear explosions int to the top of it and the base would fly at high speed bringing pie to the galexy
Mmmmm radioactive pie
Ps: i hat spell checkers and the effort of punctuation (if anyone comment i warn ya i will start posting with out spaces and all in caps Grrrr :-)
Pps: regarding the Dyson Sphere you would have to make a second smaler one inside the first anyway Think about it what happens then you have a ball of burning combustable material and then your put it in a bubble and fill the bubble with oxigen……………… (I may have missed the part where that was addresed in the article but it was the first thaught that hit me even if it was possible)
Ppps: sorry bout the length of my post but i found the article thoroughly facinating
This would be really creepy. I’d get so claustrophobic. Also, to the untrained mind (read: mine), Monsieur Waldvogel appears to be crazy. DI article, though.
Nice article, Matt.
Also nice to know how people react to a new idea. Most of us depend on the opinions of others, to form our own opinions. Typical of the beginning of a rumor generation scenario.
If Einstein proposed this Transforming-the-earth idea, the number of people objecting to it would have been far lesser coz they’d think that “hmm…if Einstein says so, then he might have some solid reason to say so”. Do we always have to live in an illusion that the track record of a person should determine if his/her ideas are more widely accepted?
Ambitious of Waldwogel, but maybe a time will come when the idea won’t be considered crazy.
For fun, you could also assume that Waldwogel is one of the aliens who initiated life on earth. He’s on an undercover mission to change the earth a little more ;)
I was trying to work here at the office, but now I’m thinking about bloody space habitats, listening to the soundtrack of Solaris.
Anyway, didn’t Dan Simmons try to make his fictional race build something like the Dyson Sphere in the final book of the Hyperion saga?
His point was, was it not?, that life’s meaning is to spread, evolve, go everywhere.
His version of the star surrounding sphere was quite fascinating. The four books of Hyperion I would recommend to read alone for that.
But Waldvogels idea. Got me off thinking.
But, If you built a ribbon like orbital with a width of say 1000 km and diameter of 85Mm perhaps, (not a sphere!) weather it was around earth or not, so that on the surface of it there would be a centrifugal acceleration of 9,8 m/s*s then, how big would be the tensile force along the surface of the orbital, anyone care to calculate?
Is that the force, many commentaries claim to be the cause of such a structure not being possible?
What about giant spikes like on a bycycle? Maybe we’ll have some sort of forcefield tech, however it might work, by then.
And, does anyone agree, that a Halo style orbital is more practical than a whole sphere anyway?
First I thought right away, that hey, we could have 0 tensile force when the gravity of the ring would counterbalance the rotational acceleration, but then again, wouldn’t like to float somewhere inside the ring. Silly me.
i like the idea. we could build it out in the asteroid zone with all that material and move to whatever orbit we choose. then the earth could become a nature preserve everywhere. hmmmm…. maybe we could build more than one!!!
as for structural strength, why not experiment with superconductor magnets. at low space temps, they might become useable. they also might contribute to a shield from cosmic radiation…
or maybe a new type of low temperature chemical bond will be discovered.
personally i am more comfortable with the ringworld concept than a sphere with glass walls. lol. just imagine a meteorite strike.
little old me
“it’s not explained why our descendants would still not have mastered basic birth control.”
People are a good thing. More people (given the resources to look after them) are a better thing. Everything enjoyable in life is given to us by people and their ideas, and twice as many people would mean at least twice as many ideas (although probably rather more than that, since creativity feeds off existing ideas). Every time I see the word “overpopulation” used in earnest I am depressed, not by the thought of an alleged impending catastrophe, but by the thought that it is normal to dislike other people and regard extra ones as only causing trouble – and speaking as a person myself, I find the suggestion that there are too many of my kind personally insulting. Of course an advanced civilisation would want to be as large as possible.
Build a habitat from unobtanium! Brilliant!
This project is like building a cathedral for future generations to enjoy, only to have them all convert to atheism in the meanwhile. They’ll still use it, but they might be a little ticked that they weren’t asked to have it built first.
What about the magnetosphere? I’d assume there’d be some sort of alternative, but having a giant tumbling core of molten metals (so we infer) is a cheap, efficient way to keep us protected from that blasted solar wind. Of course, maybe we’ll adapt to eat solar wind, and then that won’t be a problem. It’s auroralicious!
Assuming that we can hack biology to create a creature that basically lives forever, then why would you need MORE of them? This whole thing of “breed and consume more resources to to be able to BREED EVEN MORE” is so…primitive. Of course it works in a dog eat dog world. These giant sphere things as stated above seem to fall into this category. How about a different, more efficient model of existence?
Thank God the people of the 1800’s didn’t design and implement our future.
Very DI! While they’re building this large sphere, ring, whatever, maybe they could also make it a really big radio-telescope. Anyway, this got me thinking about space in general and I was wondering if you changed Jupiters orbit to go very close to the Sun, if the heat would make all the gases expand, and Jupiter would swell up. Then make the orbit an oval shape, so it would go really close, then really far. A swelling/shrinking planet would be cool for no reason. I think having the rest of the world above you might make people be more aware that we are all in one place, and what you do affects everyone else. I wonder if China would be directly above where-ever you were in the sphere, the way it is directly below where-ever you are now.
Even if Einstein had conceived of this new world I would still think it is ridiculous.
Waldvogel thinks too big; his concept would work in the asteroid belt. The habitats would be small enough to be made of nickel iron (no unobtainuim necessary), with pretty much near future technology, and they wouldn’t take centuries to build. My desendents wouldn’t mind living in such a place until they could afford to buy the ranch.
Very Di, heard of the Dyson Sphere before but not this form of the hollow earth concept. One concern: is not the earth’s magnetic field dependent upon the liquid iron/nickel core? removing it and transforming it to a solid would effectively destroy the earth’s magnetic field and expose the earth and it’s inhabitants to the solar wind and cosmic rays. Even if the thickness of the outside of the sphere is sufficient to provide protection, the “continent sized windows” would have to have additional components to protect the inhabitants.
DI, however, that is seriously the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard…
I remember a short story by Isaac Azimov in which the human race, after colonizing other worlds, leaves Earth on its onw, the last flight to space, with the last humans in the planet, is celebrated as an historical landmark. Thus, the Earth is left alone, to rest from the torments impinged by a race of super intelligent primates that evolved and growth on its surface for a million years…
Seriously WTF…this guy is crazy…i think if we ever had an urgency we could move to another planet and set up little habitats on the EXTERIOR surface…much more practical…what was this guy smoking when he thought we should destroy our planet and make a bigger, structurally weaker one…
The good news is Einstein was not a wack-job…so he would never have put this idea out there to begin with. And if he had, surely he would have spotted one of the hundreds of MASSIVE flaws in this ridiculous concept the second the words left his mouth.
54 = ( 1^1 * 2^2 * 3^3 ) / 2
and no, this rocky globe’s SO much better a habitat than a hollow prison, how large it might ever be. spooky thought, don’t you think? also, her majesty’s national trust has already decided to deploy gravitational satellites long before 5.5/Apple/26 in order to restore and keep continents in their classic shapes and arrangements (acc. to the historical records http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_the_World_(Doctor_Who)). so this proposal i’m afraid comes a little too late.
Some people around him were, though.
Hi. I would just like to point out that you must be sure to close all opened quotes. Not doing so gives the result herein, where in the previous article I purposefully opened multiple quotes to test the behavior. it would be possible to correct this programmatically by simply counting the number of starting quote tags for a given comment and making sure that the same number of closed tags exist for that comment. The characteristic red italic font would at least be confined to that comment instead of transpiring to the rest of the comments below like it is the case right now. :) . I will close the tags in the next comment, for the user’s eyes sake. Thanks.
I think I might closed a quote tag too many. Anyways you get the point. I’m sorry about the trouble it might have caused, but someone malicous could really break the html of the comments section if they wanted. Sorry again, but now you know what to do to correct the problem, just trying to help. Thanks!
This site just keeps getting better. Thanks, DI team :)
Well said dear. Where would we be now if it weren’t for all these “arrogant” outside of the box thinkers…Makes me all warm and fuzzy to know we live in a time where this kind of thinking is encouraged, and though I may not agree with the overall concept of this particular project (sans the philosophical attributes) I very much respect this guy’s ability to let his mind wander and play…
I’m not sure i have time to read some mind wandering babbling idiot!
This guy is a worthless two bit know nothing about anything inpractical wanna be philosopher. Idea belongs to some liberal movie star!
You could also think of this guy’s ideas as “The Father of..” idea.
He’s done the printing, graphic designing etc so elaborately, that IF any such earth transforming operations are carried out in the future, this guy will be called the “Father of earth transformation” and will be seen as a pioneer and a visonary in his field.
A kind of patenting process.
He must’ve had this in mind while starting off with his idea. The old man who plants trees can rarely expect to eat the fruits of those trees. All he’ll hope for, is that someone remembers him for planting those trees while eating the fruits.
Exactly what I thought of when I read this DI. There are no new ideas, just recycled and modified ones.
BTW, I’m no.64!!! Woo-eee!!!
DI, indeed, but I really like the planet I’m living on now. There are beautiful trees, animals, mountains, and the sky is lovely. The sun, the clouds, the colors. And my favorite thing about it is when you look up, you can see the moon and all these sparkling stars.
I rather enjoy it when people challenge you to think outside the box and risk criticism and judgment.
Not as sad as the fact that I’m going to correct you. The Halo was built not to help life, but to destroy all life within 25,000 light-years if the Flood got out of hand.
Also, my biggest problem with an inverted planet is aesthetic rather than engineering. If we (meaning our decedents) look up and see the other side of the planet instead of the vast reaches of space, that would just, just, well that would just suck. And probably lead to more than a few cases of claustrophobia. I need to see the sky, and I need to eat pie, and I imagine that that idea will not die out soon.
OK, two major problems with this guys idea. A sphere which we live on the inside of, spun to give us a false gravity. Um, a sphere? Only part of it would be useable, the poles would have zero gravity, and you’d be constantly pulled towards the equator. A ring such as in Ringworld would be better, the remaining parts of a sphere would not be useful at all.
Second problem – Energy source, we need sunlight for our own personal health, plus most importantly for plants to grow, there’s no mention in the article about how this is arranged (Ringworld built its ring around an existing star, is this his plan?).
Also, thinking about it, using centrifugal force to retain an atmosphere doesn’t seem to be a good method, the atmosphere would need to be kept moving along with the spheres surface.
Also, driving fast in the wrong direction would supposedly cause you to lose “gravity”?? (that’s an interesting thought, if you drove fast enough in the opposite direction so that you were stationary in space, would you then be in free fall? If so, goodbye car racing…)
Sorry, I just see too many holes in this. I’ll happily ignore the structural integrity issues with the caveat that an advanced society may have come up with something stronger, but the process seems to require too much engineering to solve meta-problems (problems encountered when trying to use a specific method to solve a real problem).
A cylinder such as in Arthur C Clarkes Rama series would seem to be far more economically viable, though we still need some sort of potent energy source to keep life ticking over.
I like the idea, but it sounds like it requires further work. Now, I need to go to the website and read through the full story.
I rather like all the mountains and trees and other features of nature which I see everyday. To trade those for a flat, unvarying, people-filled horizon would really suck.
You’ve proved my point that people tend to make assumptions about the thinking of great people. Adoring Einstein’s thinking so much would’ve caused you to respectfully consider his theory of earth transformation if he proposed one which sounded feasible.
this is the most retarded theoretical idea I’ve ever heard. If we just got rid of the douche who thought it up, there would be that much more living space…
well fine, i can see you guys don’t like the idea. That’s ok, we’ll just turn the world inside out without you! We don’t need your stinkin’ help anyways
Matt Castle = “Not quite an anagram of Clam Taste?”
Dang, you sure have the Lamest Tact.
if you want to do something like this
can we do it at another star first?
Also, Waldvogel’s idea does not involve changing the amount of Earth’s mass, just its distribution. The solar wind is not strong enough to alter the planets’ orbits.
Also, Sol is not massive enough to go supernova. It will become a red giant, big enough to envelop (and therefore destroy) Earth, but not for about 5,000,000,000 years. The building of Globus Cassus would not take anywhere near that long. Whatever shape Earth has by then, we’ll need to have moved something—ourselves, or the planet. Moving ourselves would be easier. Translation: “I am arrogant enough, or foolish enough, to think that I don’t need to make much effort to be understandable. If you have needless difficulty reading me, well, tough.”
…this is not the way to “win friends and influence people”….In the plane of the ring, there is no net gravity (just as, inside a hollow sphere, there is no net gravity). The only way to have zero tensile stress is to have no rotation. Sorry, but the superconductive state does not convey increased structural strength. No, all you need is sufficient thickness. A few centimeters of most materials (glass, metal, stone) will stop the primary cosmic rays, and about two meters will absorb the secondary radiation caused by stopping the primary radiation.
Actually, the mass of an orbiting body does significantly affect the orbit of said body. In fact, the distribution of mass (or rather the moment of inertia of the body with regard to mass) also affects the orbit.
The earth is not a perfect sphere, the Equator is around 135 km longer (in perimeter) than the Prime Meridian. This might not sound like a big difference, especially compared to the roughly 40,000 km perimeter; however, this imperfect distribution of mass causes the Earth to precess about it’s (day-to-day) axis of revolution, similar to a top when decelerating.
On a side note, the Earth’s “North” axis precesses at a rate of once every 26,000 years. During these 26,000 years the equinox of the Earth points at a different zodiac over the course of 26,000 years. The origin of the song, “Age of Aquarius” was a premature welcoming of the Earth pointing its equinox towards the constellation of Aquarius.
All of that lovely information aside, this article stimulates the imagination into a catatonic surrender. Life on Earth has moved along slowly, but exponentially for the last 4.55 billion years. With some minor bumps and scrapes, the Earth supported the development of our ancestors only 300 million years ago. Problems associated with overpopulation have only occurred very recently with regards to the history of the planet, coinciding perfectly with our agricultural revolution.
If the world has been doing just fine for 4.55 billion years and there’s only been a problem because of ridiculous over-population and other man-made environmental changes, it’s pretty obvious that the problem is due to the human race. Therefore, the only permanent solution found will be in changing the way we coexist with the rest of the planet. Anything else will delay the inevitable, and quite possibly destroy all chance of sustained life wherever we are.
This can be stated as: R^3/T^2 = G*M/(4*pi^2). That is, the cube of the (mean) orbital radius of a body, divided by the square of the orbital period, equals the gravitational constant times the mass of the body’s primary, divided by (4 times pi squared). This means that the ratio (R^3/T^2) is a constant for any given primary; the mass of the body does not figure into the calculation. It’s not simply the “imperfect” (I’d call it “anisotropic”) distribution of mass that’s at work; it’s the fact that Earth’s axis is tilted with respect to the ecliptic. This allows solar gravity to exert a differential force on Earth’s mass, yielding a torque, and this torque couples with Earth’s angular momentum to cause precession of the axis of rotation (not “revolution”).
Also, it’s not called simply the “North” axis; it’s called the rotational axis, or sometimes the “north-south” axis.
One of the most obvious problems to me is that it’s naively Utopian. The kind of peace envisioned in John Lennon’s “Imagine” is an impossibility. Any one with eyes can see that the world is fraught with problems of human hatred, violence, selfishness, discrimination, and conflict. If we, from an evolutionary perspective, view ourselves as the center of our universe, and if we think we have no meaning in our lives that we do not impose upon ourselves, we will not and cannot live at peace with each other. A leopard cannot change its stripes, and humanity at a whole will never be able to find a perfect form of self governance that could achieve such a wonder as the Globus Cassus.
The distribution of mass does, indeed, not affect the orbit of a body in space orbiting around another object. The point I was trying to make is that the rotation of the Earth and its subsequent precession about it’s axis of revolution will be greatly changed. In this way, the distribution of mass of a body is very relevant.
This will ultimately affect our length of days and seasons. Namely, our days (and nights) would become much larger. It’s simple enough to prove that an object rotating with mass concentrated closer to the axis of rotation will rotate faster. Spin in a chair with arm weights. Stick out your arms and you will slow down.
So, of course we will still be able to rely on the same length of year (orbital period) with this proposed transformed Earth. However, a different precession and rate of rotation of our planet may be much more important. It is possible to have an extremely complicated seasonal pattern due to the different new rate of procession with the same orbital period; thus, complicating stable life on the planet.
DI article indeed. Especially DI comments.
I thought it was done right the first time.
Actually “perfect” is relative to if you have picked the short stick. Don’t imagine if enough people want to do this that they can’t try to regardless to how a marginal few million people feel about it. That is of course a democratic estimate. If an influx of power existed, hundreds of millions or more could just be screwed as the planet was emptied and filled with snacks for its tall ones…err used to build a ringworld.
Isn’t relative relative? Enough with the verbal emetics. Bring on the next brilliant tome!
Given that the Earth was a special enough place to make all life as we know it and that even now we have enough trouble trying to control it, more to the point the effects of our actions living on it, such radical ideas like some of the engineering megastructures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megastructure , suggested above almost seem like wasted potential in a sense. For example, the idea pointed out by Inti …
… seems like a much more fitting farewell to the Earth as we know it than ripping it asunder to become part of something it’s not. Who knows? If ever such a thing would happen and we were to leave, be it extinction or migration, maybe in our absence, given the 5 billion years time left, Mother Earth would give birth to the first of our many potential intellectual siblings.
See 2 articles down? Maybe we could make a decent-sized space radio outta this stupid thing.
Seriously, that’s incredibly naive and arrogant to think we can have control over the earth that absolute. Does this guy even realize that life on earth depends on the magnetic field for protection from the solar winds? The spinning crust and stationary liquid core act as a giant dynamo to generate the earth’s magnetic field. Destroy the core, and we all die of cancer and radiation poisoning. What a failure.
as for the ongoing debate,
the technology required for the production of the dyson sphere project should simply be…. put aside. if were basing the structure out of current and near future engineering technology, ofcourse this project would be impossible but if a civilization would be capable enough to build such a mind boggingly gargantuan piece of self sustaining environment, i dont think that retaining an atmosphere, artificial gravity, radiation protection, meteor bombardment, etc… would pose any threat to the structure.
as for the area of the structure, the total populatable area would be waaaaaay more then just terraforming ALL the planets and asteroids found in our system. Imagine if our earth was peeled like an onion to the core, with a 3 meter thick skin, thats how much area we can walk on , and thats just earth! now add all the harvest-able piece of mass in our solar system including the ort cloud, …. thats alot of ground to walk on, way more then colonizing dozens of planets outside our solar system.
as for ethical issues regarding why we have to create a new world out of god’s earth which is his/her gift to man… well… i always say… god wants us to appreciate his/her creation, and one way to do this through science, the more we understand how things are, the more we can make use of what he/she gave us. afterall, god did give us the capability to think and understand, we might as well use it, imagination is a gift, dont disregard it!
P.S. dota nalang tayo sa skies
By the time you are done with this crazy project, the sun would have sucked all the planets back to their original birthplace. Worst yet, during the project, a meteor hits Earth and all of your work is flushed down the toilet of this universe.
Enter your reply text here.
THANK YOU for writing about ART on DI!!!!!!! And also some DI art to boot! Odd Nerdrum, an artist who paints nude figures in post-apocalyptic settings is an artist that creates art in a slightly related but more pessimistic vein. He is represented by Forum Gallery in NY and a lot of his work can be seen on this web site http://www.nerdrum.com Another artist who is truly a gem of a creator and someone I have a great deal of respect for is Renee McGinnis. She makes artwork that is post-apocalyptic as well but hers is much more landscape and architecture oriented than Odd Nerdrum’s. She is represented by Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago and her work can be seen at http://www.reneemcginnis.com
The two listed above are artists whose work I personally adore who happen to make art along the same lines as the above article.
Besides plugging my own personal favorites, I’d also like to add that I read an article in a 2002 issue of Scientific American about Jackson Pollock’s paintings awhile back. I found the article online here http://materialscience.uoregon.edu/taylor/art/scientificamerican.pdf
The title of the article is called Order in Pollock’s Chaos by Richard P. Taylor. I remember this article from 5 years ago and it really stuck with me because the premise of the piece is that movements in art and culture are actually ahead of the curve and in some ways can predict developments in science. I’m not sure if I agree with it or not entirely but the idea that art anticipates science has really has given me a lot to think about when I go look at art. The example given by Taylor is that Jackson Pollock made these famous abstract chaotic paintings up until his death in 1956 and following that in the 60’s scientists came up with fractals and chaos theory.
Absolutely the art of Christian Waldvogel and Freeman Dyson could be anticipating a scientific focus on a radical re-design of human existence as we know it! Matt Castle- thanks again for this very cool article!!!
If you were going to build a huge ring around the sun, all you’d need to do is push the asteroid belt in so it becomes one solid ring, glue it together and add habitats.
Thousand mile sides dedicated to being skylights? That’s totally asking for graffiti on an epic scale ^^
I like my hot springs. Therefore, this should never take place.
My God not this nonsense again! It was bad enough having to endure it the first time. Now we will have to put up with all the “big thinkers” who think the idea is so thought provoking. What a bunch of bullshit!!
Interestingly enough, there’s no such thing as centrifugal force. There is such a thing as a LACK of centriPETAL force, which is essentially the same thing… But to imagine that there is an outward force away from the center is ridiculous. there is a perpendicular force, but that is essentially newtons first law of motion which basically means centripetal force when it comes to spinning objects. If the forces acting on spinning objects went outwards from the center of rotation, it would be known as centrifugal force which, of course, doesn’t exist even a little bit. No such thing.
Sorry, ever since I figured that out it’s bugged me to hear people talk about “centrifugal force” ever since.
Also, this guy isn’t a wackjob. I doubt if he would even support his own proposal if it ever went into effect. It’s essentially an art piece given in the form of a theoretical suggestion to call to attention the differing proposals present in today’s world of environmentalist “save the world from ourselves” propaganda. (trust me on this, I go to art school, there’s plenty of art, and there’s plenty of environmentalism. I’m familiar with both very well) It’s essentially a satiric proposal. Anybody ever read ‘A Modest Proposal’? In it, Jonathan Swift proposes highly detailed instructions to solve an Irish famine by suggesting the population survive by eating their own babies. Now it’s considered to be classic satirical literature.
Who knows? Perhaps in future generations people will look at this and consider it to be a philosophical excercise. Only if Waldvogel actually takes measures to get this idea in motion (gains ownership of a company that pumps metal into space, for instance) will I consider this guy to be anything less than brilliant in his imagination.
Very interesting, Matt. Just wish you could have included a reaction from the creator of Earth 1.0.
You’re no fun.
One problem is the lack of redundancy in this design. I’d rather many independent mini-worlds, each fashioned around a neutronium core to provide gravity.
Such as the world “Kobold” in Larry Niven’s novel, “Protector”.
I’m just going to smoke some of the current Earth’s good green plants and help to over-populate the planet by doing what comes naturally.
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Having worked as a production manager in an aerospace supply company during our original moon program, I was exposed to some compellingly idiotic actions increasing the costs and reducing the probabilities of success in our first efforts to land a man on the moon.
In spite of that, I feel great pride in having played a tiny part in the ultimate success in the first human departure from the Earth, landing on another astronomical body, albeit not even a quarter of a million miles away, and completing the round trip back to Earth. That project took about a decade from start to finish. We sacrificed mightily and the rewards have certainly been commensurate with our efforts. Still, we skirted many disasters and had some as well along the way. Good luck outweighed the bad.
It is hubris in the extreme to consider such a fantasy project which would require such a long time frame and have so many insurmountable problems. We have not even shown the ability to sort out regional and political differences on the globe as it exists.
There are solutions for mankind in space. We should be tackling short term projects like our original moon program. And we should do them in some sort of reasonable order. In spite of some notable exceptions, NASA set some priorities very well, particularly with the examination of the outer solar system.
Priorities are the issue. And costs. Each effort we make in space should not be a bottomless pit of expense, without fairly immediate potential profits clearly on the agenda. Sure, the spinoffs from the knowledge explosion that attended the space effort represent great profit. But the public really doesn’t clearly associate these benefits with the space program. It is those potential profits which will drive a successful effort to colonize and utilize the solar system. This is why private enterprise MUST play the pivotal role.
The first step is the mining of the Amore (Earth approaching) asteroids. I will stop now and discuss this further with anyone who has a serious interest in such matters at
Anyone with something interesting to say may comment on any thread, current or in the archives. I will paste it into an appropriate new essay in the furtherance of starting a serious series of ongoing conversations on this important subject.
It is heartening to note that comments are still being made on this rather far fetched idea of an expanded world, nearly three months later, and that so many of them show thought.
Once again, a DI idea. However, one of the ideas that might work wouldn’t even look outside our earth. Why don’t we terraform the ocean floor? It would use hydroelectricity to power everything, the only problem would be the intense gravity, and the water pressure. To eliminate the problem of water pressure, a geodesic dome might be a good idea. However, the material used would have to be extremely flexible, as earthquakes are more frequent and more powerful. Gravity might not be all that much of an issue. Transportation to and from this dome could be conducted by submarines, or even a tunnel-like passage way that would have to be sealed on both sides to prevent any possible leaking. Other than those issues, I don’t see any problems with just living on the ocean floor.
Seems to me that Christian Waldvogel was beaten to it by MWC922-dwellers…
I haven’t dont the math, but you’d have to drive VERY fast to achieve that. ;-)
What a sad way of viewing the future, when the last 60 years have shown us that is possible for nations that were once enemies to live together in peace. up to 1945, Germany and France had been in an on and off state of war since the times of Napoleon, and today they (and more than a dozen other european nations) are as close as any nations have been in history.
I do believe that what has been achieved in europe can be achieved anywhere on the globe. The coditions for that to happen are great but not insurmountable. Also they would go widely off topic for this thread, so I will leave it at that.
The author says that as the Earth shrinks, it’s gravity would weaken. Correct me if I am wrong, but the shrinking process itself should exhale energy that would make gravity increase terribly and so, as a consequence, speed the time up, since time is none but gravitons of this system…
If I am wrong and the gravity is to weaken, how are we to reconstruct the time for the new world. No gravity=no time. It’s hard to imagine what could happen to us in a time coordinates shift.
And one more thing. This world shelters creatures other than humans. It does not belong only to us, but also to THE OLD ONES. They are deeply involved in geomagnetic energy and time control. They would not let us ruin it all just like that. Sometimes they speed up scientific progress of humans, but they could slow it down as well. Then, we’d be at the 0 point again.
DI, but just no. Complete scifiery.
This guy is so right and his every word is well placed, I will just copy/past his very good comment (sorry for all caps) :
” Rushwan Dizaye
THIS GUY IS A COMPLETE WACKO, AND ARROGANT BEYOND BELIEF! APPARENTLY TO HIM THE EARTH IS ALL WRONG AND HE FEELS COMPELLED TO “FIX” IT. THIS IS A CLEVER SOLUTION TO A NON-EXISTENT PROBLEM. BY THE TIME WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS, WE COULD PROBABLY TRAVEL AROUND THE MILKY WAY GALAXY WITH EASE. I THINK MY DESENDANTS WOULD RATHER LIVE ON A OONK-GLAT RANCH IN THE CANOPUS SYSTEM THAN IN THIS JOKER’S ELLIPICAL “CONDO”. GET ALONG, LITTLE OONK-GLATS! ”
Well said !
Fundamental physical laws of gravity, dynamics and conservation of angular momentum imply that this artificial centrifugal “gravity” would be WAAAY to weak, and that everybody would fall towards Earth 2.0’s center of gravity, and hover there in the middle of space (after having overshot and oscillated back and forth for a long time). If anything, we would still be living on the OUTSIDE of this contraption. Perhaps the inventor didn’t realize that rotation would slow down as the mass is redistributed away from the center (unless a substantial portion of it is discarded at high speed into space)?
Perhaps it was already tried and failed, and what we are living on are the remnants of the doomed experiment.