Full record for Dyson sphere n.

Definition an artificial structure, in the form of a hollow shell surrounding a star.
OED requirements antedating 1970
Earliest cite Larry Niven, Ringworld
Comment Mike Christie found a citation in a 1984 printing of Larry Niven's "Ringworld". Brian Ameringen subsequently verified the cite in the 1970 first edition. Sue Surova contributed various cites from 1996-2002. (Earliest cite in the OED: 1978)

Michael Simons provided a link to the Dyson sphere FAQ, which mentions Freeman Dyson's article "Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation" in 1959 in Science as the original source. Jeff Prucher located a copy of this article and found that the term "Dyson sphere" does not appear there, nor does it appear in the correspondence that subsequently appeared in the letter column of the magazine.

Last modified 6 July, 2008

Citations for Dyson sphere n.

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1970 L. Niven Ringworld 106 But there's more to a Dyson sphere than collecting solar power. Say you make the sphere one astronomical unit in radius. You've got to clear out the solar system anyway, so you use all the solar planets in the construction. That gives you a shell of, say, chrome steel a few yards thick. Now you put gravity generators all over the shell. You'd have a surface area a billion times as big as the Earth's surface. A trillion people could wander all their lives without ever meeting one another.
1970 L. Niven Ringworld 105 The Ringworld is a compromise, an engineering compromise between a Dyson sphere and a normal planet. Dyson was one of the ancient natural philosophers, pre-Belt, almost pre-atomic. He pointed out that a civilization is limited by the energy available to it. The way for the human race to use all the energy within its reach, he said, is to build a spherical shell around the sun and trap every ray of sunlight.
1978 G. Eklund Starless World v. 19, I thought that's where you might be heading. A Dyson sphere.
1986 J. Gunn Readers of Hard Sci. Fiction in G. E. Slusser & E. S. Rabkin Hard Sci. Fiction 78 Bob Shaw's Orbitsville , which also was based on Dyson's speculations about advanced civilizations converting planetary matter into a sphere about a sun and utilizing all that star's energy and all the converted planet's area as living space was not as spectacularly popular as Ringworld but kept the concept of the Dyson sphere at the center of the novel.
1990 D. Duane Doctor's Orders v. 153 They weren't economically viable‥then used the fragments to build Dyson spheres.
1993 Sci. Fiction Age Jan. 20/3 The same episode will also feature breath-taking footage of the Dyson Sphere, an effect meant to replicate a device two hundred million miles in diameter that was built around the sun of a now vanished alien race.
1993 Locus June 13/3 Freeman Dyson, semi-mythic physicist and generator of a number of ideas that science fiction writers have been stealing for years, the ‘Dyson sphere’ being perhaps the best known.
1993 SFRA Rev. Jan. 94 The crew of the Enterprise find a Dyson Sphere of ‘Two hundred million kilometers in diameter.’
1994 I. McDonald Necroville (1995) 257 Through the square window: the armillary sphere of Tesler-Thano's legalwares; a solar system of nested Dyson spheres, dark and lightless, slowly turning.
1996 Interzone Sept. 55/2 A variation on the Dyson Sphere, the Ringworld is a strip of superstrong material in orbit about a Sol-type sun.
1998 G. Zebrowski Afterword in C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek: Next Generation: Dyson Sphere (1999) 201 One must think about the physical possibilities of a Dyson Sphere habitat, to the point where one can see the implications for life on the inner surface.
1998 G. Zebrowski Afterword in C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek: Next Generation: Dyson Sphere (1999) 199 A Dyson Sphere, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with all the large imaginary artifacts to be found in science fiction, is the rest of a Ringworld, which is only a ribbon cut out from the equator of a sphere.
1998 D. Brin Heaven's Reach 111 The simple Dyson sphere concept missed an essential geometric requirement of a stellar enclosure.
1999 C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek Next Generation: Dyson Sphere i. 1 The Dyson Sphere had seemingly been abandoned by whatever life forms had constructed it.
1999 C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek Next Generation: Dyson Sphere xii. 189 For the first time, the Dyson sphere really did look like a planet. It was as small as Earth now, and growing smaller with each passing second. The instruments suggested that it did not exist at all, except visually.
1999 C. Pellegrino & G. Zebrowski Star Trek Next Generation: Dyson Sphere iv. 68 In the vastness of the Dyson Sphere, the life forms aboard that alien ship might simply assume that the Darwin and its crew were only yet more denizens of Dyson that they had not yet encountered.
2004 P. F. Hamilton Pandora's Star xxii. 722 Why anyone would create such an artefact in the first place was beyond him. It lacked the practicality of a Dyson sphere or a Niven ring.
2005 C. Stross Accelerando i. 15 Dismantle the moon! Dismantle Mars! Build masses of free-flying nanocomputing processor nodes exchanging data via laser link, each layer running off the waste heat of the next one in. Matrioshka brains, Russian doll Dyson spheres the size of solar systems. Teach dumb matter to do the Turing boogie!
2006 N. Asher Polity Agent i. 34 This particular fragment of the nascent, fully enclosing Dyson sphere was diamond-shaped, 160,000 miles long and 100,000 wide.