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Scientists have discovered a way to make wormhole-like portals. Here's how they work :

  • Both sides have to be created in the same place, then moved to the desired location.
  • The gates are created as a single point, enlarged to the desired size, and then a solid border is built around them to keep them from collapsing.
  • They consume an absurd amount of energy to be kept open. If the border breaks or if it stops being powered, it closes forever. You don't need to power both gates, they're the same physical object. Only the earth gate is "plugged".

The idea is to make the first portal, keep one gate on earth in a power plant and send to other one as close as the sun as possible, then use the energy to power this portal and others. The gate would be circular, 4 to 10 meters in diameter. Once we get the raw beam of sun radiation to earth, what's the best way to convert it to electricity? I see three options:

  • Solar panels, but I'm not sure it scales well
  • Boiling water into a turbine, reliable and scalable in my opinion
  • Some other way I haven't thought of

Basically the same problem as harvesting energy in a Dyson sphere, except there's no limitation due to being in space (maintainability, sending the energy, etc.). Solar panels feel like the only solution on a satellite but in this case I can't tell which one is best.

Also, the receiving end could be pressurized (isolated from space, with a massive lens filling the gate for example) or open to the vacuum of space. It depends on the solution and what's more convenient/efficient.

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  • $\begingroup$ Luminosity at the surface of the sun is about 64MW per square meter, so a 10m-wide portal would get about 5GW of sunlight. A 4m-wide portal would only get 800MW, and would produce less energy than large-scale terrestrial solar plants. How does this compare to the "absurd" energy requirement to keep the portal open? $\endgroup$ Mar 4 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearHoagie Fair point, alone the gate is pretty limited but once it's there, you can deploy a swarm of as many mirrors as you want, concentrate the beam and send it through the gate $\endgroup$ Mar 4 at 17:50

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I'll take the good old steam engine, that is how most solar collectors work as well. Get a big slab of Tungsten, and use the portal (at some appropriate distance from the sun) to heat it up and use the slab to convert huge amounts of water to steam, which gets directed to steam turbines. These are highly designed already to maximize the conversion to electricity.

Other than excess heat, this is non-polluting; waste steam can even be condensed and recycled back to water. And there are engineering solutions to spreading out that heat by conductance to larger (and thus cooler) areas if the portal is not large. The melting point of Tungsten is about 1/2 the surface temperature of the Sun.

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