2024: Light Hacks

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"2024", this comic's number, redirects here. For the comic named "2024", see 2875: 2024.
Light Hacks
Life hack: Wait for an advanced civilization to be briefly distracted, then sneak in and construct a slightly smaller Dyson sphere inside theirs.
Title text: Life hack: Wait for an advanced civilization to be briefly distracted, then sneak in and construct a slightly smaller Dyson sphere inside theirs.


"Life hacking" is the practice of using common everyday items in novel ways to increase the convenience or enjoyment of daily activities. This comic pokes fun at the many blogs and video channels that purport to cover life hacking tips, but merely point out obvious or intended uses for products or well known techniques as low effort clickbait.

Megan tells someone off panel that, by using sheets of paper, she can reflect and diffuse the light coming from a lightbulb. She refers to her discovery as a life hack, while the person off-panel sarcastically points out that all she has done is reinvent the lampshade, to which Megan again refers to as a life hack.

A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical energy-collecting megastructure encompassing a star, and collecting a large percent of its energy in the process. It is named after the physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson.

The joke here is that Dyson spheres are generally not intended for lightbulbs,[citation needed] yet using them in this way is suggested by Megan as a life hack, poking fun at the fact that life hacks make things more complicated instead of convenient. Freeman Dyson argued that Dyson spheres, if they existed, could be found by infrared surveys, as large objects that would emit infrared radiation. IKEA pendant lampshades are spherical shells that surround the bulb. Megan claims studies have tried to use infrared surveys to find Dyson spheres at Ikea locations, without success. When the other person tells her the easier way, searching for it online, she eagerly refers to his method as another life hack, much to the other person's annoyance.

The title text creates a different sort of confusion of the term lifehack, with another sort of popular clickbait videos. Described activity, if done, would be considered a prank - depriving the distractible civilization of their sunlight and energy source, while redirecting the energy to Earth.


[Megan walks to the right, holding a sheet of paper and a light bulb]
Megan: I discovered a cool life hack - you can put a white sheet behind a lightbulb to reflect more light.
Off-panel voice: I'm ... not sure that's a life hack.
[Megan stops, and positions the light bulb between two sheets of paper]
Megan: And you can put a sheet in front to diffuse the light.
Off-panel voice: So you've invented the lampshade.
Megan: Life hacks!
Megan: Freeman Dyson suggested that advanced civilizations would build spherical shells that surrounded their bulbs, redirecting 100% of their energy.
Off-panel voice: Yes, they have those at IKEA.
Megan: Well, they might. Infrared surveys are inconclusive.
Off-panel voice: You know you can just check their website.
Megan: Ooh, great life hack!
Off-panel voice: No!

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We all know what we thinking, right :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECLvFLkvY7Y

That was certainly my first thought! Riker pwned again. ;-) Gbisaga (talk) 07:19, 30 July 2018 (UTC)

Dyson spheres are the future but we’ll never see one in our lifetime, right? Maybe we can build small ones around candles and things as practice. Great art display for your local makerspace! 11:03, 25 July 2018 (UTC)

Here’s a real light hack: https://hackaday.com/2016/02/29/fake-window-brings-natural-light-into-basement/ 15:21, 25 July 2018 (UTC)

I used to think life hacks were cool. Then I read a few of them and r itealized they were just Hints from Heloise with a cooler, hipper name. 16:17, 25 July 2018 (UTC)Pat

Pro-tip: Use these five simple tricks to turn any Life Hack into instant click-bait!
ProphetZarquon (talk) 17:57, 25 July 2018 (UTC)

This Ikea lamp is more sci-fi: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00311498/ CityZen (talk) 20:16, 25 July 2018 (UTC)

I'm proud to say I actually have that lamp in my bedroom I'm me(citation needed) (talk) 23:33, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
The comic's text specifically mentions that alien "Dyson lampshades" redirect 100% of their energy. By having a shell with mirror coating inside that can be closed and thus indeed reflecting a significant part of the light, they are much closer to what probably was intended162.158.150.76 19:02, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

What's the comment about infrared studies being inconclusive about? I was under the impression that infrared light was one of the big reasons we knew there weren't any Dyson Spheres nearby. Is the comic referring to a study or something I haven't heard of, or am I overthinking this? 02:33, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

I think she just meant infrared studies to find out if they have them at IKEA. Referencing the fact that that's what you'd use to look for real Dyson spheres. DanielLC (talk) 09:23, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

I figured out indirect (diffused) lighting in 1982, in McCutcheon Hall at Purdue University. The central hall had lots of light, but no observable, central light source. I discovered that the light came from hidden fluorescent tubes, diffused against a plastered ceiling. The light we saw, came from overhead, in every direction. The basic outcome is: the more quanta you have, the less precise your measurement can be. OTOH, fewer quanta cast a sharper shadow.

The frosted bulb diffuses the shadows of the filament. The bulb's reflector can be an offset to the diffusion.

Hey, did you know you can write comments down here?? Life hack! 06:26, 27 July 2018 (UTC)

I thought this worth mentioning. Ikea has been brought up quite a few times now. I wonder if it will become a new theme (I know that's not the word I'm looking for, but I just can't think of the right word). 16:47, 30 July 2018 (UTC)

it may be worth noting that unlike the name impl9es (or as imagined by the Star Trek TNG episode), it is unlikely that a Dyson Sphere would actually be a spherical shell due to gravitational forces that would be exerted on such a structure. A more apt term would be a Dyson swarm, with millions or trillions of multi-layered orbiting structures that make use of a star's energy. 01:42, 19 August 2018 (UTC)

The explanation and transcript mentions Megan and Cueball, however, since the other speak is off-panel, we don't know if s/he is Cueball, Ponytail, another Megan, or another character. Changing it. R3TRI8UTI0N (talk) 04:01, 16 April 2024 (UTC)