Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Interplanetary and Interstellar Space Travel: Distances Between Exoplanets, Stars, and the Search for Alien Life

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Expensive trips always mean great fun with your gal...what about a $108.5 trillion dollar vacation? Barry White anyone?
Is interplanetary travel possible? Maybe yes and probably no, depending on your view and how desperate humanity becomes to explore the cosmos. What about aliens visiting earth? Well, this is even less likely given the vast distances of stellar objects are from one another within the universe, coupled with the fact that literally everything we see for billions of light years is lifelessness and silence. So below are some mind benders. The numbers are all accurate....really accurate, as in, the best scientists of the entire Earth came up with some of the numbers and I did basic math to generate numbers that I could understand, because who in America knows how long a kilometer is compared to a mile? Or how truly fast light speed is per second versus miles per hour? Doesn't it make sense to make your articles' facts and figures understandable to your average or general audience? This is America, so use American measurements! Don't geniuses ever pay attention to English Composition class in high school and college? (Um, no, they like feeling smart, so they make us feel stupid). So here are a lot of really insane numbers that the everyday American should be able to comprehend without using a kilometer-to-mile online converter. Europe can go fly a kite on a warm sunny day!

 
DISTANCE/SPEED REFERENCES
 
 
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1 Astronomical Unit (AU) = 92,955,807.273 miles//149,597,870,700 metres
 
 
1 Parsec = 19,173,511,445,225.515625 miles
 
 
1 Light Year = almost exactly 5,878,625,373,183.6 miles (5.9×109//5.9 trillion miles)
 
 
Speed of Light (Imperial) = 670,616,629.3843951 mph//186,282.397 miles per second//
 
 
983,571,056.16 ft. per second //983,571.05616 ft per millisecond
 
 
Speed of Light (Metric) = 299,792.458 kmh//299,792,458 metres/second
 
 
Speed of Project Daedelus = 0.12c//80,473,995.526127412 mph
 
 
Speed of Voyager probe = averages 35,000 mph
 
 
My Silly Speed:: 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph-= 670,616,629,384,394,429,383,370.62 mph
 
 
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Mars
Avg.'s 33,871,328 to 249,391,043.7 miles away
Comparative Information
At 35,000 mph
Between 40d 7hrs 45min 8sec to 296d 21hrs 27min 30.2sec
Gas guzzler-- too long to be practical at any time of year
At 150,000 mph
Between 9d 9hrs 48min 31sec to 69d 6hrs 36min 25sec
Wait for Mars to come closer to earth in its orbit to make travel practical
At 35,500,000 mph (9,300 mi/s)
Between 57min 14.84sec to 7hrs 1min 30.36sec
1,014.286× current max speed of 35,000 mph//5% light speed
At 670,616,629.3843951 mph (1c//Light Speed)
3 minutes 1.8278496 seconds to 22 minutes 18.778 seconds
The time it takes me to pee after a few beers
At 1,700c//Warp 9.2//1.14005x1012 mph
106.957 milliseconds to 787.516 milliseconds (0.1 to 0.79 seconds)
1,140,048,269,953.47 mph//1.14005 trillion miles per hour
At 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph
0.182 picoseconds to 1.339 picoseconds (0.000181828 nanoseconds)
670,616,629,384,394,429,383,370.62 mph, not listed below for space
 
 
 
Proxima Centauri 
4.243 ± 0.002 ly//24,925,371,582,299 miles away
Comparative Information
At 35,000 mph
81,353.6 years
1,016.9 eighty year long human generations
At 150,000 mph
18,928.5 years
Over 3× the length of all recorded human history
At 35,500,000 mph (9,300 mi/s)
85 years
1,014.286× current max speed of 35,000 mph//5% light speed
At 670,616,629.3843951 mph (1c//Light Speed)
4.243 years
Slightly less than the minimum jail time for grand theft auto
At 1,700c//Warp 9.2//1.14005x1012 mph
21.86 hours
Slightly less than one solar day
At 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph
133.8 nanoseconds
0.0000001338 seconds
 
 
 
Gliese 581c 
20.3 ± 0.3 ly//119,336,095,075,627.08 miles away
Comparative Information
At 35,000 mph
388,957.65 years
Humans learned to walk upright in less than 1/3 this amount of time
At 150,000 mph
90,756.78 years
Humans learned to walk upright in this amount of time
At 35,500,000 mph (9,300 mi/s)
383.48 years
America could be born and grow past us now in this amount of time
At 670,616,629.3843951 mph (1c//Light Speed)
20.3 years
A newborn turns into a legal adult and can drink booze in other countries
At 1,700c//Warp 9.2//1.14005x1012 mph
4.3615 days
104.677 hours.
At 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph
640.62 nanoseconds
0.00000064 seconds
 
 
 
HD 85512b 
36 ly//211,630,513,434,609.6 miles away
Comparative Information
At 35,000 mph
689,777.1 years
Same as traveling around Earth 9,442,987,081 times (9.5 billion)
At 150,000 mph
160,947.9 years
???
At 35,500,000 mph (9,300 mi/s)
680.06 years
Rome arose and expanded past Greece in this amount of time
At 670,616,629.3843951 mph (1c//Light Speed)
36 years
Would take decades even though Light travels 983,571.05616 ft per millisecond
At 1,700c//Warp 9.2//1.14005x1012 mph
7.735 days
Llight would travel 124,493,271,078.92 miles in this time
At 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph
0.0011 milliseconds//1,100 nanoseconds
Llight would travel only 1,081,928.164 ft. in this amount of time
 
 
 
Traverse Milky Way Galaxy (our galaxy)
120,000 ly//705,435,044,782,032,000 miles diameter
Comparative Information
At 35,000 mph
2,299,257,015.032 years
Billions of years//slightly after first single celled organism was born
At 150,000 mph
536,493,303.51 years
If our ancestors left BEFORE the dinosaur age they'd be just arriving today
At 35,500,000 mph (9,300 mi/s)
2,266,873.1 years
Millions of years//just before genus Australopithecus went extinct
At 670,616,629.3843951 mph (1c//Light Speed)
120,000 years
Humans would learn to walk upright and be millennia older than us today
At 1,700c//Warp 9.2//1.14005x1012 mph
70.588 years
87.5% of the average human lifespan (~80 yrs)
At 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph
3.79 milliseconds//0.00379 seconds
>4× the average time it takes to blink your eyes once
 
 
 
Reach Andromeda Galaxy (our neighbor galaxy)
2,500,000 ly//14,696,563,432,959,000,000 miles away
Comparative Information
At 35,000 mph
47,901,187,813.2 years
Earth wouldn't be born for 33 billion more years 
At 150,000 mph
11,176,943,823.1 years
Humans wouldn't arise for 3+ billion more years 
At 35,500,000 mph (9,300 mi/s)
47,226,523.2 years
Proto-primates became primates in about this time
At 670,616,629.3843951 mph (1c//Light Speed)
2,500,000 years
Arrive at the time Australopithecus went extinct
At 1,700c//Warp 9.2//1.14005x1012 mph
1,470.59 years
Romans born on Palatine Hill and Empire fell in less time than this (~1,227 yrs)
At 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph
78.89 milliseconds//0.007889 seconds
Star Trek transporters would take longer than this
 
 
 
Reach Edge of Observable Universe
13,000,000,000 ly//76,422,129,851,386,800,000,000 miles away
Comparative Information
At 35,000 mph
249,086,176,628,490//2.49×1014//249 trillion years
???
At 150,000 mph
58,120,107,879,981//5.81×1013//58.1 trillion years
???
At 35,500,000 mph (9,300 mi/s)
245,577,920,619.6//2.45×1011//245.6 billion years
About 18× the theorized age of the universe
At 670,616,629.3843951 mph (1c//Light Speed)
13,000,000,000//1.3×1010//13 billion years
Earth would born and then reach its current age today by arrival
At 1,700c//Warp 9.2//1.14005x1012 mph
7,647,058.8 years//7.6×106//7.6 million years
The time it takes for my brother to crap after eating burritoes haha
At 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph
6.83 minutes
Don't we all wish our commute to work was this short?
 
 
 
Reach Theoretical Edge of Universe
9.3×1010 ly//546,712,159,706,074,800,000,000 miles away
Comparative Information
At 35,000 mph
1,781,924,186,649,962//1.78×1015//1.78 quadrillion years
???
At 150,000 mph
415,782,310,218,324.4//4.16×1014//415 trillion years
???
At 35,500,000 mph (9,300 mi/s)
1,756,826,662,894.3//1.75×1012//1.75 trillion years
???
At 670,616,629.3843951 mph (1c//Light Speed)
93,000,000,000//9.3×1010//93 billion years
Earth would not be born for another ~8×1010 years
At 1,700c//Warp 9.2//1.14005x1012 mph
54,705,882.35//5.47×107//54.7 million years
???
At 999,999,999,999,999 x 1c//~6.7×1023 mph
48.9 minutes
Slightly longer than a Star Trek episode haha
 
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EXAMPLE OF MATH
 
 
Distance and time to reach HD 85512b
 
 
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1) One light year = 5,878,625,373,183.6 miles 
 
 
2) × 36 light years = 211,630,513,434,609.6 miles from Earth
 
 
3) 211,630,513,434,609.6 (miles away) ÷ 35,500,000 (speed in mph) =5,961,422.913650974647887323943662 hours travel time
 
 
4) answer ÷ 8766 hours (about 365 1/4 days) = 680.062 years
 
 
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For answers with answers in seconds, milliseconds, and nanoseconds
 
 
Follow steps 1-3 above, skip step 4
 
 
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3) miles from Earth ÷ mph= total hours
 
 
4) total hours × 60 minutes= total minutes
 
 
5) total minutes × 60 seconds= total seconds
 
 
6) total seconds × 1,000 milliseconds= total milliseconds
 
 
7) total milliseconds × 1,000,000 nanoseconds= total nanoseconds
 
 
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8766 hours in a year//31,557,600  seconds in a year
 
 
1,000 milliseconds in a second
 
 
1,000,000 nanoseconds in a millisecond
 
 
1,000,000,000,000 picoseconds in a second
 
 
1,000,000,000,000,000 attoseconds in a second
 
 
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FACTS:
Gliese 581c is 20.3 ± 0.3 light years away and is totally uninhabitable for human life since it's 5.6x Earth's mass. Although extremophilic life might be able to exist on it in the future if water were to form on the planet, the chances are slim to none since water doesn't usually form under such high gravity. Scientists realize that even if they could travel at light speed, there really aren't any habitable planets anywhere near our cosmic neighborhood anyway, so astronauts would be stuck traveling for centuries even at light speed. Although if humanity were truly desperate, some exoplanets are better than others. There have been discussions about terraforming, where if we develop highly advanced terraforming capabilities instead of trying to go light speed, we could simply transform a planet like Mars into a more suitable Earth-like planet for human habitation. Problem is, Mars has virtually no atmosphere and we can't seem to find any planets nearby which possess a mass similar to Earth's so water and life can form. If Mars had an atmosphere, humans would still struggle with its low gravity, as it has 1/10th Earth's gravity and size, but Earth is already so small. Now if the gravity of a selected planet did not exceed 2 Earth masses, then it might be possible to colonize it after extensive terraforming. However, there is still the problem that if a person weighed 130 lbs. on Earth then s/he would weigh 260lbs. on such a planet. On Gliese 581c, a 130 lbs. person would weigh a crushing 728lbs., an average-sized (7,700 lbs.) elephant would weigh over 43,000 lbs., a Giraffe would not have the heart capacity to pump blood to its brain, and vascular plants would fall over and die. The list of complications just stretches on and on.
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HD 85512b is a cozy 36 light years away and is the most promising candidate for human colonization so far, as it is only 3.6 Earth masses (vs. Gliese's 5.6 LY). But still it is a not an option for humans or animals because on this planet a 110 lbs. woman would weigh 414 lbs. and a typical 180 lbs. man would weigh 648 lbs. No human or animal could live on this planet unless we had technology to reduce mass. The gravity is also far too high for water to form and plant life would be crushed. Only low-lying plants could survive.
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Even at light speed it'd take decades, centuries, millennia, and eons to reach some of the nearby planets, stars and neighboring galaxies to Earth. Most astronauts today don't get enough experience to be allowed to fly any space shuttle until they are in their late 40's and 50's, and even a light speed astronauts would arrive to HD 85512b as geriatric old men. Kids would have to be selected and groomed for space flight at very young ages and prepared to fly away from Earth, which is unrealistic since most kids would never want to leave their families forever and even if they did, child rights activists would inhibit this selection process, probably saying that a child could not be expected to make such a mature decision or capable of understanding the magnitude of such decisions.
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It's either that or take the chance that the adult astronauts would arrive to the destination dead or feeble from old age, perhaps even being unable to do the hanky panky for colonization! This means that even if we could travel at .99c a starship would still have to be a generational ship, where the original astronauts would become feeble grandparents and hand down responsibilities to their sons and daughters and then they again to hand down responsibilities to their children, who being prepared by the fathers and grandfathers to colonize the planet(s) they stop to colonize. These children would continue the legacy of study and colonization by hopefully building new human civilizations and link planets like pit-stops for other future travelers.
Going light speed means we'd
essentially become this
This is totally unrealistic, especially since the whole generational ship idea is flawed in about a ba-gillion ways, as the size and mass of such a ship being the most obvious flaw, there's also the fact that about 101% of humans could never live in a cramped ship with no freedom to move for decades or their entire lifespan. In fact, designs for realistic spaceships today are so cramped that they are more cramped than World War II submarines, which are already so small that you cannot stand fully upright in about 90% of the submarine. People in prison cells would have much more free space to walk about then a spacefarer would. Assuming that we figure out how to create a spaceship that's roomy and cozy enough to spend your entire life in without going insane still does not include the fact that the speed of light travel isn't possible at all according to Einstein. And assuming it is, they is also the problem where cosmic rays, gases, dust, and even atoms all become deadly forces even at 1/10th the speed of light. Conceiving of traveling at only 5% the speed of light is equally absurd, let alone 1c.
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Read my article called "Project Daedalus" where American scientists speculate that the ship could reach speeds of 70+ million miles per hour (12% light speed) but they don't have a clue of how to protect the ship when going that fast, although they hope in the future humans can develop a sort of shield technology.
To finalize, it is because of these factors that any respectable astronomer would agree that humans are mere ants. A 2010 study by astronomers estimated that the "observable" universe contains 300 sextillion stars (3×1023///300,000,000,000,000,000,000). The observable universe is about 46 billion light years in diameter///270,416,767,166,445,600,000,000///270 sextillion miles), and is literally just another way of saying "what we can see so far all around us." And let's say that we all band together to make that starship and eventually we do meet aliens...given our luck, they'll hate us and want to either eat us or eradicate us. As if any advanced alien civilization would be like E.T., take a look in the mirror. There's nothing noble to see there, so why should there be in any alien? No foreign creature would have an inherent desire to respect our desire for continued life, we don't even have that for each other.
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If anyone ever wonders if aliens can visit earth or that we might someday visit them, you now know how the odds are not remotely in our favor for either of those possibilities. We'd still have to build ships where many people would spend their entire lives and die and their kids live and die and so forth over and over for many generations....at the speed of light... just to make it to anywhere in. Not even photons (light) can travel the universe in any reasonable amount of time, as my graph clearly demonstrates, but then again, beams of light aren't doomed to die like humans are.
 

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