Saturday, June 28, 2008

Trip through the universe.

How big is the universe?
Well, let's assume Garrett Reisman has built a rocketship that can travel at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second. And he could totally do it.
Let's start the trip at midnight on January 1st.
We would travel 93 million miles in just 8 minutes and 19 seconds. Put on your shades. You're at the Sun!

After 5 hours and 31 minutes, we pass Pluto.

We have travelled over 3.5 billion miles. It is still January 1st.

Now, we travel perpendicular to our solar system. A year passes. Two years. Three. Four. On April 19th of the fifth year, we arrive at Alpha Centauri A, the nearest star (other than our Sun) to our solar system.

We have travelled 25 trillion miles. Our journey has just begun.

At ten light years out, the stars in our galaxy now appear to converge.

At one thousand light years out, the Milky Way's arms become more defined.

After we have travelled 100,000 years at the 186,000 miles per second, the Milky Way galaxy's entire spiral is finally visible.
From here on, every light we see is not an individual star but an entire galaxy.

5 million light years out, the Milky Way is part of a 30-galaxy cluster known as a "local group."

50 million light years out, we encounter a "burger cluster" containing over 2,000 galaxies.

After ten billion years of traveling at 186,000 miles per second, we can see countless billions of galaxies, each one the size of a tiny dot. We have traveled 58,695,882,360,000,000,000,000
miles. That's 58 sextillion, 695 quintillion, 882 quadrillion, 360 trillion miles, for those of you scoring at home.
After thirteen billion years...
Maybe you'd be here. I don't know. Douglas Adams' guess is as good as anyone's, I suppose.

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