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Author Topic: The unimaginable vastness of the universe  (Read 2884 times)

Offline Alan McDougall

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The unimaginable vastness of the universe
« on: 22/06/2008 06:40:52 »
Greetings forum,

I am sure most of you have some concept of how truly huge our beautiful universe is, For the others who perhaps do not have a good perspective about this, I post this thread for them .I do not think it will generate much dialogue and my purpose for posting this topic was just for general intererst and information.

The unimaginable vastness of the universe

Author Alan McDougall                                             

The distances in space are unimaginably vast beyond human comprehension. If I try, tell an uninformed  that it is so many kilometers to the Sun or moon, will these people be able to comprehend these vast unbelievable distances. The moon and sun are a mere two light seconds and eight light minutes respectively from the earth. Light travels at 300 000 kilometers a second or seven times around the earth in the same time. The moon is a mere 400 00 kilometers and the sun about 156 million kilometers from the earth respectively, next-door neigbours in fact. Even this is near distance on cosmological scale is almost impossible for anyone to truly comprehend.

What about our nearest neibour, Alpha Centauri only 4.2 light years away and the next nearest star to the sun. Just around the corner on the vast cosmological scale.

It helps if one understands that the fastest object ever made by man “(spacecraft voyager at 100 000 kilometers per hour)” would take 80,000 years to get there. Then if you understand how amazingly fast that object actually goes one might begin to gleaning some understanding of how far away Alpha Centauri is.  Moreover, Centauri is our next-door neighbor!

Then we can move further. Let us say, Epsilon Eridani, 10 light years away. That is over twice as far - Voyager would take close to 200,000 years to get there. All evidence of human civilization would be pretty much gone in a few thousand years, given an average society lifespan of about 1000 years or less, We're talking 200 societies coming and going before Voyager makes it to Epsilon Eridani. Moreover, Epsilon Eridani is right next door.

The Andromeda galaxy, The galaxy nearest to our own milkyway galaxy is mere two million light years away.. Voyager would take forty thousand billion years (40,000,000,000,000) to get there. That is over 3300 times longer than the current postulated age of the universe, and that's our nearest galactic neighbor.

There are galaxies that are estimated to be 12 billion light years from earth and the strange objects called quasars even further at 14 billion light years. To reach far galaxies like these unimaginable remote objects, with a Voyager like spacecraft, would take almost an eternity and it is obvious that this cannot be the ultimate method of crossing the universe. I foresee instant teleportation or some type of mind contact means as the method used by advanced humanity communicating across the vastness of the universe in the very distant future. To explore the universeby means of a metal space craft at present seems a science fition impossiblity. But in time prsent perceived impossiblities might become a possibilty!


"The universe could be a sphere of infinite radius"

By Alan McDougall 15/9/2007

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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The unimaginable vastness of the universe
« Reply #1 on: 22/06/2008 09:03:51 »
Greetings Alan and welcome to Naked Scientists. And thank you for your post which is an interesting read. I too believe that the universe is infinite and humans trying to put limits on it in any form is complete barking madness. The only limits out there are those that we as humans arrogantly put there in the name of science. Possibly because we cannot comprehend infinity and feel we must place boundaries there much the same as we place a fence around a field and claim it as our own. And yet it is human nature to attempt the impossible in order to make it probable.

The ancient civilizations worshiped the stars in the night sky perhaps even more than our modern day astronomers do today. Equally great voyages across seemingly infinite oceans were achieved by watching the stars at night and reading the air currents, yet mankind managed to surmount what was then considered the impossible. The mariners must have listened to the nagging boffins of the day stating the Earth was flat and you will fall off the edge if you sail too far. Those that defied their erroneous predictions based on the best that science had to offer at the time discovered new lands and met new peoples and some returned back and in order to prove what they had done for the sceptics they bore strange plants and animals, gems and precious metals to place at the feet of their leaders.

Can you imagine how those learned scientists of the day were ridiculed and ostracised as those ancient mariners sailed back into the port baring gifts that the specialists could not begin to identify?

Maybe in years to come we could consider sending out a Human Species Starter pack with frozen fertilized embryo’s suspended in liquid nitrogen that are somehow artificially incubated after the billions of years voyaging across the universe in the hope that the planet they are targeting can support life. Targeting planets the same size as earth might be worth considering as we can definitely say Earth supports life for now, and this is the only thing we can be 100% certain of in this beautiful endless Universe. Maybe our own existence came from such a mission when a planet was rendered incapable of supporting life? Who on earth really knows.


 

Offline Alan McDougall

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The unimaginable vastness of the universe
« Reply #2 on: 22/06/2008 09:37:13 »
Hi Andrew,

Thank for your nice response,

Quote by you

Quote
Targeting planets the same size as earth might be worth considering as we can definitely say Earth supports life for now, and this is the only thing we can be 100% certain of in this beautiful endless Universe. Maybe our own existence came from such a mission when a planet was rendered incapable of supporting life? Who on earth really knows
.

I agree that it might be possible sometime in the future to explore the nearest solar system with earth like planets. But we would need a huge increase in spaceship speed to get there in a human life span. Of course relativity allows for this if we can approach light speed. The spacemen would return to a world completely alien to them, possibly thousands of years into the future 

By the way I listen to a talk show radio (Radio 702) in South Africa by a person calling himself the Naked Scientist (Ridi Direko is the host)

Are you the same person or persons?

Regards

Alan.

 
 

Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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The unimaginable vastness of the universe
« Reply #3 on: 22/06/2008 10:22:40 »
Not the same person Alan but I have done some talks on BBC World Service about tilting beds to save lives in Africa. Just wondering if it might be Doctor Beaver though? I am intrigued as to who the Nakedscientist is and hope it is someone from this forum.

Andrew

 

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The unimaginable vastness of the universe
« Reply #3 on: 22/06/2008 10:22:40 »

 

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