The universe is HUGE, and I mean larger than we can comprehend. It is in fact so large, that it takes light around a time of approximately 150 THOUSAND years to travel across just our galaxy! So how can we ever expect to explore our whole universe? That is what I am gonna try to answer today.
Our good friend Elon Musk has been fantasising about colonies on mars for some time now. If that was to be possible today, how long would the flight, or whatever it would be, from earth to mars actually be? NASA says the journey would be around 7 months long, by consideration of our current technological limitations. Now that is a long time, but how long would it take for, say light, to get to mars? Approximately 3 minutes. So, that’s it right, just travel at the speed of light. Easier said than done.
The closest man made thing we have to the speed of light, is the spacecraft, Parker Solar Probe, around 40,000 kilometres per hour. Compared to the speed of light, 299,792 km/s, it is not even close. Right now we just do not have the Technological prowess to construct something to move that fast. But now the question is, will we ever be that technologically developed to move at the speed of light? Let’s see what Einstein says.
You may have heard of the ‘Theory of Special Relativity’. I will not delve into it too much, but it basically puts an end to our exploration instantly. The ‘Theory of Special Relativity’ states that nothing can move faster than the speed of light in vacuum. It is just not possible according to the laws of physics. But why let them stop our imagination.
Say someone outsmarts Einstein, and curbs their way around the laws of physics(it’s not possible though). Now we are moving at the speed of light. Inside our spaceships, we construct chambers, like the ones in the movie Passengers, and are able to sleep through the 100,000 or so years of travelling. Great, now we have travelled across our galaxy. But we still have not seen everything. As I said earlier, the universe is HUGE and there is so much to see. Let’s say we want to see the edge of the current known universe. Here, it gets interesting, if not sad.
The universe we live in is expanding. Every single star, planet, galaxy, is moving away from one another. Everything is getting further away. And the worst part for us is, it is getting away from us FASTER than the speed of light. Yes, the universe is EXPANDING FASTER than the speed of light!! So even by outsmarting Einstein, moving around the laws of Physics, and getting to the speed of light, we still are not fast enough when compared to THE UNIVERSE.
This brings us to the sad reality. No human, whether in the present or distant future, will EVER be able to explore the whole universe, or maybe even the whole Milky Way. We will never get to see what the deep space has in store for us. Never.