It’s possible to travel to the edge of the universe in a human lifetime

According to calculations, most of the way to the very edge of the universe could be traveled in a human lifetime.

All you need is a rocket capable of accelerating at 9 metres per second per second. You would be traveling at speeds close to the speed of light, so time would be slower for you due to relativity.

Because the universe is expanding, and because that expansion is accelerating, the expansion horizon could never be reached, but you could get 99 percent of the way in 50 years.

Or, as it turns out, in even less time:

[Juliana Kwan at the University of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia] and her colleagues have found the trip could take even less time.

Based on the latest cosmological values for dark energy and other parameters, they showed an astronaut could make the journey in only 30 years.

But their calculations also suggest that returning home presents its own challenges. Even slight uncertainties in the strength of dark energy or the total density of matter in the universe could cause a spacecraft to miss Earth by millions of light years.

Beginning the deceleration just a second too late could cause you to overshoot the Milky Way, Kwan says. “You would effectively be lost in space.” [New Scientist]

Not that it matters. Even if you made it back, 70 billion years would have passed on Earth and nothing you remember would remain- even the Sun would be gone.


One Response to “It’s possible to travel to the edge of the universe in a human lifetime”

  1. If you travel at the speed of light to the sun and back that takes 16minutes. Correct? By the time you return, 16 minutes would have passed.

    Now, lets look at our galaxy: Its 150million light years across.

    I don’t know where we lie inside of it (lets assume 100million ly’s) but if we travel at the speed of light, lets just say we will get only as far as it takes us to die (average life expectancy of a human male living in a developed country: approx. 80years)

    So, we could travel for 80 light years and still be 99.999….million light years away from the edge of the milky way.

    Lets not forget that once we reach the edge of the milky way we will realise that there are over 100 billion other galaxies in the universe.

    Dark matter is something we know very little about and everything you read about it letting us reach vast (crazy) distances in no time at all is speculation and theory. I used to read the New Scientist, but now a lot of the articles you get on there are trumped up science, bordering on science fiction rather than fact. This article from New Scientist is an example of that. After all, thats how they get to shift more copies! But also how they get more funding.

    To travel to the edge (or where it would have been the first time you measured it) in 50 years you would need to travel at a speed well beyond the speed of light. Even if you had a way of travelling a 10,000 x the speed of light, it would still take you 100 years to reach the edge of our galaxy alone. So, the speed of light is slower than a snail in relation to the kind of speed we need, and the kind of unimaginable distances we are talking about.

    Is it impossible? We won’t know until we map out the universe properly and understand our own solar system better.

    I’m actually writing a SF novel which includes my own ‘crazy’ theories on dark matter. The truth is usually more mundane than the dream, and chances are dark matter is something really boring, but I’m not going to apply that theory in my story 🙂

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