There’s a been a lot of talk about finding a new planet a ‘mere’ 20 light years away from us that looks like it possible sustain organic structures. It’s called Gliese 581, and more info on it is here.
Whether there is life on other planets or not is utterly irrelevant. We’ll never get there, period. That’s why it’s called science fiction, because that’s what it is.
I did some math and figured out the numbers.
Let’s start by totally dismissing the whole worm hole theory. It’s a theory, that black holes form gateways into other parts of the galaxy because of how they bend space and time. A theory, because you’ll be crushed before you even got close to one, no matter how strong your ship was. Light cannot escape these things, and entire planets are crushed by the power of the gravity to something the size of a grain of rice. If you could take teaspoon of matter from the core of neutron star (the basis of a black hole) it would weigh 90 BILLION tonnes. We could not generate the amount of energy required to counter the forces against us.
So traveling there conventionally, old horse and cart way. The problem is that traveling at the speed of light is impossible, or anywhere near it. There simply isn’t the technology now or in the foreseeable future, nor the need to go that fast, that far.
Light moves at 300,000 km per second, which means a light year is the distance light travels in a year, which is 9.46 thousand billion km.
If we were able to travel at 1% of the speed of light, which is 3,000 kilometers per second, traveling at 11,000,000 kilometers an hour, it would take 1,978 years to reach this planet. Not to mention times for acceleration to get to that speed.
Traveling at 10% the speed of light, which would be 30,000 kilometers per second, which is 110,000,000 kilometers per hour, would take 197.8 years to reach that planet.
To give you an idea of the differences between what we can do now and what we need to do:
Space Shuttle – 11,000 kilometers per hour
Interplanetary Probes – 80,000 kilometers per hour
To make it under 200 years, the spacecraft would need to be 109,089,000 kilometers PER HOUR faster than it is now. That’s a 10,000 times speed increase.
There isn’t enough power in the sun to be able to accelerate us up to those kinds of speeds, fast enough that is to make the trip less than around 80,000 years long.
So… it would take us 197 years to get to a planet that’s 20 light years away. Well, lets say we could do that. How about others?
The Milky Way is around 100,000 light years wide. A light year, to re-iterate is 9.46 thousand BILLION km. It would take us 985,000 years to get to the other side of the Milky Way, at 10% the speed of light. And this is only one of an estimated 125 billion galaxies in the universe.
So no, we’re not going there. Ever.