The universe is mindbogglingly, ego-shatteringly, inconceivably big. For all we know (and we don’t seem to know much) there is no end to it. Maybe we’re inside another universe? Maybe it just sort-of peters out. Or maybe life as we know it is simply a simulation, like a game of Sims running on some godlike alien’s equivalent of a Macbook Pro. If so, here’s hoping they don’t treat their Sims (us) the way we all did to ours. If not we might be in trouble.
But OK, so the universe is big. We all get that. The real question is, just how big is it? Consider this: the fastest moving man-made object of all time, Voyager 1, has been hurtling through space for 35 years. In 2012 it left our solar system. Nothing we’ve built has ever traveled so far from home. And yet still, Voyager 1 won’t reach our nearest neighboring star for another 40,000 years. If our galaxy were a neighbourhood, Voyager would be like a housecat who just stuck his nose out the door.
Given that context, it’s no wonder the scale of the universe is so hard to grasp (unless you’re Stephen Hawking). Considering the vastness of space and time can be utterly terrifying. It can make a person feel small and insignificant. But then again, it can also help to put our problems in perspective. After all, if the universe goes on forever in all directions, does anyone really care about the time you peed your pants in 2nd grade?
We hope you enjoyed these perspective-altering factoids about the solar system we live in.
Live long and prosper.