Ah Hell, We’d Better Cancel the Mission

Monday, April 6th, 2020

In a recent issue of The Week magazine, I came across this correction:

A magazine correction reading “We erroneously wrote that the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster is 390 light-years from Earth. It is in fact 390 million light-years from Earth.

I’m definitely in favor of accuracy, and in favor of making things right. That said, there is no functional difference between these two distances. In practical terms, it’s the difference between a gagillion and a bazillion.

Speed Math (All Numbers Approximate)

Current speed record for a man-made object (The Juno spacecraft): 165,000 miles per hour

Speed of light (approximate): 186,000 miles per second

Multiple by which the speed of light is faster than the top speed of the Juno spacecraft: 4000

Time to reach the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster under the incorrect distance estimate, assuming we could max out at the Juno’s speed: 1.5 million years

Time to reach the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster with an accurate distance estimate instead: 1.5 trillion years

Either way, I don’t think any of us have that kind of time.


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