Riding light and sending sounds in space

The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. That’s per second, not per hour. If you travel at the speed of light for an hour, you cover 671 million miles.

That’s fast, right?

Well maybe on Earth it is, but the universe is a big place. It took about five hours for the signal from the New Horizons probe to travel from Pluto to Earth. And that’s traveling at the speed of light.

To put it in perspective, take a look at this if you’ve got 45 minutes to spare:

That’s how long it would take to get from the Sun to Jupiter: 45 minutes.

Forty-five minutes of nothing but emptiness with a few big space rocks called planets, moons and asteroids showing up every few minutes to break up the monotony. I bore easily, so if it took this long to get to Jupiter, imagine how many “Are we there yet”s I’m going to ask on a trip to Pluto.

If we’re ever going to get to other parts of the galaxy, we’re going to have to break the light barrier. Which means we’re probably not going anywhere. Maybe a billion years from now, our robot satellites in space like Pioneer, Voyager and New Horizons will be picked up by some alien civilization, which will ask: What the hell is this?

This is the Golden Record we sent on Voyager back in 1977: a collection of greetings in different languages, sounds of life and selections of music, plus a roadmap to where we are. Voyager has left the solar system and is now in interstellar space.

So let’s say Voyager does end up on a planet in another part of the galaxy where there’s intelligent life. What do you think the aliens would say? Maybe this?

Check out the Speaking of Science blog at the Washington Post for more about the Golden Record.

The ‘Galaxy Quest’ rap

Galaxy Quest,” the Star Trek parody from 1999, is one of my favorite science fiction movies. Actors in a long ago cancelled television SF show called “Galaxy Quest,” are transported to a spaceship by aliens who have based their entire culture on the “historical documents” that we know as reruns. And the aliens need the actors, who they believe are really the characters in the historical documents  to combat an evil genocidal reptilian foe.

But 16 years after the movie came out, I just came across this “Galaxy Quest” rap by Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell and other members of the cast:

Sigourney Weaver is pretty hot as a blonde. If you’ve never seen the movie, check it out. It’s very well done.

Here’s are some scenes that didn’t make it into the final product:

Never give up! Never surrender.

Are we all holograms? Some physicists say it’s possible.

So maybe we’ve all been sucked into a black hole, but our data remains at the edge and projects itself in the form we currently believe we’re in?

I can’t even think of a “Star Trek” episode that was a complicated as that. But then, there’s another believe in physics and every possible existence we could have had, has or will happen somewhere in the universe.

So let’s take this a step further. If we are the data remnants on the edge of a black hole, then that should mean that, like numbers, when different data interact, you get a different result. And if that’s the case, the result in our “existence” could very possibly be the many worlds result of quantum mechanics.

Yeah, that’s a stretch. But I’m on the edge of a black hole, so what else should I be thinking about?

That’s a simpler way of explaining it. But there, there’s the theory that the universe talks to young white women:

Now that just makes no fuckin’ sense.