News from Planet Earth

News from Planet Earth

Ted Folkert

October 12, 2018

A little dose of mind-boggling always reminds us of how insignificant day-to-day occurrences really are in the big order of things.

About 40 years ago our brilliant Planet Earth scientists and engineers designed and built two spacecrafts which today continue to achieve enormous strides in our exploration of the universe.

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977, shortly after the launch of Voyager 2, and is said to be flying away from Earth at a speed of more than 13,000 miles per hour and is now more than 13 billion miles away from Earth.

Flying at 13,000 miles per hour means that it could fly across the U.S. in about 15 minutes and circle the globe in about 2 hours, a trip which would now take a commercial airliner about 2 days. It could reach the moon (240,000 miles away) in less than one day and the sun (93 million miles away) in less than one year. The journey to the sun would obviously be incomplete because Voyager would be melted before it even got close.

It took 35 years for Voyager 1 to exit our solar system and reach interstellar space. Its power supply is said to be failing but we expect to continue to receive data from it until 2025. We can all look forward to this date with disappointment, only 7 years away, but we can’t look forward to the date of the next expected encounter with Voyager 2.

Flying for 35 years at 13,000 miles per hour to exit our solar system gives us a mindboggling idea of how large our solar system is, consisting of the Sun, the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, as well as many other smaller objects such as comets and asteroids.

And if you want to take exploring our universe a step further, some scientists tell us that the universe is 10 to the 30th power times the size of our observable universe. That is 10 with 30 zeros after it times the distance that a spacecraft can travel at 13,000 miles per hour for 35 years. If you calculate that please give me the answer, however, the number will surely take several pages to write down.

No need to put this next encounter with Voyager 2 on your calendar. It is anticipated to occur in about 40,000 years. Our scientists will have plenty of time to devise ways of communicating with Voyage 1 and 2 by then, but it obviously won’t matter for anyone now inhabiting Planet Earth. And, of course, unless we take steps “sooner than you think” to deal with global warming, there won’t be any humanoids around to witness this upcoming event anyway, so the whole project could be an exercise in futility.

I suppose we are dependent upon the scientists either way. But the scientists can only prescribe the medication. They can’t make us swallow it! And it seems that we won’t take the medicine simply because the challenge of convincing all the worlds inhabitants to relinquish any pleasures that they “can’t live without” is just that, an exercise in futility, particularly considering the obstacles presented by the global warming deniers.

How is this for mind-boggling?

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