Monday, 22 September 2014

Interstellar Fever : Part 1

There are a few things that I look forward to as much as I am looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar - which hits theatres on November the 7th. The trailers of the movie culminated my excitement to orgasmic proportions for two very specific reasons: the movie is about interstellar travel (some fascinating stuff there) and Christopher Nolan is the director of the movie.  Latest Oscar decorated actor Matthew Mcconaughey features in the leading role which is a major plus, but I wouldn’t care much even if Nolan signs Uday Chopra for his next. After all Nolan is the real deal in all of his movies. Big fan here!

I take this opportunity to write a series of articles about the concept and logistics of interstellar travel. In this part we will have a look around us in the interstellar space. Also we 
will see how we are doing in the name of interstellar travel as of now.  

Here we go! 

Interstellar travel is a travel that requires you to travel (I know what I did there) from one star to another. We humans have accomplished this feat as many times as Lionel Messi has scored past Peter Cech or Thibaut Courtois for that matter. Yes, you got it right – ZERO times.

Let me present to you some useful stats and information in context of interstellar space and travel here: 

Our sun is our star, the only star in our solar system. And there are about 300 billion such stars in our galaxy – Milky Way. That is one hell of a number, let us see how near is the nearest star to our sun.

Proxima Centauri is the nearest star to our sun which is about 4.24 light years away from the sun.  

1 light year = 9.46 * 1012  kilometers  

4.24 light years = 40.11 * 1012 kilometers (That is how near is the nearest star)  

That there is again one hell of a number. Now let us see how far we have managed to reach till today. 

Voyager 1 is the farthest human-made spacecraft in interstellar space. It was launched in 1977 and has recently escaped our solar system. It took us almost 36 years to escape our own solar system. Not so encouraging, Eh? 

Today, Voyager 1 is 0.019 * 1012 Kilometers away from our sun. It travels at a speed of 17kms per second and if it was headed to Proxima Centauri, it would have taken = 74816.45 years. Not so encouraging, Eh? 

This figure is calculated after neglecting relative motion of Sun and Proxima Centauri. Unfortunately, I could not find stats of the relative motion even after my best efforts. 

But then again, Voyager 1 is not headed to Proxima Centauri. Voyager 1 is headed to a star called AC+ 793888 which is about 17.6 light years from the Sun. This is about 4 times the distance between the Sun and Proxima Centauri. It will take about 40000 years (surprised? read on) to reach there thanks to the relative motion between the two stars. Actually, AC+ 793888 is travelling towards the Sun faster than Voyager 1 is towards  AC+ 793888
LMFAO!!  No, that is not a star; it is just an absurd acronym I like to use every now and then. 

I hope this gives us a vague idea of what we are doing or have done so far in context of interstellar travel, which is good but not great.

Can we speed up to a level that makes interstellar travel feasible for a human who lives 75 years? Can we find life outside our solar system? 

Obama be like: 

In the next article we will see about our endeavors and the theories that can speed up the process of interstellar travel.

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