William Shatner hit the nail on the head when he uttered the famous phrase, “Space, the final frontier.” Why? Well, contrary to what some scientists will have you believe, space remains mankind’s final and rather obscure frontier. After all there is so much we have yet to understand about space, and much that we thought we knew is starting to look ‘shaky’.
For example, if you were to approach a couple of astrophysicists and ask them about their views on ‘black holes’ you will, more often than not, open up a cosmic size Pandora’s box of never-ending debate. While it is feasible that many of you might enjoy such a conversation, it is equally likely that you will walk away from the whole episode with a tangible sense that as much as science likes to think it knows a lot about space… it really doesn’t.
However hope is not lost! For amongst all the dull theoretical extrapolations and mind numbing confusion, there remain a number of facts that will challenge some of the ‘cast iron’ perceptions you have about the universe. As a starting point read on and discover 10 of the most mind boggling facts about space!
1. Water Pools In Space
In 2011 astronomers discovered a gigantic vapour cloud caught in the gravitational pull of a black hole deep within the universe, making it the largest discovery of water anywhere. According to Universe Today, the cloud, known as a ‘reservoir’ in astronomical circles, is believed to be capable of holding all of the Earth’s oceans 140 trillion times over!
While the discovery of water in space is not headline news, it is the sheer volume of water discovered and the fact that the reservoir seems to be slightly younger than the big bang itself that has caught the attention of scientists. Matt Bradford from NASA has stated that, “[The discovery] is another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times.”
So if the Earth ever runs out of water, at least we know where we can find ourselves an intergalactic water pump. The only problem is how we would get there, as it currently resides 10 billion light years from Earth.
2. It Would Take 225 Million Years To Walk A Light Year
It would take 225 million years to walk a light year. Don’t believe me? Well as all great mathematicians suggest, let us show our workings!
- One light year (the distance light travels in a year) is about 5.9 trillion miles.
- If you briskly walked 5.9 trillion miles at 20 minutes per mile constantly without any breaks, you would complete your light year stroll in 225 million years.
In other words if you started your walk just before the emergence of the dinosaurs you would be about to finish walking now!
On an interesting side note, according to Jessica Cheng in the September 2008 edition of ‘Popular Science’ magazine, the long trip would come with a unique set of problems. She estimates that in order to complete the journey you would need about 11.8 billion pairs of shoes! Not to mention the fact that you would be burning 80 calories per mile and would therefore need an average of 2 trillion power bars to fuel your body for the trip!
Cheng also goes on to suggest that after such a journey, you wouldn’t have got very far. In an astronomical sense 1 light year is the equivalent of you just about reaching the end of Earth’s garden path. The nearest star from Earth, Proxima Centauri, is a staggering 4.22 light years away.