# Measurement and Comparisons: Distances, Time and Chances

4 min readphoto by Diego Marigno (2014)stories, popular

I never could stop but wonder how big this universe is. Lately, I have been oddly curious about real distances in order to go to our Sun, or maybe to Alpha Centauri, our closest star.

While learning about these distances, I have come to realize that this existence is infinitely big. That is why I wanted to bring some examples of the vastness of space. Enjoy!

### How Long Does It Take to Go to the Sun

Our Sun is located at 1 AU from us.

If you wanted to travel nearby, let’s say to the Sun, you would have as of this article’s writing 2 options: the fastest unmanned probe (NASA New Horizon Probe) and the fastest manned spacecraft (Apollo 10). If you went with the fastest unmanned probe, which travels at around 36,373 mph, it would take you roughly 106 days to get to the sun.

If you travel using the fastest manned spacecraft, the Apollo 10, which goes at 24,790 mph, it would take you about 156 days in order to get to the sun.

Do keep in mind that our sun is only 8 minutes 20 seconds away, which is traveling at the speed of light. It’s quite interesting to think that the sun may explode right now and we won’t know after 8 minutes 20 seconds have passed.

### How Long Does It Take to Go to Alpha Centauri

Proxima Centauri, the third star (identified with letter C) of the Alpha Centauri system, is located at 268,770 AU from us. Alpha Centauri A & B are roughly 4.35 light-years away from us. Proxima Centauri is slightly closer at 4.25 light-years.

If you wanted to travel towards our closest star, you would need to travel a fairly big amount of space. There are thousands of stars around us and within the Milky Way, however, our closest neighbor is still very far away.

If we use the aforementioned options in order to go to the Sun, we would get the following numbers: If you went with the fastest unnamed probe currently available (NASA New Horizon Probe), it would take us 78,001 years traveling in order to get there.

That’s a big number, I know. Think about it for a minute.

If you took the fastest manned spacecraft (Apollo 10), it would take you about 114,795 years in order to get to the Alpha Centauri system.

Do you believe that we will ever get to the Alpha Centauri system? Tell me your thoughts or ideas, you can send me an email to diego@marigno.com.

### How Big Is The Nucleus of an Atom

I was not only wondering about distances but also about sizes. This next size comparison is one that I find to be very interesting and I thought that I’d share it with you.

It’s quite interesting that 99.96% of the mass of the atom is contained within the nucleus, which is very small. In order to give you some comparison on how small the nucleus of an atom is, read on:

If the atom was the size of a football field, the nucleus is about the size of a fly, and the electrons would be swirling around the grades. However, the atom, which is extremely small, contains almost all of the mass from the atom. This means that everything else is empty space!

Whenever we touch something, or something else touches us, what actually happens is that the empty space gets pushed closer, but we never actually touch anything, at least not at a quantum level.

### How Big Is The Milky Way

Now I’d like to talk about the size comparison of something orders of magnitude bigger. If our sun was the size of a red blood cell (7 microns), our galaxy, the Milky Way would be about the whole size of America, from the furthest North point in Canada down until the furthest southern point in Chile and Argentina.

That would be the size of the whole Milky Way. Remember that our sun is about the size of a red blood cell, in those same lines, the orbit that the earth does around the sun would be just about the size of a needle head.

Our whole planetary system, with all the planet’s orbits included, would be around the size of a USD \$1.00 dollar coin.

### How Far Has Travelled the Voyager 1 and the Voyager 2

What about those objects that we have sent out towards space? That’s an interesting question, let’s look into it:

Voyager 1 is currently at 148.46 AU from the Earth, it has been traveling nonstop for 42 years, 7 months, and 28 days. That is only 20 hours, 34 minutes and 40 seconds light away.

Voyager 2 is currently at 123.46 AU from the Earth, it has been traveling nonstop for 42 years, 8 months, and 13 days. That means that the Voyager 2 is only 17 hours, 6 minutes and 43 seconds light away.

Clearly, the Human Race still has a long way to go before we can conquer space.

Will we ever get there? Only time will tell.

### What Are The Odds of Being Born?

This is a question that I consider to be very interesting since when you look at the numbers in this way, the chances of being born are much much lower than the chances of winning the lottery.

The chances of being born are about 1 in 400 trillion. Think about that number. 400 trillion! You better have a smile on your face right now since those chances are really dim! Let me write the numbers down for you:

400,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1

The chances of winning the top prize of the EuroMillions lottery, operated by Camelot in Europe, would be 1 in 116.5 million. Let me write the numbers down for you:

116,500,000 to 1

How weird are those chances, huh? We are incredibly amazing just from the fact of being born. Think about it and never forget it!

The odds of being born, the odds of being here exploring this incredible universe, those odds are really dim. Make the best out of it! Since the moment you were born, you’re already very lucky.