People don’t understand how vast the universe is or what it would take to travel to the nearest planet, much less to another star system. Even this simple graphic explaining lightspeed/distance to all the other planets in our solar system is likely confusing to most people.
They will not automatically comprehend that when they look at the sun they are looking into the past…as the sun WAS 8 minutes ago. When you look at our nearest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri, it is 4.24 light years away. Meaning you are looking at it as it WAS 4.24 years ago. You’re literally looking into the past. (side note: if you traveled at the speed of light, it would take you 4.24 years to get there) They have a hard time understanding that when you view a galaxy that’s hundreds of millions of light years away, that that means they are seeing that galaxy as it WAS hundreds of millions of years ago. Most people don’t even know what a light year is. They don’t know what light speed is. Or how that relates to distance (space). Much less spacetime. Then if you try to explain time dilation and special relativity to them their eyes glaze over and they give you this blank stare as if the processor in their brain just had been overclocked and tried to compute something for too complex. It does not compute. If you try to explain redshift or time dilation (time slows relative to the object traveling at speed), or that it’s impossible to travel at or faster than the speed of light because it would take all the matter and energy in the universe to do it because the speed at which one travels and the mass/energy one needs to travel at such speed exponentially increases the faster you go. Meaning. FTL (faster than light travel is impossible). Unless. You fold spacetime. Space and time become spacetime. Even I have a hard time grasping that idea and I’ve been studying basic physics (theory and law) and cosmology for a long time. I get it, but it’s still difficult for me to wrap my mind around. E=MC2 is foreign to me because I don’t have a math background, but I understand the laws of physics and the theory of relativity from a logical standpoint. I understand that mass=energy, and I understand the exponential increase in mass and energy needed to travel at the speed of light and why that’s impossible. Basic stuff. Like for example, that our Milky Way galaxy is some 100k light years across. Meaning even if you could travel at the speed of light it would take you 100k years to make the trip. You’d likely die within a few years anyway because the human body cannot survive in microgravity for prolonged periods like you see in the movies. Interstellar travel is an impractical pipe dream for humans. Basically we’re trapped here within this solar system. Until we evolve enough for space travel. Which means merging with technology. Enter AI. Artificial intelligence will force us to evolve or die. Not in a “Machine Overlord” kinda way, but when (not if) AI becomes sentient (which may have already happened) and as technology continues to advance exponentially, humans will be forced to make a decision. Merge with technology or become obsolete and extinct. Also, merging with technology like AI/computers, biomechanics, will solve the interstellar travel problem. Time and space becomes irrelevant because we will have achieved technological immortality; meaning time and space would not matter anymore. We could travel to every star system in the galaxy in a few million years time. Probably faster as our future selves (no longer human) will advance so rapidly that it’s likely newer faster means of space travel will be developed. Perhaps teleportation. But even that’s not needed. We could literally populate the entire galaxy in a few million years time once we become machines and achieve technological immortality. We’d have the ability to self replicate. (think Von Neumann Machines, but not evil LOL) Theoretically we’d still be ourselves. We’d still be sentient, but the need for air, water, food, shelter, etc would be gone. At that point the only thing we would need is the raw materials and energy to self replicate. Which is abundant in every star system throughout the galaxy. We could harness the power of our entire planet first (becoming a Type I civilization on the Kardashev Scale). Then we could harness the entire power of our sun to become a Type II civilization. Then once all the mass/matter and energy is under our control in this solar system we move to the next, and the next and the next. Growing ever faster and exponentially more advanced. Super intelligent AI machines. Humans would go extinct because we would evolve into another species. A sentient machine. A silicon based life form powered by solar energy and/or nuclear fusion that we produce ourselves. Slowly over millions of years we consume every last bit of mass and energy in the galaxy. Every planet, every star, entire star systems. Then once we are able to use all, and consume all the mass and energy in our home galaxy we become a Type III civilization on our way to a Type IV. We start to consume all the nearby galaxies, spreading out in all directions, self replicating, moving ever faster. Faster than the universe itself is expanding. We create great spherical voids of empty space where clusters of galaxies should be. Other civilizations observe these great voids and wonder what they are. Not realizing. They’re us. We are the aliens. Only we’re not biological. We’re machines. Eventually we evolve into pure energy, and become what I like to call, Quantum Life. Energy based life forms. Stage 3 of the Quantum Life Hypothesis. Eventually over billions of years, perhaps trillions, we consume all the matter and energy in the universe. Our civilization is so massive, its mass is so dense the entire universe collapses into a singularity. Then…immediately explodes in a Big Bang creating a new universe, and the whole process starts all over again. The universe is cyclical. Repeating over and over and over again. It is us. We are the universe.
Yeah, I know…crazy, right? Could never happen. LOL