Limits of humanity

Humankind has made a lot of progress in recent years. We have come to discover things we could never even imagine. The most fascinating thing we have come across is our own universe. Where did it come from? Where is it going? While trying to find answers to these questions, we have also discovered a dark secret lurking in the background.

When asked if there are places in the universe we can never hope to reach, the answer comes out as a definite “yes”. Even with science fiction technology, we are trapped in the pocket of our own universe.

We live in the quiet arm of the Milky Way, a spiral galaxy of average size of about a million light years in diametre consisting of billions of stars, black holes, clouds of gas, dark matter, neutron stars and planets with a super massive black hole at the centre.

With our current technology, sending a human to our nearest star would take thousands of years. Along with the Andromeda galaxy and other dwarf galaxy, we are a part of what is called “The Local Group”, a region in space about 10 million light years in diametre. Our local group is one of the hundreds of galaxy groups in the LaniakeaSupercluster, which in itself is one of the millions of superclusters that make up our observable universe.

So even if humanity was to develop light speed travel possible (this is itself seems quite impossible), how far could we possibly go?

The Local Group is the prison in which we are bound to live forever. The Local Group is certainly huge, but in the observable universe, it only occupies 0.00000000001 per cent space. Let that number sink in.

Why can’t we travel further? Because the universe is moving at an alarming rate, with such a speed we humans can never match. Even if we were to travel further from our local group, all that we would encounter is an empty space. While gravity is pulling the galaxies in our local group towards each other, everything else is moving farther away. There will come a time when we can see nothing of the universe apart from the galaxies from our local group because even photons (light particles) won’t be able to reach us. The simple fact that there is a limit for us, and that there is so much universe we will never be able to touch, is truly frightening.

As depressing as it may be, we have the incredible luck to exist at the perfect moment in time to see not only our future but also our distant past.