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Intergalactic Travel

Updated on July 17, 2014


Intergalactic Travel

IGT stands for intergalactic travel. Read no further if you think that this possibility is in some remote far future because those of us who take an interest in the subject will toss you out of any serious discussion. And we won't feel bad about kicking you out. We'll be happy to show you the door. If you are going to be involved in the IGT project, then get the word “impossible” out of your vocabulary.



When you ask someone to name two galaxies, non-astronomers will probably only be able to name the Milky Way (our home) and Andromeda. Bright people who are not astronomers might also know about the Magellanic Clouds, which are satellite galaxies that orbit the Milky Way.

Few will name a major galaxy that can be seen with the naked eye (really good eyesight in a really dark sky). That galaxy is Triangulum. It is in the Local Group along with several other galaxies that few non-professionals will have heard mentioned in science news or popular fiction.


What are some terms we need to know?

IGT -- intergalactic travel

TDCT -- time dilation compensation technology

NPG -- negative population growth (reducing as opposed to overpopulation or the population explosion)


What will make IGT possible?

  1. recruiting the best scientists and the best engineers to the IGT project

  2. acquiring private funding (perhaps learning from Paul Newman and starting businesses whose profit will support the project)

  3. working around the current scientific obstacles

  4. scientific breakthroughs

  5. eliminating that word "impossible" from our vocabulary

  6. motivation (sustained determination rather than only enthusiasm that might burn out)


What are the first steps?

Starting IGT societies for ordinary people who are interested

Starting IGT societies for scientists and other professionals

Creating other infrastructure such as an IGT fund and an IGT foundation


How will IGT impact the culture?

Supercivilization – Move humanity a step away from savagery and barbarism and a step toward more civilized human behavior. As evidence, remember that pacifists and environmentalists consider that Eco-tourism builds bridges for peace and emphasizes caring for our world rather than destroying it through suburban sprawl, litter, and war. The same projection is made by university studies of space tourism.

NPG – Overpopulation will be eased by moving billions of people to new worlds.

restoring the Earth – With most of humanity migrating to deep space and gone, the stewards of the Earth left behind with automation can proceed to restore the Earth to a Garden of Eden paradise for the one billion who decide to remain on Earth but most of the jobs will be out there among the stars.

peace movement – We will make war very inconvenient for politicians by eroding tax bases and making space tax-free. Taxes would just be used for more wars any way.



The Small Magellanic Cloud is a nearby satellite galaxy to our Milky Way

Higgs Boson Makes Inter Galactic Travel Possible


Even people who know nothing about astronomy correctly guess that this galaxy is Andromeda.  I think intergalactic travel is instinctive and in our very genes.
Even people who know nothing about astronomy correctly guess that this galaxy is Andromeda. I think intergalactic travel is instinctive and in our very genes.

One Motivation

"encounter", a Better Word Is Cataclysm

The Milky Way and Andromeda will smash into each other circa 4,000,000,000 AD -- give or take a few million years. This collision will be about four Billion (with a B) years from now. Since one billion years is an aeon, four aeons should give us plenty of time to move to say Triangulum and watch the fireworks from a safe distance as our home is destroyed.

Some galaxies can pass through another galaxy without so much as one star hitting another while other galaxies get ripped apart. A star and its planets (a stellar system) might be minding its own business orbiting the center of one galaxy one day and the next be snatched away by another galaxy. Some planets might be ripped from the orbit of their stars and left to freeze in the absolute zero of intergalactic space. We are talking way colder than Pluto.

Still other galaxies might explode in a hypernova as galactic core slams into galactic core. Galactic cores usually have a supermassive black hole at their center and so this would be no ordinary ramming of two black holes. Think atom smashing leading to H-bomb explosion multiplied by an exponential factor and you get the idea.

Sometimes when galaxies collide they simply merge, more or less peacefully, and become a larger galaxy than either of the original two galaxies. [Not so peaceful if your home planet smashes into another planet. The good news is that no one will care since they will only think of their own luck in not being you.]

This is why people have to care about other people. The universe simply does not care what happens to life within it. When astronomers talk about this exploding galaxy or that galaxy being sucked into an ultramassive black hole, they never talk about the living beings who might be fighting for their lives and desperately trying to escape.

An ultramassive black hole is the next step up in size from the supermassives that are usually at a galactic center. The only ultramassive that I have heard discussed is The Great Attractor which moves around superclusters (several clouds each composed of hundreds of clusters of galaxies or put another way, a galaxy of galaxies) in a large scale structure called the Great Wall. The real kicker is that gravity is not supposed to even work at distances as vast as 250 million light-years or megaparsecs (yes I know that they are not interchangeable units of distance).

I can imagine on other worlds, deniers who say that doom and disaster is impossible despite the evidence in the sky. All it takes is a telescope with high power and you can see exploding stars and even exploding galaxies. It can't happen? Yeah, right. I will spare you the comparisons with climate change deniers.

Achievable in our lifetime?

Actually yes. I have attended meetings where a fast-track project was considered as a given, not just a possibility. The project does however require:

  • Motivated people who are deaf to those who say it is "impossible" -- We all know that pessimists achieve nothing in life because they talk themselves out of everything while the optimists are busy accomplishing things because they are too smart or too naive to "know" that it can't be done. "No one can cross the Atlantic. You will sail off the edge of the Earth." Yeah right.
  • Mega bucks -- And not a penny of it from government because the moment the government grants money, there will be strings attached such as "this project must fail".
  • Macroengineering -- Very large research laboratories, very large testing areas, very large ship construction yards for very large ships, and a very large launch complex all add up to the need for technology for building large objects. A galaxyship might be larger than anything conceiving of in all of science fiction (fantasy does not count since fantasy fiction makes no attempt at scientific realism).
  • some breakthroughs in physics and more efficient use of current physics knowledge
  • very good organization -- good defined as effective
  • not just motivated people but people who act -- instead of just read this or discuss this to death (comment is fine as long as it leads directly to effective action)

Yes, it is achievable within 40 years. Maybe less time were there some external motivation like:

  • Earth turns into some totalitarian nightmare run by AI
  • aliens invade intent on wiping out humans no matter where they flee
  • we discover that the Milky Way is not a safe place to live

or some internal motivation like:

  • some drastic shift in world philosophy that tosses out prevailing philosophy (we are NOT talking about religion here)
  • machines automate all jobs -- automation and AI take all working class blue collar jobs and physical labor, all middle class white collar jobs, executive jobs, and jobs requiring mental labor (like science, engineering, mathematics, the arts); unemployment reaches 100%, humans are so bored that a challenge is the only alternative to a Matrix or a Borg existence like the Singularity people have in mind
  • immortality in our current bodies becomes possible -- as immortals, we would be looking for something worthy of our long lives rather than just sleeping all the time plugged into mindless devices

There are lots of reasons for going (I've catalogued 200+) but only some people will select themselves to be a part of it.

Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about the possibility of inter-galactic space travel

Editor's Comment

Like others, Dr. Tyson could have dismissed the idea or said it was impossible or made fun of the person who asked the question. To his credit, he does not. In fact, he leaves the door open to future breakthroughs despite obviously acknowledging that the transit time would be very long unless something new was discovered by scientists and something new invented by inventors. You could be the scientist or the inventor who figures out how to make the voyage to Andromeda in less than ten years transit time.

So study hard!

Take a Swift Tour of the Andromeda Galaxy


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