Kepler 22b, the extrasolar planet discovered by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope is apparently around 600 light years away. I wondered how long it would actually take for us to get something there. Maybe if we start today, we could surprise our descendants with a signal from a probe in a 10,000 years or so.
Apparently not. Using the current speed of the Voyager 2 probe as my unscientific example of “something flying through space real fast”, and the handy Wolfram Alpha service, it would take 11.64 million years to get to Kepler 22b.
I find this simultaneously boring and existentially terrifying.
BoingBoing delves much deeper into the idea of the (im)practicality and cost of interstellar travel. While Kepler 22b might be a boring 11-million-year flight away, the article discusses the nearest star, Alpha Centauri would would be a brisk 70,000 years or so.