Space is a very big place, and since I own most of it, I thought it would
be a neat exercise to figure out just how big it is.
Since the dimensions of our Universe are so big that even *I* have trouble comprehending them, I scaled everything down to a distance that we can relate to. I live in Gainesville, Florida and the nearest metropolitan area to us is Ocala, Florida. Ocala is approximately 30 miles from the southernmost point in Gainesville. Since this is a distance I can visualize, I used 30 miles as my new definition of a light year. As you probably know, a Light Year is the distance light can travel in one year. In this new scale, it would take light a year to travel a distance of 30 miles. Yes, that would screw up physics in the Universe tremendously and just walking to the kitchen would cause you to suffer severe relativistic effects. However, for this mental experiment we'll suspend all that. 
So before we begin, let's keep this in mind.
So, by converting 5.87 trillion miles into a 30 mile span, I was able to calculate the following:
After doing this, you get a really good picture of how big the space between everything in the Universe really is. Well, at least as far as "local" stuff is concerned. Local meaning within 100 light years of Earth. On this scale, 1 inch represents 2.79 million miles. Keeping that in mind, did you know that:
So, let's have a little fun, shall we?

How long would it take to get from one city to another if 30 miles = 1 light year?  
Destination  Distance traveled  Duration of trip at the scaled down Speed of Light 
Gainesville to Ocala  30 miles  1 year 
Gainesville to Orlando  120 miles  4 years 
Gainesville to Miami  330 miles  11 years 
Gainesville to Washington, DC.  776.6 miles  25.9 years 
Gainesville to Denver, CO.  1730.5 miles  57.7 years 
Gainesville to Seattle, WA.  2998.8 miles  99.9 years 
If we scaled down intragalactic distances to match this...  
Where do you want to go?  Distance traveled  Duration of trip at the scaled down Speed of Light 
Earth to the Moon  14 hundredths of an inch  2 seconds 
2.79 million miles  1 inch  15 seconds 
Sun to Mercury  12.9 inches  3.2 minutes 
Sun to Venus  23.9 inches  5.9 minutes 
Sun to Earth  33 inches  8 minutes 
Sun to Mars  4.2 feet  12.5 minutes 
Sun to Jupiter  14.3 feet  42.9 minutes 
Sun to Saturn  26.2 feet  1.31 hours 
Sun to Uranus  52.7 feet  2.64 hours 
Sun to Neptune  82.6 feet  4.13 hours 
Sun to Pluto  108.1 feet  5.5 hours 
Diameter of the Solar System  220.7 feet  11 hours 
Sun to Alpha Centauri  120 miles  4 years 
Diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy  4.35 million miles  145,000 years 
What if I could travel at the speed of light in this scale, how long would it take for me to go from point A to point B?  
What is our goal?  Distance traveled  Duration of trip at the scaled down Speed of Light 
To travel the width of a US quarter  1 inch  15 seconds 
To travel the width of a medium pizza  1 foot  3 minutes 
To walk the length of my car  16 feet  51 minutes 
To walk from my sofa to to the dining room table  20 feet  1 hour 
To cross the UF Campus  2 miles  24 days 
To drive to work  7 miles  2.8 months 
To drive to the Oaks Mall from Downtown  8.2 miles  3.3 months 
Traveling at Star Trek velocities  
Ok Star Trek fans, think about this:
According to page 54 of the Star Trek Technical Manual:
Unfortunately, the Universe is SO big that as far as travel times go, Warp 8 is still painfully slow. So, considering our new scaled down universe where it takes light 1 year to travel 30 miles, Warp 8 would not only seem pokey, but agonizingly slow. Yes brothers and sisters, Warp 8 would be the equivalent of 3.42 miles per hour in normal everyday speeds. Imagine having to drive around town at 3.42 miles per hour! No wonder it's taking Voyager so long to get back to the Alpha Quadrant. For more information about the Warp Factor  Lightspeed Conversion, visit Martin Shields' Website. He's written a program that will actually do these conversions for you, and he shows the formulae he derived to obtain the values. Here's what our travel times would look like at various warp speeds: 
What if 1 Light Year = 30 miles and we could travel at Star Trek velocities?  
Destination  Travel time at Warp 2  Travel time at Warp 4  Travel time at Warp 8 
Gainesville to Ocala  36.5 days  3.65 days  8.76 hours 
Gainesville to Orlando  146.1 days  14.6 days  35 hours 
Gainesville to Miami  14 months  40 days  4 days 
Gainesville to Washington, DC.  2.6 years  3.2 months  9.5 days 
Gainesville to Denver, CO.  5.8 years  7 months  21.1 days 
Gainesville to Seattle, WA.  9.9 years  1 year  36.5 days 
Intragalactic destinations?  
Destination  Travel time at Warp 2  Travel time at Warp 4  Travel time at Warp 8 
Earth to Mars  1 minute, 15 seconds  7.2 seconds  72 hundreths of a second 
Earth to Pluto  33 minutes  3 minutes, 20 seconds  19.8 seconds 
Earth to Alpha Centauri  146.1 days  14.6 days  35 hours 
Earth to Sirius  10.6 months  31.8 days  3.2 days 
Earth to Vega  2.6 years  94.9 days  9.5 days 
Earth to Aldebaran  6.4 years  7.8 months  23.4 days 
Earth to Betelgeuse (Beta Orionis).  65 years  6.5 years  7.9 months 
Earth to Rigel (Alpha Orionis)  85 years  8.5 years  10.3 months 
Earth to Delta Quadrant  7500 years  750 years  75 years 
Page created: February 18th, 2001
Last updated: December 13th, 2001