Asked and answered: 15 of the most Googled questions about time

Thanks to Google, we can find the answer to most questions at our fingertips, and for a lot of people, that includes finding out how long something will take.

We’ve conducted research into some of the most searched for queries on time, and to help you find what you’re looking for, here are the answers:

1. How long does it take to get to the moon?

It can take anywhere from several hours to over a year for spacecraft to travel the 380,000km to reach the moon1. This depends on the mission, as different spacecraft will have different objectives and capabilities, meaning that the speed they travel varies dramatically. The fastest journey, NASA’s New Horizon mission to Pluto, only took eight hours and 35 minutes to pass the moon, whilst the SMART-1 probe took one year, one month and two weeks.

The Apollo missions on the other hand, which are the only manned voyages to the moon, took nearly 52 hours.

2. How long does it take to get a passport?

According to the government, it takes up to three weeks to get a passport renewed or replaced using the standard service, so it’s best not to leave it until the last minute before your holiday. However, there are express services available which take less time.

3. How long does it take to boil an egg?

They say a watched pot never boils, but when boiling an egg you’ll need to pay close attention. A soft boiled, runny egg will be cooked in seven minutes, whilst a hard-boiled egg takes around 13 minutes. Anywhere in between will result in a solid, yet soft yolk.

4. How long does it take to digest food?

This depends on several factors, including the amount and type of food eaten, as well as individual factors such as a person’s metabolism. In general however, it takes food between 24 and 72 hours to be completely digested2.

5. How long does it take to get to Mars?

At their closest point, Earth and Mars are roughly 35 million miles apart, whilst at their furthest, they can be separated by up to 250 million miles. This means that the fastest spacecraft ever launched from Earth, NASA’s New Horizons, would take anywhere from 39 to 289 days to reach the red planet3.

6. How long does it take to walk a mile?

Walking a mile at a fairly moderate pace should take between 15-20 minutes.

7. How long does it take to charge an electric car?

This depends on the type of car and the type of charger you’re using. A home charging station will take approximately five hours to recharge the car, whilst rapid charging stations found at motorway service stations can take less than an hour4.

8. How long does it take to fall in love?

This is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ type of question, as some people will take years to fall in love, whilst others will fall head over heels in a matter of days. 

However, science has proven that love at first sight does exist, with some people falling in love in just a fifth of a second!5

9. How long does it take to buy a house?

Buying a house is a huge milestone in life, so it’s not surprising that people want to find out how long it takes. This can change depending on your circumstances, but it could take anywhere from several weeks to several months. As a rough rule of thumb, you should expect the whole process to take about six months6

10. How long does it take for painkillers to work?

NHS guidance says that ibuprofen will take 20-30 minutes before it begins to take effect, whilst paracetamol will take up to an hour.

11. How long does it take to defrost chicken?

There are different ways to defrost chicken, including using a microwave, cold water or a fridge. These methods can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours to defrost the meat.

Using a microwave should take less than 10 minutes, depending on the portion size. Defrosting using water can take up to an hour, whilst defrosting in the fridge can take several hours7.

Whichever method you choose, it’s important you pay close attention to ensure that it is safe to eat.

12. How long does it take to build muscle?

Everyone’s fitness goals are different, but building muscle can be difficult if you’re not well informed. While progress largely depends on your diet and exercise routine, you don’t have to be a gym rat to see results. By weight training three times a week, for 20-30 minutes a session, you should begin to see noticeable changes after a couple of weeks8. It’s important to remember to pair this exercise with the right diet, including a high protein intake.

13. How long does it take for plastic to biodegrade?

This can change depending on the type of plastic, but in general, plastic takes years to biodegrade. Plastic bags may begin to decompose after a decade or two, whilst other types of everyday plastic can last for hundreds or even thousands of years9.

14. How long does it take for nails to grow?

Nails grow an average of 3.5mm per month. To put this into perspective, if you were to lose a fingernail, it could take up to six months for it to grow back completely10.

15. How long does it take for a blister to heal?

According to the NHS, most blisters should heal on their own in less than a week.

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