Tell me, who wouldn't want to see the stars? But laws of physics, as we know them, seem to put undesired constraints on extensive traveling through space. Can't we just get around them? Seriously: how could a Faster-Than-Light drive work?
You know, most spacey science fiction settings need a way around that depressing limit of the speed of light. You don't want to see the next star if it takes 200 years, do you?
So, let's see all those weird theories about wormholes, black holes, hyperspaces, exotic particles and phenomena, and any possibility to break or bend the rules we think to know.
Rubber physics are more than welcome.
The memory of expanding space theory
It is a sure thing (or at least rarely disputed), that the space is expanding. Among other things that hint at this, is the background radiation. Granted, the space had to be really hot when it was still small (without any stars, etc.), and the radiation of that time is still around, everywhere, but much cooler of course.
A logical question is, that if we don't want to travel all the long distances of today, could we not somehow travel the space like when it was smaller?
The question how big the space was or is, can't be answered. But to find for example, when was the space half the current size, may be possible!
And now the black box:
- No time travel (or is it, to a degree? ), just some weird resonance with the background radiation, making space remember the time when it was smaller. So if you move in some direction with speed x, and resonate with space when it was half the size, you actually seem to move with a speed of 2*x. If the difference is large enough, you may seem to be moving faster than the light. It seems that to achieve the resonance with a smaller space (so a hotter space) more energy is needed, which is quite fine. More energy = greater speed.
- given this weirdness, you can attach any number of exotic phenomena while using the drive
This mode of travel has been explored by luminaries great than myself, Frank Herbert's Dune navigators folded space, the Event Horizon folded space, passed through hell before popping out the other side.
The core of the Folding Space FTL mode of travel is the generation of a wormhole that connects point A to point B with a length of zero. Thus, the vessel apparently makes the universe move rather than itself. Travel is instantaneous so large space is not required for fuel and provisions for a long trip.
There are really only two problems with the folding space model and one is that it requires a stunning amount of energy to pull it off. The mathematics look like something like the energy produced by a multi-megaton nuclear warhead per pound of object to be moved. The second problem is that when anything passes through a artificiallt created wormhole causes said wormhole to instantly collapse around the object, literally ripping it apart.
So, if a ship could feasibly generate the power to spawn a wormhole on a scale to move itself, it would also have to project a VERY powerful magnetic field around its hull to keep the wormhole from crushing it as it passed through.
Scientists have been working on this in RL, but so far they have only succedded in generating wormhoel large enough to move atom sized particles, and generally no farther than a few feet at the most. Frightening?
It is said that no event occurs until it has been observed. Even such concepts as mass, and position are meaningless until they must affect another thing. Individual particles have been known to move between locations without traversing the intervening space - What stops a large collection of particles, a piece of solid mass from doing this? Very simply, the fact that a mass of particles is entangled - Not only must one particle now be observed as being elsewhere, but it must also observe all its companions there, and all its companions must also observe each other, etc, etc, etc, etc, with the probability of the events occurance in proportion to (1/n!), where n is roughly the number of sub-atomic partcles in an object, and in proportion to 1/d.
The Quantum Retrorealizer is a complex field emission device, whose job it is to simultaneously convince all the particles observing an object that it is over -there-, not over here. While this takes surprisingly little energy, the computational requirements are absurd.
Non-Serious Submission Warning!
In the early days of space travel, man was sadly limited to the propulsion of the rocket. Later, he learned the trick of twisting space, in order to make the distance between here and there shorter, but still, he was limited by the power required to move his ship, and the power available for shortening the distance. Without consuming entire suns, he was limited to a few paltry decimals of the speed of light. Yet, in the twenty seventh century, a solution was found. A group of explorers and adventurers found themselves stranded on a backwater planet, and while the space shortener of their ship was functional, their impeller was not.
The least wise of these adventurers, a man of tremendous body and minimal mind, had noted the utter implacbility of the butlers here as they made their rounds, and he made a suggestion. A suggestion so outrageous that when it resonated upon the ears of the god responsible for maintaining the integrity of physics, he choked upon his tea, and in the time it took him to recover, it was done. They had strapped the most experienced of all these butlers to their ship, and ordered him to serve tea to everyone in a small city in their homeworld. Within the quarter-hour, the task had been accomplished, despite the weight of the ship, and the great distance to be traversed, and it had only been abetted by the space-shortener... Thus, the faster than tea drive had been born.
Based around impossibly well trained men and women serving tea, crumpets, and other gentlemanly snacks to spaceports on other planets, the Faster-than-Tea Drive allows for nigh-intantaneous planets between civilized worlds. However, as a significantly limiting factor, wherever there is no one to serve tea, the drive cannot go.
It is a well known fact that Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity forbids the travel of massed particles at the speed of light. It is less well known that it does NOT forbid the existance and travel of speeds FASTER than the speed of light. Let us examine and understand the mathematics.
Einstein's theories state that the observed total mass-energy(rest + kinetic) of an object is E=(1 / sqrt[ 1 - ( V^2 / C^2))*(m0 * c^2)]. This means that as a massed particle approaches the speed of light, the energy required for further acceleration flys hyperbolically towards infinity. If mass = 0, then the total mass-energy perforce equals zero - All massless radiation thus travels at the speed of light. However, the equation is /also/ soluble for positive energy, if and only if, m0 is of the form -i. A particle of mass -i is at infinite energy at the speed of light, and loses kinetic energy as it accelerates away from the speed of light, such that an imaginary mass particle at 0 kinetic energy has infinite speed. This kind of particle is known as a 'tachyon'.
We imagine space time as a simple 2-dimensional sheet of rubber, flat and horizontal. If we pull downwards along the sheet of rubber, such that pits are formed on the top side, we note the normal twist and turn of space that matter interacts with. However, an imaginary mass particle does not pull space in this direction. Instead, it pulls along another axis, say, horizontally to the north.
By setting up a proper distortion of space time, we can turn the axis of interaction with space time - essentially, turning our ship from a ship of baryonic matter to a ship of tachyonic matter. Once infinite speed is reached, it is a non-trivial, but relatively simple matter to reapply the process in reverse. The energy and computational resources required, however, are of tremendous orders of magnitude.
The Ultimate Slingshot
We all knew the motion of the Universal Superstring dictated the motion of everything. We knew it was 11 dimensional, and we knew it was infinite and infinitesimal. What we didn't count on, at first, was it being elastic. It was tough, but they did it. They managed to use that elasticity to first stretch the string, then to snap it, forcing a ship across the cosmos at the blink of an eye. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the Slingshot of the Stars. Now, we just need to figure out how to survive ten quadrillion gravities of acceleration...
According to some scientists, there are more than the three visible dimensions (width, length, depth) there is a forth (space-time) and theoretically there are possibly even dozens more that collapsed in on themselves during the first milliseconds of the big bang.
These phantom dimesions still exist, but they have been compressed until they are nothing more than dimensional singularities. Not to be confused with black hole singularities, these condensed dimensions only have one dimension. The Shadow Drive is a bizarre drive system that combines a dark energy harvester system that reaches out and snags errant neutrinos, gamma rays and all sorts of yummy high energy particles and a class 3 phase disciminator.
The phase discriminator decides which dimensions the project the ship into, and by projecting it into a trio of adjacent collapsed dimensions is able to render the mass of the ship as 0, reduce its drag coefficient to 0 and all that happy noise.
Movement is brisk as the ship seemingly dissipates at the point of embarkment and like a tenebrous shadow appears againt at the point of arrival. The amount of energy is moderate compared to some forms of travel, and there are surprisingly few dangers involved.
Grey Space Drive
The Grey Space is some kind of an alternate dimension, claims one of the more popular theories. After the first portal has been accidentally opened in a sub-particle experiment, it has been somewhat researched and intensively exploited, but there is still no widely accepted explanation or solid knowledge of its properties.
On its own, the grey space is not suited for transport of any kind. Objects inside of it just hang in nothingness (or move, but no movement can be detected as there is nothing to compare it with). Multiple ships that attempt to move apart find it diffilcut to do, needing to expend exponentially larger amounts of energy; eventually, micro-gravity brings everything together. It is speculated, that when a ship leaves through a portal (insert special effects plus light show) anything that came with it, is expulsed, up to the last photon and particle. It is believed that any semblance to 'our' laws of physics is merely imported with objects and energy from our universe, that survive in a bubble of sorts, until they are removed. Grey is the colour the space seems to have when strongly lighted, btw.
The unique feature of grey space is its omnipresence: no matter where you open a portal, it always connects to the same spot. So a ship enters through a portal, it is closed, and another is opened elsewhere - in another research facility, on a different planet, or a different solar system... distance in our universe doesn't matter, one can travel in a few seconds to the other side of a galaxy!
There is actually an infinite number of exo-spaces to be used for transport, depending on the phase variation used for opening the portal, identified by a multiplier of the Garham's Constant - you must know it to open the correct portal. This is further complicated by the fact that only one portal to any given exo-space can be open at a time. If another is attempted to make, the energy needed to maintain an existing portal will rise appropriately. It is the energy cost that makes keeping a portal permanently open unfeasible.
A further complication for space travel is, that the portal may be only opened in our space, not from 'inside'. So wherever humanity wants to travel through grey space, there must be a gate able to create a portal. Hence, the part of space that is easily accessible by sub-light transports (at first the solar system, later others nearby) can be colonized faster and more efficiently.
Maybe it is true that grey space is really the place beyond the border of our universe - everywhere and nowhere at once, infinitely small and large... yeah, okay, it doesn't all make sense to most sane people without a black belt in exospatial hyperphysics.
But why don't use it, if it's so easy?
In real life there is an effect in microelectronics called quantum tunneling, an electron approaches a barrier, but disappears before touching it, but in the same instant the sane electron, or an exact copy, appears on the other side, well away from the barrier. Perhaps a method of FTL travel would be to project a charged barrier, wavefront, or bubble in front or around the vessel. I'm not sure that it could work, or how it could work, but I'll leave that for those who are professionally educated beyond their capacity.
Then of course there's the whole tachyon vs. tardyon physics. Although the process of scanning for tachyon particles actually creates the particles scanned for, according to today's experts. So tachyon particles might just be white noise, but if one could transform or better yet, reconfigure, tardyon particles to tachyon form, space travel would be unlimited. The problem is that tachyon particles operate on reverse principles from tardyon particles. For normal matter the effort is to get it moving, but it can't move faster than light (though in real life scientist have speed light up faster than light, as well as slowed it down almost to standstill), for tachyon matter the effort is to slow them down, but they must move at the speed of light or faster. The other problem is that different tachyon particles move at different speeds, so to keep the ship and passengers from being ripped to bits specific particles must be chosen, and ones with the same properties as their normal counterparts, so that biological and technological processes can still continue, and so the drive can be turned off. Horror stories could abound about all the tests gone wrong.
And the piece de resistance, the non-space drive Combining inertialess drive and field projection technologies it creates a non-space pocket in which to immerse a vessel. The interaction of the field with normal space moves it, but the ship travels as the crow pilots, in a strait line, slipping through all normal boundaries, like a stone through water. Inherent problems: if non-space is out of the space-time continuum it is possible that time does not exist there, in which case you would be frozen, helpless, in non-time, unable to pilot or disengage. The second main concern is that if someone collapsed the field you might be stuck in non-space, and since everybody's non-space envelope is different, there would be no way to rescue you.
How about Quantum Interspace Frequency Resonance?
It is well known that field harmonics can produce startling effects. If it can shatter a wine glass why cant it provide near-instantaneous travel? Simply place machines built to project static fields of specific and separate frequencies here and there throughout known space, with attached monitoring stations (like the towers at the airport), and in reply to an all clear you simply set your hull to vibrating at the exact same unique frequency. It could work.
Hack The Universal OS
Perhaps space travel is as simple as updating an attribute of 'matter'. Such as using SetX,SetY,SetZ in a computer graphics system, though perhaps something far more exotic then those simple dimensions. With perhaps 11 dimensions to set just right, and complex relationships between them, perhaps only the finest quantum computers could get your coordinates right. Since you would not be accelerated, you would relocate the next time the universe 'refreshed'. Note that every particle moved, perhaps down to the quark level would require it's own specific coordinate, perhaps dramatically different from the other.
Time travel may also be possible that way, but presumably changing those coordinates would be even more complex, and so require computers even more advanced then those needed for simple relocation.
The actual changing of a particle's coordinates may require something as simple as a precisely timed or shaped pulse of an exotic species of EMF, but the selection of the correct value would be the rub.
Conventional Warp Drives are stable, safe, and reliable FTL drives. They have been used for almost two centuries without change.
One day in the High Navy's testing grounds, that changed. There was a tiny "mishap". The event study of the mishap reshaped astrocombat.
After the mishap, they had "the test", It started with a modified Skyclaw space fighter. Like many FTL system, there was a central corepoint for the engines. What was visibly different was that there were two apertures - one fore and one aft. The invisible differences were the focusing rings inside the corepoint. Tossing out 150 cycles of engineering, they ran this engine off cycle and with alternating rings. It was incredibly fast (and only slightly unstable). FTL had been re-invented, like the jet had changed from the propeller plane.
That was not all.
By changing the polarity of the neutron flow in the focus rings, and refocusing to the "special warp aperture" in the front of the ship, a cohesive force beam comprise of hyperrized warp particles was generated.
The target freighter hulk, another ship parked a light second away, and a good sized asteroid 4 light seconds away were ... destroyed.
And this was from a small class a warp system. The same process could be used in a full spinal warp drive like a class R or U, the ones that powered battleships, carriers, and the Fleet dreadnaughts.
The power could clear arcs of an asteroid belt at a single shot.
or an enemy fleet.
Sure the system needed a moment to charge... and the ring flows needed to re-establish themselves after firing. A few moments of build up and reboot were a small price to pay for a cohesive warp force weapon.
A super weapon AND a drive with +600% efficiency with only a small modification to a drive system. This made the High Navy Brass happy.
The name War Drive came from a typo made by a Division Chief doing his prsentation to the Senior Board. War drive, rather than warp drive. The name was perfect and became its official designation.
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? Responses (16)-16
I am voting on this because it was an idea that manfred and I threw at each other over a year ago and it was perfect for my mind frame back then. To see this back form the dusted hallows is great.
A well-timed resurrection, it seems. :)
I tend to agree.
I like this and look forward to what it generates. I think there is a deficit of science fiction and science fantasy that this is a good step towards amending.
Ironically Scras, your addition of the Folding Space concept was what I created, in game terms, when manfred originally posed this question to me a year ago.
I look forward to more of these ideas.
Faster-than-tea... This is better than the description for the infinite improbability drive. Great job.
Good stuff... The majority of sci-fi needs some kind of FTL drive. Do warp gates count for this?
Well, if they can serve for transportation with a speed that is (to the outside at least) above the speed of light, then definitely yes.
I absolutely love the resonance/expanding space idea.
what Iain said! fascinating stuff.
I find this to be a good scroll. Pseudo-physics is always fun. Woohoo!
Yes, rubber physics for everyone! Get your rubber physics while it's hot! :)
Just to note, there is little rant attached now, on the topic of wormhole/hyperspace drives which are seen in basically every sci-fi. Besides ranting, there are a few ideas you could use.