Hi guys! Today I’ve got for you something special – a guest post from Cindy Koepp. She had published her new Sci-Fi book not so long ago and it sounds quite interesting! And after reading this article I’m even more curious to read her books.
Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology: Hyperspace Travel
Faster-than-light (FTL) travel has been a staple of science fiction for decades. It comes in many forms. There’s Star Trek’s warp drive. Star Wars has a hyperdrive. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy brought us the Infinite Improbability Drive. Even Doctor Who’s TARDIS is used to travel fantastically great distances pretty quickly.
Popular Mechanics has rated the plausibility of 10 different sci-fi FTL systems here:
My favorite shows up in The Childe Cycle, a collection of novels and short stories by Gordon R. Dickson. He used the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. He didn’t call it that, but that’s what it amounts to. It’s complicated, but in general terms, you cannot know both the location and the vector of an object at the same time. If you know for sure where you are, you can travel as fast as you want. If you know your exact speed and direction, you can be anywhere you want. This sort of sounds like teleporting with your ship. Unfortunately, in The Childe Cycle, this ship-wide teleportation thing messes with human brains. That fact becomes important in one of the novels: Dorsai!
I used an FTL system in Remnant in the Stars and its sequel The Loudest Actions, too. I was so amused by Dickson’s use of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle that I almost used something very much like it. That, however, would have been cheating. Instead, I used the notion that the universe is made up of at least 10 dimensions. 4 are directly observable (length, width, height, and time) and the other 6 are weird. Really weird. (These get a little dense, but if you’re interested … http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/physics/2014/04/how-many-dimensions-does-the-universe-really-have/ and http://www.livescience.com/18047-universe-ten-dimensions.html )
If you live in a 2D universe, you can’t fold stuff without a 3rd dimension to fold it into. If you could fold the 2D universe into a third dimension, you could connect 2 dots on the 2D universe and travel there real quickly, relatively speaking. Project that into our interesting universe, and you find that you can change your location by stepping out of our dimensions and into another one. Then you can travel where you need to go and step back into our own dimensions.
That sounds okay if I write fast enough. A physicist could probably blow holes in it, but it worked for the universe I was making.
I didn’t want hyperspace to be too easy, though, and besides, the Aolanians needed a claim to fame that took advantage of the incredible mental calculator and eidetic memory they have. So, courses through hyperspace have to be calculated to avoid major gravity sources like black holes, stars, and planets.
When the ships enter hyperspace, they stretch space a bit, and when they exit, they compress space a bit. So, to show a visual for that, I put the Doppler Effect to use. The Doppler Effect causes light (and sound) waves to compress as objects more closer and expand as objects move apart. In sounds, that’s why an approaching siren changes pitch as it gets close to you, passes, then moves away.
Here’s an explanation of Doppler Effect: http://www.space.com/25732-redshift-blueshift.html
As a ship enters hyperspace, it stretches space, so the outgoing portal looks red. Red wavelengths of light are some of the longest in the visible spectrum. Re-entering normal space compresses space, so the incoming portal is blue. Blue light is one of the shortest in the visible spectrum.
Purple light waves are shorter than blue, so why didn’t I use purple? That’s not too complicated. The effect is called “blue shift.” Yep. That’s the only reason I had.
I’m not sure that my FTL idea is exactly unique, but it has quirks that fit the universe and create some plot tension for the characters.