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Thread: Faster than light travel

  1. #1
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    Faster than light travel

    If you want to create a single galactic setting, you're going to need faster than light travel. No galactic-spanning civilisation could survive without it. So, given that no option for FTL is scientifically plausible, which would you consider the least grating were it to be employed?
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    This is just my own feeling, and others will likely disagree, but I think maybe the wormhole scenario, because people talk about it as it might actually be possible.
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    Agreed.

    In Star Trek terms, the wormhole of Deep Space 9 was easier to cope with than the whatever it was that flung Voyager away.
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    If most stars are to be linked with enough connectivity to allow reaching the far side of the galaxy, you're going to need more wormholes than stars. This seems like something that would have been noticed.

    There's a variety of fictional systems involving restrictions that limit you to jumping between systems that are connected in some way, not necessarily by permanent or natural wormholes. These do go some way toward making it impractical to exploit FTL for causality breaking, and providing some structure to the setting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    If most stars are to be linked with enough connectivity to allow reaching the far side of the galaxy, you're going to need more wormholes than stars. This seems like something that would have been noticed.
    I guess you could make it so that there are only wormholes between certain places, and in the same way that human civilizations tend to be found along rivers, the civilization would not be taking up the whole galaxy, but only selected parts of the galaxy where there happen to be wormhole entrances.
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    I tend to prefer the older style movies where Faster Than Light was not the most important part of a movie, FTL was not really a thing. We are now in the age of Superhero Marvel/DC video game Fiction so watching modern movies I have learned to switch off the brain at times, if you think about a movie too much you can ruin your enjoyment of it. Also on movies and tv you get high fantasy and cartoony Star Wars stuff which is full of escapism and fantasy fiction. My favorite is still the hardish scifi or no FTL, the old school idea of generation ships, cryo gene sleep. I like older style writers like Kim Stanley Robinson, Baxter, Arthur C Clark, Heinlein, Andy Weir, these guys might have all wrote best by trying to keep their scifi fiction grounded in realism.

    In terms of modern science-ish fantasy it can go anywhere. Marvel Cinematic Universe has a largely unexplained FTL system it is after all based on a comicbook but from what I understood Guardians movie had 'jump points' which allows your spaceship to jump/fly to another point of limited distance? Thor was almost entirely fantasy but visually it looked like a mix of some teleport gate way and warping/flying people through space, the people in Asgard were explained as aliens who love dressing in their historical costumes like viking samurai but they have technology that is so advanced it looks like 'magic'. I am not really a big fan of any Starwars or Marvel explanations of 'physics' i'm not sure it needs to be explained. Once you start breaking Laws of physics you can realistically enter little nitpick plot paradoxes, something traveling faster than light must appear to some observers to be traveling backwards in time, the rule being information can not go faster than light and you start asking paradox questions and the whole logical difficulty like he/she went back in time and killed the Grandfather Paradox. Most movies which claim to be 'science' fiction had so many plot holes you could spend months nitpicking. One idea might be to have Faster-Than-Light but FTL drive with time travel problems. If your characters can go FTL with ease and you accept the consequences then characters can become godly, almost omnipotent, time manipulators thanks to your ability to go back in time? Farscape, Matrix, Marvel, Stargate I feel are kind of soft mushy squishy scifi for the most part, Star Trek was also full of cartoonish events and plot holes but the writers would try to use re-occurring Star Trek techno-babble to keep its science/physics stuff Canon.


    As an ongoing show of a number of seasons Babylon 5 might have done it best, people say it was highly rated for its time and is still a cult classic. Fans of B5 say they tried to at least make the characters kind of 'grounded' and their ships obey certain laws of physics with the whole Gate thing, it shares themes with Deep Space Nine just like Star Trek franchise DS9 did with wormholes. Babylon 5 if I recall correct had a network of stationary gateways which had been positioned throughout the galaxy but maybe built by another ancient race called the Vorlons or Shadows? Wormhole/subspace tunnel works if you accept it does not really break any rules, Enter here, come out there without breaking any universal laws? The teleport or quantum entangle with the universe or jump method described and seen in Stargate or Battlestar could also work, Stargate SG1 explained its law bending using gates or portals and many of the Dr Who series also had some funny technobabble moments. I like the idea of pushing new ideas but once you start to bend any laws it can go anywhere and here we start to enter the whole comicbook cartoonish element and maybe just go full out into some FTL engine drive territory. Sometimes you have the whole teleport thing or Ship disappears and reappears elsewhere a Jump drive that allows the film maker/ artist/writer to jump the laws of physics with the fictional characters and ships. You also have the hyper-space motor way or FTL highway lanes you got on shows like Andromeda, Slipstream I think they called it and you see and hear of these Hyperspace lanes in video games and Star Wars, the Hyperdrive is sometimes used in fiction to describe a jump to a side dimension to where a ship can go faster. One approach is the whole I found an alien gizmo buried, like a caveman finding out from a friend how to make a spear or do fire....this new gizmo gadget i don't know how it really works but I can kinda use it to go FTL or another method could be to try to copy or reverse engineer alien tech, make Wormholes maintenance more expensive, copy a Dyson sphere and use it to 'bend' the laws of nature and transport your people around. That's assuming you want buried technology and green aliens in your fictional universe. I haven't watched much Japanese cartoons or anime movies but I feel they probably enter the realm of mysticism and fantasy and probably have less 'science' than say Farscape, Matrix, Marvel, or Stargate. There are many new writers on the entertainment media scenes for example the new generation like Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels, a kind of cyberpunk blade runner universe where you don't exactly travel across the stars anymore but you are downloaded into new bodies/copies across space, fax or telegram your brain across the stars a new old way for Humans to Achieve Interstellar Travel?


    Sometimes I feel less is more in science fiction people sometimes get too hung up on details, it is after all fiction. I think sometimes movies, tv and fiction tends to over explain stuff, maybe it is better they do not explain every detail. I might like the new method of travel to have some some kind of "exotic" matter or gateway or strange propulsion system, without trying to over explain it. The Dune series was smart, it had subtle scifi and maybe even politically commentary but it never bashed you over the head with too much fantasy and information, the series had a concept of folded space and Mutated Guild Navigators who would use the exotic spice drug melange to successfully navigate "folded space" . In real life you have this whole spooky action at a distance with quantum entanglement, Chinese satellite recently were to achieve 'spooky action' at record distances and in September 2011, scientists at European particle atom smasher CERN famously announced that they might, just maybe observed neutrino particles moving faster than the speed of light however like a previous Fermilab recorded result this all turned out to be a false positive or incorrect reading, or none of these discoveries proved any practical showing of FTL. However events like these might inspire future scifi writers and you may get a Carl Sagan type personality to inspire new writers and film makers.
    Last edited by Launch window; 2018-May-21 at 03:52 AM.

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    Set the story in the far future when the stars are dying and humans have been genetically modified to live much more slowly at very low temperatures. The speed of light would seem to be much faster to them making interstellar empires more reasonable.

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    There is no need to achieve FLT to get across the galaxy quickly. For the traveler somewhere very close to the speed of light is quick enough, due to time dilation and space contraction the distances will be much shorter. It will just mean that in the time frame of the people they leave behind the journey will appear to take 1000's - 100,000's of years. Which means any sort of communication, after a period of time, between them will be very impractical.

    For this traveler it will be a "round the galaxy trip", but on return, the place they started from will be a much different place than when they left.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmocrazy View Post
    There is no need to achieve FLT to get across the galaxy quickly. For the traveler somewhere very close to the speed of light is quick enough, due to time dilation and space contraction the distances will be much shorter. It will just mean that in the time frame of the people they leave behind the journey will appear to take 1000's - 100,000's of years. Which means any sort of communication, after a period of time, between them will be very impractical.
    I think the OP wants to know about a galaxy-spanning civilization, so in other words one where the imperial senate or whatever is governing the whole galaxy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    I think the OP wants to know about a galaxy-spanning civilization, so in other words one where the imperial senate or whatever is governing the whole galaxy.
    Ah.. yes I see what you mean, I've re-read the op.

    Then your suggestion of wormholes seems the most plausible workable model to me.

  11. #11
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    Alderson points?
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  12. #12
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    An Alcubierre warp drive might be possible.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

    The Alcubierre drive or Alcubierre warp drive (or Alcubierre metric, referring to metric tensor) is a speculative idea based on a solution of Einstein's field equations in general relativity as proposed by Mexican theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre, by which a spacecraft could achieve apparent faster-than-light travel if a configurable energy-density field lower than that of vacuum (that is, negative mass) could be created.
    The warp drive: hyper-fast travel within general relativity
    Miguel Alcubierre
    https://arxiv.org/pdf/gr-qc/0009013
    It is shown how, within the framework of general relativity and without the introduction of wormholes, it is possible to modify a spacetime in a way that allows a spaceship to travel with an arbitrarily large speed
    Many related papers can be found if you use the Web search string
    Alcubierre site:arxiv.org
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    Wormhole generators as used in Stargate.
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  14. #14
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    Decide how you want your world to operate. Make up the technology that will do that.

    It's not like a rational reader is going to say "Oh I surely like this story about a galaxy-spanning empire, but I just find this FTL technology implausible."

    If they do, they're reading the wrong novel anyway.

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    ^Yes. It's a story device.
    If its mode of operation is unimportant to the story, then there are plenty of terms that readers are familiar with ("jump", "warp", "subspace", "hyperspace") that allow you to just motor on without a data dump.
    If its mode of operation is important to the story, then use whatever you need for the plot.

    Probably best to avoid stealing other authors' pet interstellar drives, though - for that reason I'd avoid things like Dan Alderson's "Alderson Drive" (which was created for and used by Jerry Pournelle), or anything that seems like Niven's "Blind Spot" ... etc.

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    If the story telling is good enough, how the FTL works isn't important as long as it follows consistent rules within the story. My favorite FTL drive is Harry Harrison's bloater drive.

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