Space Travel and Teleportation

"Space Travel" may be accomplished in any of three ways:

   1. Newtonian travel

   2. Subspace/Hyperspace travel

   3. Warp travel

1. Newtonian space travel is the movement of an "object" "through" space — like a person walking across the surface of a planet, a planet moving around a star, a star moving around the center of its galaxy, a spaceship traveling from planet to planet.

   "Objects (matter)," like protons, atoms, molecules or people, seem to us to be distinct from the "space" in which they are found. They are not. Matter is simply a region of space whose curvature is greater than the surrounding area of space and whose frequency of change of curvature gives it properties which we describe as mass, charge, etc. When matter moves "through" space, the curvature of space changes from one point in space to another. An "object" is no more distinct from its surrounding space than a wave is distinct from the water surrounding it. Just as the movement of a wave in the ocean is not the movement of an object from place to place in the water, the movement of an "object" is not the movement of a thing from one place in space to another. In both cases the apparent movement involves only the change in the curvature of a medium.

   Newtonian space travel is the movement of waves called matter through space. The velocity of Newtonian travel is limited to less than the speed of light.

2. Subspace (sometimes called hyperspace) travel is the movement of matter or radiation from one place in space to another through a fifth dimension. The fifth dimension is sometimes referred to as "subspace" or "hyperspace." If the distance traveled is relatively short, subspace travel is usually referred to as "teleportation."

   Suppose we have a two-dimensional layer of ping pong balls covering the floor of a large room. The balls would normally only have two directions of travel — east/west and north/south. If one ball were to travel from the south end of the room to the north it would move along a north/south line at some arbitrary speed until it was finally at the north end. The distance moved and the speed would determine the time required for the trip. A ball moving north at two feet per minute over a distance of 50 feet would require 25 minutes to make the journey.

   Suppose that these ping pong balls are extraordinarily sticky, but only within the layer — they can move among each other but can not come out of the layer. That is, the layer of ping pong balls behaves as if it is a single sheet: if you were to pick up one, it would not detach from its neighbors and everything would come with it. Because the balls are sticky only within the sheet, we could lay another sheet on top of the first and the two would not interact. Let’s also assume that the room is not on Earth, but in orbit — in "zero-G." The only thing holding the sheet together is the stickiness of the balls. Let’s pick up the south end of the sheet and haul it to the north end of the room, folding the sheet in half. As far as the ping pong balls are concerned, nothing has changed. It still takes 25 minutes to travel from the south to the north end, even though, at the beginning of the trip, the ball at the "south" end of the sheet is practically in contact with its destination at the north. If the ball could make that short distance between the ends of the sheet, how long would that take? Not long.

   Let’s also assume that "time" (and thus speed) has no meaning unless the balls are in their sheet. Instead of folding the sheet, we just remove a ball from the south end, take it to the north end, and reinsert it. As far as the ball is concerned, no time has elapsed — the ball was "teleported" from the south to the north.

   The four-dimensional space-time in which we live coexists with a fifth (sixth, seventh...?) dimension. Like the ping pong balls in the two-dimensional sheet which are restricted to two dimensions and can not (normally) travel through the third dimension, as I described above, we are restricted to our four-dimensional space and can not (normally) travel through the fifth dimension. If we could, we could travel to any other location in space in no time.

   Subspace travel is problematic. Since all points in (four-dimensional) space are equivalent "distances" (that is, essentially no distance) in time and space from each other through subspace, and because we can not perceive the universe in five dimensions, reinsertion at the desired destination in space and time is not a simple matter, and becomes less simple as the distance increases. Not only would we be required to reinsert at the desired new location in space, but we would normally want to reinsert at about the same time as we left. This explains why the Raptors' planet Home was never found in deep-sky surveys on Earth--Not only did Home pass through the tear in space to a location distant from Earth, but it reinserted at a time after these surveys were no longer being done. Computers can be capable of making the calculations required for short space-time distances by successive approximation techniques so that we can "teleport" matter from one location to another--like from the ground floor of a hotel to the 20th floor, for example. The more sophisticated computers of starships can do calculations which allow a ship to go from just above a planet’s atmosphere to tens of astronomical units away prior to engaging the warp drive. Subspace travel takes place virtually instantaneously at these distances.

   Biological brains may also evolve this ability, allowing some living things to teleport for short distances--like the saurians from the planet Home.

   However, for interplanetary or greater distances, computer algorithms (as per chaos theory) cannot be developed to make subspace travel practical for matter (unless you don’t care where or when you end up and don’t plan on coming back!) Radiation, on the other hand, is less of a problem. The number of photons required to send a message is almost trivial and computers can easily make the necessary calculations to send them to some distant point. Subspace communication is relatively easy. Interstellar messages can be sent essentially instantaneously

3. Warp travel resembles Newtonian travel in so far as matter seems to be traveling through space at some particular speed. Because Newtonian travel is simply the movement of a wave through a medium, there is a maximum speed (analogous to the speed of sound through air, water, or the ground) that space can be deformed — that is, a maximum speed at which matter or radiation can travel. This is commonly referred to as the "speed of light."

   Just as supersonic speeds are possible, so are "superluminal" speeds. Matter or radiation cannot travel faster than the speed of light through space, but there is no such limitation on the motion of space itself. The "inflationary period" of the universe right after the Big Bang was such a situation. The "warp drive" of a starship is a technological way to cause something similar to happen. A "bubble" of space containing a starship can be caused to contract rapidly ahead of the ship and expand similarly behind it, so that the bubble — and its contents — can move at superluminal speeds. Although this does not provide for instantaneous space travel (as subspace travel does), the time to travel interstellar distance can be dramatically decreased when compared to times required for Newtonian travel. With the development of a warp drive, interstellar travel becomes as practical as interplanetary travel.

Within a planetary system, the normal procedure is to make a short subspace jump to above or below the plane of the ecliptic, then engage the warp drive.

Page updated: 13 June 2019
Page created: 19 January 2012