Tuesday, May 10, 2016

SF Setting - Hyperspace


As promised, here's the first in a series of essays covering the background and technical details of the SF setting I've created for Perilous Waif. This has been an interesting project, because I wanted a relatively hard SF setting that still allowed for the typical space opera sorts of story plots. So somehow I had to get an interstellar civilization without having a singularity, replacing humanity with AIs, or otherwise rendering normal people completely irrelevant.

The FTL method is a key foundation of this kind of setting, but in this case I wanted it to be a fully integrated part of the universe instead of just a magic plot device. The mechanism I eventually settled on is a bit complex, but on the good side it adds a lot of richness to the tactics of space combat in a very natural way.

Basic Concepts

In this setting advanced physics research has revealed that our universe is simply one of a series of large 4-dimensional spaces embedded in a common higher-dimensional space. These universes are nested like a series of concentric hyperspheres, and it is possible for inhabitants of a given universe to travel to the two neighboring universes in the series. There is also a stable mapping of locations from one universe to another, so if you shift universes in Mars orbit you’ll always emerge near the same corresponding location in the target universe.

The ‘hyperspace’ universes are the ones nested inside our universe. The geometry of the higher-dimensional space means that each nested universe is ‘smaller’ than its container by a factor of pi^3, meaning that if you make a trip in the first hyperspace universe instead of normal space the distance you need to cover will be shorter by that amount. So interstellar travel is accomplished by shifting to a hyperspace universe where the distance is thousands of times smaller than in normal space, and no actual FTL movement is involved. The various universes nested inside normal space are collectively referred to as ‘hyperspace’, while individual universes are ‘layers’ designated by Greek letters (i.e. Alpha Layer, Beta Layer, Gamma Layer, etc.)

The universes ‘outside’ normal space are collectively referred to as ‘subspace’. As you travel into subspace distances increase by a factor of pi^3 in each universe, making it useless for travel. The average mass density also drops quickly, leaving them with very little in the way of interesting features like stars or planets. As a result subspace is normally of interest only to scientists, and is rarely visited.

Transition Mechanics

A starship normally moves between different layers of hyperspace using a device called a hyperspace converter, which is a large piece of complex nanotechnology. While the actual transition between layers happens in microseconds it takes at least a minute for even the fastest hyperspace converter to power up, and on larger ships a cycle time of five to ten minutes would be normal. Civilian ships, especially cargo vessels, often save money by using designs that have a long cycle time but place less stress on the hyperspace converter.

The design of FTL ships is constrained by two important scaling laws. First, the energy needed for a hyperspace transition is relative to the surface area of a sphere enclosing the ship, so larger ships find it easier to fit in enough fusion reactors to run the hyperspace converter. However, transition also subjects the ship to large mechanical stresses that become worse the bigger it is. Both of these factors are easily managed for Alpha transitions, which have relatively low energy costs and transition stress, but get geometrically worse for each layer beyond that.

Making a hyperspace transition near a massive object tends to be dangerous, because a gravity well greatly increases the transition stress. Military ships normally avoid making transitions in a local gravity field stronger than 0.01g, while civilian shipping treats 0.001g as a hard safety line. This constraint applies to both the origin and destination points of a transition, which can make visiting uncharted space rather hazardous for the unwary.

While travelers (and invaders) might like to shift rapidly between different layers of hyperspace, this is easier said than done. Each transition dumps a fantastic amount of waste heat into the hyperspace converter, which is normally buried deep inside a ship to protect it from damage. Hyperspace transitions also produce a temporary disturbance in the dimensional barrier between the layers, which makes further transitions dangerous (much like a gravity well) for a period proportional to the diameter of the ship’s transit bubble. So small ships with superior engineering might be able to zoom around changing layers every few minutes, but capital ships will normally maintain a more stately pace of one or two transitions per hour.

Hyperspace Portals

A few major nations have developed the technology to create permanent, stable wormholes between normal space and the Alpha Layer. While this requires a large capital investment, it can be a worthwhile project in systems that have a large volume of civilian interplanetary traffic. Unlike a normal hyperspace transition, using a portal requires no special equipment and imposes minimal transit stress on the ship. 

Unfortunately portals between the Alpha and Beta Layers are far more difficult to build. While small systems capable of moving people or sensor drones have been demonstrated, a version sized for ships would be far too expensive to have any real use. Portals to the higher layers are even more difficult, due to the high levels of transit stress that the portal system would have to stabilize.

Several nations have adapted this technology to create a portable system for their larger warships, allowing them to peek into adjacent hyperspace layers using small temporary portals. Sometimes called hyperspace periscopes, these devices have been demonstrated all the way up to the Delta Layer (albeit with very small aperture sizes).

Hyperspace Layers

All universes that can actually be visited run on the same laws of quantum mechanics (otherwise ships and people entering them would immediately stop working). But ‘cosmological’ physics (gravity, dark energy and everything else that in RL hasn’t been unified with quantum mechanics) can vary from one universe to another, and universal constants can also have slightly different values. Between these differences and the rapidly increasing mass density of the higher layers hyperspace looks very different from normal space.

Alpha Layer

Adjacent to normal space, with relatively mild transit stress between the two universes. The Alpha Layer is ~30 times ‘smaller’ than normal space, and is heavily used for local travel within a solar system. At normal long-distance travel speeds of ~1,000 kps a starship in the Alpha Layer would take ten years to traverse a light year of normal space.

With an average mass density almost a thousand times higher than normal space, the Alpha Layer is characterized by large galaxies full of dense star clusters. The region adjacent to human space is on the fringes of one of these galaxies, and contains far more stars than the corresponding region of normal space. But the vast majority of them are giants of 3-10 solar masses, which burn out quickly and produce huge numbers of supernovae. Neutron stars and black holes are also extremely common, and the relative abundance of heavy elements is far higher than normal space.

There is no native life in the Alpha Layer, and permanent colonies are rare. The average planet will be sterilized by a supernova or gamma ray burst about once every thousand years, a fact that has largely discouraged the establishment of permanent human colonies. In civilized areas robotic monitoring systems track such events, and all shipping will know to avoid the Alpha Layer when a blast wave is due to pass through. In less civilized areas monitoring can be incomplete or even completely absent, making travel somewhat dangerous (especially for smaller ships).

Despite the hazards, large-scale mining operations are often set up in the Alpha Layer to take advantage of the high abundance of heavy elements. Heavily populated colonies also put monitoring systems and other static defenses in the Alpha Layer, where they can easily intercept interplanetary traffic.

Beta Layer

The next universe up from the Alpha Layer, with higher transit stresses that require more expensive ships. The Beta Layer is ~900 times ‘smaller’ than normal space, and is sometimes used for long interplanetary trips (i.e. visiting the Oort cloud, travel between distant binary stars). At normal long-distance travel speeds of ~1,000 kps a starship in the Beta Layer would take four months to traverse a light year of normal space.

The Beta Layer is a universe where the competition between matter and antimatter never ran to completion. Instead some galaxies are made up of matter while others are antimatter, and the cosmic background radiation is dominated by a harsh glare of matter-antimatter annihilation. The region adjacent to human space is in intergalactic space, but there is a thin sprinkling of antimatter halo stars. These systems are often claimed by nations with active antimatter weapon programs, although even with modern technology mining antimatter and processing it into warheads is a dangerous process. 

Gamma Layer

With substantially higher transit stress than the Beta Layer, this universe didn’t become accessible until the development of compact fusion power plants and diamondoid structural materials. Thanks to the scaling factor of ~27,000, a ship in the Gamma Layer can cross the equivalent of a light year of normal space in only 4 days. The first great wave of interstellar exploration and colonization used the Gamma Layer, and it is still used by the majority of interstellar cargo shipping.

The Gamma Layer is a universe whose initial expansion was slower than in normal space, and as a result virtually all hydrogen was burned into heavier elements before it expanded enough to become transparent. There are very few stars, since there isn’t much for them to burn, and in fact most of the mass in the universe has become sequestered in black holes. The region adjacent to human space is an intergalactic void, making it conveniently lacking in navigational hazards.

Major nations often build large-scale fortifications in the Gamma Layer to protect access to important systems, since the ~1,000,000 km range of heavy energy weapons is enough to interdict access to an entire solar system in normal space.

Delta Layer

The transit stress to this layer is so high that only heavily armored vessels can survive entering it, making it uneconomical for most civilian purposes. But being ‘smaller’ than normal space by a factor of 810,000 means that ships that are able to use it can cross a light year of normal space in a bit over 3 hours, making trips of tens or even hundreds of light years relatively quick. Most military vessels use the Delta Layer for its greater mobility, as do courier ships and express transports, and the second great wave of exploration and colonization began with the construction of the first Delta-capable ships

The Delta Layer’s physics is rather bizarre compared to the lower layers, due to the fact that it has a cosmological repulsive force that becomes stronger than gravity over distances greater than 10^8 km. This generally prevents the formation of objects larger than a small moon, leading to a universe filled with diffuse clouds of partially-ionized gas. This medium is actually dense enough to cause thermal damage to relativistic objects, and can give rise to immense storm-like phenomena that block long-range sensors and last for millennia.

Epsilon Layer

With a relative scaling of 24 million, a ship in the Epsilon Layer would be able to cover a light year in only six minutes. Such speeds would open up the entire Local Group to human colonization, so it’s too bad it’s impossible to get there.

The problem is that the energy needed to enter the epsilon layer is so high you’d need a 2 km ship packed full of antimatter reactors to run the hyperspace converter, but the transition stress is so high that even a solid block of diamondoid material would be ripped apart if it’s more than a few hundred meters across. Since both the power output of antimatter reactors and the tensile strength of the best structural materials are currently limited by fundamental physics rather than engineering details, it is generally believed that accessing the Epsilon Layer is impossible.

43 comments:

  1. Quite interesting and novel. Depending on how much you want to worry about "real" physics, you have a couple of theoretical problems. First is the Equivalence Principal, which means acceleration is indistinguishable from gravity. A 0.01g limit would mean a ship must be coasting....even venting gas (e.g. from battle damage) might cause dangerous acceleration. Only you hardest-core fans will care. Also, the real problems with FTL travel isn't the "travel" part. A perfect teleporter will have the same problem....appearing somewhere FTL, no matter how you get there, has causality problems. Again, only the really obnoxious physicists will care. I think it's a great start!

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    1. Yes, one of my beta readers pointed out the Equivalence Principal issue. On reflection I decided that I'm fine with this limitation, though. If ships have to stop maneuvering to change layers that makes it harder to use hyperspace as an instant escape from danger, which generally leads to better stories anyway.

      The FTL 'time travel' problem is something I've always felt is overstated. Relativity redefines time in terms of the speed of light, which makes any form of FTL time travel by definition. But that's largely because they've changed the definition of 'time travel' to include what we would normally call mere optical illusions (i.e. traveling to a point where you can see past events with a really big telescope). In this case I'm pretty sure there's no course a captain can plot through hyperspace that will actually allow him to visit his own past, and that's the only kind of time travel I'm worried about preventing.

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  2. “ Major nations often build large-scale fortifications in the Gamma Layer to protect access to important systems, since the ~1,000,000 km range of heavy energy weapons is enough to interdict access to an entire solar system in normal space. ”

    The distance between Earth and the sun is 150.000.000 km, between Pluto and the sun 6.000.000.000 km.
    Can one gun with 1.000.000 km range defend a sphere with 12.000.000.000 km diameter?

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    1. In the Gamma layer everything is closer together, so someone trying to exit from Gamma and appear where roughly Pluto would be in normal space is covered by the gun. It only needs to cover a sphere w/ a radius of 12,000,000,000 / 27,000 km, or 444,444 km.

      However, that means the guns have three light-second coverage. Anything not moving at those speeds could be easily dodged if detected. I wonder how easily the gun's shots can be accelerated and the time it takes to hit an object at max distance.

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    2. How can I imagine this “scaling factor of 27.000”?

      You can not squeeze the same planets, suns, systems simply in a 27.000 times smaller room….

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    3. They didn't "squeeze" the solar system into a smaller space. Per the author's description it's mostly black holes and a few stars.

      What I am referring to is the fact that each point in gamma space is congruent to normal space with 27,0000 compression. So in gamma space a ship somewhere between (0,0,0) and (+-1,+-1,+-1) (in km) would be able to transit to normal space somewhere in a 27,000 radius sphere. By having guns w/ a 1M km radius in gamma space you cover anyone trying to transit from gamma to normal for 27,000,000,000 km.

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    4. If you need a converter or a portal to switch universes, then how are the energy weapons affecting the realspace from the gamma layer? If one can beam energy through dimensional boundaries, then why not beam some power to a ship in delta layer so it can jump to epsilon?

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    5. Energy weapons can't fire across layers. But they don't need to, because anyone who wants to visit a system in normal space is going to have to pass well within gunnery range of a station in the Gamma Layer to get there.

      I can see this is a confusing point, so I'll have to put some thought into how to explain it clearly before I actually use it in the story.

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    6. Thank you for the explanation. I guess smuggling is not easy in this setting. If you need to spend years traversing the Beta layer in order to dodge citadels floating in the Gammma layer, you may look for other options first. I assume that smugglers will not have access to Delta layer. This may not be true, of course.

      If you want to make it more clear, then you could say that anyone who wants to enter a solar system in any reasonable time will have to use the Gamma layer, unless they have access to military grade ships. The military, of course, has all the routes of approach through Gamma layer covered by lasers, masers and other beamy things.

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    7. Wait, that doesn't make sense.

      Can someone check my math?

      Assume the smuggling target is 1KM away in Gamma space. That means:
      - 27,000M km away in Normal Space
      - 900M km away in Alpha Space
      - 30M km away in Beta Space

      Assume that ships can travel (ignoring acceleration to boost/brake) 1000 km per sec (kps)

      A Gamma space journey would be 1000 seconds for 1M km. A Beta space journey would be 30,000 seconds. So you move from from a 28 minute trip in Gamma to an 8 hour 20 minute trip.

      That's not much of a loss for a smuggler. Maybe bad for a military but a smuggler might easily accept it.

      Plus, space is HUGE. Especially for 3D area needing to be covered. You'd need a lot of forts with the 1M km guns to cover a lot of empty space in order to make it a problem for smugglers.

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    8. I should also add, that since weapons can't cross then neither can messages. You need a physical courier to pass information between layers. A ship could transit up & down the layers (it's implied this is easy for quick escapes) while weapons are assessing, targeting, and then firing. You can cover a lot of space very quickly unless the weapons are automated.

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    9. Er, I mean that since messages can't pass you can hop layers without the other layer knowing what you just did in another. Due to delays in light-speed communication you have a window in which you can move even if spotted. So if Gamma spots you, then Beta won't know and will try to do the same thing. You can also try to have a proper reflective coating and run w/ no emissions or mimic the profile of something non-ship.

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    10. We do not know how good engines are in this setting.
      Remember, it takes just under 20 minutes to decelerate from 1 km/s to relative 0 km/s if your engines can accelerate you by 1 m/(s*s).
      If someone tries to enter a star system and "brakes" early to avoid detection in gamma layer, then jumps to beta, then there is still a big distance to cover.

      Unlike huge energy weapons, observation satellites and radar stations are cheap. Entering an area from the outside is easy to detect — remember, there is no such thing as stealth in space.

      Also remember that layer shifting has a detectable signature, so if you jump layers in someone sensors' range, then they know where to point their telescopes now.

      All of that combined means that flying into a system without the authorities stopping you means you must appear inside of the defenses. That means jumping from beta or gamma layers. Delta would be ideal, but I assume that only governments can afford delta-capable ships.

      Guess what, gamma layer is covered by lasers. You cannot enter through here without being spotted and shot. If you are sneaking through beta, then you will be spotted when you are still far away, and caught by a system defense ship.

      Smuggling, that staple of space opera, will require subtlety. There will be no dashing blockade running here. Instead, there will be plenty of freighters with double walls in the corridors, and other secret stashes.

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  3. I headr of an intersting law recently called Wells' law. It was something HG Welles said
    "Term used in this encyclopedia for the principle, formulated by H G Wells, that an sf or fantasy story should contain only a single extraordinary assumption. James Blish paraphrases it in More Issues at Hand: Critical Studies in Contemporary Science Fiction (coll 1970) as by William Atheling Jr, speaking of Wells's "hard rule ... that only a single fantastic assumption was admissible per story, and must thereafter be developed with the strictest logic of which the writer is capable." "

    Thought this might be usefule ;)

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    1. Argh, stupid new keyboard, apologies for the spelling mistakes

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  4. Hypospace might be more appropriate than Hyperspace, as your layers are under rather than over (our) space.
    Overall, what you postulate is generally viable, as long as you maintain proper distance from the detail -- similar to what Weber does in his Honorverse Universe.

    There are more than a few potential challenges -- space-time properties or mechanics of the various layers would most certainly differ, probably significantly given standard n-dimensional mathematics. Obviously, the work-around is to maintain distance and tell the story rather than dive into detail...

    "Translation" between layers also presents some difficulties. Using your method, getting between points A & B (in normal space) or A1 & B1 (within the Alpha Layer) presupposes a point-congruity between layers.
    Without this "point-congruity", a vessel could merely shift directly, a "jump" -- possibly what your "wormhole" does...

    This also presupposes a similar density within each layer, meaning each subsequent layer becomes more compressed, which substantially increases gravitational phenomena and "heat".

    The simplest point-congruity demonstration would be to translate (our) 3 dimensional universe into a 2-D "flatland", and wrap that around your hypersphere. Thus every sub-layer, like layers of an onion, would lie below its corresponding congruent point.
    Increasing densities would provide some opportunities -- gravitational waves from supernovae and exceptionally large stars could be "surfed", speeding up voyages, etc.

    Translation between layers would appear to be at least a 3-phase process:
    1. Some means of wrapping the entire vessel (and everything within) in "something" that maintains vessel integrity.
    2. "Shifting" the vessel into some type of "null" environment (in preparation to shift to another layer).
    3. Translation to the new layer...

    I'll stop before I get carried away with detail while mentioning that your layers have an appearance of a time discrepancy, which would "mess up" your proposed FTL method. Each of your layers appears to be a representation of an earlier time within our own universe, which would infer a different space-time constant within each layer.

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  5. argh, dammit! - there I was, ready to come on here and bitch and moan about how long Revenant was taking to come out... - and I realised several things:
    1) you're now on my personal A list of authors - in the sense that I will now, sight unseen, buy anything whatsoever that you write - and know for absolute certainty that I will love it
    2) it's not my place to bitch and moan; I'm the reader here... - so: good luck to you, hope the personal site gets sorted, and rest assured I am going to inhale Perilous Waif just like the Daniel Black series.

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    1. that should've been "shit" above - not "site" - bloody blogger doesn't allow editing of comments!

      Also; there's a pint of finest ale waiting for you here should you ever make it to England - not to mention a tour guide!

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  6. In the gamma layer, you should include that you can fuse everything in the periodic table up to iron, so I'd recommend taking a look at this site: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_binding_energy
    I think it would be interesting if you only had atoms higher that iron in that layer?

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  7. Sorry, I meant that you could only fuse atoms beneath iron in the periodic table with excess energy.

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  8. First, the notion of FTL being equivalent to time travel -- yes. In relativity, space and time are unified so that any particular EVENT can be given a coordinate in 4-space. The 4-space distance between events is called an INTERVAL. There are three types of intervals: SPACELIKE, TIMELIKE, and LIGHTLIKE. Lightlike intervals could be exactly bridged by a beam of light: Event A happens (and coincidentally, emits a photon)... at the exact moment the photon could arrive at B, event B happens. The set of all photons (or rather, their coordinates) flowing from event A is referred to as the "light cone". Any event "C" that is inside that light cone could be (perhaps) *caused* by A. No matter what frame of reference you're in, A happens first, C happens second, and information and/or events from A can affect C. On the other hand, an event "D" that is outside the light cone has a spacelike interval -- light from A could never get to D before event D happens; therefore it is impossible for A to have caused or influenced D.

    Things get weird with accelerated reference frames, particularly when you accelerate very close to the speed of light. Space and time shift. The light cone never changes, spacelike, timelike, and lightlike intervals always remain exactly that. But the axes, the time and space coordinates shift and tilt. "Simultaneity" depends on your frame of reference. Events with a spacelike separation (A & D) can be seen as simultaneous in one frame, but very much "past" and "future" from another frame. Or perhaps even "future" and "past," the opposite way around. They are still spacelike, A can't cause D, but some people might see A & D as simultaneous, other reference frames will see a different temporal order.

    Being able to send an FTL signal blows the previous paragraph away. What is the reference frame of an FTL message? If you can instantly send a message between any two simultaneous events, from some frames you are sending a message from the future to the past.

    If you can send MATTER through an FTL process, from some reference frames you are sending matter from the future to the past (for spacelike intervals).

    This is a problem for ALL FTL and ALL FTL SIGNALING. Every science fiction story that does anything faster than the speed of light shares these same issues. The community at large ignores them, because (a) we'd really like FTL to be possible somehow; (b) hey, the stories are fun; (c) a really interesting FTL system invites you to dig into to its imaginary science; and (d) if you're going to be that anal you can pick apart nearly every sitcom and even poke holes in most documentaries. Don't get me started on religion. But it turns out that you can still enjoy Gilligan's Island, even if it has an occasional technical inaccuracy.

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  9. Thinking about translations... (MODEL ONE) if every point in normal space (let's call it "normal") is congruent with dimensions above and below, I would assume that this applies down to the microscopic scale as well. So assume that "alpha" had the exact same planets in place, congruent with our solar system. (Yes, I know that it doesn't, this is a thought experiment.) That is you're orbiting normal-Mars, you transition, you arrive in orbit around alpha-Mars. Alpha-Mars would be 30 times smaller, but your ship and body would also be 30 times smaller. Things would proportionally be the same. But effectively, your ship and body would have been crushed down to miniature size. The entire universe would have been miniaturized, while the speed of light would remain constant. The act of transition would also be an act of crushing and atomic-level miniaturization, producing great stress on anything making the transition. I would expect the most likely explanation to be electron shells suddenly orbiting at 1/30th of their previous distance, with corresponding alterations in chemistry, solid-state physics, and electronics. But perhaps these effects could be dealt with. Presumably, some reactions would become more energetic, with propulsion producing 30 times more thrust. The more we explore the implications here, the less likely it seems to support life or allow our electronics or devices to function. I don't believe this model can explain what we see in alpha-hyperspace.

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  10. (MODEL TWO) does not have microscopic congruence. The ship and its atoms are not crushed or miniaturized. To compensate for that, you might imagine that the transition volume has slight mismatches between position-here and position-there, resulting in stresses that increase proportional to distance. That is, a human body going through might feel a sort of ripple of distortion (perhaps like a concussion wave?), a squeeze of 1mm for a human body might be 2cm for a 40 meter ship (rather significant for a rigid body).

    In this model, the thought-experiment alpha-Mars would be 218 km wide (less than a quarter the diameter of Ceres), with a fairly insignificant mass (matter and quantum mechanics work the same). We see why there's stress on the ship -- while every point on alpha-Mars corresponds to a matching point on normal-Mars, a 40 meter ship has expanded to occupy the spatial coordinates of a ship that's 1.2 kilometers long! This would be even worse if the transition window was open for a finite period of time -- gravitational, tidal, and other effects would "leak" through during the open period.

    The speed of light appears to be the same, physical laws appear to be the same. This is good, because c and c-squared are the same, so reactors and atomic reactions, chemistry and physics, everything is unchanged. But the (thought-experiment) alpha-solar-system is 30 times smaller. The earth-sun distance is not 499 light-seconds, but rather 16 light seconds.

    Of course, any real stellar systems discovered in alpha-hyperspace would have normal sized planets and stars, orbiting at normal distances. Getting to those would almost certain require skipping up to beta-hyperspace. We're fortunate that no alpha-star is present near our solar system, since most stars there are 3-10 solar masses (expect type A1 up through about B5) and we would expect the habitable zones for those giants to range from about 6 to 17 au out. Mapping that back to normal space means that the comfortable radiation zone would range from 186 to 527 au out, in normal space. Since Pluto is about 40 au out, a "typical" star anywhere near the neighborhood corresponding to Sol would probably prevent the use of alpha hyperspace.

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  11. PERISCOPES seem like they have the most interesting implications. I would expect to find paired (stacked) relay drones at (layer), (layer+), and (layer-). Heck, let's just imagine a stack of five at: (normal) (alpha) (beta) (gamma) (delta). They wouldn't have to be exactly on top of each other, just close enough to open a portal and transmit (or receive) to the matching drone on the next layer.

    Since energy weapons (I'm thinking "lasers") have a range of a million kilometers (about 3 1/3 light seconds) I'm assuming that sensors and detectors are good for at least that range. That means that a drone-sensor platform in alpha could scan a little over 100 light seconds (well, anything that could drop into that range in normal space), and then periscope-transmit the data down to normal space. A beta platform could spot something out to the normal-space equivalent range of nearly 6½ au (though it would take two transitions), while a gamma platform could handle out to 200 au (where Pluto orbits at about 40 au out). BUT a careful smuggler could creep in, layer-by-layer, working around the sensor range for that layer and then slipping in (but only if they knew where the sensor platforms and range limits were).

    One of the most interesting things to consider is FTL radio using the drone-stack method. Delta is probably impossible to use this way. Currently, our robot probes can transmit back from Pluto (again, 40 au / 20,000 light seconds). It's tough, and there are problems with data rate and stuff, but I'm going to take that as a possible range for future drone-probes to talk to each other (which is frankly a bit of a leap, since they don't have Greenbank-sized antennas). With this assumption, an alpha-level relay network (assuming a periscope down to normal space) could talk to Pluto range with an 11 minute delay (one-way), or relay to a beacon a maximum of 0.02 light years away. A beta-level relay could talk to a drone 0.6 light years away, but a gamma-level relay could reach 18.8 light years. (And the one-way signal delay would be 20,000 seconds, or about 5½ hours.) A good way to communicate with the colonies!

    Another interesting side-effect is that drones would be expensive and require maintenance. Even if the drones are unmanned, the periscope was described as being suitable for "large warships," which means a lot of cost and support. Only governments, militaries, and large corporations could maintain them. And with digital signals, just like a cell phone system, you could identify and charge (or restrict) your choice of user. Which means, practically speaking, that we'd have instant communication within the solar system, but secret military and corporate communication to much, much farther away, though they'd probably support something like a slightly delayed (expensive) email out to colonies.

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  12. SUBSPACE would be incredibly useful if you could open a stable portal inside a gravity well. The portal could be microscopic. But imagine, create a dirty, unsafe nuclear power plant (with colossal heat radiators), ship it over into subspace, move it into proximity with a city, and then open a microscopic portal. The portal would allow electric charge or a power laser to shoot through, supplying energy. If there was a melt-down or any other problem with the plant -- no problem! It's in a different universe!

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    1. And that is just the tip of the iceberg for uses of subspace.

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  13. How is the stress on the ship applied?
    Is there a force which tries to rip the Hyperspace Converter out of the ship?
    Is there a force which tries to compress the ship
    or is there a force which "pushes" the ship.

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  14. Congratulations! you have successfully created a scientific back story/ rationalization so detailed that your average reader will be so confused by it, as well as impressed, that they will take it at face value. That is something to be commended.
    On another note tight beam tachyon transmission might solve your FTL communications issues.

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  15. I think the Subspace dimensions need a little more thought as far as commercial uses go. Prisons? nearly impossible to escape and nowhere to go if you do. Storage? perfect, we have empty space to spare. Overpopulation? Mine material from hyperspace and build massive colony stations in subspace. Subspace evacuation shelters in case of disaster (natural or man-made). If the principals of hyperspace are carried through into subspace it stands to reason that subspace would contain large nebulae of low density gasses and such, perfect fuel for fusion reactors.

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  16. I wonder... if the point to point compression works the way i think it does, how does the converter system "choose" which spatial point to center the ship on when it transitions. I mean when in alpha you are occupying more points of space than the equivalent "normal" position you are in. The converter obviously has to choose which of those extraneous points to center the ship on when it transitions.

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  17. The biggest issue I see is the distance of your weapons platforms even using the newest proposed fusion reactor by MIT to power the world's most powerful uvlight lazer for three seconds of operation it would take 6 3.3 meater reactors to power just the lazer tob melt the surface of the Moon at 384,400 km away I don't know how much power it would take to melt a composite with the density of dimond.
    Links https://what-if.xkcd.com/13/
    http://www.computerworld.com/article/3028113/sustainable-it/mit-takes-a-page-from-tony-stark-edges-closer-to-an-arc-fusion-reactor.html
    The other issue I see is the idea of using nanotechnology in your dimensional jump drive
    why?
    Microchips are made on a microscopic level any sort of device that is punching, tearing, or bending a hole in the universe will require a huge amount of power but I don't see why it would need to be made of components smaller then the transistors on a microchip.

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  18. Ugh, I typed this already on my phone, but it seemed to have gotten lost between hitting "publish" and making it to the site, but I'll try again.

    I'd like to start by saying I like the world and non-FTL FTL (going faster than light without actually reaching that velocity) method. Offering constructive criticism is a little hard considering that everything we're talking about is largely based on a combination of imagination and theory, but I'll try to add some. I agree with a lot of the posts so far, so I'll try not to repeat anything. Also, some of those are very detailed, and hard acts to follow, but I'll do my best.

    First, depending on the compression/expansion of matter between dimensions, any debris caught between the ship and its transition sphere could explode or be turned into super dense matter (possibly forming a singularity in extreme cases). While space is certainly vast, there is ice, dust, and other stuff zipping around, so it could happen. However, a simple solution to this would be to make the space vessels into spheres, generating transition fields only slightly larger than the ships themselves. This would help with the structural integrity of the ships, since spheres are very strong geometric shapes. Also, this makes economic sense, since a company or military would want to get the most material transported with each hyperspace converter activation, and any space between the ship and its transition field would be wasted space.

    Second, since it is somewhat unclear how well conventional technology/electricity would function in other universes, but we have established that light still works the same way, it might be a good idea to base the technology off of light-based computing. Currently, experiments are using fiber optics and light-based processors to replace wiring and conventional electronics, so it isn't such a stretch to have whole systems designed around this principle. Plus, it would explain having far more powerful computers without requiring quantum computing or artificial intelligence, if you don't want to introduce those concepts, or it could explain how those things became even easier. That would also help with cosmic calculations, since all the cosmic bodies are constantly moving (moon around earth, earth around the sun, galactic spin, etc.) and we wouldn't want ships to transition into the middle of the moon because they thought it would be somewhere else in the solar system. This also brings up the point that our universe is slowly expanding, so would the rest of the multiverse be expanding proportionally to keep all the transition points static relative to each other? Also, I don't know if the universe is rotating or moving laterally, since we don't have any extra-universal point of reference, but with a multiverse, that could come into play. Or that could be far deeper than the book needs to go.

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  19. Third, I'm not sure why nanotechnology would be part of the hyperspace converter (theoretically). Nanotech is on the scale of cells, which are so small that you'd need a lot of it to work on anything massive, like a "typical" space ship, but too large to accurately affect anything on the atomic scale. I imagine interdimensional technology would lean to either one of those extremes, and not have to do with things the size of cells. Some of the most advanced atomic manipulation requires constructs the size of the large hadron collider, so having macro-scale tech is feasible. If you really want nanotech, I think it would make more sense to infuse the entire ship with nanotech, to network the converter throughout the entire vessel. That makes more sense to me, since nanotech would be small enough to be everywhere and not interrupt normal ship functions. Actually, it could also be used to monitor and repair the ships hull, since micro fractures from the transition stresses could quickly lead to disaster, but a self-repairing hull (like the material the military uses for helicopter fuel tanks) could help fix that.

    Fourth, just out of curiosity, have you considered the behavior of entangled particles between universes? If they still work the same way, and scientists of the future learn to manipulate them, that could lead to cross-universe communications without having to open transition portals.

    Also, someone here mentioned that there is no stealth in space. However, I would argue that it is theoretically possible, at least in a limited way. Proper insulation could prevent infrared radiation from heat from escaping the hull, limiting passive scanners. Active scans could be countered with the same kind of stealth technology currently employed in the military, with materials and geometries that absorb and/or scatter light, assuming that radar or similar technology is still the main source of scanning information. The limit would be that, while insulation would keep the heat from escaping the ship, all that heat would eventually cook your crew, but releasing it would negate the stealth. Therefore, in military or police/smuggler actions, the ship with the better stealth tech and endurance would win, since the first one seen would be the first one shot. Though to get a better account of warfare like that, I would research submarine warfare.

    Finally, what about life?! I remember a theory that, if I'm paraphrasing correctly, boils down to the idea that the more potential sources of life (solar systems), the more likely nonterrestrial life is. I imagine applying that to a multiverse would essentially guarantee alien life, though it may be in a remote universe, or at a stage so advanced or primitive that it is never encountered in the book. But still, something to consider.

    I know I'm forgetting something that I wrote last time, which is really annoying me, but this is all I have for now. I hope this helps. Great work on the books, and good luck!

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  20. The Drake Equation: N = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L
    The number of such civilizations, N, is assumed to be equal to the mathematical product of:
    (i) the average rate of star formation, R*, in our galaxy
    (ii) the fraction of formed stars, fp, that have planets
    (iii) the average number of planets per star that has planets, ne, that can potentially support life
    (iv) the fraction of those planets, fl, that actually develop life
    (v) the fraction of planets bearing life on which intelligent, civilized life, fi, has developed
    (vi) the fraction of these civilizations that have developed communications, fc, i.e., technologies that release detectable signs into space
    (vii) the length of time, L, over which such civilizations release detectable signals.
    Drake's Equation is extremely optimistic, according to most biologists. It also doesn't take into account the validity of the Goldilocks Principle, which has come under fire recently. It is also based on the Kardashev Scale, which equates technological capability to telecommunications and waste heat.
    Thus, the Fermi Paradox becomes easier to understand.
    There's this other theory recently, which took into account the alien's physical size and total habitat size. It points out that there might be a significantly larger number of physically bigger-than-human aliens on smaller-than-earth sized worlds, from a statistical standpoint on evolutionary habits. As in, handful of Sperm Whales, googleplexes of Arctic Krill. Bigger animals can survive with less gravity and/or heat/sunlight. So they might have a much higher chance of evolving than our Human-Earth-Goldilocks scenario.
    Yup, there's a theory that the universe is filled with a cornucopia of whale-polar-bear aliens. I like to call the theory the 'Whalebeariens Theory', at least until someone corrects me (please don't).

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    1. The Drake equation doesn't have much relevance in a setting where FTL is possible, because instead of sending out signals a species with advanced technology will spread out into space. This quickly makes it impossible for any plausible disaster to wipe them out, so they just keep expanding forever.

      In this setting, for instance, it would only take a few thousand years for humanity to go from discovering the Alpha Layer to colonizing every solar system in the galaxy. The expansion won't stop there, either, because intergalactic space contains more than enough stars to act as stepping stones. So I pretty much have to assume that somehow humanity is the first species to develop space travel in the entire Local Group.

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    2. Thanks for replying! So, the 'Whalebeariens Theory'(looked it up, officially called 'The Big Alien Theory', so disappointed). Despite the many things in a Whalebearian's favor, evolution is not one of them. The larger the creature, the longer the life span, the fewer of them that there are. The theory also relies on a reduced radiation factor, which would slow down evolution considerably. Those concepts over time, with even fewer resources than earth, drops the bottom out of any real statistical possibility of sentient alien life going multi-planet viral. It just says that there might be many more watery mars sized planets supporting sentient life for every one earth. It's just that we would find mostly giant caveman-like-aliens within that statistic. It took man some 400K-1.4M years to figure out fire to bring about the dawn of civilization. That wouldn't be an option on those worlds (fire works differently under reduced gravity and atmospheric pressure), so again, giant cavemen. They may be more akin to fat n' furry Skyrim giants than anything. Not sure if you care or would include in your book, it would just give you a much larger and weirder DNA pool to play in. As the theory, if it panned out, would really do that. Nations would pay trillions of dollars for just a sample of actual advanced alien DNA, as it would hold the potential of literally anything. Potentially rocketing medical & industrial capabilities forward by thousands of years forward. Worse comes to worse, it makes a good plot devise. Why can the MC shoot lasers from her eyes? Metal skin and bones? Organ that's a bio-factory ferret maker/launcher? From a sample taken from the natives at xxx/xxx/xxx.

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  21. Is it possible to transition between multiple layers at a time (ie. could you go from real-space to gamma-space in one hop) or do you have to cross each intervening layer?

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  22. Hey, William, would you mind to post a quick update for us, your (very) anxious readers, to know you are still alive, breathing and writing?

    Hector

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    1. Couldn't agree more, I'm still checking daily, sometimes twice...

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  23. Too bloody technical.. How are you going to please everyone? I'm a nerd that cant stand SCIFI because how the genre bastardizes science..

    Your Danial Black is a winner.. Finish that first before you swallow and elephant!

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  24. Happy new year to you mr Williams and your friends. I recommend the mystic wolf pub website and the work by Eric storm : specifies the windward academy chapter 1-6.


    You both are great creative writers and produce amazing material of the written word.

    I know that you have said part 2 of the 3rd book in the Daniel black series . Um extermination. Will be released this year 2017. I am asking and pleading with both of you my fav authors for a soon result - Because of my degenerative disease is taking away my functions - I'm down to 1 eye for sight and organs like kidneys are shutting down- I won't be eligible for a transplant. I am potentially kissing my left leg and foot good bye due to organ muscle and bone fractures & now my doctors are saying there have been cancer hints- I am a simple man and reading is one pleasure I have left - as I escape into the book, pls I hope both of you fav authors can release material before I loose my last eye and hand function to turn page on screen.

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