FTL Physics IdeasSomeone on USENET asked:
"Does anyone have any good ideas on how to make a 'fiction' hyperspeed drive and how it works?"
Lots of possibilities:
Use the Star Trek method:
Warp Space is slightly outside of normal space but contiguous with it. The speed of light is not the speed limit in Warp Space. A warp bubble is wrapped around a ship. Ships in Warp can be detected.
Jumping to hyperspace let's you go faster than light. Ships in hyperspace cannot be detected outside of hyperspace.
Neither really explain the nature of Warp drive or Hyperspace much.
Here are my faves:
4D space is wrinkled. If you can find the right wrinkle in space, it will connect to distant spots over a much shorter distance (a tesseract). Wrinkles most often happen near large gravity wells (wrinkles always happen where cloth is stressed). Most wrinkles are near the star (within the orbit of Mercury, for instance), but some occur near large Gas giants. Depending on how wrinkled space is determines how common jump points are. Jump points are pretty stable, but some events, like supernovae, will affect the wrinkledness of space, probably changing where jump points go. A good campaign could be built around sending out scout ships to find out where a system's jump points lead after such an event.
Ships create small wormholes to connect to where they want to go. Very flexible. No fixed jump points or lines.
Speed-to-Mass Hyperbola Drive:
In modern physics, there is a chart which relates speed to relativistic mass: (warning: use fixed-width fonts to view properly)
mass *| + *| *| * | ****** | rest mass speed ----------+ 0 0 c
So as you approach 'c', your mass increases. This is one half of a hyperbola. As any mathematician will tell you, there is another arc to this conic section. The complete hyperbola looks like this:
mass *| + *| *| * | ****** |c speed ----------+---------- 0 | ******** | * |* |* - |*
Notice that if you have 'negative' mass (imaginary, actually), you can go faster than 'c'. So, the trick is to flip a switch, probably when you're going reasonably close to 'c', and change the ship's mass to 'imaginary' mass, whatever that is. I figure this has something to do with the development of artificial gravity. Either that, or 'hyperspace' is a dimension where all mass is 'negative'.
So, there's my pet theory about how FTL will be achieved. All based in good solid physics and math. The only fly-in-the-ointment is the 'negative mass' thing. A bit a hand-waving and that's fixed too.