- This article is about the faster-than-light travel effect called Slipstream . To view the article about the song, go here.
Slipstream, also known as Streaming, Riding the rails, and FTL, is the only known way of traveling faster than light in the Known Universe. It is currently the sole means of faster than light transit and every race in the known worlds depends upon it for their economies and way of life in every social and political aspect. As such, it can be argued that slipstream is the most important discovery ever made. It was originally discovered approximately 10,000 years before the current era by Vedran scientist Rochinda. The technology that made it possible to utilize the slipstream was invented during the same period, and the first Vedran Empress was crowned a mere 112 years later, as the Vedrans began to spread throughout the Known Worlds.
A Gravity Field Generator drastically reduces the mass of the ship and then a slipstream drive opens a slippoint which the ship enters. The ship then catches onto the strings by means of slipstream runners. Once hooked onto the strings the pilot then navigates the series of slipstream "strings" until they reach the desired slippoint where they exit the slipstream.
(Simple formula for slipstream navigaton:
$ i = 1-(Omega^2/r^3) $
Since its discovery nearly 10,000 years ago by the Vedrans, the slipstream has connected the galaxies together. Slipstream is an extension of our reality, an additional dimension that's integrally intertwined with our own. The slipstream is a place where quantum connections are visible as cords, especially the large and strong connections like those between huge concentrations of matter such as planets or suns. A spaceship that enters the slipstream can harness the energy of these cords and ride them from one star system to another.
One interesting thing about moving through the slipstream is that travel time between points has very little to do with the distance actually traveled. If a pilot is lucky, and the stream unfolds just right, the ship could transit between galaxies in minutes. But put an unlucky pilot at the helm and the same trip could take weeks or even months.
Luckily for the cause of interstellar commerce and communication, the more frequently a certain path is traveled, the faster, easier and more predictable the journey becomes. As a result, frequently-traveled routes between major Systems Commonwealth worlds, Tarn-Vedra to San-Ska-Re, are safe and convenient.
At an intersection of pathways in slipstream space, both paths manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. For reasons still not completely understood, organic beings tend to choose the correct paths, or more precisely, the very act of choosing makes the path they have chosen the correct one.
It was thought that, computers, even ones with Artificial Intelligence, were incapable of this reality-altering guesswork. Even the most sophisticated starship in the Systems Commonwealth has an organic sentient to pilot through the starlanes, a prospect some sentients regard as deeply disturbing but others find comforting. However, machines with organic neural components (i.e.- cyborgs, in this case) have the intuition required to do so. VX, for example of the Consensus of Parts was able to navigate the slipstream because he had these components and thus the intuition required. Thus, an organic brain is required, though the organism itself need not be wholly organic. However, it appears even a full Artificial Intelligence is capable of navigating the slipstream to some extent, albeit in a very haphazard and dangerous way. When the entire original organic crew of the Andromeda Ascendant was killed by the Magog from the Magog Worldship, the Andromeda's Artificial Intelligence made the journey from the galaxy M82 to Triangulum by wandering the slipstream pilotless for 13 months. There was a way for both the pilot and Artificial Intelligence to navigate the slipstream accurately by using slipstream maps recorded in slipscouts such as Deep Midnights Voice.
Technology Needed for Slipstream TravelEdit
- Antiproton Containment Rod
- Antiproton Storage Tank
- Gravity Field Generator
- MagnetoplasmaDynamic Drive
- Slipstream Core
- Slipstream Runner
Limits of SlipstreamEdit
Due to the complex nature of slipstream probability and difficulty in mapping slipstream, only biological entities are capable of successfully navigating it. Exiting slipstream near the edge of a galaxy or in certain regions of space could be dangerous because it is difficult to find a slippoint in these areas. If a slippoint cannot be found, or a slipstream drive is damaged, the ship is stranded and limited to slower than light speed.
It is unknown whether Slipstream Runner give ships an advantage at riding the superstrings while in slipstream, because while almost every larger Systems Commonwealth ship has slipstream runners that allow them to ride the strings, other ships used by species such as the Magog and Nietzscheans do not have runners but appear to operate in slipstream just as well. The same goes for smaller ships such as the Eureka Maru, which does not have runners.
Slipstream also has "decision points," which are basically intersections or natural branchings of the quantum strings that are ridden. Speed in slipstream, although relative, can be used to judge how fast one is going compared to the median times. The Andromeda Ascendant was once piloted by Beka Valentine about 12 times the normal decision point speed.
It was once stated by Andromeda that an Artificial Intelligence attempting slipstream travel has a 50% chance of selecting the correct route at each intersection encountered, owing to organic 'intuition' a living pilot has a greater than 99% chance of guessing the correct route to take.
Usually one has to enter and exit slipstream several times before reaching their final destination. Slipstream travel almost always results in very little or no time dilation.
Solid objects can be release in slipstream, where they behave as if they were in hard vacuum.
If the gravity is high enough, a slipstream portal cannot be opened because a GFG lens cannot compete with the stronger gravities and rip open a hole in spacetime.
Excerpt from Directors BibleEdit
While humans were still playing with fun new inventions like the wheel, the Vedra made a startling discovery. The Slipstream. The Slipstream is an extension of our reality, an additional dimension that's integrally intertwined with our own. According to an application of quantum physics called string theory, everything in our Universe is connected to everything else. And the Slipstream is a place where those connections are visible.
In the Slipstream, small and weak connections (those linking small and weak concentrations of matter, such as the link between you and your jelly donut) look like strings, gauzy bits of cotton candy fluff. But large and complex and strong connections, like those between huge concentrations of matter, say planets or suns, form gigantic, pulsing ropes, writhing monstrous tendrils with the diameter of a skyscraper and the length of the universe.
The Vedrans also discovered something even more exciting. If you enter the Slipstream, you can harness the energy of these cords and ride them from one star system to another, like the Universe's largest and most unbelievably convenient rollercoaster.
The only problem is that the strings are in constant motion, crossing and recrossing each other in a hundred different places. So to get from one star to another, the pilot of a ship in Slipstream has to constantly choose between divergent paths in the stream. And the right path changes from moment to moment. Faced with such randomness, all a pilot can really do when it's time to choose is guess.
So, here's what happens when a pilot reaches an intersection. Before the pilot chooses, according to the physicist Erwin Shrödinger (you can skip this part if you want, we'll meet up in a few sentences), both paths are simultaneously right and wrong. In other words, they both manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. But the cool thing about being an observer in a quantum reality like the Slipstream is that the act of making a decision alters reality. So when you guess that a certain path is right, in Slipstream space, 99.9% of the time, you guess correctly.
In other words (start back here if you skipped that last part), human pilots in Slipstream have to guess where they're going, but because of the nature of Slipstream space, they're mostly always right.
Unfortunately, Artificial Intelligences don't guess the way we do. They don't follow their guts. They don't hope they've made the right decision. They really do just pick randomly. In Slipstream, this is not a good thing. It means they're only right 50% of the time. Thus, computers can't pilot ships through Slipstream. Even the Andromeda, a sentient ship, can't pull it off. She requires an organic pilot, or she can never travel between the stars.
Okay, nice theory, but what does it look like? Good question. What we see when the Andromeda travels through Slipstream is this: The Andromeda Ascendant reaches a point in normal space where the Slipstream is accessible (as far from gravitational sources like Stars). Then she shifts, distorts, and suddenly she's someplace else, riding along a bunch of gigantic glowing ropes like an out-of-control roller coaster on a rail. When the ropes twist and wind, the Andromeda rotates and spins on her axis. When she reaches an intersection, she whips off at wild angles along new tracks, whizzing along to her destination. Finally, thanks to a series of monumentally lucky guesses by her pilot, the Andromeda arrives at her destination and shifts back into normal space. It's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on fast forward.
One interesting thing about moving through the Slipstream is that travel time has almost nothing to do with the distance between stars. If you're lucky and the Stream unfolds just right, you could get from here to the next galaxy in minutes. But if you're not lucky, and things get hairy, the same trip could take weeks or even months. About the only rule is that the more frequently a certain path is traveled, the easier and more predictable the journey becomes.
Most of the time. Unless it's not.
- "Early Vedran physicists believe it has something to do with the presence of an organic observer and collapsing probability waves."
- "Piloting through Slipstream isn't a skill; it's an art."
- "Slipstream is our method of going faster than the speed of light, without going faster than the speed of light."
- "Slipstream: It's not the best way to travel faster than light, it's just the only way."
- "While the Slipstream may not be alive, it feels like it is. It changes, it shifts. As pilot, all you have to do is anticipate those shifts."
- Tyr Anasazi