Brett Patton

Author of Mecha Corps, A Novel of the Armor Wars

Displacement Drive Technology Brief: More Mysteries in Our Midst?

I’ve been chided for focusing too much on Biomechanical Mecha technology. This is perhaps a valid criticism; perhaps there is nothing surprising about a government protecting its most advanced military advantage, especially with Corsair activity on the increase.

Because of this, let’s open another chapter on the Displacement Drive. Perhaps humanity’s largest failing isn’t its aggression or greed, but simple laziness. Since the Displacement Drive works, we don’t worry too much about how it does what it does. Nearly everyone has Displaced at least once in their lifetime, and everyone knows the drill. You shuttle up to a converted Asteroid, you board and sit in a lounge, sipping an overpriced drink. The stars change, and you shuttle down to another world, many light-years away.

Simple as that. Instantaneous travel from one point in the universe to another. Without the Displacement Drive, there would have been no Expansion. There’d be no Union, no Aliancia, no Taikong, no Corsairs. We’d be stuck in the Solar System, or perhaps even on Earth, billions of humans crammed onto a single rock with no way out. The Displacement Drive was the most important discovery of the 21st Century; it changed the course of human history forever.

Nobody can forget the epic stories of the early Expansion, when, on the heels of Jim Kwong’s Point-Based Wormhole Spatial Displacement technology (ironically funded by CERN’s asteroid-mining operations),┬áthe best and brightest of humanity rebelled against the Sustainability State to claim their asteroids and refit them as Displacement Drive ships. The story of how we almost accidentally Displaced Earth’s Moon to oblivion; the rush to get to orbit as the first Displacement Drive ships appeared overhead; the Thesis, lost to a fundamentalist nuke; the first video of worlds glowing blue and green like Earth . . . we had no idea how scarce habitable worlds would be in those early days, but reality soon set in.

Everyone knows the stories, and everyone has Displaced, but have you ever really thought about what happens during a Displacement, or (even more chilling), why there are such arbitrary limits to Displacement?

Let’s review some of the puzzling facts about Displacement:

1. Displacement only operates on masses of a billion metric tons or above. This is why all Displacement Drive ships are converted asteroids. A Displacement Drive simply won’t work in a ship the size of, say, a Hedgehog or Rhino. Kwong tried to explain this as a “point defect in gravitation which allows the wormhole to manifest,” but his math has been shown to be highly flawed, time and time again. Why does a Displacement Drive ship need such mass to Displace?

2. Displacement has both a maximum and minimum range. Displacements of less than 2 light-years and greater than 20 light-years are not possible. Anything within this range is “allowed.” Hence, it’s simple to make the trip from Eridani to Geos (17.49 light years) in one Displacement. Worlds at the edge of the human Expansion (currently about 2000 light-years in circumference) require multiple Displacements. Maneuvering between points less than 2 light-years apart requires a “drunkard’s walk” approach, where the ship Displaces at a vector away from the target, then re-Displaces back to the target. Why do these upper and lower limits exist? Kwong never really tried to analyze this, preferring to do hand-waving arguments about local causality. Current researchers say these border on the metaphysical, but they aren’t forthcoming with their own answers.

3. The amount of energy needed for Displacement is relatively low and constant. Only a hundred thousand megajoules is needed to induce Displacement, and this doesn’t change very much over a broad range of masses. Displacing a planetary size mass is not out of the realm of possibility, given current antimatter generation technology.

I’m afraid I don’t have any answers to the above questions. I’m an academic, but not a scientist. Our researchers here on Aurora tend to take the common person’s view: if it works, it works, and that’s all there is to it. I don’t think this is indicative of any great conspiracy, however; I think they are simply weary from so many years of researching the Displacement Drive, and attaining no definitive answer.

But this brings me to the question that interests me the most. It’s less about the technology than its application. The question is this: what about the Space Between?

Our use of the Displacement Drive has given us some dozens of habitable worlds, but we pop from world to world directly, not exploring the space between our points of light. In many cases, we haven’t even ventured to the cold outer planets of our stellar systems, nor to the hot inner worlds. Why? Laziness again, perhaps. “Life that can exist in such extreme environments is not of interest to us–and we have yet to find intelligent life in any case,” is the common refrain.

But I have to wonder–what hides in the Space Between?


Categorized as Science

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