The 5 kinds of sci-fi space travel, ranked by realism
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All of time and space; everywhere and anywhere; every star that ever was. Where do you want to start?
The Jump Drives in Battlestar Galactica made interstellar teleportation possible with virtually no delay. Both human ships and their Cylon counterparts used FTL drives. We were also told that when a ship jumps, it warps the space around it and can damage other nearby vessels.
As with hyperspace, jump drives apparently require complex calculations before and during a jump to avoid the risk of a ship materializing too close to a planet’s atmosphere — or within the planet itself.
For now, we’re a long way from teleporting people or jumping ships.
For 55 years, Doctor Who has chronicled the adventures across time and space of the Doctor and his/her human companions. Their means of transportation was a big blue box known as the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) that can take them anywhere, and anywhen, they want to go.
TARDISes are more magical than the tech of Star Trek. There does seem to be some sort of delay on the way — it’s more hyperdrive than jump drive. But essentially the TARDIS disappears here, flies through the Time Vortex, and reappears there.
An Einstein-Rosen bridge is a shortcut through space caused by the warping of spacetime. Massive objects like stars or black holes bend time and space like a bowling ball on a trampoline. A massive enough object could bend spacetime to create a connection between two otherwise distinct points.
Also known as wormholes, Einstein-Rosen bridges are perhaps the most commonly known means of interstellar travel — and the most likely to actually exist. Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted wormholes, although we haven’t seen one yet.
Hyperspace is best understood as a sub-region of our real space where the same physical laws don’t apply. Hyperspace has no theoretical basis like Einstein-Rosen bridges or warp drives.
This universe doesn’t seem to allow faster-than-light travel. The solution: just don’t travel through our universe. In the Star Wars films, all kinds of ships are equipped with hyperspace drives, from small personal fighters like Poe Dameron’s X-wing, to larger freighters like the Millennium Falcon. Even that massive moon-sized space station, the Death Star, has a hyperdrive. In this case, “hyperspace” may merely be another name for lightspeed travel.
Imagine that! It never occurred to me to think of space as the thing that was moving!
Warp technology is synonymous with the Star Trek series.
Like an Einstein-Rosen bridge, warp technology skirts around the impossibility of accelerating a ship past the speed of light. Instead, a warp drive bends space itself. It compresses space in front of the craft and expands it behind. The Enterprise is basically riding a bubble of regular 3-D space while the universe changes around it.
Stepping out into the universe... we must confront the reality of interstellar travel. We must reach far beyond our own lifespans.
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