Everything you wanted to know about Fold Space but were afraid to ask.
A fold space is a device used for instantaneous travel from point A to point B. It works by folding the fabric of space-time so that once the fold space portal is opened, you can travel through the portal as you would travel through normal space, and yet the other end of the fold space could be great distances away.
There are three main types of fold space:
- 0 variable: Each end of the fold space must be generated from a fold space gate. Each side of the fold space must have a generator.
- 1 variable: Only one side of the fold space needs to be located at the fold space generator. The other side can be anywhere.
- 2 variable: This type of generator can create a fold space from one point to another without being anywhere near the locations of either points.
In present day AIF, 0 variable fold space gates are relatively common and form a interconnecting network of travel points throughout the galaxies (though many were destroyed when the Confederation fell). 1 variable gates are much less common as they allow someone to travel anywhere. These gates are usually exclusively owned by large corporations, kingdoms, military forces, or really rich dudes. The 2 variable fold space is a theory only as there are no known devices capable of opening a fold space without being at one end of the portal. This envisioned device has been researched and attempted many times, as such a device would be an almost unstoppable weapon.
Fold spaces have infinite range. Someone with a 1 variable fold space and travel literally everywhere. They can be dangerous for exploring however, because the precision needed to get exactly where you want is much greater the longer the distances are. For example, it is relatively easy to aim a fold space at a visible star that is a few thousand light years away and get there. However, if you aim it at a galaxy that is a few billion light years away you will need much more precise calculations (we're talking about fifty high stage mathematicians here) to get there. And of course there is always the chance you might open up the portal inside a super nova or a black hole.
Which brings us to the point that a 1 variable fold space can be used as a nova bomb. It was first used in the 2nd Galactic War where a 1 variable fold space was aimed at the centre of a large star. The stars energies came through the portal and caused a shitload of destruction in the short time the portal was opened. Nova bombs are usually very brief as the energies passing through the portal usually destroy the fold space generator. (Starting to see how a 2 variable fold space is an unstoppable weapon yet?)
Me done for now, gotta go back to work. So Clay, want to add some actual theory about how one of these suckers would work? - Dave
Certainly. - RooK
As originally mentioned, a fold space generator bends the fabric of space-time such that a plane of finite area coexists in two places at once. It appears as a "window" in space, where matter and energy can pass through, and end up great distances - as measured by the normal curvature of space-time. I'm certain that the obvious usefulness of this idea is already churning interesting thoughts in your head. To temper some of the wild and crazy things we've thought of, we've added some corollaries to help describe how fold-space technology exists in AIF.
First of all, we've made fold-space technology somewhat rare. This is done by having the technology difficult to develop (thence, expensive), and my mandating that they require mind-boggling amounts of energy (roughly proportional to the square of the area of the portal). Since they are also of such significant strategic value, powerful organizations actively work to restrict others from getting them.
We've also developed some simple restrictions that disallow some of the sillier paradoxes. As Dave mentioned above, there is an effective limit on how far a fold-space can reliably work. Because of the sensory requirements, a general safe limit is a MegaParsec (1 000 000 Parsecs). This is plenty of range to allow intergalactic travel, as the distance between the 1st, 2nd and 3rd galaxies is only about 0.1 MPc, and distance from the 1st (the Milky Way, to Humans) to Andromeda is 0.69 MPc. Most fold-space generators can go 10 times as far as this - up to 10 MPc - but the realm of error is so large that it is not especially useful for intentional travel. Beyond that range, the inaccuracy makes even attempting a traverse dangerous, as the chances of opening a gate to the heart of star is much greater because space-time is "stretched" by their mass - thus attracting potential gate openings. This stops gamers from attempting to open gates to regions outside the volume of the universe (as dictated by the Hubble constant). We don't really know what's out there, and don't really feel like bothering to guess.
Another restriction is a minimum range. If you imagine the fabric of space-time as having a quality of elasticity, this means that an inverse relationship would exist between distance and energy required. A good metaphor is bending a stick. A nice, long piece of wood can be bent without too much trouble - a long enough willow branch can easily be bent so that the ends touch. As you shorten the length, bending the ends so that they touch get harder and harder, until it's too much for the branch and it snaps. Similarly with space-time, there are minimum distances that can be established, and they get longer proportional to the area of the portal (like a thicker branch). A fold-space with enough area for a humanoid to walk through (about 2m2) can be a minimum of about a kilometer away. If you try to bypass this limit, you may not have enough power, the equipment may burn out, or you could generate a tear in space-time - usually embodied by a black hole that will devour the offender. This makes the amusing paradox of opening a portal that intersects itself much more difficult. There's still the problem of having different fold-space generators that have portals that intersect each other, but if you've got access to two fold-space devices, that's a good sign the game has gotten silly anyway.
Lastly, we've also made a few restrictions on how frightening a fold-space device can be. Since there is no particle transfer and disintegration/reintegration, fold-space portals aren't foiled by jamming the same way that teleportation devices are. However, you can prevent an unwanted fold-space portal from being opened by two methods. First of all, if you jam sensors from being able to scan a region, it makes it much more dangerous to open a portal - thus discouraging a casual portal. This can be overcome, however, as it is still possible to open a fold-space portal as long as you know exactly where you want to open it, so scanning is really just a safety mechanism. A portal's stability can be compromised by etheric equipment (ether is what we call the fabric of space-time) such as mass-energy scanners and faster-than-light communicators. It takes some technical ability (such as being a technician, or being seasoned), but it makes the portal itself dangerous to cross. The edge of a variable portal is essentially infinitely sharp, and so must be carefully avoided.
That's all I can think of right now. I'd better hurry and post this... - RooK