Quantum subspace is a concept of faster-than-light travel originally developed by the Primagen and taught to humans in 2017. Although it took many years for humans to understand and duplicate the phenomenon, in 2043 a multinational team at the Large Plasmon Collider in Alaska successfully created the necessary superstructure of quark-gulon plasma to induce a subspace tear.
By the late 2100s, the technology was in the preliminary stages of being applied to space travel, and in 2112 the first manned spaceflight to Mars was undertaken by warping the IMM vessel Gaea from Earth orbit to within a fifth of an astronomical unit of Mars’ surface. The trip would be repeated in 2115 by an entire fleet—-equipped with nuclear missiles and with prototype subspace-induction cannons, capable of inducing subspace tears in the hull of an enemy vessel.
As the age of galactic exploration began, the process of ship-based subspace transit was refined. Human ship design changed to reflect the necessity of warp rings. Most human ships of the modern era are designed with a large plasmon collider ring (or “paccel”) surrounding a ring of living areas, stabilized by rotational gravity, connected by transport tubes to a central core in the middle of the ring containing the realspace thruster engines and other central systems.
Subspace travel takes a certain amount of real time based on an asymptotic equation for the distance traveled. Traveling three feet, for instance, is near-instantaneous. Traveling from Terra to Luna takes about two days, and traveling from the Terra to Alpha Centauri takes two and a half. As the realspace distance traveled increases, the time taken approaches closer and closer to, but never actually reaches, 77 hours and 21 minutes, which by whatever quirk of cosmic circumstance seems to be the mathematical limit on the amount of time something can subjectively appear to remain in subspace.
This time is experienced by people in subspace, but for them, time seems to pass at an erratic, distorted rate that is impossible to track by any means. This is due to the baffling nature of subspace in general and its roots in the field of quantum physics.
Subspace emerged as a concept in the late 20th and early 21st century as theorists investigated string, superstring, and brane theories of the universe. The number of possible “extra dimensions” fluctuated as new information was discovered. The true number of dimensions that make up the Universe is still unknown, but it is certain that at least three dimensions that we cannot normally access nonetheless exists and form a realm called subspace.
To understand subspace it is first necessary to understand how modern physics understands the Universe. For countless eons life has existed in three spatial dimensions (length, width, and depth) and one chronological one, time. Metaphorically, the three spatial dimensions are like half of an arch, starting at an anchor point to the left and curving upwards towards the fourth dimension, time, which is the keystone. The right half of the arch consists of three additional spatial dimensions that emerge from the opposite anchoring point of the arch in a mirror image of those on the left. The three spatial dimensions on the left are normally inaccessible from anywhere on any of those on the right and vice-versa: because of the curve of the arch, they are kept apart. The only thing that the left and right halves of the arch both touch is the fourth dimension of time. One of the halves of this arch is the space where our species was born, so-called “realspace.” The other half of the arch, inaccessible to our half for so long, is subspace.
This analogy explains the relationship that subspace has with realspace. Both are connected by a common “arrow of time” because both spaces share the same chronological dimension. While time is passing in realspace, time is also passing in subspace and vice versa at the same rate. The commonly-held belief that time passes erratically in subspace is only subjectively and not technically true (see Subspace Travel).
The second (but by no means last) mystery of subspace has to do with the nature of a quantum reality. The principle of uncertainty tells us that to measure and calculate something about an object or a phenomenon means fundamentally altering every other, unmeasured characteristic of that phenomenon. Therefore, knowing with more and more certainty about a certain parameter (such as the velocity of a particle, or its mass) means sacrificing more and more certainty as to all other parameters. The act of observation, no matter what the means, “locks in” the observed object to a certain state. Prior to that act of observation, all that can be said about the object is a series of probabilities: the likelihood that it will be moving fast or slow, or whether it’s alive or dead. This state of unobserved uncertainty is called a superposition.
Traveling through quantum subspace essentially allows the superposition—-the general area of where an object “is supposed to be”—-to be “reassigned” to a specific place and time. Both of these desired parameters, a place and a time, can be calculated quite minutely. But, because of quantum uncertainty, calculating one with great certainty means losing certainty for the other. A balance must be struck when calculating a subspace journey such that the subspace traveler can have an acceptable margin of error for both place and time, because as the common spacer’s saying goes, “You can show up right there sometime, or you can show up right then somewhere, but you can’t do both.” For safe subspace travel, one must allow for a certain amount of variance in arrival time and precise location, but with the proper balance of the two the process is exceedingly safe and reliable.