Ladies and Gentleman, as cadet officers of the United Nations Space Navy I am told I must address you as such. Welcome to your first lecture on the first ever Hyperspace 101 course.
You may put away your styluses and e-pads or stream recorders, there will be no point in taking or recording any notes. Anything you think you do understand during this lecture will be so simplified as to be useless in practice or just plain wrong. As may be anything I think I understand by tomorrow. As you read the course profile you may note that I am described as the world's leading expert on hyperspace navigation, that is quite true as I'm the world's only expert on hyperspace navigation. Hopefully by the end of this course I may have competition.
Just a second, while I rezz my one and only visual aid for this lecture. If you want your own copy of this art work please take the details and purchase at the virtual gallery of your choice. I will be using this art work to illustrate some of the points of this lecture. But first let me take you back to what the public regard as the beginning of the hyperspace drive.
I was with Kathryn in the laboratory at Cordova University when we powered up the first rig that exhibited a hyperspace jump. The history books record that she said, "I wonder where that went?" In reality what she said owed more to the language of her grandfather who was a welder in the Glasgow ship yards. I did not say anything. The rig we had spent a year and 200,000 Euros to build had vanished. The metal test piece, the size of a pea, that was supposed to move fell to the now empty floor.
Without the most colossal stroke of luck our research would have stopped there. It was just a week later the authorities in Hamilton, New Zealand e-mailed us to complain about the waste metal we had deposited in one of their parks. Literally on the other side of the world. If our laboratory had not been opposite a land mass the rig would have rusted at the bottom of an ocean and we would never have been able to make the calculations that allowed us to make a second and more controllable rig.
Now, let us turn our attention to the art work. I hope this will help you visualize what happens during a hyperspace jump and appreciate how difficult it is to choose where the jump will end. We start at the right of the picture, with the big squeeze. That is how we initiate a jump, it has been compared to squeezing a cherry pit until it jumps out of your fingers or playing tiddlywinks. You know something is going to move, but where to is indeterminate.
What then determines where the jump takes you? Take a look at the top of the picture. Imagine these triangles as blocks that could change the direction and speed of a ball bearing dropped into the top. There are many points where you can start the ball moving, slight differences in position and initial direction will affect just how the ball is moving when it hits the squeeze point in the middle of the picture. That would correspond the the physically applied forces to the small sacrificial mass that remains behind after the jump.
Imagine now floating bubbles rising up from the bottom of the picture. Again negotiating a tortuous path towards the squeeze point. Those would be like the electromagnetic fields surrounding the sacrificial mass.
We now have a collision between a hard steel ball and a bouncy bubble that ricochets to the left of the picture. Like a pin ball machine it bounces around myriads of possible end points until it lands in a hole to score a point or sails off into oblivion, there are no free replays in hyperspace jumps.
As a hyperspace navigator it will be your job to ensure that before the captain of the vessel says 'Engage' you have chosen all the correct parameters to take you where he wants to go.
If any of you feel confident that you have what it takes to make that kind of decision you should resign your commission now. I only want as navigators those people who will continue to have nightmares about what happens to ships who do not land anywhere, like Kathryn's.