Gravimetric refer to measurements that are taken with respect to the delay in the gravitational potential energy.
Scientists have known for several centuries that our space is composed of more than the three dimensions we experience, but they were unsure of how those dimensions are configured. The distortion in time delays in calculating gravitational potential energy were discovered by the Metal Malev at the end of the second milenium.
As they began to explore their own solar system, they tried to map the gravimetric distances in the Mejan System. As they were able to travel outside their system, they were also able to travel gravimetric distances as well as traditional three-dimensional distances.
A Mejan scientist has described the construction of the universe as follows:
|Imagine, if you will, the universe is a uniformly-dense block of multi-polymer. One could measure the distance between two points by the number of polymers between them. Under certain conditions, most multi-polymers can be stretched. Imagine flattening and/or stretching the universe into a large sheet. If none of the polymer bonds have broken, the polymer distance between the two points would be the same as before.
Now imagine that the universe sheet is folded in half. Now, while the polymer distance between the points hasn't changed, many points in the unverse are a lot closer now in actual distance than they were before.
Traditional three-dimensional travel between points in our universe is akin to traveling along the polymers. It's predictable, and simple. Traditional EarSal-CanGun mechanics (EarSal and CanGun are the Malev Isaac Newton) still apply. The Sky Drive makes traveling the shorter distance possible.
I should point out that the universe is not merely folded in half. Crumpled is a much better analogy. In our universe each star is much closer to each other than traditional visualization would suggest.
--OsMax, Up Metal Malev, Ultima Astronautics.
Sky drive ActivationEdit
Generally in order to travel Gravimetric space, the following steps are required:
- The ship accelerates to maximum speed.
- This is done, because nothing can predictably accelerate while under the influence of the sky drive. Any acceleration is actually changed by the gravimetric displacement, making any acceleration performed chaotic. Note that accelerating requires an engine capable of regular three-dimensional travel.
- The distance calculations are performed.
- This can be done while the ship is accelerating, but the calculations will need to consider the location of the ship at the moment and location of the ship at the time of the engaging of the Sky Drive. The calculations are performed on the ships computer using a map of the gravimetric displacement, and is modified by the gravitational bias of the ship, and additional gravimetric readings from the ships sensors. In the cases where the space to which the ship is traveling has not yet been explored, estimations can be made, but the computer will usually err on the side of caution, but additional non-gravimetric travel will be required in those cases. These kinds of jumps are traditionally done by probes where sentient life isn't on the line, and can perform the mapping and establish basic Grid connectivity in a system to submit more accurate Gravimetric readings for subsequent travelers.
- A precisely timed gravimetric phase must be induced.
- This is performed by the Sky Drive. The timing is done by the Sky Drive, because it is actually isolated from time dilation effects that occur. The gravimetric phase must be timed precisely with the calculations performed by the computer. Any variation could cause the ship to be reconstituted within a planet or a moon.
When the sky drive is activated, the ship is no longer bound to traditional three dimensional travel. The problem with the skydrive, is that when active, the ship can't predictably interact with anything. The inertia of the ship carries it through the shorter distance, then the ship reconstitutes at the time prescribed by the sky drive.
Sky drive benefitsEdit
On a planet or moon, the distance differences are inconsequential, so the time saved in transit is virtually nonexistent. Calculations require supercomputer farms for even short distances, and because of the proximity of gravity wells, energy requirements are substantial. Needless to say, these are only performed for scientific studies.
Between a planet and a moon, the distances might be 5 times greater, but the uncertainty of distance is enough, that in order to be safe, substantial calculations must be performed, and about 3/4 of the distance would have to be traveled traditionally anyway. The energy requirements are actually greater than traditional travel, and because the calculations are so complicated at this level, even with a massive on-board supercomputer, it would still take longer to make the calculations than the actual time saved in Sky Drive. There really isn't much scientific reason for such jumps either, so these are actually the least frequent jumps performed.
Within a star system, the distance is probably around 50 times greater, so the temptation to want to use the Sky Drive is somewhat great, and the energy costs and calculation times are fairly reasonable. The real problem is uncertainty. If the destination is empty space within the system, there really isn't much problem or risk (except for reconstitution in a hydrogen cloud, which will merely cause a crew to be sick for a few minutes). Destinations closer to ships, planetoids, are too risky for general use, but are occasionally used with large safety margins in locations with little ship travel. Sky Drive destinations very near stars are prohibited by every major group (and restricted by the Sky Drives) because theorists have demonstrated that if an antimatter reactor reconstitutes in a hot fusion reactor, like a star, chaos ensues. Conspiracy Theorists have claimed that the Cataclysm was caused by such an event, but most scientists discount this theory as they are rather sure (but obviously haven't tested this) that the Solar System would have left more traces in a reactor fusion reconstitution distruption.
Interstellar travel is where the Gravimetrics really shines. Distance differences are on the order of 500 times closer. Energy costs are reasonable, and calculations are extremely simple (they teach the calculations for advanced elementary school students, and Droids learn them on the first day). Surprises don't happen, because the predictability of the gravimetric map is high. Light years take weeks instead of decades.
Intergalactic travel is amazing. We can travel 5 thousand times faster in intergalactic space for next to nothing. The Ultima Corporation has sent long distance mapping probes, out to visit nearby galaxies, but it will still be several centuries before they arrive.