One of my pet peeves in science fiction is reading tales which take place centuries or sometimes thousands of years in the future and yet their universes still function by the rules of a twentieth century cosmology. Except perhaps in an alternate universe sort of story, we would not insist that a sci-fi tale set in the modern day should comport with Ptolemaic cosmology, so why do we assume that today’s Standard Model of Physics will still be in vogue centuries hence?
No science is ever settled, after all.
Admittedly, part of my irritation with these stories arises from the fact that I’ve always taken issue with some of what is proposed by the Standard Model of Physics. And when I say ‘some,’ I mean that whopping 96% of the universe whose existence can only be inferred, and vaguely at that, by the Standard Model. To say that the Standard Model’s consigning of so large a swath of existence to the outer darkness is counter-intuitive is to miss the mark by a light year. The various theories of black holes, dark matter and dark energy have always said more to me about the inadequacy of the Standard Model than they have about the actual makeup of the universe.
I certainly can’t fault writers for taking the Standard Model for granted. How could I? I myself have relied on the Standard Model of Physics for The Interdiction, a sci-fi short story in my CHOICE WORDS collection. It is neither a failure of imagination or plain laziness for writers to mine the rich ideas and wild possibilities of the Standard Model and use that raw material to forge fantastic stories. A scientific theory doesn’t have to be true to serve as the inspiration for great fiction. Just think of all the great yarns that the Hollow Earth Theory produced.
However, I wanted something different for my Holy Terran Empire space opera. Set, as the series is, three thousand years in the future, I wanted a new physics on which to base faster than light interstellar travel and other futuristic tech and toys. After much searching about the fringes of cosmology and physics I came across the Electric Universe Model. The video below is as good an introduction to the model as any. If you find the EU Model as intriguing as I do, there’s a ton of more videos and articles on the subject to be found at the site: thunderbolts.info.
The gist of the Electric Universe Model is its replacing of gravity with electromagnetism as the organizing principle of the universe. With this switch the need to posit exotic phenomena like black holes, dark matter and dark energy disappears like a fart in a hurricane. But for me, the real allure of the EU is the fact that unlike the gravity-based theories of the Standard Model, those of the Electric Universe Model can be proved or falsified in the laboratory! (Ya know, just like scientists used to do once upon a time.)
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that as a bartender-turned-garlic farmer and high school drop out to boot, I am in no way qualified to even pretend to be competent enough to pass judgement on which of the two models most accurately describes our most wonderful universe. I can only tell you which one sets off the noisy klaxons of my ever trusty, ever faithful cattle dung detector.
And that one would be the widely-accepted Standard Model.
But whatever the veracity of the models, I decided to use the EU Model as the backdrop for my space opera. Just the backdrop, mind you. The physics of the EU plays a distant third fiddle to the Ray Gun Romance and clash of Galactic Superpowers that is the bread and butter of Space Opera. The second fiddle would be the interplay of Christian and Secularist mores which I hope will favorably distinguish my series from those of my most worthy fellows in the genre.
That aside, some of the immediate implications of the EU model which the first installment of my space opera touches upon includes the replacing of the super massive black hole at the center of the galaxy with a super massive Plasmoid. Additionally, light in the Electric Universe does not set the speed limit. Gravity does! Its speed is instantaneous. Thus, faster than light travel is not only possible, but it can be had without the nettlesome effects of time dilation because time exists in the Electric Universe as opposed to the Standard Model Universe which conversely exists in time.
(This point about the absence of time dilation is my own conjecture extrapolated from what the EU Model says of time and gravity and not based on anything I’ve found explicitly said by any of the model’s proponents.)
Among the most exciting propositions of the EU Model is that space is no longer seen as a vacuum but rather, it is a plenum of plasma and magnetic fields wherein a vast web of cosmic Birkeland Currents writhe and crackle, giving birth and dealing annihilation to worlds and stars and whole galaxies!
That is an exciting backdrop in which to set any space opera but doubly so for the Catholic blend of Star Wars and Star Trek which is, The Holy Terran Empire!
If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of ONE LAST FLIGHT: Book One Of The Holy Terran Empire! And do it soon. The e-book will remain available for only .99¢ through Easter!