The Split-Drive is the only practically successful form of FTL travel ever developed and is largely considered to be the corner stone of contemporary galactic civilization. Its development lead to the Great Migration, the explosion of Human colonial development that followed in its wake.
The split-drive is considered the pinnacle of Human engineering and science, as close to true FTL as could be achieved without breaking the Einstein laws of light speed, something that still was lauded as one of the greatest technological achievements since nuclear fission, electricity or even fire.
Pre Split-Drive EraEdit
By the 22nd century Humanity had long since developed the powerful Gravitational Pulse Engine needed to launch a ship to near light-speed without the limitations of a long acceleration to avoid the G-force crushing the crew and the increasing affects of time dilation began to take their toll.
Time dilation means that passengers in a fast-moving vehicle to travel further into the future while aging very little, in that their great speed slows down the rate of passage of on-board time. That is, the ship's clock (and according to relativity, any human traveling with it) shows less elapsed time than the clocks of observers on earth. For sufficiently high speeds the effect is dramatic.
For interstellar travel the resulting time dilation made it impractical for establishing a star spanning empire, or even maintaining contact in the most basic forms between Earth and her colony in the Alpha Centuari-system. A ship traveling between the two points took over 5-years, 3-years for shipboard time.
For the colonization of the Sol-system, this quickly allowed for rapid development of region.
In order to bypass this constraint, Humanity did what it did best, it found a loop hole in the equation.
In 2258, scientists working at New Harvard University on Mars, were researching subatomic tachyon particles and had long ago managed to discern that a tachyon particles exist across all dimensions simultaneously. By developing a series of sensor like technology, New Harvard scientists were able to see into a near infinite number of dimensions parallel to our own existed.
These dimensions though would not be considered parallel dimensions, like those of science fiction dramas of ancient Earth television. Instead they were universes that had been created by a far reaching, inter-dimensional Big Bang, each receiving varying levels of matter and energy in the event, developing from a divergent source. With our own dimension and space as the standard model, some universes received too much matter but not enough energy, leading to a vast, universe-wide, never ending nebula of inert gas and others too little matter and had long since burned themselves out into the cold void.
No dimension so far observed has had anything resembling our own universe, with stars, planets and even people. Scientists theorize that it is easier to detect dimensions of vastly different compositions, than ones that share similarities.
Eventually a rudimentary inter-dimensional generator was created by 2279 and fitted to an exploration vessel, the EFS Max Planck, allowing researchers and explorers to temporarily tear a hole between the levels of existence by literally punching enough tachyons into the fabric of existence while they resonanted as a specific frequency to unique a certain dimension.
And still the rules of time dilation applied, explorers could only pop into another dimension, look around, and then come back. Any long-term voyages meant the same laws applied.
Until they explored one universe in particular, a universe of nothing... split space. It was a universe that had gotten no matter, no energy, and as such, the laws of psychics did not apply. Time dilation did not apply.
Ships could shift into split space, accelerate to almost any speed without fear of friction, drag or the dreaded time dilation and then pop back into the regular universe, without having been missed for thousands of years.
The loop hole instantly caused the eruption of the Great Migration, the immense colonial rush of ships out of the Sol-system and to every surrounding system.
Dangers & LimitationsEdit
Split space is not without its dangers though. Without energy, the dimension seems to leech it off of the ships and even people entering its realm.
Before this leeching affect was thoroughly cataloged, vessels and crews traveling in split space over extend excursions could literally dwindled to exhaustion, both among their crew and their ship's supplies. It was finally determined that this leeching effect increases exponentially as a vessel spent more time in split space.
Rule of FourEdit
Everything inside split space that comes from normal space is trapped by the Rule of Four, the only true law of physics inside this realm. All objects inside split space lose energy in a multiplying factor of 4% and this has become the defining limitation inside split space.
Power generator plants nominally won't show signs of exhaustion upon entering split space. Energy drain normally begins to affect power generation systems after 43-hours inside split space, called the Grace Period.
The drag begins to multiply by a factor 4%, regardless of the total output of the power generator. In total, no ship can exist in split space for more than 25-days before its total energy output is matched by its drain.
The Rule of Four also affects people. Individuals inside split space will find themselves becoming lethargic, as if a full nights sleep was comparable to barely an hour or so in normal space. Meal consumption even failed to provide the basic energy boost to keep a Human body sustained for a long periods of time in split space.
Attempts to use cryogenic suspension, intravenous fluids or high vitamin diets have been met with limited success.
Even in the modern era, no Human body can survive unaided for more than a weeks in split space, without suffering the effects of sleep deprivation and malnutrition. Normally ships only spent two to three days in split space, before returning to normal space for a day of rest before continuing on.