2307 Metric Drive Proof of Concept

Previously, scientists had successfully deformed spacetime artificially from the outside. However, for the first time, they achieved this from within the bubble. The experimental apparatus compresses spacetime in one direction and expands it in the other, resulting in an apparent movement without the object actually moving through space. It is the space itself that moves.

The space is not macroscopically deformed. Instead, fractal space distortions are used, creating high gravitational gradients across a network of infinitesimal folding surfaces. These surfaces have a fractal dimension close to 3. They are spatial in nature but theoretically have no volume where spacetime must be curved. In practice, the fractal folding surfaces are not strictly two-dimensional. However, the real total volume is so small that far less exotic matter is required than previously assumed. The negative energy of virtual particles at an artificial event horizon provides the necessary gravitational gradients on sub-nuclear scales. This event horizon for virtual particles is created by a quantum mirror that uses CP violation to separate D-mesons and their antiparticles.

The measurable effect is still small. The apparent movement is only a few micrometers per second. But never before has a human-made device propelled itself forward by curving space.

Many research groups are working on improvements. Soon, apparent speeds of several meters per second are achieved. Over time, many parameters are optimized. Some mechanisms are improved, while others are replaced with more efficient alternatives.

The actual size of the folding surfaces plays an important role. The higher the fractal dimension, the finer the folding surfaces and the greater the achievable gravitational gradient and speed.

The drive operates in pulses, each pulse generating a small spatial displacement. Therefore, the apparent speed is proportional to the pulse frequency. The cycle time soon drops from milliseconds to nanoseconds. To achieve this, the active cycle control is switched to a resonance effect. This paradigm shift requires many other components to be adapted.

Later, D-mesons are replaced by B-mesons due to their higher mass. This increases the energy requirement but also the speed, reaching up to kilometers per second.

Eventually, CP-based quantum mirrors are replaced by quantum black holes as event horizons. This opens up the possibility of using Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, a.k.a. WIMPs, or Bose-Einstein condensates instead of individual meson pairs. However, their production in relevant quantities is still far in the future and will only be made possible by advanced alien tech. Picosecond cycles will also only be feasible with extra-solar technology.

Each improvement brings gains in efficiency, higher speeds, lower energy consumption, increased reliability, or better maneuverability. True faster-than-light drives in interstellar spacecraft will have little in common with the first experimental devices. However, the basic principle will remain unchanged well into the faster-than-light era.

2318 Earth Union

The political landscape of Earth undergoes a seismic shift with the formation of the Earth Union. This development marks a significant departure from the more decentralized governance that characterized the planet in the past, a change driven by the increasingly authoritarian policies aimed at restoring Earth's broken ecology.

The roots of this transformation trace back to the Great Separation of 2284. Neo-Socialist Lea Perres' decision to cease interplanetary development redirected Earth's resources toward addressing its ecological and social issues. Initially, this move was met with a mix of support and resistance. While many appreciated the renewed focus on Earth's pressing needs, expansionists saw it as a stifling of humanity's potential. Over time, the Earth-centric policies began to foster an environment where any deviation from the Gaia Restoration goal was seen as a betrayal.

Having been stylized as Earth's savior from the World Friendship dictatorship through a carefully crafted personality cult, Lea Perres, the former World Council majority leader, emerges as the gray eminence of world politics during this period. A three decades-long memetic campaign subtly and persistently subverted common memetic defenses, elevating her image to near-mythic status. She is regarded as the patron of earth, sometimes being called the mother of earth and equated with Gaia: mother earth. Now, as the head of the Gaia Restoration Committees, Perres oversees all projects under the Gaia Restoration umbrella, commanding the unimaginable financial power of 25% of Earth's GDP.

The Gaia Restoration melds anti-expansionist neo-socialism with elements of Yksityiskohta. Yksityiskohta, or Yksityis, a modern religion which emerged during the early 21nd century, emphasizes individualism and the belief that the common good arises from the contributions of independent individuals. The religion, born out of the "Crash" when technological failures left many communities isolated, fostered self-reliance and local problem-solving. This philosophy now intertwines with the global mission of restoring Earth's ecology.

As the Gaia Restoration policies take hold, the World Council sees increasing centralization as essential. The independent member nations, seen as too weak to enforce the stringent measures necessary for ecological restoration, begin to lose their autonomy. By 2318, the push for a unified Earth has reached a tipping point. Propaganda campaigns, combined with legislative measures, paint anyone who opposes the Gaia Restoration as a traitor against the planet and humanity.

The general population, experiencing daily environmental degradation and catastrophes, is convinced that there is no alternative to Gaia Restoration. Most people believe that past efforts over the last 300 years have failed, thus supporting a stronger, more determined approach. The formation of the Earth Union represents the culmination of these efforts. With a strong central government, the former independent nations are relegated to mere states within the Union. This shift is justified by the need for unity and decisive action to repair Earth's ecological systems and ensure equitable resource distribution.

The new government, empowered by widespread public support for ecological restoration, begins enacting laws that criminalize actions deemed harmful to Gaia. "Crimes against Gaia" become a common charge, encompassing a wide range of behaviors from producing waste to excessive ecological footprints. Anti-corruption campaigns sweep the planet, targeting perceived enemies of the Gaia Restoration. These campaigns are often used to purge political opponents and consolidate power within the Earth Union. Even though low level corruption is always present on all sides of the political and economic spectrum, prosecution targets specifically those not adhering strictly to Gaia Restoration.

Despite the authoritarian nature of the Earth Union, there is significant progress in ecological restoration. No new technological advancements are necessary; existing technology suffices but must be redirected towards conservation and repair instead of further exploitation. This shift requires a change in perception and will, moving from eternal growth and resource exploitation to eco-preserving full-cost accounting. Shareholder value and short-term goals are replaced by a welfare and happiness index, drawing on examples from Earth's past.

Educational systems are overhauled to support this new vision. Curricula are deeply ingrained with the principles of Gaia Restoration, aiming to inculcate ecological preservation in children from a young age. The education system, comprising content, programs, and AI auto-tutors, emphasizes responsible behavior, self-sufficiency, the importance of common ecological goals, and a harmonious society free of dissent and disturbance by ideas unaligned with Gaia. To this end, operators of memetic filters are required to allow Gaia-related memetic campaigns.

This long-term project aims to raise generations that prioritize the health of the planet over personal gain. By the time of the Earth Union's founding, protests have largely ceased, and the suppression of expansionism, coupled with the emigration of wealthy expansionists, has marginalized resistance.

Arts and culture reflect the Gaia Restoration movement, with Solar Punk replacing space-oriented fiction. Yksityiskohta, promoted by the Earth Union, comes close to becoming the new state religion. Its themes align closely with Gaia Restoration, and it gains a following comparable to traditional world religions. The fusion of these ideas fosters a new cultural identity centered on ecological stewardship and personal responsibility.

The economy, however, experiences significant upheaval. It stagnates and even shrinks initially as companies limit resource use. The goal of economic growth is abandoned in favor of sustainability. A full-reserve banking system is introduced fundamentally altering financial practices. Corporate managers are judged and paid based on the long-term impact of their actions, with bonuses often paid decades later, a system compatible with the longevity society that Earth has become.

Inflation impacts the planetary economy as capital is directed towards restoration efforts, and fewer products are available for consumption. The value of savings decreases in response to the reduced availability of resources and products. People are required to use products longer, with repair cycles mandated by law and disposal strictly regulated. Prices increase to cover the costs of resource restoration, recycling, and long-term product support. Though challenging, this economic shift is viewed as necessary for the long-term health of the planet.

In the subsequent years, the Union's control over its member states tightens. The initial economic hardships give way to a more stable, albeit controlled, society. The success of the Gaia Restoration, however, remains a contentious topic, with debates over the trade-offs between ecological health and personal freedom continuing to simmer beneath the surface.

In the subsequent years, the Earth Union's policies continue to evolve. Technological advancements in ecology and sustainability become more sophisticated, and the Union's control over its member states tightens. The initial economic hardships give way to a more stable, albeit controlled, society. The success of the Gaia Restoration, however, remains a contentious topic, with debates over the trade-offs between ecological health and personal freedom continuing to simmer beneath the surface. Several centuries of pollution and overexploitation have led to a self-reinforcing stress on the biosphere, a so-called runaway effect that accelerated when Antarctica, the northern permafrost, and the deep oceans reacted after long delays, causing many parts of the biosphere to enter different, unfavorable equilibria.

Addressing these biosphere problems requires a worldwide concerted effort over several decades. Over time, millions of individual projects are conducted, both small and large, including reducing solar radiation, sequestering greenhouse gasses, regrowing large rainforests, reconstructing biotopes through genetic engineering, and reestablishing natural food chains. These efforts clearly have an effect: the deterioration of the environment slows down, and the downward trend finally comes to a halt and even reverses. However, these significant improvements do not come quickly, taking more than 100 years before they become noticeable.