Unusual technologies

Exotic matter is basically a group of all kinds of hypothetical forms of matter/energy, from negative mass to tachyons to strange matter to dark energy.

A lot of people seem to be confusing these things so I think it would improve the discussion to just list them here:

  • Exotic Matter = Any substances that could theoretically exist but we have no evidence it actually does.

  • Anti-Matter = matter that has the opposite charge and lepton/other number. It has normal mass and basically acts like normal when interacting with other antimatter. But if an anti-particle touches a normal particle both particles explode. It is not exotic (has been created in lab conditions) but very hard to keep because it keeps exploding.

  • Negative matter = Matter with a negative mass. It does not have to go faster than light. It does create anti-gravity with makes it crucial for maintaining anything that gravity tries to make collapse. Insert a ring of negative matter and it stays open! Unfortunately it is exotic, which is why we do not have wormholes.

  • Tachyons = faster than light matter. Normal matter becomes more energetic when it goes faster, which is why it can’t go faster than light. Tachyons become more energetic when they go slower, so they can’t go slower than light. Tachyons are neither normal nor exotic; they have been proven specifically not to exist, due to tachyon condensation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachyon_condensation). Any tachyons would almost instantly decay into normal matter.

  • Dark matter = A type of exotic matter that would explain why galaxies have more mass than anyone can see. Basically, galaxies are more gravitationally attractive than can be explained based on the gas and stars and black holes inside them. So, either our formula from gravity is slightly off, or there is something inside those galaxies that we cannot detect in any way besides its gravitational pull, dark matter. Dark matter =/= anti-matter. Anti matter explodes at the lightest touch, while dark matter’s whole thing is that nothing and no one can see it.

Hope this helps everyone to use the same definitions!


Not really? They react together and turn into energy, which is something (slightly, but still vitally) different.


Yes they annihilate. Both particles disappear and release their mass-equivalent in energy, usually in the form of two photons. I was just trying to simplify so people could understand without having to get into particle physics.

Also fun fact: did you know the opposite process can happen too? Two photons can bump into each other and cause a particle and anti-particle to appear.


Is this what happened in the Big Bang?

Not exactly like that, but yeah, IIRC the state before the big bang was that there was nothing but energy (not sure how up-to-date this info is tho, this is nothing more than the way my dad explained it to me years ago lmao) in 1 position (IIRC like a singularity, a buttload of energy all in the exact same place), and then something happened which caused a large amount of that energy to turn into matter + antimatter, and then a couple years later we came into existence.

The state was that there was nothing. When big bang started, that’s when energy came into existence.

When you have an extreme energy density it turns itself into quarks.

What about some kind of technology that keeps stars/planets in, for lack of a better term a ‘time bubble’ that alters the flow of time around it, like a planet full of (nearly) extinct species that are put in a bubble to allow their species to recover?

Then the big bang isn’t how the universe was created. That’s how common matter was created. It doesn’t explain a whole lot of how space, time, and just energy came in.

From what I’ve heard is that big bang is also the beginning of time and space. But trying to find that info on Wikipedia seems to be a bit difficult:

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One of the biggest issues we have with the big bang (and hence why every astrophysicist and their grad student has a different headcannon) is the breakdown of information: What we understand as the start of the universe was extremely, nearly unimaginably hot. To the tune of quarks (the basic building blocks of matter) boiling out of any particle that managed to exist (interestingly enough, this is one of the explanations for why the mass density fluctuations of the early universe occurred, though far from the only one). Pulling any amount of information from such a situation, let alone one that far back, is fairly impossible, especially given evidence pointing towards our current… guesswork… breaks down at the concentrations of energy we’re talking about. And that’s just the stage before the universe as we know it started to exist.

Given the way it’s modeled, there are a great many similarities between the very earliest points of time in universe and singularities, which as put by one of my theorists of all time, Steven Hawking, “Nature Abhors a Naked Singularity.” (Yes, they are possible, in the same way that randomly holding your hand out and catching a meteorite of sufficient size safe is possible - the chances require orders of magnitude longer than the human race has existed). So figure out how to get info from a black hole, and then we’ll have some information on what (if anything) came before the big bang.

And, to get back into the spirit of this thread, my contribution on unique technologies:

  • Subspace storage, aka sectioning off a section of reality to act as your haversack, or how every game ever allows an inventory besides realistic. Perhaps as one of the resulting technologies of negative mass research?

  • Stellar Drive Engines (Kurzgesagt has a great video on this), and a way for you to get your home system out of it’s current neighborhood and maybe somewhere new? Honestly, it depends on how static the star map is. (And yes, this would be slow as sin, but… nomadic solar system anyone?
    Stellar Engine

  • Strange Matter Weapons, a grey goo scenario where the nanobot are matter. Want to dissolve a planet? This is how you dissolve a planet. Just don’t let it touch anything you want to stay around. Optionally discovered after finding a strange star


A potentially useful technology would be a reflecting engine, which would be able to catch a beam of propellant from some source, and then redirect it to travel in many directions. Perhaps the reflecting feature could be incorporated into a more typical engine, so that it could replenish its propellant (or repropellant itself, I guess) while it continues to move

so for the engine to work if i understand it you would need laser stations along an intergalactic highway and your space ships would be covered with mirrors and be pushed by the lasers? they would also need to be slowed down or your spaceship would overshoot its destination.

… Um, so solar sail technology?

Seriously, a passive sail just reflects ambient light to achieve this, while a more active variant uses concentrated light (normally via laser, but you could just stick really big mirrors on the sun to achieve this) and has been a running contender on possible inter systems.

@justacell That’s pretty much it. Well, kind of. We know from sailing for forever that you can angle via a single surface and changing orientation, so all you really need is one rather large sail. Honestly, you wouldn’t even need multiple stations, just one big one at the origin and destination. One to accelerate you to some arbitrary percentage of the speed of light, and another to decelerate you. After all, if interstellar hydrogen can slow you down, why not a really big flashlight?

Let me see if I can find it, I know there’s a lot of information out there…
Here we go:
Old Pulsed LASER Solar Sail Tech
Recent Self Stabilizing Design
I’ll look around to find a video that can explain it better.
Ah, Issac Arthur to the rescue.

Oh, speaking of technologies, here’s one:
The Shell World.
Have you ever wanted to live around a supermassive black hole? Because this is a solar system’s mass (at least) used to form a shell around a black hold at gravity levels that are roughly your species standard, which means that there is a functionally unlimited amount of space (depending on the size of your host black hole this is something along the lines of anywhere between the surface area of something hypothetically the surface of Jupiter on up. Best part? Don’t have to bother with rotation, you could mine the black hole/toss your trash in/whatever you want.

For something a little less… interesting. Just build a matryoshka world (If you’ve read Matter, then you know what I’m talking about). Just layers and layers of living space built into a world (whether artificial or not). Here’s a video about these little beauties.

Or I guess you could just be boring and use a giant bubble to ensure atmosphere doesn’t escape, but that’s not fun at all.

Edited for spelling and grammar

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The idea was to have a typical rocket, except that the propellant is launched at the engine from an outside source, rather than being carried along, in order to get the benefits of both a solar sail and a regular rocket engine

Ah. I see. So…

You’re thinking some form of… redirection system? I mean, it would be technically possible, but…
Okay, so the problem with this is a matter of space being stupidly vast. In the case of a stationary pump accelerating some particle, the mass of the particle is inversely proportional to the scatter. An electron of sufficient velocity, though it will interact with magnetic fields, tends to travel in relatively straight lines. The key word is relatively, any strong magnetic field, or enough of weaker one will change the direction (beta radiation). Moving on up, an ionic nuclei (alpha radiation) will do the same, especially since it will interact with interplanetary dust and gas over the massive distances you would need. The same thing that makes them focus able (electromagnetic interactions) prevents the utility of focusing what is basically a very low powered ion beam (and you want it low powered, while a high powered one could cut through the interstellar medium, it would also cut through the ship.)

So, moving entirely onto throwing atoms at your ship, this is more or less an alpha beam that you can’t aim. Unless you make it an ion, in which case you run into the previous problem. In addition, you could use a comparatively more massive atom, which would still deflect when it hits something, just less. So you upscale again. Start throwing molecules, and interstellar radiation lyses it, meaning you loose part of the molecule. With something this massive, we also have to start worrying about mass. Gravity will adjust your aim some, which is another fail point.

Okay, so what about pellets? The most efficient way of launching them is a railgun, so let’s just shoot micrometeorites at our ship. You have to be careful, too slow and the ship’s acceleration will make the fuel useless, too fast and you’re accidentally blowing holes in your ship. For some reason, I doubt they’d like that. That, and gravity becomes a major problems.

So, to keep it from crashing, let’s add some guidance. That increases the minimum size by a lot, because we need at minimum power generation, some form of steering, maybe a beacon, some retrograde thrusters and look I just made a probe. From there, well, we want this to be efficient. No point in making it so there isn’t even a 1:1 amount of fuel to control. Not too big, because we will loose a few fuel tanks here and there so it’s better to have something of midling size, maybe 25:1 (napkin math here, it’d take an actual study). Still small enough any decent railgun could accelerate it to a decent fraction of C, but big enough that if one or a dozen is lost the ship can just use the excess.

This process is refereed to breadcrumbs. The normal plans is to throw them ahead of the ship in such a way that it can snag them, while firing others that will follow in our ship’s wake and catch up to the fleet. The best part? Once you strip out the extras, you either have a nice little chunk of spare parts, or a fully built disposable drone you can throw ahead of you detect such issues as rouge planets, extreme gravity sheers, and grump people (who may be made that way by a probe traveling at some arbitrary fraction of C slamming into something important).

Lasers get around the prior problems by being nearly massless photons (so gravity only matters in and of space is warped, well, kinda), can be modulated to a power output that does not accidentally fry your crew (like beta is known to do), can be used as a secondary power source, is able to be used continuously (rather than in chunks) and most importantly ignores the tyranny of the rocket equation.

You don’t have to carry propellant with you accelerate, all you need to do is coast and as long as there’s a signal you will keep accelerating. Have a copy at the other end, and all you need is maneuvering fuel meaning you can have comparatively massive payloads. Even if you don’t, roughly half the fuel can be ignored, since you don’t need it to speed up, so a significant amount of mass can go to non-fuel storage.

The only other option I can think of would be to have a fuel tender? But that means you have to deal with two rockets, and one will constantly be buffeted by the emissions of the other, so it’ll have to work harder to accelerate if it follows and if something goes wrong on the tender ship you aren’t going to be able to slow down, so it needs to be overengineered rather than allowing the other to lead and by that point you don’t want to overspecialize because if one gets destroyed there’s a chance the other will survive and then you’re left with a low fuel fractional c manned wrecking ball or a low fractional c tank of high explosive. At least one can slow down? … I’d hate to be one of the poor souls stuck on the other ship if you lost your tender.

Here is an idea for a weird long-distance ship: Rather than recycling materials on-board for all of the food, the food (or at least some of it) could be stored for the journey. Then, waste from the crew would be collected and refined into the propellant required to slow down at the end of the journey

Actually, it’s used even now. Recycling i mean. Especially with air and water. But with propellant based on organic… As i know, we don’t use any organic liquid or solid fuel. Not organic fuel is better in many aspects: price, efficiency.
If you are so interested in recycling, i can suggest you watch the experiment “Biosphere 2”. Interesting experience.

recycling most likley woudnt be used in the future in favor of automated space colonisation. if your an empire looking to expand your territory you send bots to stake your claim until the planet is habitable then you send people there. puting the people in stasis would be much easier than having them recycle though.

What about Humans? Can those strange great apes be used a fuel?