Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
In the twenty fifth century, scientists were convinced that the longest single jump possible through hyperspace within the spiral arms of the Milky Way was 3.3 parsecs. This limit was the consequence of the density of dark matter and its effect on the stability of tachyon waves. When longer jumps were attempted, the tachyon waves lost their cohesion, and there was significant distortion of the meson matter when it returned to normal space-time. Such occurrences gave new meaning to the phrase, “having a bad hair day.”
Because of the hyperspace jump limit, “Way Stations” were positioned near the intersections of high density traffic corridors at roughly 2.5-3.0 parsec intervals. The largest of these Way Stations was simply called “The Oasis.” It was located 2.7 parsecs from the high velocity Terran Throughway and 5.8 parsecs from the Orion Interchange.
Philip Coleman rejoined his friend in the spacious Oasis lounge.
“Where have you been?” asked Manfred Sola.
“Just stretching my legs.”
“Well, now that you’re back, I just wanted to say again that you made the right decision to take a vacation after those bastards rejected your PhD dissertation. A few weeks on Orion II will do you good.”
“Oh, we won’t be going to Orion II,” replied Coleman. “That was just a ruse I used to get to The Oasis. I intend to show the review panel that my equations are flawless.”
“Yeah,” Coleman replied with a chuckle. “My mathematical equations proved irrefutably that space travel must adhere to the Law of Six Degrees of Separation. Right now, Earth’s influence is limited to a sphere just under 20 parsecs in diameter. My formula dictates that Earth cannot expand any further into the galaxy until we can increase the distance of a single hyperspace jump.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Nodes, of course. Within the sphere, there are dozens of uniformly spaced Way Stations. They’re called nodes in my thesis. In order to get from point A to point B within the sphere you cannot pass through more than six nodes. It’s a fundamental law of the universe. It establishes the maximum diameter of the sphere.”
“What a minute. Are you saying that if we build a Way Station three parsecs beyond the furthest one, we can’t get to it?”
“No. What I’m saying is that you can’t get to it if you need to make seven jumps. Six jumps is the absolute limit. Those dimwitted professors said my logic was flawed. They wanted empirical evidence to substantiate the analysis. Proof, in other words. As if my derivations weren’t enough!”
“If I concede your point, which I don’t, how is coming to The Oasis going to prove it?”
“It’s simple. Part of the Law of Six Degrees of Separation specifies that some nodes are more important than others. They’re called ‘Hubs.’ Because of their strategic locations, Hubs are used more often than the average node. In fact, 72% of all interstellar trips across the diameter of the sphere pass through The Oasis. Therefore, if the primary and secondary power transfer couplings on The Oasis were to be destroyed, this station could not function as a Hub. Interstellar travel would collapse because so many trips would require 7 jumps, which is not possible. Such a scenario would prove my dissertation.” Just then the station shuttered. Seconds later, the lights in the lobby flickered and went out. In the darkness, the waiting passengers began screaming. “Heeheehee,” snickered Coleman. “It’s proof they wanted, it’s proof they’ll get.”