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I am building a science fiction world with technology comparable to the Halo Universe (AKA Warp Drives are a thing). The story is set in a section of the galaxy with various nations controlling multiple planets.

I am trying to think of ways of how these governments and people would be able to communicate with each other on planets in different systems. In this world, people in the same system have reasonably fast communication speeds, and if there is a situation where two planets are as close as say Earth and Mars, then they have a shared internet.

My issue is thinking of ways of effective communication between different systems without having to wait for months on end for data to stream over. I am thinking of a few solutions

  1. Data Runners- Any communication between planets will have to be data sent up to a satellite, uploaded onto a data runner ship, then be sent to the next planet. In a sense, it would be like sending letters once again. No instant messaging, but reasonably effective.
  2. A String of satellites of facilities between systems- This would be wildly expensive, and data might not even move faster, but maybe wealthier nations could do this.
  3. Simply make data just go faster- Idk, feels like a cop out. A lot of the tech in my world is reeled in by hard-ish science.

My question is, what are ways to make communication between different systems be realistic and effective, so that there could be governments owning multiple planets at relative ease

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    $\begingroup$ Can either: 1. photons/light travel through the warp drives without needing something to take them through to the other side or 2. can the warp drives be kept open with e.g. a cable connecting the 2 ends? $\endgroup$ Aug 6, 2017 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Do you want intergalactic or inter-starsystem communications? I don't think this changes the answer a lot, but it is still confusing. I think 1) is a fine solution, I do not understand 2) - as you pointed out, this wouldn't make anything go faster - in fact it would slow down everything. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Aug 6, 2017 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, please clarify whether you really want intergalatic (between different galaxies) or intragalatic (within a single galaxy) communications. The Andromeda galaxy is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way, and is about 2.5 million lightyears from us. Do you really need to communicate across that distance? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 7, 2017 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure in Halo, they just transmit data through slipspace with the same technology their ships use. There is still delay over long distances. The governments are not well enforced which is why they had rebellions all over the place and fighting the rebellions are what started the spartan program. $\endgroup$ Sep 20, 2017 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ "governments owning multiple planets" ummm... what? $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 13:13

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Miniature Wormholes: Your nation has warpdrives, to send matter faster than light. It isn't much of a stretch from there to send energy faster than light without a warpdrive or ship accompanying it. One possible method is via tiny wormholes large enough only to allow light beams to pass. These wormholes are lined up with the neighboring system to hit a receiving device.

Message Ships: If sending a warpdrive along with the message is the only way to travel faster than light, then make a smaller, faster version of a ship, one with only the warpdrive and radio broadcasting equipment to transmit the message on the other side.

Communication Via Time Travel: Allow your civilization the ability to send a probe thousands of years into the past which emits a radio signal towards the target system. Through careful calculation, the signal arrives at its destination at the future time that the message was sent. (True, this option utilizes technology beyond what you stated in the post).

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    $\begingroup$ Communications via a network of connected mini-wormholes sounds sensible. The message ships are the OP's data runners and still a good idea. The time travel option is a bit of overkill. Basically a data-runner with a broadcast option and in the past. Timing would be everything. Plus one. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 7, 2017 at 2:20
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    $\begingroup$ Realistically plausible warp engines or Alcubierre drive as they are known, have nothing to do with wormholes, and thus in no way imply such form of ftl comms. Warp engines and wormholes are different things, and asker said he has the first, not the second. $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Aug 7, 2017 at 13:38
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zero-point dimension as communication channel

The quantum theorie has some formula that only make sense with more than our 4 dimensions. We have three dimensions in room, and one in time. What about the others?

One explanations says, they are "rolled in" and aren't expanded, therefore having no apparent effect in our world.

I imagine such a dimension like a "zero point" with no extent, but present everywhere in the universe. It is part of the universe, connected to, but not located in room or time.

You can not send matter or energy through it. But maybe, you can set a binary state like 0 or 1. This binary state is immediatly present all over the universe.

This gives you the possibility of morse or internet - with the hard limitation having one channel only.

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I would say that different forms of FTL communication would give rise to different inter-system types of governments. Both types and size of governments who own multiple systems will depend not only on speed of FTL communication but also on speed of FTL travel in general. Really, it is up to you to devise an FTL scheme that best fits your world or story.

No FTL communication / Slow FTL travel

If there is no FTL communication and FTL travel is "slow" (eg. slower than few months between star systems), then you probably won't get any governments that own multiple systems. It is questionable if there even be any trade between star systems. There will be some communication and travel, but the systems will be mostly independent and self-sufficient.

No FTL communication / Fast FTL travel

If FTL communication is limited to light speed, but it is possible to create spaceships that can travel between star systems in manner of days or hours, you will see governments that own few star systems. Communication between systems will be handled by fast courier FTL ships. Governments will be either feudal monarchies or loose federations of planets, as planets will be mostly independent with only minimal oversight of central government. This is because the central government won't be able to enforce rules or military on other planets.

Low throughput FTL communication

This is when things get blurry and will depend on how fast FTL travel can go. In this scenario, FTL communication is possible, but can only be used to transmit small amount of information. The different star systems will each probably develop their own culture and identity, but there will probably be a representative of central government on each planet who can communicate near-instanteniously with central government. Traders who have access to this FTL comms will have huge advantage. And military response in case of an attack or a rebellious planet will also be faster than in setting without FTL comms. Star nations will be slightly bigger than in previous case. Central government will be busy balancing on razor's edge in maintaining presence and control on edge worlds.

High throughput FTL communications

In this situation, the galaxy is the limit. If every person can communicate with anyone else on another system, then star nations will be no different from what we have currently on earth. Cultures will blend and propaganda will run rampart. Nations counting hundreds, or even thousands of populated star systems will be viable. It will be easy to have elections across whole star nation in single day and know the results on the next day. President or prime minister candidate talks will be broadcast to all citizens of the star nation.

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I can't say wich universe it was might have been The Human Reach by John L. Lumpkin or the Frontline Series by Marko Kloos. Must have been the later - when passing through hyperspace at a jump node a ship is uploading all the news and messages and after passing through it put those news into the other system.

This means information travel with speed of light interplanetary but need a "message" ship to deliver it into a other system.

However when designing a "system" you need to scale it with the speed of hyper travel.
For example - the message ship system would not work well when the FTL speed is similar to the Star Wars Universe You would lose planets before the message reaches the command.

BTW, the interplanetary web could work similar - you have several data nodes that delta load / copy the world wide net on a hourly basis into a node.

So when you are asking Huuble (google) you don't wait 2 days until the search engine has found your answer after connecting to pluto and mercurius - it's just connecting to the data node in the LO over Titan

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  • $\begingroup$ when passing through hyperspace at a jump node The question states "Warp drive" - which is like a supersonic plane, not like teleportation. $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 13:16
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You could communicate through some kind of parallel universe which is much denser then our universe, like the "usual" Hyperspace. Maybe your physiscs does not allow material to enter it, but electromagnetic waves are able to cross the border. This would allow your ships to travel faster then light, while messages may be still transported even faster, it depends on your version of the warp drive. You could still use wormholes as shortcut at places where folds of the traditional space are close enough to each other, resulting in even faster transfair of both ships and waves.

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You don't need fancy FTL communications to maintain control of distant colonies. You need an Empire.

If you already have FTL ships that can get to star systems in a matter of months, then you already have everything you need for a governing body to exert control over settlements on a different planet. You don't need to invent new FTL communications. Lets look at what you need, in order to make distant control work.

Direct control won't work, but thats ok. Use a local Governor. Each settlement on a distant planet will have a local governor who answers back to to the central government. They have a degree of autonomy in how they run the settlement on a day-to-day basis, but they are still expected to follow applicable government policy. How do they find out what that policy is when the central government passes new laws?

  1. Slow, unreliable, cheap post. This is where the central government encrypts up some messages, and hands them over to any old ship heading out to the colony. They will get there at some point, and the governor can decrypt them and execute any orders. Because this is the future, this may well be a highly automatic system, where ships have already bought an automatic HyperPostManTM server, and installed it in a cupboard on-board. Whenever they get into a system, the server automatically brokers fees with contactable servers within range, and exchanges data packets with them for a price. This would be an little side earner for ships going back and forth. Networks would be designed so that they are tolerant of long latency times and different reference frames of different star systems. This is a network and software engineering challenge, but not an insurmountable one.
  2. Fast, reliable, expensive courier. This is where the central government pays a fast ship to carry a message there quickly and directly. It means they are hiring out an entire ship just for one message, so it better be an important message. If they do this often, they may find themselves buying a couple of their own spaceships so they always have a courier on standby. If they do this very often to multiple star-systems, then they might as-well hire out additional server space on the courier ships, and then this forms the backbone of an express, government postal service.

By itself, this goes a long way to exerting distant control, but it assumes that the governor is loyal, and doesn't want to set him/herself up as an independent ruler. It also assumes that he/she is able to maintain their own local authority without a rebellion. There are two tried and tested solutions to these problems:

  1. Economic control. The central government most likely has a much more developed economy under it's control than the distant settlement. The distant settlement will likely need manufactured goods such as complex medicines, advanced machinery, skilled workers and software licences that they are not able to successfully/legally produce by themselves. Therefore, the central government can prevent the settlement from becoming an independent state by heavily regulating the flow of exported goods to it, and similarly controlling the prices it pays in return for importing any locally produced goods (most likely simpler products). The remote settlement will struggle to become independent if their machinery breaks down, and they cannot order replacement parts. This is a bit of a double edged sword for the central government, as they probably want the settlement to become more economically developed, because then it will be able to pay more taxes. However, if it becomes too developed, then it will be much more able to support itself, and economic control becomes more difficult. Thats why the central government has another option.
  2. Military control. If all else fails, the central government has one last big stick in it's toolbox: Its space-navy. If multiple nations are controlling multiple worlds, then I would assume that each nation has some sort of navy to defend their colonies. The space navy can also be used to quell local unrest by showing up in orbit, and threatening to level the odd settlement or two if they aren't behaving. This is extremely expensive, and nobody is happy when the navy gets deployed to pacify a local insurrection.

If the central government manages all of this, they have successfully implemented space-colonialism/space-mercantilism. A lot of this is expensive and risky, so the central government may not want to handle it all. Instead they may contract it out to a private company, thus inventing the Space-East-India-Company.

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Quantum Entanglement

There was a theory in Quantum mechanincs called Quantum Entanglement theory which could solve your situation.

Quantum Entanglement, in easier terms, is that two particles can be connected to each other regardless of space, and the state of one affects the state of the other.

If you can say that they have unravelled the mysteries which we are currently unable to, this will form an almost instant communication across any distance. The data can be encrypted, sent as state with the easiest being binary.

This will still require set up, and transport of one to the other place. But it not limited to just pairs either, it could be any number.

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  • $\begingroup$ Entanglement CANNOT be used to transfer information. There are tons of resources on the internet that explain this way better than I do. $\endgroup$
    – Maciej
    Aug 7, 2017 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ Two good questions I found a while back on Physics that discusses quantum entanglement in this context: The choice of measurement basis on one half of an entangled state affects the other half. Can this be used to communicate faster than light? and Quantum Entanglement - What's the big deal? Both are reasonably highly voted and have similarly highly voted answers. OP clearly wants as hard science as reasonably possible, so this would be relevant. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 7, 2017 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ Yes in our current era we are unable to utilise this theory due to limitations in our current technology. But this was to give a resonable idea for communication over large distances in a more advanced era. And since their era is one where warp technology is available, their level of technology and knowledge dealing with the quantum realm will be much more comprehensive than our own. I just think it is wrong to assume the limitations we have on us is the same for those in much more advanced civilisations. $\endgroup$
    – Revan Vex
    Aug 8, 2017 at 2:19
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    $\begingroup$ It's fine to extrapolate, assume and fantasize. In fact, that's largely what we do all day on the site. But if you are doing that, you should make it explicit that you are starting out with something (which may be e.g. quantum entanglement), acknowledge the limitations as currently understood, and make clear that your answer envisions a world where these limitations have been overcome, whether by better understanding of the relevant phenomena or by being superceded by more detailed models (like how Newton's equations have been superceded by Einstein's, but remain valid in certain cases). $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 8, 2017 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ Yes in our current era we are unable to utilise this theory due to limitations in our current technology. False. That is like saying "we are unable to break the laws of thermodynamics due to the to limitations in our current technology". $\endgroup$ Feb 28, 2020 at 13:26

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