Cosmology Physical / Metaphysical Law in Milky Way | World Anvil

Cosmology

Cosmology refers to the study of realspace (also called 'the universe'), alternate realspaces, subspace, the shroud, and all other dimensions that have been identified. Subspace, and by extension, hyperspace, are the most well-known dimensions other than realspace, owing to their common usage in everyday life for communication and transportation. Other dimensions are less well-understood, but great strides have been made since the development of FTL travel to study them.

The description of universes other than realspace is incredibly complex, and this article will use analogies to aid the reader in understanding them.

Realspace

Realspace is the dimension of existence that most sapient species evolved in and currently reside in. It is also referred to as 'the universe', or 'this universe', as the reader of this article is currently residing in realspace. Realspace has three spatial mathematical dimensions, and one temporal mathematical dimension, and the speed of light is a constant c.

Subspace

Further reading: Subspace

Subspace is most often viewed as a universe within a universe. It exists on a smaller conceptual real than realspace, meaning an object traveling between the same points in subspace physically travels a smaller distance than realspace. It is the dimension where all FTL travel and communication takes place due to this phenomenon. On a more theoretical level, subspace is believed to be the 'foundation' of realspace, effectively anchoring the laws of physics as they are. Without the existence of subspace, the laws of physics would not be amenable to the development of life as it is most well known.

Subspace itself is divided into 'layers', which exist 'closer' and 'further' from the normal universe. What is generally referred to as 'subspace' is typically just the 'closest' layer, which is where starships and communications transit. The 'topmost' layer is also where the sub-dimension of hyperspace exists, which effectively act as subspace 'highways' for FTL transits. Deeper layers of subspace are not as well known due to a lack of practical application for them.

The Shroud

Further reading: The Shroud

The Shroud is one of the less well-understood dimensions that are known to exist. It is a dimension of pure energy that cannot usually be directly accessed. It is also the source of power for psionically-gifted individuals, and appears to respond to organic minds in realspace. The most expansive explorations of the Shroud have been undertaken by the Conclave of Telepaths within the Kingdom of Yondarim, which is comprised of some of the most powerful psions in the galaxy.

The Shroud can typically only be accessed when an organic being is in a dreaming state, where it is half-remembered. The physical body of the telepath remains in realspace, while the mind is able to access and move about the Shroud. The Shroud is particularly dangerous as a dimension, as a telepath's mind can be severed from their body, effectively rendering the being braindead. In addition, the Shroud is home to many entites and creatures that are extremely dangerous. The Shroud, or entities within it, are also capable of influencing realspace and the beings in it. Some have speculated that the near-simultaneous (in cosmic terms) discovery of FTL travel by so many species was a result of the influence of a being within the Shroud.

Astral Planes

Further reading: Astral Rifts

Astral rifts are tears in spacetime that can create a "bridge" to other dimensions. They are occasionally found at the edge of solar gravity wells, at similar distances to hyperlane entrances. These rifts lead to other dimensions and universes, which are colloquially called "astral planes". While these dimensions are not fundamentally different to other dimensions found through alternate means, the name has stuck in the public consciousness. Astral planes are known to vary from mildly different to realspace, to having completely different fundamental laws of physics. Due to the difficulty in traversing astral rifts, astral planes can only be explored in a limited manner from specially-equipped science ships.

Other Dimensions

Aside from the astral planes, other dimensions have been discovered through different dimensional portals. The most famous dimension is likely the "dimension of suffering", which is where the dimensional horror originated from. A portal to it was discovered on a colony of the Rototavuul High Suzerainty, where it was determined that the dimension is hostile to sapient minds on a fundamental level. It causes intense headaches and even suicidal urges in organics, and creates cascading errors and corruption in computers.

The "null void" is a dimension of incredibly high entropy. Although it is not fully understood, the current scientific consensus is that the majority of zero-point energy in the dimension is negative. This has the side effect of creating large numbers of antibaryons, meaning the dimension has significantly more dark matter than realspace. By blasting positive energy through a portal to the null void dimension, it is possible to harvest large quantities of antibaryons for use as dark matter.
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