Inverted Space (Tomorrow News Network: A to Z)

Hello, friends, and welcome back to the A to Z Challenge.  For this year’s challenge, I’ve been telling you more about the universe of Tomorrow News Network, my upcoming Sci-Fi Adventure series.  In today’s post, I is for:


On ancient Earth, there were three great revolutions in physics.  First came Isaac Newton and his laws of classical mechanics.  Then came Albert Einstein with his theories of special and general relativity.  And lastly, near the end of the 21st Century, Dr. Harold Strickland published his theory of inverted space.

In the simplest possible terms, inverted space is a place where the laws of physics are reversed.  It’s a universe of anti-physics, if you will.  Dr. Strickland believed that in order for our universe to exist as it does with the laws of physics that it has, then an equal and opposite universe must also exist to create balance.

One might expect such a radical and bold theory to spark debate and controversy among the scientific community.  It did not.  Few took any notice of Strickland’s work at the time.  It wasn’t until many years after Strickland’s death that he received the recognition and credit he deserved.  What changed?  The discovery of faster-than-light technology.

You see in our universe, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light; in inverted space, nothing can travel slower than light.  Of course, jumping into inverted space is dangerous.  The laws of physics are reversed, after all.  The attractive forces that hold atoms and molecules together become repulsive forces.  Molecular and atomic decoherence can occur within seconds!

But a quick jump in and out of inverted space is relatively safe, and a sequence of quick, carefully calculated “inversions” can allow a spacecraft to cross the vast distances of the galaxy.

It’s also worth noting that in inverted space, time runs backwards instead of forwards.  This troubled Dr. Strickland, yet it was an unavoidable consequence of his math.  If you were to jump through inverted space and then jump back to your starting location, would you not arrive before you departed?  Would this not violate causality and create a time travel paradox?

As it turned out, nature has its own ways of preventing paradoxes, even if Dr. Strickland couldn’t find them in his math.  When you push two magnets together, either positive to positive or negative to negative, the magnets resist.  They repel each other, and the harder you try to push them together, the harder they push back.

Something similar occurs in inverted space.  If you jump through inverted space and then attempt to jump back to your original location, your spacecraft will be deflected off course.  Your past and present selves seem to repel each other, like magnets, and so this is known as the chronomagnetic effect.

Nothing in the theory of inverted space predicted this chronomagnetic effect would exist, and nothing about the theory of inverted space can help explain why it occurs.  So while inversion theory is more advanced than relativity theory or classical mechanics, it still does not provide a complete picture of how the universe works.

For a complete picture of how the universe works, you’d have to learn about chronotheory, the science of time travel.  And next time on Tomorrow News Network: A to Z, we’ll talk about the people who use chronotheory to bring you tomorrow’s news today.

9 thoughts on “Inverted Space (Tomorrow News Network: A to Z)

    1. Thank you so much! I really wanted to do something different for my F.T.L. technology. I plan to spend a lot of time writing in the T.N.N. universe, so I didn’t want to just reuse hyperspace or warp drive or some other technology that’s been in lots of Sci-Fi series before.


  1. As I’ve noted before, a cool way to avoid paradoxes!

    But the way my mind works, I have questions. Does it apply to future selves as well as past ones? What constitutes a self?

    If the Doctor is destined to die on Trenzalore, so that his atoms will be there afterward, but unknowingly he attempts to travel to its future (past his death date), will he be repelled? If so, it seems like there would be a lot of cases of people being repelled from destinations with the reason not being obvious, particularly since our atoms go back to their stellar genesis, and our subatomic particles to the big bang.

    Or is the repelling based on something emergent from the peculiar combination of atoms, and once that combination no longer exists, the atoms themselves become irrelevant? If so, what about manufactured items? Wouldn’t they, being copies of some template, tend to repel each other?

    Or is the emergent combinatory phenomenon such that minute variations (such as manufacturing variances) extinguish it? If so, what does that mean since I’m not a complete copy of myself from yesterday?

    Or are we talking about some kind of immaterial essence, and it’s the immaterial essence that causes the repulsion?

    Sorry! Feel free to tell me to buzz off with all these questions. Although similar to Asimov’s three laws, you might be able to get some stories or plot twists out of the details on how this works!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My friend, I am so happy to answer these questions! I’m also happy to admit that I’m leaving myself some wiggle room for the sake of storytelling. So I’ll do my best here.

      Inversion will only send you backwards through time, so it’s unlikely that you could invert to a location where your future self already is. But if you did somehow manage to do it, yes, the chronomagnetic effect would repel you and your future self away from each other.

      However, if the Doctor were part of the Tomorrow News Network universe, he’d be a chronotheorist, and he’d probably know the equations that let you bypass the chronomagnetic effect’s repulsive force. Talie and Mr. Cognis, and everybody else who works for T.N.N., have to be able to do this in order to do their jobs.

      The chronomagnetic effect does not only affect people. Sorry about the way I explained this in my post, but it seemed like the easiest way to introduce the concept in the fewest possible words. All material objects are affected. So are immaterial things like information, which is why digi-stream can’t provide reliable Internet access.

      The way I think about it, if an inversion will violate causality, the chronomagnetic effect will push the inversion exit point far enough away that it no longer violates causality. So for example, if you’re going to meet yourself from ten days ago, then you’ll be pushed away to a distance of at least ten lightdays.

      Is it your atoms that repel each other, or is this based on particular patterns of atoms, or some other emergent property? Honestly, I haven’t clarified that for myself yet. I’m guessing the chronomagnetic effect works on individual atoms, and it’s the cumulative effect of all the atoms in your body repelling each other that makes this work. But I don’t want to commit to that answer, in case I end up needing things to work a different way for story reasons.

      Lastly, spacecraft do sometimes get repelled off course for no obvious reason. Inversion theory can’t explain why the chronomagnetic effect happens, and so inversion theory can’t predict when it will occur. I have notes for a story about this, but that story is not ready to be written yet, so it may be a while before I do anything with it.

      I think that covers everything you were asking. If not, let me know. These sorts of questions are always welcome, my friend. The more I have to think about this stuff and write about this stuff, the better T.N.N. will end up being.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks James! Excellent answer. I like the idea that it’s the violation of causality that’s at the core of it.

        It reminds me of something Alastair Reynolds came up with in one of his books. He avoids FTL in most of his stories. But in one, creating a wormhole to a location makes the source and destination disappear from each other’s universe. They can now only interact via the wormhole.

        Anyway, wise not to commit to details before you need to. The longer a series goes on, the more constrained writers can become by their past decisions.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I remember reading something about wormholes having event horizons, just like black holes. So in a sense, there are two entrances to a wormhole, but no exits. So Alastair Reynolds may have the right idea there.

        Anyway, I ran into that problem with the first run of Tomorrow News Network, back in 2012. I wrote myself into so many corners, and I couldn’t get out of them. This time, I’m trying to plan ahead. So if I know I want to do X in book 4, then I better be careful about Y in book 3, and the less I say about Z in book 2, the better.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome, thank you so much! I think that’s the secret to good Sci-Fi: if your made-up science touches on real science just a bit, people will be more willing to believe it. It’s all about getting readers to suspend their disbelief.

      Liked by 2 people

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