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The science fiction canon is thick with ideas about how to make faster-than-light travel possible. Some writers favor wormholes, some filmmakers go in for time dilation, some graphic novelists use warp drives that folds space time up — the list of possibilities, unencumbered by physics, are endless. But one of the genre’s classic tropes for making interstellar travel possible is worth a second look: hyperspace. This blurred line visual shorthand for interstellar travel is not science fact, but it isn’t purely science fiction either.

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Hyperspace is accessible to ships that have hyperdrives. Exactly what that means, presumably varies from fictional universe to fictional universe — there aren’t a lot of details given. But the larger questions remains, what is hyperspace? How does it physically operate? And is hyperspace something that could be real? In the normal four dimensions that make up spacetime as we know it, the shortest path between two points is a straight line, and the fastest way to travel across that distance is to move at the speed of light. Nothing moves quite at the speed of light other than, well, light.

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