The Slipstream of a moving object is a region of reduced pressure or even suction (negative pressure), exerted in the neighbourhood of the object and in the direction of its movement, and caused by its movement through a medium.
In computer slang, to slipstream is to integrate files from a hotfix or service pack into the original installation media. Microsoft, as well as many other companies, do this as a way of minimalising the time needed for products to be configured and updated when first installed.
The term "slipstreaming" is most often used in relation to objects moving through air, though not necessarily flying. If a following object, moving at the same speed, can position itself within the slipstream, it will require less energy to maintain its speed than if it was moving independently, because the front object blocks a significant amount of air resistance. Using this principle is called slipstreaming.
Slipstreaming is important in a number of contexts, including:
- Cycling: in fast bicycle races, competitors attempt to 'draft' or use one another's slipstream, breaking to overtake the leader only at the last possible moment. In cycle touring, on the other hand, members of a group can take turns at the leading position, enabling one another to rest a little. See: drafting. See also: peloton.
- Bird flight, especially during migration: the extended formations or "skeins" in which many migratory birds (especially geese) fly enable the birds (except, of course, the bird at the front) to take advantage of one another's slipstream. Other birds (for example cormorants) that typically fly in close formation even on short journeys are probably also exploiting the slipstream effect.
- Automobile transport: Following another motor vehicle and using care to stay in its slipstream allows for significantly improved fuel efficiency, mostly due to reduced atmospheric drag. Such practice is frequently referred to as drafting. This can be commonly seen in the instance of truck convoys traveling in a single-file queue several vehicles long on highways. One other example is auto racing drivers following each other closely in order to conserve fuel, the better to gain competitive advantage by reducing the frequency of fuel stops made during the course of the race.
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"Slipstream: it's not the best way to travel faster than light, it's just the only way." — Dylan Hunt
Slipstream travel was also discovered once in an episode of the fictional television series Star Trek: Voyager, but the technology was lost by the end of the episode. However, Seven of Nine stated that she would continue studying it in hopes of someday reaquiring slipstream travel.
Slipstream Travel (Fantasy & Science Fiction)
A Gravity Field Generator drastically reduces the mass of the ship and then a slipstream drive opens a slippoint which the ship enters. The pilot then navigates the series of slipstream "tunnels" until they reach the desired slippoint where they exit the slipstream. Quoted from Allsystems.org:
- Since its discovery nearly 10,000 years ago by Vedran physicist Rochinda, the slipstream has connected the galaxies together. Slipstream is an extension of our reality, an additional dimension that's integrally intertwined with our own. The slipstream is a place where quantum connections are visible as cords, especially the large and strong connections like those between huge concentrations of matter such as planets or suns. A spaceship that enters the slipstream can harness the energy of these cords and ride them from one star system to another.
- One interesting thing about moving through the slipstream is that travel time between points has very little to do with the distance actually traveled. If a pilot is lucky, and the stream unfolds just right, the ship could transit between galaxies in minutes. But put an unlucky pilot at the helm and the same trip could take weeks or even months.
- Luckily for the cause of interstellar commerce and communication, the more a certain path is frequently traveled, the faster, easier and more predictable the journey becomes. As a result, frequently-traveled routes between major Commonwealth worlds — Vedra to San-Ska-Re, for example — are safe and convenient.
- Another unusual aspect of slipstream is the requirement of an organic pilot to guide a starship through the slipstream. At an intersection of pathways in slipstream space, both paths manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. For reasons still not completely understood, organic beings tend to choose the correct paths, or more precisely, the very act of choosing makes the path they have chosen the correct one.
- But strangely, computers — even ones with artificial intelligence — are incapable of this reality-altering guesswork. Even the most sophisticated starship in the Systems Commonwealth requires an organic sentient to pilot through the starlanes — a prospect some sentients regard as deeply disturbing but others find comforting.
Usually one has to enter and exit slipstream several times before reaching their final destination. Slipstream travel almost always results in very little or no time dilation.
Limits of Slipstream
Due to the complex nature of slipstream probability and difficulty in mapping slipstream, only biological entities are capable of successfully navigating it. Exiting slipstream near the edge of a galaxy or in certain regions of space could be dangerous because it is difficult to find a slippoint in these areas. If a slippoint cannot be found, or a slipstream drive is damaged, the ship is stranded and limited to slower than light speed.
Work which pushes the boundaries of the conventions of and thus neither sits comfortably within the confines of either science fiction or fantasy or in mainstream literary fiction. Christopher Priest wrote, "In literature you might include Angela Carter, Steve Erickson, Paul Auster, Haruki Murakami, JG Ballard, Jorge Luis Borges, some of John Fowles. In films, Memento, Being John Malkovich and Intacto are recent examples of pure slipstream."