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The Warp And Fabric Of Spacetime

I enjoyed this beautiful weaving from @andreasrau_eu:

The various uses of "warp" in science-fictional space travel are familiar to most people. But you might not know that this term is probably taken from weaving, referring to the "fabric" of spacetime. In weaving cloth, the warp is the set of lengthwise yarns held in tension on the loom. The yarn that is inserted over-and-under the warp threads is called the weft. Warp means "that which is thrown across".

The term "warp-speed!" is well known to science fiction fans, but it was first used before most of us were born, in a 1952 story by Fox B. Holden called Yachting Party:

“Free” speed, with old-fashioned fuel-eating jets which were supposed to be carried as emergency power units only, was forty thousand miles a second it best — warp-speed, depending on the dimension you used, had a top of better than a thousand light-years a minute.
(Read more about warp-speed)

The first use of the term "spacewarp drive" comes long before Star Trek, in a 1949 story by Frederik Brown titled What Mad Universe:

The year nineteen hundred and three. Professor George Yardley, an American scientist at Harvard University, had discovered the spacewarp drive.
(Read more about spacewarp drive)

In Redmask of the Outlands (1934) by Nat Schachner, we find the first use of the familiar term "space warp":

The space-warp made an impregnable defense against the assortment of city-states which dotted the American continent.
(Read more about space warp)

Finally, the earliest reference to these ideas that I know about is from the Golden Age duo Schachner and Zagat, writing about the future in a Wonder Stories adventure in 1930 titled In 20,000 A.D.!:

Jenkins had evidently fallen into a warp in space. The Vanishing Wood was a pucker — a fault, we might say, borrowing a geologic term — in the curvature of space. Through this warp he had been thrown clear out of our three dimensions into a fourth dimension.
(Read more about warp of space)

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