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"We follow the scientists around and look over their shoulders. They're watching their feet: provable mistakes are bad for them. We're looking as far ahead as we can, and we don't get penalized for mistakes."
- Larry Niven

Vortal Tube  
  An energy passage providing instantaneous transportation between points across the galaxy  

In the years since this novel was published, many scientists have taken a shot at thinking about how it might be possible to move directly between distant points without traversing the space in between.

The jumpdoor began to hum with its aura of terrifying energies. The door's vortal tube snapped open. McKie tensed himself for the syrupy resistance to jumpdoor passage, stepped through the tube. It was like swimming in air became molasses - perfectly normal-appearing air. But molasses.
From Whipping Star, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Galaxy Publishing in 1969
Additional resources -

As far as I know, the word "vortal" is not an English word. However, some people use it to mean a Vertical Industry Portal - a web site that provides information and resources for a particular industry. Vortals are the Internet's way of catering to consumers' focused-environment preferences.

But Herbert had it first. In his case, it is probably a combination of the words "vortex" and "portal."

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Whipping Star
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to Whipping Star
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

Vortal Tube-related news articles:
  - Fishy Facial Recognition Now Possible

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