, Software Research and Development (2013-present)
Because at its core physicists don’t understand it.
For almost 100 years physicists have made unerring calculations with it, and none have ever been inaccurate. Quantum mechanics is possibly the most dependable instrument in the science toolbox. Some knowledgeable estimates state that as much as 1/3 of the products sold in the US have something to do with quantum mechanics, yet they don’t know why it works.
It is their ‘skeleton in the closet,’ their wild-eyed, mystic-looking unwanted stepchild kept behind closed and even barred doors, as fundamentally and embarrassingly they don’t know what it is and certainly don’t want visiting guests to see it, as guests can ask questions they don’t have answers for.
If you haven’t read at least one of the dozens of recent books by prominent scientists detailing this (several written for the non-scientist, such as Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, by Rosenblum and Kuttner, and Biocentrism, by Robert Lanza) than it’s good to get to steam on this so you know what we do and don’t know and the fascinating controversies involved.
Why should you have at least enough of a layman’s handle on this imposing subject to have an educated opinion on it? Because you live in a quantum universe. It is the science that all other sciences base on.
To quote the most recent article in Aeon e-mag, written by Adam Frank, professor of astronomy at the University of Rochester in New York and the co-founder of NPR’s blog 13.7: Cosmos & Culture…
“It is as simple as it is undeniable: after more than a century of profound explorations into the subatomic world, our best theory for how matter behaves still tells us very little about what matter is. Materialists appeal to physics to explain the mind, but in modern physics the particles that make up a brain remain, in many ways, as mysterious as consciousness itself.”
Just pointing out that there is a precedent for the incomprehensible – yet extremely useful – nature of jump physics in the Traveller universe.
Well, it’s a bit worse than the century-old problem of quantum physics. After ~10,000 years of use by the current era of local interstellar civilizations (so: ignoring the Ancients, and starting with the Vilani), nobody really has a handle on it. “But it works!”
Side note: of course, the level of misjumps has to be far less than that noted in the rules, for a decent scale of interstellar commerce to work as described in canon.
(I think this has been fixed in Mongoose and T5, and is easy to fix by any Referee, so it isn’t a biggie. Still, my nitpicking instincts kick in every so often!)