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Star Trek Discovery: The Mycelial Network and Spore Drive

The veins and muscles that hold our galaxies together.
                       – Paul Stamets, "Context Is for Kings"

Star Trek Discovery Season 1 introduced a new technology to the Star Trek universe called the spore drive. The spore drive was never mentioned before in Star Trek cannon, meaning that this technology will not exist, or at least not be common, in TOS or later. So spore drive technology, as amazing at it is, begins in Discovery, and ends in Discovery. 

The Spore Drive
Also known as the displacement activated spore hub drive, the spore drive is an organic propulsion system created by Paul Stamets and Straal in the year 2244 that would allow for near instantaneous travel of a starship anywhere in the universe. The USS Glenn traveled 90 light years back and forth from the beta quadrant in 1.3 seconds, just before it was destroyed. The propulsion system accesses the mycelial network via mycelium spores from the Prototaxites stellaviatori fungal species to make "jumps". Starships travel through the mycelial plane during pumps, which is not normal spacetime.

The Discovery Making a Spore Drive Jump
The Discovery Making a Spore Drive Jump

"Physics and biology? No. Physics is biology." 
        -Paul Stamets, Astromycologist

The Mycelial Network
At the quantum level, there is no difference between biology and physics. The roots, or mycelium, of the fungus Prototaxites stellaviatori make up a discrete subspace domain known as the mycelial network. The network can be imagined as an infinite microscopic web of roots, an intergalactic ecosystem, or an infinite number of roads leading everywhere, including the multiverse and all quantum realities. 

"The veins and muscles that hold our galaxies together." 

Stamets and Straal used spores from the fungus to access the mycelial network for starship travel.  Prototaxites stellaviatori spores are the progenitors of panspermia, as described by Stamets. "Progenitors of panspermia" in layman's terms, means the origin of spreading life throughout the galaxy. The spores made spreading life possible. Life, spreading like galactic hitchhikers across the galaxy. The mycelial network was utilized for the spore drive as well as in the mirror universe, the super-mycelial reactor. It was discovered that the tardigrade like creacher, Ripper, can use the network naturally, as it has the entire network mapped in their head. It's the tardigrade that eventually lets the Discovery to spore jump across the quadrant. 

The Mycelial Network
The Mycelial Network

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