Mass effect technology
Mass effect technology exploits the properties of the rare material element zero. When exposed to electrical currents, element zero can affect space-time, allowing controlled changes to the mass of objects. Mass effect technology can also generate gravitational force fields that can be used to accelerate objects in arbitrary directions.
Mass effect technology scales extremely easily, so it is a core technology with many applications in the Mass Effect setting.
- Transportation: Many vehicles use mass effect technology to achieve flight. The technology is inexpensive enough to be widely used for civilian vehicles.
- Space travel: Starships have mass effect drive systems that reduce the mass of the ship. The reduction of mass allows greater acceleration and makes it possible for a ship to achieve FTL speeds. Mass effect fields also provide artificial gravity for ship crews and inertia compensation. Advanced drives can create gravity wells into which the ship "falls", allowing it to accelerate without using thrusters.
- Mass Relay: Mass relays are enormous mass accelerators designed to fling ships from one star cluster to another at FTL speeds. They are the keys to rapid interstellar travel in the Mass Effect setting, enabling leaps of tens of thousands of light years in seconds. A typical mass relay has a very limited number of "target" systems, so getting to a particular destination may require several jumps in succession. All known mass relays are of ancient manufacture.
- Weaponry: Mass-altered projectiles can be accelerated to high velocities. Mass accelerator weapons range from handguns to starship weapons.
- Defenses: Mass effect force fields (known as "kinetic barriers") can stop or deflect inbound projectiles traveling at dangerous speeds. Barrier technology is scalable from personal shields to starship shields.
- Biotics: Prenatal exposure to element zero allows living beings to develop "biotic" abilities to create mass effect fields by manipulating element zero with their own bioelectricity. These abilities are typically enhanced with implants known as "biotic amplifiers".
Mass effect technology is routinely used for applications that appear to violate the laws of thermodynamics. For example, it is possible to reduce an object's mass, accelerate it to high velocity, and then restore its mass without it losing any speed, effectively getting free kinetic energy. There is no explanation for this behavior, although we can presume that the power source for the mass effect generator somehow supplies the energy transferred to the projectile. Mass effect technology is known to conserve momentum, as recoil is an issue for mass effect weaponry.
Biotics are a more blatant realism problem, as there is no explanation for how a biotic humanoid generates the energy needed for some biotic effects or applies hundreds of Newtons of force to other bodies without experiencing noticeable reaction force.