At the end of the 20th century, the unification of scientific and esoteric knowledge, which had long been separate and antagonistic, occurred. This was initiated by certain human Spirits who achieved transcendental contact with powers resembling an Infinite Mind. The Infinite Mind had long been foretold and anticipated by some, but its existence was denied by others.
The time was right, and the information gained from the contact-the theoretical principles of which were completely unknown-could be used successfully in real life.
The technology that had the most dramatic impact on human evolution was the permanent tunneling of space: the creation of so-called Passages which enabled travel to alien worlds. Humanity's age-old dream of traveling to the stars became reality.
A cosmogonical model of the universe, with its planets, stars and galaxies, became unnecessary. The Passages opened ways into zones whose formation was completely unrelated to the scientific concept of metagalaxy. Building and activating a Passage required enormous amounts of energy, and the Passage's destination point was impossible to predict. After activation, a Passage became virtually autonomous, connecting two worlds.
Humankind rushed headlong to the new worlds, exploring and colonizing, unthinking and heedless of any consequences. While the finest minds assimilated knowledge from the new worlds, others bent on conquest rushed forth with vehicles of mass destruction.
These explorers were uncaring of the philosophical aspects of contact with other civilizations. Secure in the confidence of their superior intellect, humans expanded and conquered new worlds for a hundred years. The entire human culture was significantly distorted by the impact of the rapidly growing Chain of Worlds. Without even completing the reconnaissance and development of one world, the explorers would start building a new Passage to the next. Fortunately, only a minority of the new worlds became part of the Chain, since the environment on many of them was extremely hostile to humans.
Inevitably, the explorers' disregard and conceit reaped their just rewards.