Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Artificial Gravity

One of the fictional plot devices often used in science fiction is called the “inertial damper” - such as was used in the Nostromo shown above. It’s a single switch that an author can throw and get around the nuisance of not having any gravity in a space story. Writing a realistic plot without gravity is nearly as problematic as living in it for real. So they just throw the inertial damping switch and the problem goes away. Well – as a writer, I think that’s cheating! So did Arthur C. Clarke. So in he and Kubrick’s timeless classic, 2001-A Space Odyssey he designed the magnificent Discovery – a long distance space voyager that produced artificial gravity for real. The movie still stands head and shoulders above any made since as the most dramatically realistic space venture ever conceived. And as far as space ships go, the Discovery is unmatched in not only its beauty but its realistic functionality as well. As a matter of fact, if the Discovery were built as Clark conceived it, it could fly to Jupiter today!

But, did you know that artificial gravity is most certainly NOT a scifi gimmick? Well – it is very real and it is very easy to back it up with real world physics! In fact, the most interesting aspect of the Discovery was its artificial gravity generator that would actually work.

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