Is artificial gravity possible?

18 November 2007

Question

Is the artificial gravity you see on Star Trek possible?' Do you think we could have some kind of artificial gravity system that would get over these effects?

Answer

Gravity is a fascinating subject. It's such a simply observed phenomenon that we have every day if we drop the dishes. We watch it every day in action. For something that's so ubiquitous in our experience yet so poorly understood. I guess the answer to that question is, as far as I can see in anything, away from a machine that you can press an on button and suddenly hey presto you've got gravity. However, you can create gravitational loading just simply by spinning a vehicle up and having a rotating vehicle.

This is not a new idea. Herman Oberth was thinking about it in 1923. Artificial gravity and some of the stuff which I've been working on in Houston at the Space Centre involves just rotating vehicles. There's really nothing more than that trick you pull off when you have a bucket full of water on the end of a rope and you spin it round your head and the water stays in the bucket. I very much think that the future of space exploration will include, at some point, that sort of vehicle.

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