Artificial Gravity Generator Now Possible?

The artificial gravity generator is probably the science-fictional pseudo-science device most disliked by physicists. Used as a plot device as early as 1930 by Olaf Stapleton, artificially-produced gravity fields make space flight a lot easier and more bearable for everyone. But it's impossible, right?


(From Facility during testing)

Recent work done by researchers supported by the European Space Agency have measured the gravitational equivalent of a magnetic field for the first time in a laboratory. Martin Tajmar (ARC Seibersdorf Research GmbH, Austria), Clovis de Matos (ESA-HQ, Paris) and colleagues have successfully produced and measured a very weak gravitomagnetic field.

They summarize their results as follows:

  • An acceleration field was found to be induced by applying angular accelerations to a superconductor. The field produced is directly proportional to the applied acceleration with a correlation factor higher than 0.96. All mean values are 3.3 times above the facility noise level.
  • The gravitational field is emitted from the superconductor and follows the laws of field propagation and induction similar to those of electromagnetism as formulated in linearized general relativity.
  • Gravitational peaks were observed when the superconductor passed its critical temperature while it was rotating. Their sign changed with the orientation of the angular velocity.
  • For the first time, non-Newtonian gravitational and gravitomagnetic fields of measurable magnitude were observed in a laboratory environment.
  • The existence of the gravitational Faraday law was shown.
    (From Experimental Detection of the Gravitomagnetic London Moment)

The results were presented at a one-day conference at ESA's European Space and Technology Research Centre (ESTEC), in the Netherlands, 21 March 2006.


(From Experimental Setup)

"We ran more than 250 experiments, improved the facility over 3 years and discussed the validity of the results for 8 months before making this announcement. Now we are confident about the measurement," says Tajmar, who performed the experiments and hopes that other physicists will conduct their own versions of the experiment in order to verify the findings and rule out a facility induced effect.
(From Towards a new test of general relativity)

This is a very intriguing development, if it can be duplicated by other researchers. Artificial gravity fields were almost immediately decried as fantasy, not science fiction. The other method of creating "artificial gravity" was first used in science fiction just a year after Stapleton; Jack Williamson wrote about the City of Space in 1931:

"The City of Space is in a cylinder," Captain Smith said. "Roughly five thousand feet in diameter... The cylinder whirls constantly, with such speed that the centrifugal force against the sides equals the force of gravity on the earth. The city is built around the inside of the cylinder...
(Read more about the cylindrical space station)

If you think that this research might have merit, and are interested in other science-fictional devices that make use of gravitational field control, take a look at Frank Herbert's gravity web vest, Larry Niven's sleeping plates and Isaac Asimov's gravitic repulsion elevator. Readers might also want to explore a more recently suggested method of obtaining weak artificial gravity for space stations; see this article on non-conductive tethers. Read more about the ESA experiments; nice paper (pdf) also online. Thanks to an alert reader for the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/24/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 34 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Bookies Let You Place Your Bets On the Future!
I'll bet you feel strongly enough about at least one of these bets to want to put your money down.

NASA Gives Away Rocket Code - For Dads
'The rocket thundered and leaped. The children danced in their hammocks, screaming.'- Ray Bradbury, 1952.

Automated Planet Finder Telescope Starts The Hunt
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'- Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Spacesuit Z-2: NASA Wants You To Pick Their Next Design
'Al was hastily donning his space suit...'- Schachner and Zagat, 1931.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Amazing Video Shows Chameleon-Like Crystal Display
'Across the vast impersonal face of metal... a ribbon of fluid letters appeared...'

Will Autonomous Systems' Self-Preservation Lead To Dangerous Behavior?
'This, the new types. The new varieties of claws. We're completely at their mercy, aren't we?'

Ooho Water Bulb (Or Blob) Replaces Horrific Plastic Bottles
'I held up my bulb of water ... visibly there was water missing.'

SRI International's Speedy, Ant-Sized Microrobot Swarm
'As if swarms of tiny animals were busily scurrying about...'

SF Authors Have Wearable Computing Ideas
The device would need to convey essential information.

Bookies Let You Place Your Bets On the Future!
Put your money where your mouth is, sf fans!

How Do Americans See The Future Of Technology?
Do you want to participate in the future?

Updated: Flying Graffiti Drone Will Alter The Urban Landscape
The tagger's dream - lie in bed while painting at a remote location.

Should Autonomous Cars Have Feelings About Crashes?
'Robots have worse problems than anybody.'

M-Block Modular Robots Assemble Themselves
'... as though a child should build from nursery blocks a fantastic shape which abruptly is filled with throbbing life.'

Augmented Reality Ship's Bridge From Rolls Royce
'... the immense, three-dimensional, minutely cubed model...'

Artificial Blood From Factories
This blood's for you.

Wrigley's Anti-Impotence Chewing Gum
'Chew one of these, Mr. Chip.'

Arcology Now Universal Constructor
'... the hotel direly wanted to exist.'

MisTable Fog Display Like SeaQuest DSV
Captain Bridger, a message is coming in.

Full-Size Invisibility Cloak Now Possible
'I donned it and drew its hood, and threw on its current.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.