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 ")

WINE Spacecraft To Extract Water From Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.' - Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

Japanese Swordsmiths Take On Asteroids
'... a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk.' - E. C. Tubb, 1958.

Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can
'...the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.' - Nelson S. Bond, 1941.

Negative Matter Fluid Theorized In New Paper
'Of course, being negative matter, when you push it, it comes toward you..' - Robert Forward, 1992.

 

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

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

Driverless Hotel Rooms Predicted In 1828
'Did you never see a moving house before?'

Yandex Self-Driving Taxi Is Very Smooth
'The big car was slowing down, its computer brain sensing an exit ahead.'

Shrimp Actually Made Of Algae Is A New Wave Food
Bring in that crop algae.

Cosplay Style Wings Could Work On Moon
'They're lovely! - titanalloy struts as light and strong as bird-bones...'

Tesla Model 3 Has Outside Speaker Grille
Robert Heinlein does it again.

Arizona Luddites Attack Self-Driving Vehicles
'Trucks don't drive by themselves...' Or do they?

Organaut! Russians 3D Print Living Tissue In Space
'For a while your colonists will have to come up [to orbit] to the Hospital...'

WINE Spacecraft To Extract Water From Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Japanese Swordsmiths Take On Asteroids
'... a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk.'

Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can
'...the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.'

Humans Could Take Up A LOT Less Space
We'd have a lot more room for gardening...

Implosion Fabrication Shrinks 3D Objects To Nanoscale
'Carter had watched miniaturization a hundred times...'

GMO Houseplant Cleans Your Air
Removes compounds too small to be captured by a HEPA filter.

Nova Meat Can 3D Print Your Dinner
Printing out chicken nuggets.

MIT Scientists Create 'Peek-a-Boo Prober' From Jetsons
Well, George, it's the latest thing.

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.