(picture above, just an excuse to put the NX-01 into a blog 🙂 )
A lot, dare i say most, sci-fi uses what I have heard called, ‘magic artificial gravity’. This is gravity that is just like what we have on Earth; about 1g, everything on a flat plain (like it’s a flying building) and usually evenly distributed throughout the ship. The reason TV and movies use this form of gravity is that it’s cheaper and easier to film earth like gravity on earth. Zero g gravity would be expensive (and sometimes cheesy looking) to film and rotational gravity would require a lot of thought to look right and wouldn’t look all that futuristic. In literature it’s usually the second reason why the constant use of ‘magic gravity’, it just feels more futuristic.
So how does this magic gravity work? No one knows. As of right now we don’t know enough about the nature of gravity to really manipulate it. Maybe, one day, we will be able to do with gravity what we are able to do with, say, light. We can amplify light (LASER), we can change it’s nature, nullify it, split it, bend it and any number of other things.
So, lets take this ‘magic gravity’ at face value and ignore how it works and just looks at the problems that such a gravity would cause.
problem one; your ship produces a nice 1g gravity well throughout all the floors of your ship. So what happens just above your ship? 1g gravity on Earth extends many miles above the surface of the Earth. If that was to happen above your ship would you be pulling satellites out of orbit that pass above your ship? This could be massively inconvenient not to mention dangerous having space junk, satellites and small moons hurdling toward your ship as your orbited a planet. I won’t even mention what would happen if you faced down toward the planet with the tidal issues involved.
So I assume then that a space ship with this ‘magic gravity’ must have a gravity nullifier on the top floor to prevent this little inconvenience from happening. Unfortunately, I have never seen any reference to this in any sci-fi. But, being the nice guy I am, I have it as a given.
problem two; or should I say observation two. Why is it they use ‘magic gravity’ everywhere in a ship. think about it, if you had a storage area it would much smarter to leave that a 0g then to make it a 1g area. Boxes and such are a whole lot easier to move a 0g. If I was the designer of the NCC-1701 I would probably leave the entire engineering section as 0g. Much easier to move shuttles in and out in 0g as well as move large equipment and a lot less wear and tear on the equipment at 0g (no fighting gravity to wear down a spinning gear).
Another thing, why make the whole ship on one plain. There is no reason that different sections could be on different plains. Example below:
Let’s look at Star Trek’s USS Excelsior (a model I am currently building). The top picture is the back of the craft. At the bottom is the shuttle bay. Although it was never officially said it is assumed that the shuttle bay is on the same plain as the rest of the ship. (The shuttle bay is the curved section at the bottom of the back. notice how it curves up, like a smile.) To fly in on the same plain as the rest of the ship landing would be a little tricky with no flat surface. So why not have the shuttle bay, maybe the whole engineering section up side down from the saucer section. The shuttles would fly in upside down and land upward. makes sense to me. If you create gravity you can create it in any direction.
I’m sure there are other issues I haven’t thought about but since ‘magic gravity’ is fiction I can only figure on the obvious.
Anyway, that’s the gravity of the situation (more puns).
Till next time, Field Mouse