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Is artificial gravity theoretically possible to create, without having to build a vessel the size of a small planet?
I know that Star Trek has it, but is it possible to create a gravitational field without having a corresponding mass to generate the field?
asked in gravity, physics

Messerwisser answers:

In "a Space Odyssey 2001" artificial gravity was achieved by rotating the space ship designed as a big wheel. The centrifugal force is a kind of gravity.
Another way is to keep constant acceleration or deceleration, less practical though.
No other methods except having VERY heavy masses are known.
Spaceship Tellus is an example.

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wumpus answers:

Yes, you can use a constant acceleration instead.

One of the more recent space probes is fitted with an ion drive which gives such an acceleration; 0-60mph takes about a week, but it is theoreticlly capable of achieving a significant fraction of light speed, given long enough.

Such a probe would experience a constant acceleration; if you were to accelerate at 9.81m/s/s then that would appear to be Earth standard gravity.

The system in Star Trek needs to be more than a simple anti-gravity field. It also has to shield the crew against the awesome acceleration that the ship has.

0 to near lightspeed in under 30 seconds?

The crew would be either smeared all over the walls, or leave a number of crewman-shaped holes in them.....

Supplement from 11/06/2008 04:50pm:

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siasl74 answers:

Yes, all you need is some incredibly dense material much like that found in a neutron star.

So - first overcome the hurdles necessary to mine a neutron star (*), and extract a small pile of *stuff*. If the star was 20km radius, 5ml would weigh about 400 million tonnes (about the mass of all humans), so it's clear you don't need all that much - probably a few dozen litres to get the weight of our planet, but some clever mathematician can work out the precise amount.

With this, you're bound to have invented some clever container that can hold a few litres of the stuff (some kind of extremely powerful forcefield springs to mind). Then, the basic equations governing gravity will demonstrate that you have created your own little gravity well. Shove it in the centre of a reasonable size space ship that is a funky donut shape, and you've created your own little mini world that isn't all that big.

Unfortunately, you're still at the mercy of acceleration forces - no-one has yet invented an "inertial damper"

(*) - it may be a while before we work out how to do this

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spinningufo answers:

There's an up close and personal way to create artificial gravity that can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miVjTIcjvWE I believe concentric spinning is the better choice for survival in outer space and exercise here on planet.

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