Stardrifter 06: A Taste of AG
Artificial Gravity Got You Down?
This week, we're getting a little preview of the next “Voice From The Void", which is on that old trope of artificial gravity aboard space ships and stations. Stardrifter uses it liberally, but not without some consideration. Read on to see what I mean!
The kind of artificial gravity (or AG) described so casually in science fiction stories, wherein people walk around as normal through the companionways and cabins of space ships, is actually a fairly recent invention along the Stardrifter timeline: until miniaturization allowed AG equipment to fit under the decking of those self-same vessels, gravity manipulation aboard was restricted to the engine room, where new generations of fusion reactors created the energy needed to power long space journeys, including starjump.
Induced gravity fields playing upon matter in a shielded fusion chamber allowed for the easy creation of micro-singularities, the quantum and macro effects of which were harnessed and used to create small manufactured pocket dimensions, or "bubbles", of space/time. These bubbles existing as separate, if tiny universes all their own, could then be used for the transit of matter — specifically, space vessels — from one location in the real universe, to another location. Most laws of our universe are carried over to the new one, but time and space are controllable via the ship's starjump equipment. This allows for some amazing ratio differences between what is experienced in the bubble, versus the real universe.
Before starjump was developed, AG was seen as an easy and cheap method to create fusion power; simply take some matter (whatever kind — garbage would do), and crush it under high-enough gravity fields to create a fusion effect. The resulting heat could then be used to generate electricity, or could be directly used to super-heat reaction mass and throw it out the back of a space vessel as a means of propulsion.
Applied to decking and floors on stations and space vessels, AG allowed for Terran-normal gravity to be employed without the use of centrifugal technologies that spin, throwing their occupants and everything else inside in an outward direction in order to simulate an "up" and "down". Centrifuges have a whole host of limitations and technical challenges associated with them, though they are still used for simulated gravity purposes on very large structures, like ring or cylinder-shaped colonies, as well as certain truly massive space vessels. Even so, AG is used in sporadic places throughout such structures for safety, convenience, and consistency.
And that's all for now. Not too much, not too little.
I do so wish you a very Happy New Year; we sure could use one.
See you in 2022!