“Designing a station with artificial gravity would undoubtedly be a daunting task. Space agencies would have to re-examine many reliable technologies under the light of the new forces these tools would have to endure. Space flight would have to take several steps back before moving forward again.” -Andy Weir
Ever wonder, in those science fiction shows, how space travelers always stay “down” on their starship? Irrespective of acceleration, and despite the fact that the astronauts we have in orbit around Earth are weightless, they’re always depicted as having a floor and a ceiling that are well-defined, and always find themselves on the floor. This is physically impossible given the laws of physics as we know them today, but one small discovery could suddenly render artificial gravity possible.
This launch of the space shuttle Columbia in 1992 shows that acceleration isn’t just instantaneous for a rocket, but occurs over a long period of time spanning many minutes. For a starship, versus a rocket, the acceleration would be many times greater, even if sustained, than a human body could withstand. Image credit: NASA.
We’ve measured the inertial mass of every particle and antiparticle we know of, and everything has positive mass/energy to ...