CentrifugalGravity Centrifugal Gravity YKTTW Discussion

Centrifugal Gravity
The use of centrifugal force to simulate gravity
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(permanent link) added: 2012-09-16 08:22:45 sponsor: zarpaulus (last reply: 2012-11-26 12:43:32)

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Rename and expansion of Ring World Planet:

One of the most common shapes for a Space Station in fiction given that it allows one to simulate gravity by simply spinning it. The horizon curves up, not down, but only in one dimension. The sides of the cylinder will be walls, with or without a "ceiling." These can range in size from a true Dyson Sphere to a cylindrical space station. These variants of worlds usually at least pay some lip service to the known laws of physics, since a spinning ring generates a centrifugal force that could be used instead of gravity. However to exist for real, particularly large ones would have to be made of Unobtainium.

It's somewhat less practical for mobile spaceships due to the necessary design limitations.

Note that it would always be "day" in such a cylindrical world unless measures are taken to simulate day and night, either through sun shades, mirrors, or some combination of the above. An other alternative is choosing an orbit where the ring periodicaly gets shadowed by something, like putting it in a geostationary orbit.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • The Gundam franchise helped popularize the O'Neill Cylinder space colony (see below in "Literature"), as well as other designs.
    • Actual ring shaped colonies (Known as the "Stanford Torus" or "Island 2" model) are only common in the Gundam Wing coninuity, though one also shows up in Gundam Unicorn, which was apparently the first ever built in the UC-verse and promptly got blown up.
  • In Cowboy Bebop most space stations are the ring type. The Bebop and many other ships have rotating sections and no gravity anywhere else on board.
  • The Amaterasu of Starship Operators has a rotating crew section, the showers have signs warning about coriolis forces.

[[folder:Comic Books]]


  • Possibly the most famous example, the space station from 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition both the Discovery and the Alexei Leonov from 2010 have rotating sections.
  • Moonraker. Hugo Drax's secret space station spins on its axis, providing gravity to those inside. When James Bond stops the rotation, the station interior goes to zero gravity and everyone starts floating around.
  • Mission to Mars the main space ship seems to have this.

  • Larry Niven's Ringworld is set on a world shaped like a vast ring with a sun at its centre. It's made of Unobtanium called scrith and is so massive that its geographical features include 1:1-scale maps of several planets (including Earth). These maps are significantly less than 1% of the ring's surface area.
  • The Culture of Iain M. Banks's novels builds Ringworld-style Orbitals (but smaller) as housing for many of its citizens. They have a few full size, fits-round-a-star Ringworlds too but they're much rarer, since you can get more useable area by using the same mass to build orbitals so most of the Culture regards them as tacky.
  • Arthur C. Clarke's Rama from the series started by Rendezvous with Rama, is a massive cylindrical spacecraft.
  • The protagonists of Gregory Benford's Beyond Infinity spend a brief time trapped in a Tunnelworld after an encounter with some 4-dimensional aliens. It was a closed loop, so traveling in any direction for a long enough time would return you to your point of origin.
  • Gerard O'Neill proposed a real world cylindrical space colony: Island Three.
    • The page illustration is a representation of the "Stanford Torus", another design inspired by both O'Neill's work and the classic "wheel-and-hub" space stations.
  • Earth in Illium and Olympos is surrounded by two huge ever moving rings. They are not fun places.
  • Thistledown, from Greg Bear's Way Series, is a hollowed out asteroid containing seven cylindrical chambers separated by bulkheads.
    • The seventh chamber connects to a cylindrical pocket universe with several million miles of terraformed interior.
  • The Anne McCaffrey novel The City Who Fought takes place entirely on a cylindrical space station.
  • In the Gor series the alien Kur race live on "steel worlds" hidden in the Asteroid Belt. The book Kur of Gor takes place on one, and we learn that it is like this. You can look up and see the opposite "land" side. Day & night and weather are controlled artificially. At one point they travel to one of the ends where the gravity is pracitally non-existent.
  • The Battle School of the Enders Game series is built as a ring, though Bean deduces from emergency exit maps that it's larger than they're told, and there were plans to build more rings connected around it.
  • In Destruction of Phaena by Alexander Kazantsev, the eponymous planet's first (and last) space station was a ring that used centrifugal forces to emulate gravity. There was also a compartment in the middle of the ring, where they grew edible plants, which profited from the lack of "gravity".
  • The Whorl in Gene Wolfe's Books of the Long Sun is a rotating cylindrical spaceship. "Whorl" obviously refers to its rotation, but has become confused in the minds of its injhabitants with "world" to the extent that they also call planets whorls.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's The Cat Who Walks Through Walls opens on a space station of multiple levels and multiple rings.
  • One such space station is depicted in the 1959 children's book You Will Go to the Moon by Mae and Ira Freeman

[[folder: Live Action TV]]

  • The eponymous Babylon 5 is a spinning cylindrical space staion, as were Babylons 1 through 4.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
  • Sigil from Dungeons & Dragons Planescape setting is this. It's also a sort of hub that connects to all the other planes of existence.
  • In Eclipse Phase many people following the Fall live in space habitats, many of the bigger ones are toruses or O'neil cylinders. However there's also a number of habitats that don't bother with spinning since basic biomods counter the degeneration from microgravity.

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • Halo takes place on a world (Installation 04) resembling Banks' Orbitals at the midpoint between a gas giant and its moon. All of the other Halos appear to orbit gas giants as well.
    • The Pillar of Autumn starship is said to have cylindrical rotating sections within it to create gravity, but these are never seen in gameplay and the encountered layout does not seem to fit them.
  • Startopia has you turn one of these into a profitable space station.
    • Several, actually. Apparently, all known races use the same exact design for their space stations, right down to the color scheme.
  • EV Nova has several of these, mostly ring-around-a-planet style. Though one is (for all intents and purposes) THE Ringworld. (The Polaris use that one for effectively infinite farmland.)
    • For bonus Shout-Out points, that ringworld is named Tre'ar Helonis.
  • In Mass Effect, the Citadel is one of these. In particular, the Presidium is a huge ring with its own biosphere and simulated sky at one end of the space station.
    • The Alliance's Arcturus Station is described as a Stanford Torus.
  • You can make these in the Space Empires series. A Dyson Sphere is better, though.
  • Some of the planets in both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, such as the planet in which you fight Megahammer (a Humongous Mecha piloted by Bowser Jr.) on in the latter, actually look like these.
  • You can build these in Star Ruler, admittedly as a lategame option. They are Capital-H Huge, larger than some planetary orbits.
  • Shores of Hazeron has ancient ringworlds which can be colonized. The ringworlds are almost exactly like those from the Ring World novel, with mountains flanking the inner walls, and with shadow squares creating day/night cycles on the surface.
  • The Torus Aeternal in X3: Terran Confict is a massive space station ringing Earth's equator. It serves as a docking ring, shipyard, and orbital defense station. In X3: Albion Prelude, it gets blown up.
  • In the expansions of Galactic Civilizations 2 the limitations of centrifugal force are discussed in the description for the "Artificial Gravity" tech. Apparently during the stargate era a Drengin troop transport once had an arm motor jam and toss thousands of troops out into space. A number of the default human ship designs have rotating sections, in particular the colony ship.


[[folder:Web Original]]
  • The world of Pendor, from The Journal Entries of Kennet Shardik, is Niven's Ringworld with the Serial Numbers Filed Off, because Niven had threatened to sue Elf Sternberg over writing gay BDSM Known Space fanfic.
  • Darwin's Soldiers: Card of Ten takes place primarily on one of these.
  • So many space habitats in Orion's Arm. There are even Banks Orbitals, though system-encompassing rings are impossible to construct.
  • The space station Credomar in Schlock Mercenary is like this, but it's considered to be so inefficient that it's a mystery why anyone would build a space station like that. It's eventually revealed that Credomar wasn't really a space station, but a Wave Motion Gun disguised as a space station.

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