Created By: Schol-R-LEA on January 11, 2014 Last Edited By: Schol-R-LEA on January 16, 2014

Gravity Carpet

An artificial gravity system that mimics the surface of an Earth-like planet.

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Normally, gravity works by having two or more mass-bearing objects attracted to each other, each pulled towards the others' center of gravity. On a planet with a solid surface, it appears that objects are pulled inexorably to that surface, which gives the (mistaken) impression of being flat with a uniform pull.

If one were to have an Artificial Gravity system, one would expect it to work like natural gravity: it would pull towards a single point in space, with the force decreasing at the square of the distance. This is not how it usually is shown to work on spaceships, however, especially on TV or in film. Instead, the ships deploy a Gravity Carpet: a floor surface that mimics that flat, even gravity seemingly found planetside. It avoids most of the unusual, bewildering and difficult to reproduce effects which would actually come from a 'realistic' artificial gravity system.

With thanks to Justin B. Rye for the name.

An example of Reality Is Unrealistic.
Community Feedback Replies: 8
  • January 11, 2014
    • Starships in Honor Harrington use these, since all g-forces are canceled out by the inertial compensator. Grav plates also allow the ships to have decks parallel to the long axis (their drive tech requires them to be long and narrow like sailing ships). Becomes a major plot point when the Mesans invent the spider drive, as spiderships can't have compensators and must use powerful grav plates for their Inertial Dampening.
    • Averted in Schlock Mercenary, at least on starships with big annie-plants. Since the plant's extremely dense neutronium fuel generates significant tidal forces, these ships must be built with their decks wrapped around the annie-plant like onion skins.
  • January 11, 2014
    Don't we already have Artificial Gravity?
  • January 12, 2014
    I can't remember reading or seeing any depiction of an Artificial Gravity system that wasn't this. I think it could just be added to Artificial Gravity.

    Now, if this were changed to a trope about Artificial Gravity that didn't act this way, and you could find enough examples of it, that might be separately tropable.
  • January 12, 2014
  • January 12, 2014
    Also not quite sure how this differs substantially from Artificial Gravity.
  • January 12, 2014
    The title makes me think of the gravity floor plates from Prey, walking onto glowy bits changed gravity and they could be turned on and off. description doesn't sound like it but this could spin into a subtrope of Artificial Gravity for "gravity plates" as distinguished from a carousel, 2001 style if there are enough examples.
  • January 13, 2014
    Perhaps the OP is thinking of the cockeyed gravity of the Death Star.

    • The Death Star from Star Wars seems to have all its gravity at its southern pole rather than the center of the sphere. Note how the captured Millenium Falcon is drawn into a hole on the surface of the Death Star's equator, then is brought to rest on one wall of that hole rather than at the deep end of the bay. Also, Death Star personnel walk on a level floor with slowly curving walls instead of walking between parallel walls on a gradual curved floor.

    Dear Galactic Empire: You Fail Science Forever.
  • January 16, 2014
    OK, the question now is, is this a separate trope, or should it be dropped (or possibly rolled into the commentary for Artificial Gravity)?