"What goes up... better doggone well stay up!"
Virtually all Sci-Fi
space ships have some form of artificial gravity. The technology behind this is never quite explained.
In Space Opera
, artificial gravity is the last
thing that breaks when a ship is damaged. You might have lost shields, weapons, drive systems, and half the hull, but things will still fall when dropped. This makes a certain degree of sense, as fixing a ship while floating around helplessly would probably take much longer. Artificial gravity is also essential for long-term flights, for if you spend too long in Zero G, then your muscles will become a painful, squishy mush once you get back to regular gravity.
One major reason for this in live action is that the only reasonable way to simulate zero gravity without leaving Earth entirely involves something called parabolic flying in cargo aircraft (such as NASA's "Vomit Comet
"), which costs a lot of money, only gives you about thirty seconds of zero G at a time, and isn't the world's best thing to build a set in (although that's exactly what they did for the film Apollo 13
and the series Space Odyssey Voyage To The Planets
). Of course, there are cheaper ways to simulate it using Wire Fu
and camera tricks - but all in all it's a hell of a lot easier to simply Hand Wave
the whole issue away.
Also, once you have the knack of making gravity, switching it off shouldn't be that much of a problem, right? Cue the Anti Gravity
hovercraft. You might also use it for Inertial Dampening
, to make a Reactionless Drive
, or make it so We Will All Fly in the Future
Related to Gravity Sucks
. No Gravity for You
is what happens when characters get Genre Savvy
about the Fridge Logic
of this trope. When it's a superpower, you get a Gravity Master
tends to avoid the idea that artificial gravity can be generated out of nothing. Typically, the only artificial "gravity" you encounter in Hard Sci-fi is either the result of spinning the ship or habitat
, or the entire ship accelerating at one G. Either that, or everyone just floats around inside their spaceships.
Many times a show set in space will brush off the gravity issue with "magnetic shoes
". This bit of Artistic License – Physics
will magically affect everything a person is wearing and everything in the room, while in reality wearing shoes with magnets in them would only anchor your feet to metal floors - not your arms, hair, the coffee in your mug...
A Necessary Weasel
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Anime and Manga
- ARIA, set on Mars (a.k.a. Aqua) matches Earth's gravity perfectly. However, it requires a group of underground gravity technicians called Gnomes to make this happen. Al, one of the Gnomes, is a recurring side character. Due to ARIA's nature as a feel-good series, though, just how this Artificial Gravity works is left unexplained.
- According to the manga, they use some strange, very high density crystal only found on Mars as gravity source, and send it to parts of the planet where it's needed through pipe networks controlled by an organ-like instrument. Best not think about it too hard.
- The manga series Cannon God Exaxxion does interesting things with this trope. Rather than simply a Hand Wave for people walking around a spaceship like it was an earthbound movie set, they explore all kinds of neat stuff you can do once you've made gravity and inertia yours, including, but not limited to:
- Allowing Humongous Mecha & other large targets to flout the Square/Cube Law, even allowing things to fly that by all rights shouldn't. An interesting visual metaphor Kenichi Sonoda often uses for this effect is to turn the panel upside down when a gravity jump is in effect.
- Creating destructive gravity waves, Deflector Shields and Tractor Beams.
- Increasing the force of blunt attacks, enabling mechs to perform a literal Megaton Punch.
- Uchuu Senkan Yamato is an anime work that plays this trope deadly straight. Seems to come along with Space Is an Ocean. The Yamato's operations are badly disrupted when the gravity fails in season 2. They are actually unable to launch their fighters, what with the fighters floating around wildly in the hangar.
- Sol Bianca had a scene where one space pirate complained about the gravity being off. Meanwhile the other one was fixing the ship told them to stop complaining and wait it out
- Dragon Ball Z: A recurring feature; first there's the ship that Bulma, Krillen, and Gohan take to Namek. Then Frieza's massive ship. After that, the pod Goku takes to Namek, which helps him train by simulating 100x Earth's gravity. Finally, the pod Vegeta trains in on Earth which simulates 500x Earth's gravity.
- In Full Metal Panic!, the Lambda Driver generates force in accordance with the will of the user. Given enough power, this can be used as an anti-gravity system. As seen on the ArmSlave known as Behemoth, when the cooling system for the generator is destroyed, the Lambda Driver shuts down, and the massive robot collapses under its own weight.
- Gallimaufry Station in Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire has artificial gravity that can easily (and with some precision, say, on about a sector level at least) be dialed up or down to incapacitate troublemakers, even Heavyworlders like Buck.
- In the Tintin book Explorers on the Moon, the Moon-Rocket simply uses its own acceleration, equal to Earth's gravity outside take-off and landing, as gravity source, since its decks are arranged such that it always goes "up". The engine gets turned off a few times, both accidentally and intentionally, which has the effect of turning off the rocket's ability to keep the passengers on the floor.
- The rocket turns around mid-flight to decelerate at the same rate for the second half of the trip. This requires turning off the engine and restarting it, which is the "intentional" part.
- Characters also use magnetic boots when this happens, and while on the Moon.
- In Pre Crisis Superman comics, despite all its advanced technology, Krypton had no space program until Jor-El perfected anti-gravity. This makes some sense when you consider what a monstrous gravity well their rockets had to escape. (Pre Crisis Krypton was portrayed as enormously massive, so at least part of Superman's powers derived from his being a Heavy Worlder.)
- In Universal War One, all space-travelling ships use anti-Gravity engines. When the power generators of the space station Alpha are destroyed, the artificial gravity breaks immediatly.
- Best not to think about how it happened: the "inventor" of anti-G had only come up with a theory. A time-traveller from the anti-G-using future made one from scratch and showed it to him, allowing anti-G technology to become widespread and spaceships to become feasible.
- 1980's British Starblazer. Multiple examples, including the Gravitator (created an anti-gravity field), the grav sled and grav cart, gravity neutralizers and grav chutes (parachutes with anit-gravity).
Films — Animated
- The R.L.S. Legacy in Treasure Planet is equipped with artificial gravity. During the fight with Mr. Scroop, B.E.N. accidentally disengages the A.G. while playing with plugs, and Jim sends Scroop flying through space forever.
- WALL•E was rather odd about this - the Axiom apparently had Artificial Gravity, but not Inertial Dampening.
Films — Live-Action
- The film version of 2001: A Space Odyssey used the centrifugal method of gravity generation onboard both the space station and the Discovery. It's notable that the non-rotating parts of Discovery and the famous shuttle sequence near the beginning are as being zero gee, through actors walking strangely in "velcro booties," and dangling props from wires, etc.
- On the other hand gravity in the Moonbase appears to be Earth-normal without explanation.
- Moonraker also uses the centrifugal method (except when traveling between modules, apparently) but when the station rotation halts we're treated to the most ambitious (at that time) zero-gee sequence on film.
- Likewise the Alexei Leonov in the sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, with a segment of the ship designed to rotate when not under thrust to generate pseudo-gravity. In contrast with 2001, less effort is spent to maintain the illusion of zero gee elsewhere, making this a Hand Wave rather than a serious effort at realism (though there is one scene on the zero-g bridge of the Leonov where Dr. Floyd demonstrates his proposal for linking the two ships using floating pens.)
- But even that scene is off because only the pens are in zero-g. Everyone else is standing around in normal gravity.
- Destination Moon (1950), loosely based on the book Rocketship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein (who was also a technical adviser for the movie), went to great lengths to make the film as accurate as possible, given what was known at the time or theorized to be possible based on existing knowledge, including using wires to simulate a lack of gravity inside the cabin of the rocket while it was on the way to the moon.
- Event Horizon was originally supposed to avert this trope as the creators wanted the entire movie to be done in zero gravity. However, doing so would have been too expensive and would have taken them over a decade, as stated in the making-of documentary, and the characters are only in zero gravity when they first enter the Event Horizon, before turning on the artificial gravity drive.
- Outland takes place on Io, a moon of Jupiter that has only 18% of Earth's gravity. It's not explained how people can walk about normally until halfway through the movie, when we see a line of cells marked ARTIFICIAL GRAVITY OFF (the prisoners are kept floating in mid-air so they can't escape).
- Project Moonbase (1953) had people walking along the corridors of a space station upside down past people going the other way due to its variable gravity. They avoided floating off the floor because they were wearing "magnetic shoes". Signs request that you PLEASE DO NOT WALK ON THE WALLS.
- Red Planet had a ship that used centrifugal sections for gravity. They take it one step closer to realism by having two sections rotating in opposite directions, as rotation in one direction only would throw the ship off course and end up wasting a lot of fuel to correct.
- Rotating in one direction will do nothing to alter a spacecraft's course — the Apollo missions all rotated slowly on the way to the moon so as to avoid baking one side in direct sunlight for too long. The reason opposite-direction rotating sections is more practical is to avoid having the central hub of your spacecraft rotate in the opposite direction when your one rotating section is "spun up", or rotate in the same direction due to friction in the bearings.
- Also, having two counter-rotating sections means angular momentum is cancelled out, making the ship much easier to maneuver.
- Sunshine is a fine example of a variant of this trope, in which gravity and air appear to be intimately connected. Everything in an air lock is floating around until the lock is pressurized... whereupon its contents crash to the ground.
- In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the Artificial Gravity in the Klingon ship is damaged immediately by torpedoes. Although this is probably more to do with the rule of cool of having a zero-G gunfight than any attempt at hard SF, it is notable, because rare in Star Trek was Zero-gravity ever used. No matter how well beaten a ship was the gravity always worked through thick and thin. Life support out? Power completely lost? Gravity's still on.
- This has a Hand Wave in the Star Trek technical manual, where they state the gravity generators continue producing 80% of their normal gravity for some period of time without power. We hear this in the background of several Star Trek episodes "Gravity down to 80%"[note .
- In the Star Wars universe, all ships from the Millenium Falcon to the Death Star have artificial gravity. It's not clear if it exists or is necessary for one man fighters, although in the Expanded Universe they do have inertial compensators (which are often "dialed down" slightly so pilots can "feel" what their craft is doing). The mega-cheap TIE fighters explicitly don't have cockpit gravity or atmosphere in the expanded universe, but it's assumed all the others do.
- The Death Star even exhibits variance in gravitational orientation in the movies, if you're looking for it. All the docking bays have their gravity at a 90 degree angle to the surface of the Death Star (craft fly straight in and "land"), but in The Emperor's tower in Return of the Jedi the characters feet face down towards the surface of the Death Star as if it's a building on a planet. This points out gravity manipulation pretty clearly.
- In Galaxy of Fear there's a book, Spore, that largely takes place on an asteroid that's large but not big enough for substantial gravity. A base on it has artificial gravity, but outside of it characters have to use special boots with tractor beams in them to avoid floating away.
- Apollo 13 depicted zero gravity the hard way: by building spacecraft sets in the NASA zero gravity training aircraft (the Vomit Comet) and filming in it for a month. Far from all of the scenes inside the spacecraft were done this way; a lot of it was done with harnesses and bellyboards and careful framing.
- In Pandorum, the Elysium has artificial gravity throughout; it would be tough to justify the film's Bee People being able to make traps that utilize gravity otherwise. But then the Elysium is revealed to have crash landed into the planet it was headed for over a century before the events of the movie, thus subverting this trope very, very hard as by then the planet's gravity had taken over.
- The Venture Star in Avatar has a centrifuge section; the only scene aboard it, though, takes place in a free fall zone.
- The Black Hole had this function as one of Dr. Reinhart's impressive inventions: a gravity field astonishingly powerful enough to not only have regular gravity in the ship, but also to keep the entire ship itself in a secure stationary position just beyond the event horizon of a black hole!
- Forbidden Planet has it. Not much is said of it onscreen, but it's made obvious by the crew of the ship moving about the ship like normal in the first scene.
- Planet of the Apes (1968) has it in the opening scene; we clearly see Taylor walking over to his cryosleep pod to get inside.
- Armageddon has a bizarre relationship with this trope, even by scifi standards. Perhaps the most egregious example: The film specifically addresses the fact that the asteroid would have little or no gravity and gives the characters special suits and equipment with "thrusters" so they don't float away while out on the surface of the asteroid. Yet when the characters are inside their space shuttle, which is parked right on the asteroid, they walk around unsuited as though under normal Earth gravity. What.
- Queen of Outer Space. After crashlanding on an unknown planet, the crew of the spaceship think they might be back on Earth, and check this by turning off the artificial gravity. As the gravity meter isn't on zero, they know they're not in Kansas anymore.
- In Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon orchestrates a prison break by turning off the artificial gravity everywhere but in the guard tower, then flying said guard tower through the rest of the base.
- Stephen R. Donaldson's The Gap Cycle goes into detail about how artificial gravity works, how it affects the engines (when going into "tach", the artificial gravity is shut off or the rotation could cause the ship to miss its target), and even how having zero G and 1G psychologically affects the crew.
- H. G. Wells's The First Men in the Moon is probably the Ur Example. Wells's hero travels to the moon with the help of "cavorite", a mysterious substance that blocks gravity in the same way a steel wall blocks light.
- Played with in the Enders Game series. Students on the Battle School space station are told it rotates to provide gravity, with the central axis staying motionless to house the zero-g Battle Room. Some smarter students realize this explanation is impossible, because the gravity cuts off abruptly at the doorway. The only explanation is a secret source of Artificial Gravity, which Petra speculates was reverse engineered from captured alien ships. It's actually revealed later by Graff that humans have reverse-engineered artificial gravity generators from Eros, a Bugger planetoid-turned-space-station at the edge of the Solar System.
- And then the author RetCons this in the Earth Afire prequel by stating that Juke Ltd. already has gravity-lensing technology that it uses as a prototype mining drill and to make aircraft fly on projected gravity fields even before the Formics ever get to Earth.
- The is fixed in the audioplay of Ender's Game, where Graff mentions that it was indeed a Juke invention, whereas the Formics still didn't have it. The Little Doctor is also mentioned to be a product of that technology, originally developed as the "gravity laser" (or "glaser") designed to break down asteroids for quicker mining and actually used during the First Invasion by the Juke mining fleet to fight the enemy. Additionally, Eros is corrected to be much closer to Earth, as it is in Real Life.
- Robert A. Heinlein subverts this in some of his works, including several of the stories in "The Green Hills of Earth", (especially "We Also Walk Dogs" which is about this trope), but he plays it completely straight when it's convenient to the plot for him to do so (like in Starship Troopers.)
- In the Known Space stories by Larry Niven, human spaceships at first either used inertial (spinning) pseudo-gravity, or learned to do without. At least, until the Man-Kzin Wars (the Kzinti having developed artificial gravity, which humans reverse-engineered).
- Lacuna has artificial gravity based on some Applied Phlebotinum introduced in chapter 1.
- The CoDominium setting uses only rotation or thrust to generate pseudogravity— the amount of thrust needed for 1 G on a warship being roughly equal to detonating several multi-megaton thermonuclear warheads per second. And they sometimes go to nine gees for several minutes; the limiting factor being not the engines or energy required, but how long the crew can stand the acceleration. No wonder they can slag planets.
- In the Honor Harrington novels by David Weber, Artificial Gravity is the basis of the series' distinctive "impeller drives" and coupled force fields as well as the hyperspace gravity wave-riding "Warshawski sails." Impeller drives can provide theoretically infinite acceleration, limited only by an inertial compensator's ability to prevent the crew from feeling it (usually topping out under 800 gravities). It's also the source of tractor beams which provide the basis for the spider drive, it's how bomb-pumped grasers shape the blast towards the lasing rods, and it has provided a revolution in cheap interstellar transport of goods and skyscraper design.
- The artificial gravity is provided by adjustable "grav plating". But it's difficult to match up the gravity fields of docked ships, so the docking tube (equivalent of a gangplank) is null-g, and characters "swing" into the ship's gravity field.
- Taken for granted in the Perry Rhodan universe. A portable anti-gravity generator is one of the first few pieces of alien technology that the titular hero brings back home from the moon in the earliest issues, and virtually every civilization (certainly every FTL-capable one) has artificial gravity on its ships and uses anti-gravity in lifts and vehicles. This is handwaved with the idea that working hyperspace physics by default includes some concepts of manipulating 'normal' spacetime, including gravity. Like any technology, however, the systems can't work without a power supply; a suitably wrecked but still existing starship will revert to zero-G conditions once the power cuts out.
- Taken to its logical conclusion in the design of the BASIS (although then rarely mentioned past her introduction). A one-of-a-kind intergalactic exploration vessel designed by the Terran master computer NATHAN and at over fourteen kilometers long somewhat too big to make practical planetfall anyway, the ship uses an unorthodox more space-efficient internal layout only made really possible by artificial gravity — for example, corridors may seem to suddenly bend sharply "up" or "down", but since gravity still exerts its pull towards the local floor a crewmember can just step across the dividing line and keep walking as though on even ground. It's still plausibly described as initially rather disorienting and humans (and others) need some time to get used to it first.
- In Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, the method of FTL propulsion used by most spacefaring races is accomplished by creating an extremely powerful artificial gravity field in front of a spaceship, which then pulls the vessel towards it. This pushes the field further forward, and so forth. As the ship approaches the speed of light, the distortion induced by the field shunts it into "space-plus". The field is also used to create artificial gravity for the ship's inhabitants.
- In addition to the traditional use of this on spacecraft in the Wing Commander universe, the "hopper" drive described in Confederation Handbook (essentially the manual for the movie) creates a temporary gravity anomaly to effectively make the equipped ship superluminal (though not with the ease of use of traditional jump drives). The novels building off of the movie novelization, Pilgrim Stars and the unreleased Pilgrim Truth (for which the outline is publicly available) have an improved version of this drive that eliminates some of the limitations and can be used as a weapon, equipped on a ship that gets hijacked by Pilgrims.
- The Revelation Space series takes a realistic approach; artificial gravity only exists when a spacecraft is under thrust or rotating. However, there is at least one alien race that can manipulate gravity more easily.
- The first Doom novelization made gravity into something akin to a plot point at one early point in the story. The Martian moons have artificial gravity fields built by the Gate builders. This being a Doom novelization, the plot point was that Fly killed a monster with its help. This is notable considering that the video game didn't even have proper height let alone gravity.
- Coyote, by Allen Steele, tries and fails to avert this trope, when a ship traveling at a constant velocity of .2 C results in an effectively 1 g environment.
- Every alien spaceship in Animorphs fits this trope. When all of the Jahar's energy is taken away by the living asteroids in Andalite Chronicles, they are left floating inside their ship with no gravity. Also, Andalite dome ships have an interesting mechanic wherein it feels and looks as if you're walking off the edge of a cliff when moving from one part of the ship to another, where the new floor is at a ninety degree angle to the old, and each has its own gravity.
- An interesting variant is shown in at least one ship type in Gordon R. Dickson's Childe Cycle: the gravity generator is sandwiched between halves of the ship, so one half is upside-down relative to the other half, and you have to dive down through a hole in the floor of one section to come up in the other. This actually seems marginally more like something possible than having every deck oriented the same way and all with the same gravity, as on Star Trek ships.
- Peter F. Hamilton's The Night's Dawn Trilogy has several forms of this: rotational, in the shape of the bitek or asteroid habitats; and more "sci-fi" in the form of the Voidhawks - they manipulate the shape of space-time (and thereby gravity) around them in order to move, then produce a counter-acceleration force for the crew compartments to leave a constant 1G gravitational field for the humans on board. Adamist starships have to make do with thrust acceleration. In one of the short stories in the associated collection, Marcus Calvert stumbles upon an alien wreck which has actual artificial gravity - but they are forced to destroy the ship, losing the knowledge forever. However, given their eventual evident level of technology, it would be unlikely that the Kiint don't have artgrav of some description.
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's Star Shadow, the Strong races have gravity-manipulation technology (used to lift ships into orbit), implying the use of artificial gravity on their ships. The Geometers have artificial gravity on their ships. When a Russian "Buran" shuttle is docked to a Geometer ship, the latter's computer extends the ship's AG field to the shuttle. When the protagonist then gets into a fight with a more seasoned cosmonaut, he has the advantage, as he'd gotten used to AG, while the other man fights as one would in zero-g (e.g. hit and lightly push off to float to the ceiling).
- The invention of artificial gravity helps to drive the plot of Lois McMaster Bujold's Falling Free, rendering the Quaddies (genetically engineered Human Subspecies designed with legs replaced by a second set of arms + hands and free-fall adapted metabolisms) obsolete.
- The Tzenkethi in the Star Trek Novel Verse manipulate gravity on a local scale so they can use every surface of a room for work or recreation. They consider using only the floor to be a foolish waste of available space. Also, they're psychologically uncomfortable with open spaces and prefer the sense of enclosement that comes from having workstations on every wall, floor and ceiling. The effects are shown in the Terok Nor and Star Trek: Typhon Pact series.
- Sector General has adjustable artificial gravity, which helps the doctors configure the various wards to an environment most suited for the species of patient in them.
- Planet-bound example: In the Tripods trilogy, the Masters' domed cities are maintained at higher internal gravity than is normal for Earth, making life comfortable for the alien Masters and extremely arduous for their human slaves.
- The discovery of a way to reduce gravity drives the plot of Harry Harrison's The Daleth Effect. The discoverer specifically mentions that the knowledge could be used to do horrible things, such as grabbing chunks of the Moon and dropping them on an enemy country. The use of the device, for example, allows a craft (which doesn't even need proper engines) to travel to the Moon within hours and to Mars within days (presumably, when Mars is near). A trip to Alpha Centauri would still take over 5 years, but this is much better than the centuries we're looking at with our current technology.
- In Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series, the habitable areas on Proton have earthlike gravity due to devices focussing the natural gravity of the planet into those areas: the surrounding landscape has lower gravity than normal for the planet, and is suffering for it.
- A standard technology in the Uplift universe, so much so that at least one alien race believed that flight was impossible without Anti Gravity. Many Earthclan ships still have rotating ring segments to emphasize their "wolfling" status to the Galactics.
- In the late days of the Galactic Empire in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, antigrav technology was finally developed. Initially, it was used just to create "gravitic elevators", but by the time of Foundation's Edge it had been worked into the basis for a Reactionless Drive.
- Mentioned as a fairly recent invention in Jack McDevitt's Priscilla Hutchins novels.
- In Warhammer 40K, Space Hulks are the smashed-together remains of lost ships that occasionally resurface from the Warp. Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) mentions the strange feeling of gravity shifting when they move in range of one ship's gravity generator to another.
- He also mentions antigravity vehicles used by civilians. The Imperium of Man has yet to use Anti Gravity in a military context, unlike the Hover Tanks of the Tau and Eldar.
- In Nikolay Nosov's children's book Dunno on the Moon, the first expedition to the Moon brings back some rock samples, one of which turns out to have cavorite-like properties when in close proximity to a magnet. Dubbing the mineral "moonite" (or "lunite"), Doono (the smart shorty) builds a big rocket to carry a second expedition to discover the nature of craters on the Moon (he things they were formed when the Moon was being formed in the manner of bubbles popping on a pancake) and retrieve more moonite for subsequent expeditions. The rocket is spacious and even has a hold full of seeds of the giant fruit and vegetable plants that grow all over Earth (it's implied that these plants are normal-sized but the shorties are very small). The titular character is excluded from the mission for being clueless about anything and rude to many shorties. He (and another excluded shorty) sneak about the night before take-off but accidentally activate the launch. Since the rocket engine doesn't provide much thrust (most of the lifting power is due to the properties of moonite), no one else hears it take off. The two shorties end up on the Moon and then accidentally find themselves falling through a crack... and find out that the Moon is hollow. They keep falling with their parachutes until they land on a mini-Earth inside the Moon.
- When Doono has another rocket built, this one using conventional propulsion, it's much smaller, has a smaller crew, and far less comfort than the "moonite"-powered one.
- Both Centrifugal Gravity and the constant one-G variation are played straight in Greg Egan's Orthogonal trilogy. The protagonists fly their Generation Ship to an Alternate Dimension by accelerating the ship to an infinite velocity at a rate of one-G for about a year. When they turn off the engines and stop accelerating, the lack of gravity unexpectedly causes their crops to fail, so they begin spinning the ship to compensate.
- E.E. "Doc" Smith flipped back and forth between hard and very soft sci-fi at times. In The Skylark of Space, humanity's first stumbling efforts into the void are played very hard in the gravitational sense. Later, the characters meet alien beings from whom they copy, acquire or (justifiably at times) appropriate gravity-manipulation technology. The Lensman universe has portable gravity dampers for human personnel assigned to ships of races which are either heavy-gee to start with or have a higher tolerance of it in combat manoeuvres.
- In the Family d'Alembert series, the heavyworlders who form the top ranks of the galaxy's secret service invariably end up paired with each other because they're the only ones who can stand each other's native environments - and even then, one of them finds that the extra half-gee of the place he's visiting (three vs. 2.5) makes a lot of difference when you're fighting for your life. In fact, the human heavyworlders' planets seem to top out at three gees in both the Lensman and Family d'Alembert series, which suggests Smith did some research which indicated that this was the practical maximum that humans could be expected to successfully adapt to without assistive technology. Such technology is not easily man-portable in the Family d'Alembert universe, although it is fitted to some of the larger spacecraft, and artificial gravity boosting up to twenty-five gees can be selectively turned on in individual rooms of a dwelling or compartments of a ship. This becomes a major plot point in the climax of both the first and final novels of the series.
Live Action TV
- The first episode of Lost in Space has the artifical gravity turned off to make repairs.
- Babylon 5:
- As artificial gravity generation is a closely held secret, humans have to make do with ships that have rotating hull segments to generate centrifugal force, whereas smaller vessels had to do completely without any gravity other than when accelerating.
- It is eventually mentioned that the tractor beams used by some of the more advanced ships are actually part of the same artificial gravity system that provides gravity and propels the ships (it propels the ship by making it "fall" in the desired direction of travel).
- The Galactica in Battlestar Galactica.
- There was one scene where crew in spacesuits were shown to be carefully traversing one of the flightpods with magnetic boots. This is consistent with ships being magnetically sealed to the flightdeck.
- Interestingly, one ship in the Galactica's civilian fleet (the Zephyr) has a large and distinctive ring that rotates to provide gravity. Ron Moore wanted to do part of an episode on board it in a nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but was unable to for budget reasons. Apparently, the Colonials used to rely on this method of artificial gravity generation, and the Zephyr retains the design for novelty value (it's a luxury liner). The ring stops spinning for repairs after being hit by two Cylon missiles and when no-one is on board as the ship and the rest of the fleet are flown into the sun.
- There's a screen capture of the computer on Boomer's Raptor from one episode that clearly shows "Gravity Control" as an option, indicating that Colonial gravity generators have variable settings (and are presumably small enough to fit within relatively small craft).
- According to Firefly's supplemental materials, there is a three-part gravity manipulation system on Serenity and other ships in The Verse; one to keep everyone down, another to make the ship float, and a third to cancel out major inertial movements in time with the drive system (See Inertial Dampening). All those systems, together with its inertia-cancelling drive, are colocated with the reactor in the rear bulb of the ship.
- The artificial gravity is given a mention in one episode, where Kaylee explains that it sometimes gets interference with a planet's gravity when the ship hits the atmosphere.
- We're also shown a scene in the pilot where the gravity is switched on once the crew are back aboard, resulting in them thumping down onto the deck.
- Space: 1999 includes "gravity shields" that provide artificial gravity, let spacecraft take off and land on planets without refueling, and allowed the moon to fly through a black hole (!). The shields stop working every time they would be detrimental to the plot.
- In the reality TV series Space Cadets, a group of gullible, ignorant people were successfully fooled into believing that such technology exists now and is in use in manned orbital flights.
- Author Ben Bova's Universe Bible for the shortlived series The Star Lost explicitly invoked Artificial Gravity for the Ark, but coyly refused to quantify the technology, except to note that gravity generators were likely to be large, massive and completely non-portable devices. The show did not last long enough for the specifics to become important to a story.
- Starfleet ships in Star Trek. Even the relatively primitive Enterprise of Star Trek: Enterprise has artificial gravity.
- Considering a warp field is essentially a massive graviton field, it stands to reason that any warp-capable civilization also has AG.
- Early in the original series the creators put together a tape of intercom chatter to play as background during bridge scenes. At one point one of the voices reports that "Gravity is down to point eight." This tape was used over and over, particularly when the Enterprise had been attacked, which meant that the artificial gravity went down to eighty percent a fair amount of the time. The Technical Manual's Hand Wave is that a gravity generator takes a long time to stop generating gravity once you pull the plug; it actually goes out as readily as any other system when the consoles start sparking but about eighty percent of the artificial gravity will remain for quite some time.
- In an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sisko restores an old Bajoran vessel from their pre-warp age, authentic in every way... except for a gravity generator, because zero-G makes him nauseous. Cheater.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation. Enterprise's shuttle bay floor has a section marked "Warning: Variable Gravity Area", although it is never seen at anything that is clearly different to normal gravity.
- In the novelization of one of the Star Trek movies, Captain Kirk stepped out of an Earthlike-gravity zone into a zone which recreated the much more powerful gravity of the planet Vulcan. There then an amusing scene where Kirk was pushed a few inches or so into the air by this sudden change, and came back down, injuring himself in the process.
- The bigger episodes and the movies sometimes put the characters into zero gravity situations—which also happen to be zero atmosphere situations, meaning they get to wear spacesuits with magnetic boots that somehow allow them to walk almost normally.
- Artificial gravity failure has only happened twice in the franchise; on the Klingon vessel Kronos One in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and in a limited section of the USS Voyager in "Prey". Both included the aforementioned magnetic space suits, but some floating was shown, particularly in the former which also included zero-g blood floating around.
- Incorrect. It also happened (briefly) in an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. A cloaked alien ship was "coasting" in the NX-01's warp drive wake (effectively pulling them along with Enterprise) due to their warp drive being damaged. The later explanation was that the aliens were too shy to just contact them and ask for help. The presence of the ship in the Enterprise's wake caused warp field distortions that fed back into other systems and caused malfunctions throughout the ship (the computers and crew didn't know to compensate for a ship being there because they didn't know it was). At one point the gravity fails in Archer's quarters while he is taking a shower. He actually floats up out of the shower and nice zero-G CG water floats about his cabin, until the gravity is suddenly restored and he ends up falling flat on his face followed by being drenched.
- Some of the Tech Manuals published to accompany the various series have tried to Hand Wave away the reason why the gravity never seems to fail, even if the ship loses power. The reason is that systems generating gravity have to spin up when powered on and keep going for several hours even if the power is cut off meaning that gravity disappears slowly rather than cutting off all at once.
- In the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, a conversation between the navigator and the security officer takes place where the navigator asks if the artificial gravity feels a bit heavy. The security officer replies that no, it's about normal for Earth sea level. The navigator reveals that, growing up on a cargo vessel, his dad liked to lighten the artificial gravity to, "put a spring in his step". In this same episode, the navigator shows Cmdr. Tucker the ship's "sweet spot", right between the gravity generator and the back of the ship, where gravity reverses halfway through the room — illustrated by having both men sitting upside down on the ceiling. In a later episode, knowledge of this is used to ambush some intruders from an unexpected direction.
- In the episode "Unexpected", a cloaked ship riding in the Enterprise's wake is causing system failures on Enterprise. In the cold open, the gravity on the deck where Capt. Archer's quarters are goes off, right in the middle of his shower (water-based, not sonic as in the 24th century). He floats about, talking to the bridge about what is going wrong. Then when gravity is restored, Archer and a couple of gallons of water unceremoniously flop onto the floor.
- In the Mirror Universe episode "In A Mirror, Darkly", Archer defeats a Gorn by increasing a grav plate's power to 20G's, crushing it under the weight.
- All the spaceships in Stargate SG-1 have some sort of artificial gravity. In addition, Ba'al has a research base dedicated to the manipulation of artificial gravity, complete with a jail cell that shares all the same drawbacks as a Force-Field Door. In one episode of Stargate Atlantis, Samantha Carter and Bill Lee were working in a half-finished base that didn't have artificial gravity. Sam glided gracefully from point to point, while Bill... well, spaceships need barf bags, too.
- The in-universe explanation for why the Andromeda Ascendent can maneuver like a Space Fighter despite being a kilometer-long capital ship is fine control of the ship's AG field by the AI.
- Night Man's anti-gravity belt is what allows him to fly. Apparently, according to the pilot, it was planned to be standard-issue for cops of the future, along with an Invisibility Cloak and an Eye Beam.
- Rabbit Hutch in Kamen Rider Fourze has a large lever to activate this.
- Many of the technologies in early Buck Rogers comics derive from inertron, an artificial substance which is repelled by gravity. Strapping a disk of inertron on your back as a "jumping belt" makes you buoyant enough to jump great distances, float slowly downward from great heights, or fly with only a tiny jet backpack. Most flying or hovering vehicles also contain the stuff.
- The Jovian Chronicles RPG series, which draws inspiration from Gundam is set in a future where humans have colonized the inner planets, the asteroid belt and jupiter, but space stations need a 'ring' section to rotate for habitation, and most larger vessels have a habitation arm that spins to do the same.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Spelljammer setting. Because of the nature of physics in the D&D universe, ships in space automatically generate enough gravity to keep objects from drifting away from them, and a "gravity plane" keeps the direction of gravity steadily "down" from the crew's perspective.
- 1st Edition module S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. The starship has multiple examples of gravity control technology, including the drop chutes/tubes, inside the control room and the worker robots.
- Traveller. Space ships have "grav plates" that generate a 1G floor field, and robots can fly while on the surface of planets using an antigravity device.
- GURPS: Ultratech has a lot of technology based on gravity control. Ranging from shipboard gravity plates to grav guns to gravitic screwdrivers. There's even gravity controlling cloth that lets you fly like a superhero.
- Starblazer Adventures, based on the 1970's-80's British science fiction Comic Book. Robots could fly using built-in anti-grav units.
- Eclipse Phase only has spinning habitats and ships, though since basic biomods provide immunity to the degenerative effects of microgravity many don't bother.
- Despite the abundance of softer sci-fi elements, such as Humongous Mecha, in BattleTech, this trope is handled pretty realistically with spacecraft. JumpShips have a centrifugal section with gravity, while DropShips generate inertial gravity through thrust.
- Mage: The Ascension gives us the Sons of Ether, whose ships have artificial gravity by virtue of the ethernauts that built or are flying the craft not thinking the floaty bits of space were worth the effort of putting into the local consensus reality. Tends to be relatively forgivable since they also get away with things like open decks or building their spaceship from a wooden Junk complete with somehow-functional sails... physics has much bigger things to complain about.
- The Vigilance orbital platform and the freighter in the Crusader series of games have artificial gravity, which probably made programming the game's engine a lot easier.
- Inverted in First-Person Shooter Crysis: Aliens that presumably live in a zero-gravity environment use a spaceship that creates just that. The main character moves around using thrusters.
- In Dead Space, it appears that all ships, from tiny repair shuttles to massive planet-cracking mining ships have artificial gravity. However, certain areas of the ship (such as the place giant rocks are broken down to extract minerals), don't, and the artificial gravity onboard the Ishimura is failing in other areas due to the whole Necromorph infestation thing going on. In fact, actions in Zero-G are a fairly major gameplay element (Isaac's maintenance suit has magnetic boots, so he doesn't float).
- Half explained in the Halo universe. Most early human ships had no artificial gravity and the few that did achieved this through cetrifugal force. However, once the UNSC started salvaging destroyed Covenant ships, the existence of artificial gravity is Hand Waved as Applied Phlebotinum.
- In fact Halo: The Fall of Reach has the Pillar of Autumn generate gravity via centrifugal force. In-game, it's generated by Phlebotinum. Worth noting that the book was written before the first game even came out; it's only one of several details that have been retconned over the years.
- The Covenant make much more extensive use of gravity technology; all of their vehicles use anti-gravity to move and stay afloat, and they even use it for things as small and mundane as jetpacks, chairs and lifts. They even have small gravity generators attached to their aptly-named Gravity Hammers to strengthen each blow. The Forerunners they took the technology from had even great mastery over it, allowing them to keep entire skyscrapers afloat for 100,000+ years with little to no outside maintenance. Monitor AIs even have limited telekinetic abilities, while the Ur-Didact's own pseudo-telekinesis is so powerful that he can easily beat the Master Chief without ever touching or shooting him.
- Mass Effect inverted the breaking part in the game's Codex. As soon as a ship goes into combat it turns off all gravity to decrease heat buildup and to divert power to systems that need it more. The ship's interior are marked and color-coded to help right the disorientated passengers.
- In addition, only the existence and use of mass effect allows ships to have artificial gravity that doesn't rely on movement. Those that don't use mass effect use methods such as rotation.
- Ships not designed to land in atmosphere - for example, cruisers and dreadnoughts - also have their decks oriented with the "floor" toward the engines, so that the thrust will provide artificial gravity while moving.
- Most biotics powers are based on control of artificial gravity. Throw is a directed burst of gravity that grabs someone and throws them away from the biotic by creating a powerful gravitational pull behind them. Lift/Pull grabs an opponent in a zero gravity field that pulls them into the air. Warp creates powerful, distorted gravity fields around the target that pulls apart their armor and tears up flesh and muscle. Singularity creates an intense high-gravity zone that draws all objects around it into the area of effect.
- The First-Person Shooter Prey is pretty creative with this, in that the Sphere's Artificial Gravity goes in different directions in different parts of the ship. You can look out a window in one room and see people running on the ceiling in the next.
- Sonic the Hedgehog is known for its space levels that actually reverse the gravity, making you walk on the ceiling, or, in the case of Crazy Gadget, the walls.
- Used to good effect in Unreal II: The Awakening where the artificial gravity starts failing, allowing the player to make larger leaps than normal, it then starts playing up even more pulling the player against the walls instead of the floor.
- Super Mario Galaxy (and its sequel) have several dozen tricks with artificial gravity, changing gravity, and inertia puzzles — often several times in the same level.
- Gravity manipulation in the Space Empires series takes many forms, from ships, to preventing pesky planet killing weapons, to creating DysonSpheres if your tech level is high enough.
- In Roblox, most levels that are in space have this.
- Several stages in the Mega Man (Classic) series have this, as they take place in space, but have Mega Man maneuvering normally, albeit sometimes with underwater-style Jump Physics. Some stages also have gravity changing panels, and there are several weapons that reverse gravity (Gravity Hold) or create artificial gravity wells (Black Hole Bomb).
- Septerra Core presents The Doomsday Weapon which works by creating a gravitational disturbance which causes the target continent to rise up out of its World Shell and crash into the underside of the shell above. This turns out to be a massive Chekhov's Gun: by raising the proper continents to the upper shells, they form a rune pattern which grants Septerra access to the Kingdom of Heaven.
- Nexus: The Jupiter Incident has the spinning kind and the more traditional artificial graivity field, although none of that is mentioned. The only indication that all but Earth ships (which have spinning sections and very limited maneuverability) have AG is their lack of spinning sections and increased maneuverability and acceleration (suggesting Inertial Dampening).
- In StarCraft Terran ships and space platforms use "gravity channeling", in the latter case it explains how ground units can walk around on those things without flying off into space.
- Startopia has a rotating space station creating Centrifugal Gravity.
- Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri has the technologies "Graviton Theory" and "Graviton Mechanics" (one of which reads a Datalinks quote going "What goes up...had better darn well stay up."). They allow you to build Graviton Struts (making land units faster) and "Gravships" (an air unit that, based on their appearance, seem to be propelled by fans and lifted by anti-gravity; that is to say, basically dirigibles with antigravity replacing lifting gas).
- Shay's space-ship in Broken Age obviously has artificial gravity to allow him to walk around. He does go on several space walks but his kept firmly on the hull by magnetic boots; at one point he does manage to fly around space using whipped-cream as a propellant. This is impressive as we later learn that Shay hasn't been in space all this time and it is in fact the weightlessness that is being faked.
- Space Engineers has this in spades, with constructable Gravity Generators that choose a "down" direction based on which way they are oriented. You can also change the strength of the field, as well as it's X, Y, and Z dimensions, allowing for specific shapes and cool tricks like walking around the inside perimeter of a structure. The effects of multiple generators also stack, allowing gravity to be weaponized; dropping an object with a lot of mass into a powerful gravity field will launch it with incredible force, and do massive damage to whatever it hits.
- The ships in Alien Dice operate with artificial gravity.
- In Freefall, the satellite delivery story arc goes out of its way to demonstrate the lack of artificial gravity. Word of God discusses the various nods of clothing and gear to the lack of a convenient gravity quite a way down this page (almost right before the details section for Sam Starfall).
- Much of the Nemesites' and dragons' technology in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! seems to be based on gravity manipulation.
- Galatea claims a ship's artificial gravity, and all related systems (the ability to make a ship hover, etc.), run off a separate power source than everything else on the ship; a footnote then says that this is why, "as all space opera fans know, the artificial gravity never, ever goes out!"
- Schlock Mercenary has a rare and interesting variation; artificial gravity is impossible. What they actually have is gravity manipulation or "gravitics", which is as well-developed as electronics. Those big round spheres every ship has are neutronium, which acts as a source of gravity to manipulate. Also explores the concept of weaponized gravity: 'Gravy guns' are extremely powerful, short-ranged weaponry that, well, uses gravy to make gravy (or compressed neutronium, or just fine shreds of atomic matter) out of anything it's aimed at.
- The "Mallcop Command" storyline is set on a space station that uses rotation to generate its gravity; it's a historically preserved artifact of mankind's early space exploration after cheap gravitics became available.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Bun-Bun actually weaponizes a ship's artificial gravity to make everyone inside fall "up" towards the ceiling, then fall back down to the floor, repeating as necessary.
- In Christopher Baldwin's Spacetrawler, gravity on space-ships is generated by collecting actual mass (space debris, on-board refuse... criminal evidence, etc.) and compacting it using the titular spacetrawler, an incomprehensibly advanced piece of Applied Phlebotinum (which is also used to manufacture supplies and fuel the engine).
- In Umlaut House anti-gravity is accomplished via spinning tops with very fine control circuitry. Seriously.
- SCP Foundation, SCP-2099 ("Brain in a Jar"). One of SCP-2099's inventions is a generator that doubles the force of gravity on all nearby objects. It was originally an Anti Gravity generator, but he changed it by crossing out the word "Anti" that was written on it.
- In New Vindicators, Alex Winters is the son of a superhuman, and the only one of his brothers to not develop his powers. Dejected, Alex is eventually given a belt that simulates incredible gravity, which he trains with. Eventually, he becomes one of the best martial artists in the world, and officially the most agile human being (without super powers), able to fight a lot of superhumans with his skill and a few martial arts weapons and have a fair chance of victory.
- In the Ed stories, Ed decides that true artificial gravity is impossible. However, the Andromedans are able to create quite a good facsimile of gravity through very precise use of their Momentum Cannon.
- In the Red vs. Blue universe, you'd expect there to be artificial gravity. It gets special mention because there's a few fight scenes in zero gravity that are amazing.
- Whateley Universe: in "Tennyo's Easter", while Tennyo is off-world, we see spacecraft with artificial gravity, but she has a ship that doesn't need it because she ignores gravity and flies.
- Photon shells in Phaeton, as well as enabling FTL travel, also reduce G forces and generate unidirectional gravity. It is also near impossible to fail, but can very easily be switched off.
- Transformers are somewhat implied to have such a device with this principle; what with being heavily armed, 30 foot tall robots. Many of which can even fly.
- The very first episode of Exo Squad was partly aboard a cargo ship that had been attacked by pirates, and was without gravity. Or so they said, anyway. The animators apparently couldn't make up their minds about whether they were moving in or out of a gravity field. Otherwise, though, they have artificial gravity, and can even use it as a weapon for defending planets (GRAF [GRAvitational Focus] shields, the focus of the Venus story arc).
- Futurama - played straight, as "Gravity Pumps" have been invented. There's even a scene where Bender is flying
drunk sober up-side down on a planet, and everything inside is still "pulled to the floor" just like normal.
- Also, in the episode "Brannigan Begin Again," the crew is delivering pillows to a world with significantly higher g than earth. Even after they land on the planet, they are unaffected until they step off the platform that lowered them to the surface. At this point the cart used to move the pillows is destroyed by the weight, Fry's normally upright hair falls, Bender's legs collapse, and Brannigan's girdle fails spectacularly.
- In another instance, the crew are working out in a gym, and Fry is bench-pressing an impressive number of plates. Then Leela notices that someone has "turned the gravity down" and adjusts a dial on the wall, causing the weights to immediately fall and crush him. It's apparently a very localized effect, as the gravity alterations didn't seem to affect anyone else.
- In Justice League Unlimited, Mr Terrific switches off the artificial gravity and then switches it back on again to incapacite Lex Luthor, who's in Flash's body at the time.
- Both used and not used in Kim Possible: a space station in one episode had artificial gravity, which was turned off during a fight. A quick scene in space didn't have gravity, but the aliens' ship in the fourth season did.
- Ren and Stimpy - in "Space Madness", Stimpy has Ren take a hot bath to sooth his nerves...he also shuts off the gravity (with a light switch) to help. It only affects Ren and his bath water.
- In one multi-part episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle, they encounter a substance called Upsidaisium, which has negative weight.
- Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles had the main characters floating realistically the first time they were shown on the spaceship Valley Forge; for some reason, probably animation difficulties, they never showed it again.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series
- In "The Practical Joker", the title character uses its control over the Enterprise computer to turn off the ship's Artificial Gravity system, causing the characters to float around in zero gravity.
- In "The Jihad" the Big Bad creates a zero-gravity area inside the building so his opponents can fight him in the air.
- According to general relativity, it might be possible to induce, through Einstein's general relativity, a spacetime metric that allows for gravity inside a bounded volume, with little effect outside. Evidence points, however, to it taking a ludicrously large amount of negative energy (similar to the quantities required for wormholes and warp drives, which is several Jupiter masses for most useful purposes). Fortunately there's actually some wiggle room to wave your hands in, since the particulars of the relations between gravity and quantum theory are not perfectly understood. A writer can simply say "figuring out how M/Superstring/Hologram/The-Turtles-That-Go-All-The-Way-Down Theory worked, revealed an easier way to get artificial gravity (and warp, since they're related)". We can, however, in a trivial sense, perfectly simulate Earth's gravity with as little as one Earth mass... just look at Earth. This also means that smaller, denser things could have the same gravitational pull as Earth. Compared to the alternative, this is actually more plausible at this time.
- A section of the ISS was planned which would have been able to generate Artificial Gravity between 0.01 and 2 times that of Earth gravity via spinning, but was eventually cancelled. The module is currently on display in Japan.
- Some hypothetical designs for interplanetary vessels would use steady acceleration to simulate gravity. Such vessels would rotate 180 degrees halfway through their journey, flipping the engines to decelerate and the floors to correspond with simulated "down".
- This also has the advantage of allowing relatively rapid interplanetary travel, taking only days or maybe weeks (if you're traveling out to Pluto or someplace really far), instead of years as it does now. The downside is that the power output from the engine would be gargantuan (meaning that if the engine has any sort of heat leakage, it will likely vaporize from the sheer heat). Real-life engines are generally either high-thrust/low-exhaust-velocity (like the Space Shuttle) or low-thrust/high-exhaust-velocity (like with ion drives). Such a ship would need to be high-thrust (in order for there to be a decent sense of acceleration), and high-exhaust-velocity (in order to get to such high speeds. Accelerating at 1 g for a week equals out to about six thousand kilometers per second).
- Heim theory supports that a rotating magnetic field created by a ring spinning around a superconducting coil would produce an artificial or anti-gravity field. It is, however, also fringe science and fairly unlikely to hold water.
- Many space station concepts during the 1900's commonly used a ring shaped station with the center in microgravity while the outer rim spun constantly to generate artificial gravity through centrifugal force. A Space Odyssey made the concept even more popular.
- You can create gravity by increasing the spin of a massive object in a similar manner as you can generate an electric field by increasing the power of a magnet. Once the spin stops increasing, the gravity goes away. It does still have a gravitomagnetic field that will affect objects moving past quickly, just like a magnet will alter the direction of an electron beam.