Gravity created within a spaceship, space station, or habitat by spinning it.
Currently this is the only way humans have to generate gravity where there ordinarily would be none, or a negligible amount. While it is most often found in connection with Ringworld Planets
, it is not limited to them, and the shape of the ship or habitat is irrelevant to whether this trope is in use or not.
Note that in Real Life
, this isn't yet practical, as being in a centrifuge can be Nausea Fuel
for many people, as many who have ridden in the Gravitron
could tell you. Though a larger cylinder wouldn't need to spin as quickly and thus would be easier on the body, making the main obstacle construction.
Usually appears in works high on the Mohs Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness
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Anime and Manga
- The Gundam franchise helped popularize the O'Neill Cylinder space colony (see below in "Literature"), as well as other designs.
- 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.
- Possibly the most famous example is the space station from 2001: A Space Odyssey. In addition, both the Discovery and the Alexei Leonov from 2010 have rotating sections.
- Elysium rotates to provide this.
- 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.
- However, Drax's space station was not cylindrical, rather it had a roughly spherical central portion with long appendages sticking out. When it "spins up", gravity is uniform everywhere, and directed towards the "floor" of the main area, when in reality it would vary enormously depending on where in the station you were, and would be directed away from the axis of rotation.
- In Mission to Mars, the main space ship seems to have this.
- Red Planet has two rotating sections on the main ship. The sections rotate in opposite directions in order to counteract each other's force. Otherwise, the ship itself would rotate.
- Possibly one of the oldest examples: "The Wheel" in George Pal's 1955 movie Conquest of Space, which is basically a space station built in the shape of a wheel to allow the crew artificial gravity. Outside "The Wheel" and on the spaceship, the characters are weightless and have to rely on magnetic boots.
- Larry Niven:
- 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.
- Footfall by Niven and Jerry Pournelle has the Fithp alien invaders use a ship which sometimes spins for gravity and sometimes not, depending on its current mission role. It is designed so rooms can adjust for whether gravity is present or not.
- 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 usable 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 The 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 and S.M. Stirling 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 and night are controlled artificially, as is weather. At one point they travel to one of the ends, where the gravity is pracitally non-existent.
- The Battle School of the Ender’s 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 the prequel Earth Unaware Asteroid mining ships have a "fuge" aboard where the crew exercise and small children are raised. The rest of the ship is in microgravity.
- Slightly subverted in that the same prequel novel also reveals that humanity already has made some progress in Artificial Gravity with gravity lenses already being used for certain military aircraft (specifically, the HERC developed by Juke Ltd. for New Zealand) as a replacement for rotors. This is a Retcon from Ender's Game, where it's claimed that humans developed the technology only after studying Bugger technology following the First Invasion.
- 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 Book of the Long Sun is a rotating cylindrical spaceship. "Whorl" obviously refers to its rotation, but has become confused in the minds of its inhabitants with "world" to the extent that they also call planets whorls.
- Robert A. Heinlein used this a lot:
- A rotating space station is depicted in the 1959 children's book You Will Go to the Moon by Mae and Ira Freeman
- In Revelation Space, the Nostalgia for Infinity primarily creates gravity by simply accelerating at a constant 1g using its Conjoiner Drive engines - the decks are arranged like that of a skyscraper. However, when not accelerating, the ship can spin up independent centrifuge sections for the (nonexistent) passengers. Most orbital habitats in the Glitter Belt (and later, the Rust Belt) orbiting Yellowstone resemble carousels or cola cans, and are spun up to generate gravity on the interior.
- In Sergey Lukyanenko's Star Shadow, the Russian space station Delta is a toroid designed to be able to rotate for this purpose, unlike the other Earth defense stations. It's mentioned to be both a convenience and an inconvenience. It's nice to be able to walk aboard the station, but the rotation must be stopped if lasers are to be used for combat, as it's difficult to aim this way.
- Star Carrier: The eponymous America has twin counter-rotating habitation rings that are kept at about .5 gravities, due to the mixed crews from bodies all over the Sol system (Earth has 1 G, the Moon has 1/6, etc.). These are also used as an alternative way to launch Space Fighters, by placing them in slots on the rim of the ring and letting inertia fling them clear of the carrier's shield cap.
- Earthclan's ships in the Uplift series have a rotating ring section, even after obtaining Artificial Gravity from the Galactic Library. Partially because they don't fully trust the Library and partially to remind the Galactics of their status as un-uplifted "Wolflings". Unfortunately this means that most of the drynote rooms on the Streaker are upside-down or sideways whenever they're grounded.
- This is one of two types of artificial gravity that Greg Egan plays straight in his 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.
Live Action TV
- The eponymous Babylon 5 is a small O'Neill Cylinder—a kind of spinning cylindrical space station. Babylons 1-4 were of the same design, but larger. Earth Alliance destroyers and Explorer ships have a pair of spinning "arms" around the center. Meanwhile, more advanced races such as the Centauri and Minbari have Artificial Gravity, and everyone else without either uses seatbelts.
- Those Earth Alliance spinning "arms" are there for crew spaces (e.g. quarters, mess, sickbay). The Bridge is actually located in a central, less exposed area, and is zero-g, so everyone still straps in. The only Earth warships to feature Artificial Gravity are the new Warlock-class destroyers and, even by the time of Crusade, there are only 50 of those in operation.
- 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.
- 2300 AD does this with human-built ships. Justified in that it's trying to be a hard science setting.
- 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.
- You can make ringworlds in the Space Empires series. A Dyson Sphere is better, though.
- You can build ringworlds 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.
- In the X-Universe series, both Argon and Teladi trading stations and shipyards have large centrifuge sections to generate gravity for its occupants and workers. In Xtended Terran Conflict, all Teladi space stations have a rotating centrifuge at their core, along with several new ships having small centrifuges.
- 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.
- Many Earth ships in Nexus: The Jupiter Incident have large centrifuge sections to generate gravity for the crew. This is because it frequently takes weeks, if not months to travel anywhere in the Solar System. No one else uses these, as they have Artificial Gravity, Interplanetary Drives (that can shorten the same trip to days or even hours), and wormholes for intersystem jumps.
- In Mass Effect, while artificial gravity is standard on most ships, the Citadel is mentioned as using centrifugal force, giving the Ward Arms a comfortable standard 1.02 G's, while the Presidium Ring is a lighter 0.3 G's. The Presidium itself also takes the form of a Stanford Torus.
- 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 of the Kzin.
- Darwin's Soldiers: Card of Ten takes place primarily on one of these.
- Practically the only means of simulating gravity in Orion's Arm. There are even Banks Orbitals, though system-encompassing rings are impossible to construct. The archailects might be able to produce Artificial Gravity with spacetime engineering but they generally don't because it would be too inefficient (ex. a small black hole).
- Schlock Mercenary: While Artificial Gravity via manipulating existing internal gravity sources is in regular use among the various space-faring sophont races, there are a few exceptions:
- The space station Credomar is a cylinder designed to make use of 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 turned into a space station to prevent its use as a weapon.
- Earth's original stepping stone to the stars, MEL-Onenote spins to generate its gravity. As a historical landmark, except for the crew quarters it retains centrifugal gravity.
- The orbital space-cities featured in Episode Three of Space Kid