How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

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Dr Roberts
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How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Dr Roberts »

I'm just curious to find out how the original fic writers here hand waved artificial gravity in their settings. So, how did you do it? Also, is this connected to space travel in someway in your 'verse?
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Crazedwraith »

what do you mean: How do you hand wave it?

You say 'Captain Ab McStrong walked the quarterdeck of his space post shop, held in place by the ship's artificial gravity'

You don't try to explain it. That's what handwaving is.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Dr Roberts »

Doh! I should have asked, what technobabble do you use? I'm fully aware of 1g thrusting or rotating the ship I'm talking "soft sci-fi"
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Batman »

Why bother using any to begin with? Who cares how artificial gravity works? It's there and most of the time the how is completely irrelevant. In fact, even in TUC, where the artificial gravity failing on the klingon ship was a moderately important plot point, the how still remained completely irrelevant.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Stofsk »

Dr Roberts wrote:Doh! I should have asked, what technobabble do you use? I'm fully aware of 1g thrusting or rotating the ship I'm talking "soft sci-fi"
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Dr Roberts »

Just to be clear, I don't even have Artificial Gravity in my setting (and that has FTL). I am just curious as to others.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Dr Roberts »

Just to be clear, I don't even have Artificial Gravity in my setting (and that has FTL). I am just curious as to others.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Formless »

Just orient the decks at 90 degrees to the direction of travel. Then, whenever the ship is accelerating you have instant gravity. Design the vehicle more like a tower with engines at "ground level" and less like a seaship where "down" is relative to a planetary surface that isn't there. Now whatever handwave you applied for the torchdrive almost all sci-fi ships have in either space opera or HARD! sci-fi doubles as your explanation for artificial gravity, and as an added bonus you don't need "inertial dampeners" either. You just never accelerate faster than 1G, because that's seriously fast.

Want the ship to be able to shut its engine off without everything returning to micro-gravity? Think like a thrill ride designer. Have a rotating section for the living area with modular pods. When the ship is accelerating, the pods swing to 90 degrees to the direction of travel. When the ship isn't accelerating, rotate them to 180 degrees and spin them around.

Other than the torchdrive itself, the known laws of physics have not only been preserved but cleverly used to your advantage. All it takes is thinking about spacecraft differently from terrestrial vehicles, which most sci-fi writers fail to do. And actually, you wouldn't want artificial gravity applied to the entire ship: the astronauts on the ISS found that in microgravity you can use the ship's entire volume to store things, so you can fit everything inside the craft in an amazingly compact fashion, whereas gravity limits you to using only the floorspace.

On the other hand, if you just want to design ships to look cool and follow the usual pattern of having decks parallel to the ship's acceleration, don't over think things. Just establish its existence and let the audience fill in the blanks for themselves. Don't mention it by name, just describe shipboard scenes in the way that feels natural to a planet-dweller and most readers will fail to realize that gravity doesn't work that way. Our monkey brains have this remarkable ability to filter out the irrelevant. Any explanation will just tip your hand that you know better, that you care, that it shouldn't be like this, and to cautious readers may introduce complications like field propulsion drives (though you could just suck it up and use them as well, they don't bite). Technobabble only serves as an insult to the audience's intelligence and a waste of time. You should only use it when characters are talking to each other and it simply can't be avoided.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Isolder74 »

Graton generation is about as far as Technobabble really needs to go. As far as explaining it as Bats already pointed out there really isn't a need as it's something that is generally taken for granted in more Sci-Fi settings. Even when you have one where there are groups in their univers that don't have the tech and others do(B5) they really don't explain how it works there either, some groups have it others don't and they leave it at that.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Connor MacLeod »

The basic thing is: you don't have to explain it, and probably shouldn't. Let the reader fill in the blanks on his or her own if it really bothers them, because if you go to the effort of making explanations, odds are you're going ot 'offend' someone's sense of what makes sense, or you'll have someone complaining about 'how that doesn't work' or 'its unrealistic'. This is generally true of specific yields too. Its actually amazing (when you work with numbers) just how wide a variance you can get from a single passage depending on the assumptions you put into it, and that wiggle room is good. Hell some of my favorite fiction (eg the DeathStalker novels) has very little in the way of quantification compared to, say, Warhammer 40K or Star wars or Trek, and in some ways it can actually *increase* enjoyment. Farscape likewise had very little in the way of 'quantitative' shit and it never once detracted from it as a show.

I say this as someone who is a utter technophile when it comes to my science fiction, but I'm also aware that my interest in such is not a necessary one, and can even be counter-productive to the story if it gets out of hand. And even if it doesn't get out of hand, you're always going to have elements of the fandom who hold to know how sci fi should work 'realistically' and you may have to deal with those. If you don't want that distraction, then avoid the detail as much as possible.

If you really want a reason WHY AG exists, just say 'magic forcefields'. If you have forcefields that can repel or manipulate mass in some fashion you can emulate gravity to whatever degree you want to as well. I sometimes think most 'artificial' gravity is not true gravity in a sense, but more those magic forcefields that so often form defense barriers, shields, and suchlike. (EG STar Wars' 'artifical gravity' for example, may just be a variation on particle shielding.)
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Eternal_Freedom »

In my stories I mention AG systems occasionally in battles or during turns, something like "the Captain coudl tell the impacts were serious from the way the deck was lurching. Advanced as it was the AG systems couldn't quite keep up with the damage."

That sort of stuff.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Ford Prefect »

Centripedal acceleration due to rotation.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Batman »

Except the guy asked for soft SciFi technobabble solutions?
Doh! I should have asked, what technobabble do you use? I'm fully aware of 1g thrusting or rotating the ship I'm talking "soft sci-fi"
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Grumman »

A good "cheaty drive" applies its acceleration evenly to the entire contents of the ship, rather than by pushing the superstructure and relying on the superstructure to push everything else. This means you don't need a separate inertial dampener system just to stop everyone going squish when you change velocity.

Coincidentally, a technology that can do this also makes a really good artificial gravity generator. They might have two different drives, one to push everything the direction you want to fly, and one to push the contents "down", but they'd both be the same technology.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Imperial528 »

Well, for my own in-progress universe, we have a few setups:

Humans use regular thrust and rotational gravity for all time. However, eventually they get some more exotic ones:

The first is essentially just a gravity "redistributer". Example:

You have a pod on a rod connect to an axle being spun so that the pod's center floor experiences 9.8 m/s. However, the floor "above" it (closer to the center) will experience less gravity, and the one "below" it will experience more. How to solve this? Simply move the excess acceleration to the "higher" floor to balance them out. The key here is that the total amount of acceleration is conserved. No, I have no idea how any of the physics could possibly work that way. Indeed it probably breaks some law of conservation, before we even get to the practical aspects of how to actually achieve it.

The second is an idea I've had twirling around in my head:

So, according to relativity, the higher an object's speed, the higher the mass. Now, I would assume, then, that this would also cause an increase in the object's gravitational pull corresponding to the increase in mass. I do not know if this actually follows.
So the idea is to have two counter-spinning discs at the center of a station that eventually are accelerated to the point where collectively they exert a force of gravity equivalent to that of Earth (or whatever your goal g is) above and below the center plane of the station. Of course this would only be practical on very large long-standing stations that for whatever reason can't do with a pair of counter-rotating cylinders.

Then we have the more advanced civilizations that are also boring and just curve spacetime inside the ship to produce a gravity field. The decks are usually parallel with the engines (perpendicular to the line of thrust) so that the agrav can easily counteract the forces from the engines onto the occupants.

And then there are the robots who just use magnets and the mushroom people* who have no need for your silly gravity because their biology does not depend on an up or down over extended periods of time. And then there are the trilobite-like people who have rotating sections on their spacecraft but instead of changing the orientation of the sections during flight, they just make both the curved surface and the surface perpendicular to the primary axis of thrust floors and design furniture accordingly. For larger ships they just put hand (claw?) holds everywhere and hang on like they would a rock surface.

*They're also technically cyborgs.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by jollyreaper »

Dr Roberts wrote:I'm just curious to find out how the original fic writers here hand waved artificial gravity in their settings. So, how did you do it? Also, is this connected to space travel in someway in your 'verse?
A couple of answers.

1. Gravity manipulation is magic tech since we can't even begin to speculate about how it could be done.
2. The usual explanation is that there's field generators under the deck that generate the gravity field.
3. If you can generate gravity, you can also generate antigravity.

Given that we are talking about magic here, the details aren't really important, just treat it consistently. As for your story, the means of generating artificial gravity probably isn't important. The nature of your FTL drive is, not in so much in why it works but how it works. What sort of dramatic tension can you manage with it? What are the limitations? Can your drive work anywhere or does it need to be x distance from a gravity well, at a specific point in relation to the well, etc? Does it need to charge? Can you detect a ship in transit?

Case in point, Babylon 5 and the new Galactica. Both shows went with jump FTL. From the writing perspective, it meant that danger could literally appear out of nowhere without warning. With Galactica, meaningful pursuit after a jump is not possible. (Yeah, they did it in 33 but Moore said there's no explanation for it and it never happened again.) In Babylon 5, ships could be pursued in hyperspace but jumping out of a fight usually puts an end to it.

I don't feel you have to have your tech wanked out to the nth degree but you do need to have a clear idea in your own mind as to what can and can't be done with said tech.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by jwl »

You could use some of the real (hoax) anti-gravity/gravity generator claims in your fiction, most of which involve gyroscopes.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Batman »

I'm not sure nBSG and B5 are really comparable that way. nBSG was instantaneous while B5 took time to go from A to B, and combat underway was, while rare, still possible. B5 hyperdrive was a 'flight' drive despite the terminology used while nBSG used a real 'jump' drive. And in B5, you did have warning, just not very much of it (call it several seconds) as they could detect a jump window opening/gate activating before the transiting ship actually arrived (and they should at least theoretically be able to park spotters in hyperspace to expand the warning time window, though I don't think that was ever done). nBSG-no warning that I can remember, not that I stuck with the series to its end, but all I remember is ships poofing into existence with no warning whatsoever.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by amigocabal »

I would imagine it works by a similar principle to a tractor beam.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Batman »

Which essentially means...magic, once again. Once more, why is the technobabble behind it important? Trek never really explained most of their tech (and usually made a mess of it when they tried), Wars never did outside the EU (and usually made a mess of it when they tried too) and guess what? It didn't matter. As long as you keep your technology consistent, how it does what it does isn't really important (as long as you don't claim it does so in ways that are known to be physically impossible to work).
'Next time I let Superman take charge, just hit me. Real hard.'
'You're a princess from a society of immortal warriors. I'm a rich kid with issues. Lots of issues.'
'No. No dating for the Batman. It might cut into your brooding time.'
'Tactically we have multiple objectives. So we need to split into teams.'-'Dibs on the Amazon!'
'Hey, we both have a Martian's phone number on our speed dial. I think I deserve the benefit of the doubt.'
'You know, for a guy with like 50 different kinds of vision, you sure are blind.'
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by FedRebel »

amigocabal wrote:I would imagine it works by a similar principle to a tractor beam.
The problem with using electromagnetic fields as artificial gravity is that you're giving the crew cancer at best or slowly cooking them at worst. Realistically fake "gravity" could only be achieved by centrifugal force.

The only other method I can think of would be by using an appropriately dense material as deck plating, but said material would be a near impossibility.

1. The material has to have a Goldie Locks density (too high, you kill the crew, too low, everybody does the moon walk.)
2. The material must be stable in the final form as deck plating, neutronium (just as an example, do not use neutronium, you will kill your crew) breaks down when not in the environment of a neutron star. So the material used must be stable...and maintain stability in every possible environment the ship will encounter, Ice VII (just as an example), is stable until you get to 120 kelvin (hint: propulsion systems and stars are hot.)
3. Most importantly the material must be economical to mass produce, if it's not easy to shape into plating or if it has an overly complex manufacturing process, it would be prohibitive to utilize as the gravity plating would end up raising the cost of the ship to unacceptable amounts.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Stark »

The explanation doesn't have to be 'realistic', just like scifi doesn't need 'artificial gravity'. I think the number of people who want to read stories with long-duration flight or 'inertial compensators' who care about the 'realism' of artificial gravity are probably quite small.

Once you start getting into fiction with no artificial gravity, you start to see that the focus on it is driven by popular stuff like SW and ST. Its not necessary for a good story any more than 9000g accelerations or sixteen year missions are necessary.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Connor MacLeod »

I think its worth noting that you can 'explain' the what of something without going into any great detail behind the how and why, but people do not always pick up on that. What artificial gravity does, and even a bit of how it does it can suffice in most cases, but you don't really need to concoct any elaborate, paragraphs long reasons for the mechanical details behind it. Such details will probably just trip you up anyhow if you get them wrong, and will clog up valuable story-telling space with needless details.

What's more, there's always a point of diminishing returns when it comes to realism. You can get so caught up in trying ot make things so internally consistent noone can poke holes in them.. but you'll basically stagnate yourself as a storyteller because you'll be too busy trying to look for all the loopholes and outcomes. reality is incredibly complex and detailed, and its at best difficult and worst self-defeating to try to anticipate and explain everything fully. Weber's a classic case of that sort of mistake.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Dominarch's Hope »

The ship is fuckhueg. Like loltastically huge. Say 100 kilometers long and 35 wide for the inhabited superstructure. The entire thine on the inside is spinning structure but you wouldnt know it thanks to the multiple layers of whipple shielding.


Everybody on the outer are of the spinning for a few leveld has gravity, closer to the center and the part that spins everything else the less gravity there is.


Or they manipulate and distribute gravity with less care than we do electricity.
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Re: How did you handwave artificial Gravity?

Post by Formless »

Connor Macleod wrote:What's more, there's always a point of diminishing returns when it comes to realism. You can get so caught up in trying ot make things so internally consistent noone can poke holes in them.. but you'll basically stagnate yourself as a storyteller because you'll be too busy trying to look for all the loopholes and outcomes. reality is incredibly complex and detailed, and its at best difficult and worst self-defeating to try to anticipate and explain everything fully. Weber's a classic case of that sort of mistake.
IMO, the word "realism" needs to be replaced in the Sci-Fi writer's lexicon. Maybe put "attention to detail" as a better ideal to strive for. A lot of these universes that are supposed to be REALISTIC and HARD feel far less real to me than a richly populated universe like, say, Cowboy Beebop. I may not be able to explain the warp gates or the fact that Earth is still habitable despite having regular meteor strikes from Lunar debris falling from orbit, but everything encountered has an obvious function it fulfills for the people inhabiting it. Truckers are truckers, even if they fly rockets, for instance.
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