Sci-Fi Is it assumed that all ships have some type of anti-gravity device?

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
This question actually comes from Mrs. Kevin :wideeyed:...

We were watching some shows together, unusual for it to be sci-fi, and she wanted to know why the people & stuff inside of a small craft wasn't floating since there wasn't gravity in space? So I tried to explain how big ships like the ones in Star Trek use artificial gravity devices or some ships have designs, like rotating hubs, to add sense of gravity. Mrs. Kevin nodded along and then asked what about the little ships, like the X-Wing fighters in Star Wars or the Vipers from Battlestar Galactica.

After pausing for a few seconds to bask in Mrs. Kevin not only watching sci-fi stuff with me but actually paying attention to have asked a question like that my answer was something along the lines of "Um... well... that's a good question!". :o_O:

Thinking back I can think of only one instance where this was taken into account. In the DS9 episode where Sisko builds an ancient ship and attempts to reach Cardassian space with his son, Sisko mentions that the ship was made identical to the original plans except for "gravity plates" installed in the floor.

So are viewers and readers to assume that all space faring ships have some type of gravity inducing device in them? What about non-human intended ships? In 'new' BSG, for example there was an episode where it's revealed the new Cylon Raiders are actually one giant Cylon (the ship is the pilot) and Starbuck uses one to get back home. Why wasn't she just floating around inside it? :cautious:
 
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Tom

An Old Friend
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Dec 6, 2004
Location
Gulf Coast
A couple things come to mind that might help her grasp what she is seeing:

1. In space, there is always gravity. Sometimes it is micro-gravity but gravity all the same.

2. Back in the early 1950s, Hollywood invented space gravity. It is cheaper than real gravity and great for low budget films where the science part of the fiction is not as important as the profit margin. They did a really good job on the design as well because the same gravity is used even today. (It is actually a paint additive, that's how you can see some people walking on ceilings and walls in horror movies)
 
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Joined
Oct 27, 2016
I've always assumed it had something to do with the same systems that allow the ship's inhabitants to survive in space in the first place (i.e., the same devices providing oxygen to an X-wing pilot and blocking out the vacuum of space are creating a gravity-like environment.) Not to mention, most pilots of smaller ships spend their time belted-in.
 

Kevin

Code Monkey
Staff member
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
I've always assumed it had something to do with the same systems that allow the ship's inhabitants to survive in space in the first place (i.e., the same devices providing oxygen to an X-wing pilot and blocking out the vacuum of space are creating a gravity-like environment.)
Now you've got me wondering what such a device would be like. The oxygen generators would be a given, at least for ships with humanoid pilots, but at the moment I'm just envisioning something that could be air borne based inducing a gravity effect.
Not to mention, most pilots of smaller ships spend their time belted-in.
I recall the pilots in the Babylon 5 fighters being strapped in but not, for example, TIE fighter pilots on Star Wars and other small craft.
 

JacenAster

Questionably Sane
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Nov 9, 2016
Location
St. Louis Area
Most T.V. and movie series put forward the idea of Artificial Gravity for ease of filming, however books are a often a different matter. In the more hard-science literature the means for gravity generation is often covered in some manner...however very rarely is there no gravity. The reason for that fact is that, frankly, long-term space travel is impossible without as least the ability to mimic gravity. At least for humans, prolonged weightlessness (months not weeks) results in muscle atrophy, deterioration of the skeleton, slowing of the cardiovascular system, decreased production of red blood cells, balance disorders, eyesight disorders, weakened immune system...and a whole other list of stuff. Basicly, long-term habitation aboard ships or space station requires artificial gravity, so Sci-fi writers assume it will have to exist.
 

Verna

Rocket Babe
Writer
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Jun 12, 2011
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Alabama
I think in most books and movies we all just assume there's a device or mechanism that provides normal conditions for humans. In our books it varies from alien race to race but we don't spend a lot of time explaining in intimate detail as it takes away from the storyline if you're constantly explaining how "tech" works per scene, but for DSSF ships, the crew is usually strapped in, hand rails where needed, the walkways of the ships decks are minimally magnetized when in space, and the crew wears boots with light weight flexible steel inner soles to get around. All objects that would float are stored, they drink beverages from sippy cups but mostly eat MRE's from a pouch, although actual convection or microwave cooking is possible under very controlled conditions.

I don't really care how a story deals with all the obvious problems of space travel but I do find it annoying when old favorites suddenly change how things work with no explanation, i.e. the new Star Trek movies. Even in STNG they were still building ships in space out of necessity, and ships were not atmosphere capable (with one or two exceptions) yet in the new movie series not only is Enterprise able to maneuver like a fighter jet in our atmosphere it can loiter while submerged. I know it's a different time line, parallel whatever, but their building and flight capabilities are more advanced just because it's a different parallel universe? If it's parallel, wouldn't that mean in every way?

To avoid being disappointed by whatever inconsistencies there might be I just ignore the obvious things and enjoy what I'm watching or reading. For me it's all entertainment anyway. Like I tell my kids, you can examine your food or you can enjoy your food, but you can't do both. Sci-fi is like that too. So I just try to enjoy.
 
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