So I wrote a review on what I thought about Ender’s Game here and one thing I mentioned is some of the technology and science that the book and movie showcased. Of course if you read the title you probably guessed that we’re talking about, the battle school space station and how it creates artificial gravity using Centrifugal force. Before I get into this, let me preface this blog by saying Ender’s Game is in no way the first Science fiction story to talk about or use artificial gravity let alone the Centrifugal force method of creating said gravity BUT it was the first time I saw it and started taking an interest in it.
I think one of the simplest ways to explain centrifugal force is with an experiment we did in elementary school with a bucket of water (do they still do experiments in elementary school or am I dating myself?). Does anyone else remember taking that bucket of water and spinning it over your head in a circle as fast as you possibly could? Did anyone else let go and hit someone with the bucket? Me either but what I do remember is that when I spun the water over my head not a drop fell out of the bucket as long as I spun it fast enough. That’s because spinning it in a circle like that forced all the water to stay at the bottom of the bucket, basically the force I created spinning that bucket was an artificial gravity keeping the water on the “floor” of the bucket. If you want more information on Centrifugal force click here, more in depth and scientific.
Just like the water in the bucket, battle school in Ender’s Game would’ve been spinning in a circle and the people on it would be like the water in the bucket, keeping their feet on the ground by the force of the spinning motion. Of course scientists have been thinking of ways to create artificial gravity in space for a while now and frankly, it’s something we’ll need to figure out if we want to travel further into space since the human body loses a lot of bone density if there is no gravity. Well it turns out NASA has been researching this problem for some time now, since at least April 2005 to be exact. In its heading NASA Gives Artificial Gravity a New Spin (got to give props to the pun) they talk about how they were basically putting test subjects on a bed to simulate weightlessness, and some of them would get spun for an hour a day at a force great enough to generate 2.5 times as much gravity as Earth. The purpose of the tests of course is to see just how much less bone deterioration occurred in the test subjects who experienced the gravity. Pretty darn neat right?
You can see here that test subjects might find themselves feeling a little down (see what I did there?) Click the picture for the whole story from NASA.
Okay but that was back in 2005 right? Is there anything related to centrifugal space stations that are more …recent? As a matter of fact there is! According to an article written by Dailymail.co.uk, suspiciously also in April 10 years later, there is a company called United Space structures that wants to create the first spinning station that I’m sure will turn some heads (cough cough). Basically they want to make a small version first as proof on concept (which they claim can be done in 12 months) and then they would get started on their final design which would be 330ft in diameter and 1,310ft long. As soon as production starts it would only take 30 years and $300 billion dollars, which in all seriousness doesn’t seem that bad considering what it accomplishes.
At 1,310ft long it’s not just a Mushroom looking station, it’s a muchroom one…(I hear the crickets now)
Basically what I’m trying to say is Ender’s Game battle school (or at least a space station that generates gravity like it) is not too far off in the future, and if that doesn’t excite you all I can say is Geez (as in Gee forces :P)
Featured image came from