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Old August 15 2011, 05:18 AM   #1
Rear Admiral
Location: CoveTom
Artificial Gravity -- When?

Reading another thread got me to thinking... do we have any idea when, in the Trek universe, the technology for artificial gravity was developed?

I was thinking about the movie First Contact. On board the Phoenix, everyone is strapped in for safety, so they wouldn't be floating about even if there was weightlessness. Even so, watching their movements and mannerisms, I see no indication that they are in a weightless environment.

And then there's "Space Seed." Kirk and company board Khan's ship, which was launched at the conclusion of the Eugenics Wars. Regardless of how you choose to date those, it was obviously before Cochrane's flight. And I didn't see anyone on the DY-100 ship floating about or wearing any special outfits, like magnetic boots.

So are we to assume that in Trek, artificial gravity technology came before warp drive and interstellar travel?
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Old August 15 2011, 05:31 AM   #2
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Re: Artificial Gravity -- When?

SS Botany Bay launched in 1996, so artificial gravity had to be invented before then.

Unless the enterprise extended its shields around the botany bay and that somehow creates gravity, but im totally pulling that out of my ass and obviously that wasn't the original intention.
"Thank you.. for the drinks."
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Old August 15 2011, 08:10 AM   #3
Re: Artificial Gravity -- When?

The Voyager episode, One Small Step, shows an early mission to Mars taking place in 2032. The ship, Ares IV, did not have artificial gravity.
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Old August 15 2011, 08:49 AM   #4
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Location: Liverpool, UK
Re: Artificial Gravity -- When?

When the production costs are deemed too high to show people floating around.

Or when Henry Starling "invented/stole" it.
One day soon, man is going to be able to harness incredible energies, energies that could ultimately hurl us to other worlds in... some sort of spaceship.
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Old August 15 2011, 09:16 AM   #5
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Re: Artificial Gravity -- When?

According to TAS: "The Slaver Weapon", the technology wasn't developed by humans, but found in a Slaver stasis box.

I think the novelization goes further as says it was found on earth's moon. But I've read so much, I could be mixing it all up.

As for when that was... any time between First Contact and Enterprise.
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Old August 15 2011, 09:34 AM   #6
Re: Artificial Gravity -- When?

The Botany Bay would indeed strongly suggest that AG was mastered on Earth some time in the 1980s, for spacecraft applications in the 1990s.

Whether Cochrane's junkyard rocket had it or not is unknown: the cockpit set could have "gravity" towards the aft wall simply because the craft kept accelerating at one gee or a bit less. The straps on the cabin might indicate that the AG was not trusted, or was considered superfluous for the application.

The straps on Ares IV might be taken the same way. The ship could have AG, for crew health and comfort, but the designers wouldn't yet trust it 100%; the cockpit area of the Botany Bay may have looked much the same, really. And the AG would be turned off to save power when it wasn't needed for its principal life support role: to compensate for the accelerations of maneuvering. Khan's automation would also turn off the shipboard gravitics, but those would be reactivated as soon as the presence of Kirk's starship was detected and the possible need to maneuver was predicted.

FWIW, the TAS episode "Slaver Weapon" had Spock say the following:

"Stasis boxes and their contents are the only remnant of a species which ruled most of this galaxy a billion years ago. Their effect on science has been incalculable. In one was found a flying belt which was the key to the artificial gravity field used by starships."
Of course, that doesn't specify any particular date. And Spock might be speaking of a discovery that is tens of thousands of years old, and underlies the Vulcan and ultimately UFP artificial gravity technology - not the specific discovery made by Earth scientists that provided the 1980s antigravity for those lesser-than-starship applications.

The thing remains, AG is ubiquitous, reliable and cheap throughout the Trek galaxy. Any stupid aboriginal bunch can come up with it long before inventing warp or phasers or any of the cool stuff. It would be a bit odd if Earth didn't invent it independently, then. Perhaps Henry Starling's business reverse-engineered the simple principles from the crashed timeship of "Future's End", and found them so simple that they could be immediately released to the marketing dept for best possible profit? Braxton's AG might in turn be fundamentally based on that Slaver antigravity belt...

Timo Saloniemi
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