You’ve probably seen one featured in a science fiction movie, including “2001: A Space Odyssey” — massive centrifuge-like space stations that spin around a center point to create the sensation of artificial gravity for off-world travelers.
While we have yet to build such a large system in open space, researchers from University of Colorado at Boulder have decided to miniaturize the effect instead, with a device small enough to fit inside a room that spins participants to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity.
Creating the illusion of gravity could be of great benefit to astronauts struggling with the not-yet-fully-understood effects of microgravity for months at a time.
“The point of our work is to try to get more people to think that maybe artificial gravity isn’t so crazy,” Kathrine Bretl, a graduate student involved in the project said according to a statement. “Maybe it has a place outside of science fiction.”
Unfortunately, motion sickness is still as much of a thing here on Earth as it is in space — one of the reasons why scientists have shied away from the idea in the past. The team decided to put that to the test and invite volunteers to spin on their centrifuge for 10 vomit-inducing sessions.
The results were promising: at 17 revolutions per minute, the effect became tolerable over time.
“As far as we can tell, essentially anyone can adapt to this stimulus,” aerospace engineer Torin Clark, who led the team said.
READ MORE: Artificial gravity breaks free from science fiction [University of Colorado at Boulder]
More on the effects of microgravity: Zero Gravity Causes Worrisome Changes In Astronauts’ Brains