Well, look at this! A Monday Musings on a Tuesday! I do apologize for that, science fiction fans. Life has been hectic recently, and I’m still working to get a handle on it all. Anyway, welcome to this week’s episode of Monday Musings, where I’ll be talking about a technology near and dear to my heart – anti-gravity! I confess that my vision of what anti-gravity should be comes from movies. From the flying skateboard in Back to the Future II, to the flying cars in Fifth Element, even the flying windsurfer in Treasure Planet, I have been enamored with the idea of leaving terra firma firmly behind without the assistance of the brilliant Bernoulli Principle. Jump past the break to explore this idea with me some more!
“But wait!” You cry. “I’ve read your book Steel Souls, Book 1: Life in the Machine from cover-to-cover, and I ain’t never seen no crazy anti-gravity shenanigans!” Dear, dedicated reader, you are absolutely right. The society in Steel Souls hasn’t had a need for anti-gravity. With bodies strong enough to cover ground at speed, and agility enough to deal with the the obstacles left on the barren ground, the post-organic denizens of Gaia have little need for transportation machines in general. So, they have not developed anti-gravity technology because conventional methods of travel are sufficient for them. However, I am now working on a brand new novel called The Chronicles of Threa, Book 1: Hunting Gatherers! The world of Threa is ruled by various species of sentient Animals. Some of these Animals make their home in the middle of dense forest, where wheeled vehicles are impractical to the extreme. So, they have felt the need for a more versatile form of transportation, and have developed anti-gravity vehicles.
Before we begin a discussion about “anti-gravity vehicles,” it’s important to truly understand what I mean by that. First of all, I’m not talking about any “lighter than air” nonsense. Although that could technically be thought of as “anti” gravity, because they just float upwards, they’re old news. No balloons, blimps, or dirigibles here! I’m also not concerned with the magic of mechanical flight. Although Bernoulli was a brilliant man, his discovery is basically just a loophole in physics, which results in little more than “falling with style.” Finally, we must remove from consideration those “traditional” hovercraft. As that Wikipedia article is quick to point out, a better name for these craft is “Air-cushion Vehicle” because they don’t really hover so much as bluntly sit on a cushion of air. No, what I’m really interested in is “true” anti-gravity: a heavier-than-air object floating straight upwards (or in any direction), without the assistance of gasses or propellers.
Pretty cool right? But surely something like that is firmly relegated to the fantastical realms of fantasy fiction, right? Oh, don’t be so sure, dear reader! In the first place, there is one class of vehicle that I have not mentioned, which I consider to be the first steps in the direction of a true anti-gravity vehicles: Magnet Levitation (Maglev) trains are amazing inventions. The science of magnetics is used to levitate the trains a few inches from their tracks. Those same magnets propel the train backward and forward as needed. Because the train doesn’t actually touch the ground, it can go wondrously quickly, smoothly, and quietly. I count this as a step forward in “anti-gravity” because it’s likely that magnetics will actually hold the key for true anti-gravity machines. And because the skateboard in Back to the Future II used magnets to similar effect. 😉
So, is there anything in the real world we can consider “true” anti-gravity? Unfortunately, not truly. There are some really exciting things with superconducting materials and magnetics, and I even found a few articles about “shielding” objects from gravity. But not true anti-gravity, or even the flying cars we want so much. Still, this universe is larger and stranger than we can imagine, so who knows what the future will bring? I, for one, can’t wait to find out. 😀