Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson in the Cupola of the ISS. NASA
One of the underlying ideas in Einstein’s general relativity is that for an observer, the acceleration due to gravity, or the acceleration due to thrust, are identical. This is a consequence of the equivalence principle.
This phenomenon is the way to achieve artificial gravity in space. No special material, no crazy technology, just a simple rotational motion: the same technology used in slingshots and amusement park rides will allow us to ‘ground’ ourselves in the depths of space.
For every change to the uniform motion of an object, the principles of dynamics tell us that there’s a force behind it. The force could be friction, or the most complex particle integration we can think of; it can always be defined as a mass times an acceleration. And it’s the acceleration that we are interested in. We mentioned rotational motion as a means to achieve this, but a constant linearly accelerated spaceship could work as well (if fuel wasn’t an issue). As long as we can create an acceleration we can mimic gravity.
Linear acceleration is what is used in roller coasters and other amusement rides. It is ...