The psychological issues of living inside a Bernal Sphere May 7, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
I’m a real sucker for 70s space art. Some of you will remember Gerard K. O’Neill’s The High Frontier – an appeal for orbital space habitats. The concepts were good, but extravagantly ambitious given the state then (and now) of space technologies. A number of ideas were posited. Those familiar with Babylon 5 will recognise the long cylindrical design, now dubbed an O’Neill cylinder. But predating them were smaller Bernal Sphere’s which would have an enclosed environment.
Clarke County, Space by Allen Steele, written in the 1990s is set on one of those, and it’s a most entertaining outline of what life might be like on such an artificial habitant a mere thirty four years from now.
Nor do we have to restrict ourselves to fully artificial constructs. Hollow out an asteroid and spin it up (gently now, don’t want it to break apart) and you’d have a similar effect.
I’ve got to admit, I wonder what the psychological effects of living in a confined sphere, or a cylinder, where the land arced up around and over one to meet above, would be. Would one tend to perceive oneself as being in a space where the sky was threatening to fall on ones head, or trapped inside a cylinder and Or perhaps gravity itself would counter that, that the sense of down from gravity would be sufficient to outweigh the visual senses.
The size of these habitats provides several quirks – for one, they would require a relatively slow rotation to maintain near-Earth gravity (only about 40 per hour). This would be slow enough to avoid causing motion sickness in almost everyone living aboard – although citizens would be able to detect spin by turning their heads quickly, or by watching the arcs of items dropped or thrown.
Hmmm… I wonder what the effects of that might be.
I can’t seem to find anything on potential psychological issues. Anyone know of any literature in the area?