You don’t notice it in science fiction shows and movies until it’s gone – the artificial gravity, that is. It is reasonable to assume the invention would be widely used, since it would allow people to function normally in space for a lifetime. You could raise children on space stations and space ships with artificial gravity knowing they’d grow up normally instead of ending up twice as tall because they were exposed to Martian gravity.

Yet artificial gravity comes with a number of potential dangers, all of which could be exploited by those with ill intent.

 

The Structural Impact

 

If artificial gravity is produced in a unidirectional field, a field only pulling you down, we might not have  a problem. Install your grid under the city, build the city to survive 1 G, and turn on the grid. Make sure everything remains intact, because cracks in the wall from a shifting foundation are an inconvenience on Earth and a potential source of explosive decompression on the Moon. Power fluctuations and gravitational output fluctuations, though, can damage structures just as shifting soil would cause structures to shift and fail over time.

You wouldn’t want an artificial field like this inside one of the lava tubes they found on the Moon. You’d pull that protective roof down toward you, increasing the odds of a cave in. This also means you can’t have artificial gravity in a buried colony. Is artificial gravity worth the increased exposure to radiation because you can’t use much shielding?

Suppose your artificial gravity field is bi-directional. This is not safe for most off-world colonies. Put that bi-directional field on the moon, and you’re pulling the soil beneath you toward you while pulling the human colonists down. You will cause soil to shift and a kind of crater to form. I hope something doesn’t shift and give out, because you can’t afford massive structural damage in a Moon-quake.

 

The Literal Danger

 

If the artificial gravity goes out, accidents will happen. The greater danger arises when someone turns up the volume. Imagine a guerilla or saboteur turning up the gravity to five Gs. Broken bones will result when people fall. Want to kill everyone 10 G. They’ll likely suffocate while being unable to do anything, and that’s while the roof is caving in. If you want to abuse people, turn the gravity field off and on repeatedly. Float up, fall down, float up, fall down. At a minimum, they’ll stay securely in place on the floor while only those prepared for it with magnetic boots and/or armor do as they please. If you can reverse the field, you could torture people. Push them against the ceiling, then slam them against the floor.

Gravity beams are de facto tractor beams. You’d need a big, broad beam to pull another ship toward you. A narrow, powerful beam won’t pull them toward you faster. It will rip out a section of their ship. That’s a weapon.

 

The Systemic Effects

 

You could use artificial gravity as a form of population control, though it is a subtle, insidious method. We don’t have much data on what pregnancy in low gravity would do to the developing child, but it is reasonable to think that colonists would restrict families to areas with artificial gravity to maximize the healthy development of children. It would be rather easy to limit the locations and future installations of artificial gravity so that there are only so many colonists, all of which are in areas those in power control.

You could even see manipulation of the gravity levels to affect the population. Add 20% to the local load so that everyone is tired while increasing the odds of heart attacks. Remove 20% for them colonist’s area while knowing their kids are developing weaker hearts and bones. Then ramp it up to 1.2 G and watch everyone suffer.

Weighty stuff, isn’t it?