Ramps in Higher Gravity

Ramps get more useful in higher gravity.

You’re probably wondering what kind of nonsense I’m going on about now, aren’t you? “McCoy,” you’re saying, “that diet your wife has you on has driven you straight around the bend, hasn’t it?”

Well, it hasn’t. At least not mostly. Hardly any, really.

Anyhow, ramps at different gravity levels: generally speaking, they’re much more useful at the higher ones. If you’re in zero g, just floating around, a ramp is going to be pretty pointless. As gravity gets higher, though, more and more solutions for bridging vertical distances (or, as I prefer to call it, going up and down) become infeasible.

Elevators, for instance, become useless really fast. Materials technology just isn’t able yet to create a material that can maintain the tensile strength necessary for lifts, elevators, etc. Same thing for pulleys and lifts. Building a high gravity ramp, though, doesn’t require expensive, crazy space materials—it requires dirt. Just dirt. Good old fashioned, boring dirt. Just start piling it up, and there you go.

As far as I know, there’s only one book where a ramp saves the day, and that’s Mission of Gravity, by Hal Clement. It takes place on this weird planet with enormous gravity that actually changes between the poles and the equator. It’s weird, but the math works out. Anyhow, these little centipede aliens who live there are hired to retrieve a human probe near one pole, where the gravity is highest, and they end up using a ramp to retrieve the probe’s computer at the end. My oldest son found it for me, back in the kids’ rocket-ship-loving days. Not much of a reader, but I liked that book well enough.

“McCoy,” you ask, “that’s all fine and dandy, but it doesn’t actually answer my question. Are you thinking about heavy gravity because the diet’s working and you’ve lost weight? Or have you been cheating on the diet and actually gaining weight?”

Well, let’s just say Maggie wasn’t happy when she found me taking apart our scale to try and gimmick it to read my weight lower than it is.

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