Preface to this Web Edition

I'm beginning the slow process of putting this dissertation on the web.  My intention is first to post the document verbatim with no substantial modifications; I'll correct a couple of annoying typos when I come to them.  Once the structure is complete, I may gradually work on more substantial renovations and upgrades.

There's no telling how long this will take.  In particular, a lot of formulas and figures will need to be scanned, converted, or recreated in a web-friendly format.  Some of the figures may need copyright clearance.  I have to do this in my spare time, as a hobby; I need to earn my daily bread working on other things.  If you're interested, check in periodically to see if I've made any progress.

As for the web technology itself, I'm less interested in decoration than in having a simple, straightforward document that downloads easily and works with most modern browsers.  I'm abiding by the HTML 4.0 and CSS2 specifications, and "proofing" my pages with the HTML and CSS validation services.

If you're really interested in this, and can't wait to see it on the web, or simply hate reading from a computer monitor, you can try to get a hard copy of the dissertation from interlibrary loan.  I've deposited copies at the University of Michigan, the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  I've also sent copies to colleagues at the University of Houston, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, NASA Ames Research Center, and NASA Johnson Space Center; some of these may have found their way into the library collections.  (For clues as to why I'd send my dissertation to these particular places, see my Acknowledgments.)

Finally, if you don't mind shelling out a few bucks, you can order a copy from UMI, at  The order number for this dissertation is 9423117.  From what I've seen, their copies aren't as good as the ones I've made from my own original, but they're adequate.  I'm supposed to get a royalty for any year in which they sell 7 copies or more.  I'm still waiting for the first check.  Evidently, I have yet to make it onto their "best sellers" list.


A lot has happened during the course of completing this dissertation.  In order to pursue some original contribution, I had to cut off the historical review at some point; that point is somewhere around 1990.  The chapters on History and Physiology are necessarily inconclusive; research and development continue.

The Soviet Union - the only other nation capable of manned space flight - has been dissolved.  Most of my references to the "Soviet" space program pertain to events preceding the breakup.  In a few instances, I refer to it in the present tense.  They were correct at the time I wrote them.  I have not edited "Soviet" out of these references, since no obvious alternative has yet emerged: "Russian" would improperly exclude the other republics, and "Commonwealth" or "CIS" have not yet entered the general lexicon.  In the present tense, read "Soviet" as shorthand for "formerly Soviet".

Gerard K. O'Neill - professor of physics, founder of the Space Studies Institute, author of The High Frontier, and leading proponent of space colonization for the past quarter century - passed away in 1992.  Present-tense references are not altogether inappropriate, since his influence is still manifest through his books, papers, and SSI.

The chapter on Physics started out as an attempt to organize my own notes, in preparation for pursuing some original theoretical contribution.  So many well-educated non-engineers (including architects and medical doctors) raised so many basic questions, that I decided to include this chapter in the dissertation, even though it may seem "text-bookish" to those with an engineering background.  To address one of the more fundamental questions about artificial gravity, the chapter attempts to show that rotation is necessary as well as sufficient.

The chapter on Frame of Reference was assembled from conference papers that I presented to the Space Studies Institute in 1991 and 1993.  It is my attempt to understand artificial gravity from the inside out.  Abstract mathematical analysis is no substitute for human subject experiments in centrifuges and rotating rooms, but it is a good theoretical supplement, and it is much easier to conduct.

The chapter on Design is the culmination of everything that precedes it.  The point is not to specify "the" design of artificial-gravity environments, but rather, to inform the design process.

For those who share my interests in long-duration space habitation, I hope that this dissertation is a useful contribution and a good starting point.