-Z- (Z@Gundam.Com)
Fri, 17 Sep 1999 18:11:30 -0700


At 01:14 9/17/1999 -0400, you wrote:
>my guess is that it's similar to those spinning ball thingies that people
>get in to text for astronauts and stuff.
>
>I'm sorry, that was hideous, wasn't it? I don't remember the exact word... I
>want to say "gyroscope" - it's the three circles that rotate around (in?)
>each other thingy. There's probably a rail system around the cockpit for it
>to rotate this way, if indeed it does rotate at all. I'm sure it would be
>much more comfortable for the pilot, not to mention less disorienting than
>high-acceleration turns.

The name that you're trying to remember is "Orbitron" and it's actually a
brand name for what was originally intended as an exercise device. It got
its most widespread exposure in the move Lawnmower Man, where it was used
to represent a "6 degrees of freedom" Virtual Reality machine.

The outermost ring is mounted on a semicircular support and rotates on the
X axis. The middle ring is mounted on two points of the outermost ring 90
around from the support mount points and rotates on the Y axis. The
innermost ring is mounted on two points of the middle ring that, when the
rings are all aligned, correspond to the support mounts and rotates on the
Z axis.

The Orbitron failed as an exercise device because it is indeed
disorienting, so much so as to induce motion sickness. It was later
successfully marketed as a thrill ride. It's used by NASA to test an
astronaut candidate's capacity not only to endure directional changes but
also their ability to align with a target while undergoing complex rotations.

-Z-

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