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This is the final scene of the first episode of Cowboy Bebop. Right before this gif starts, Spike was gazing into space from the window.

The following events depicted in this gif are contradicting:

  • First, Jet rather slowly floats down from the ladder to stand on the floor steadily. It's because they are in space that he was floating, but his approaching footsteps can be heard, which means he's wearing some magnetic boots which let him stick to the floor.
  • Jet is holding a cigarette, from which the smoke goes off vertically upwards, away from the floor (like it would on Earth).
  • Jet has a pair of sunglasses hanging downwards from his apron. So there's either artificial gravity on the ship, or the glasses are being held really tight in this position.
  • Jet then throws the cigarette to Spike, and it floats in the air like it would in space, smoke still going towards the ceiling. Maybe the ventilation is designed so that the air flows from the floor towards ceiling.
  • Spike then catches the cigarette and its smoke continues going upwards, whilst the smoke cloud that Spike exhales just floats onwards without changing its general direction This means it's not the ventilation that makes smoke go where it goes.

This is really confusing. I get that such stuff can be easily overlooked in anime, but the cigarette was clearly floating just now, flying in a straight line, so I'm not buying all of it. What is known about the gravity on Bebop?

  • 4
    For the record: this came up on TVTropes (Ctrl+F for "inconsistent gravity") and nobody seems to have come up with a satisfactory answer. I doubt there's going to be any consistent explanation for why gravity on the ship works the way it does. – senshin Oct 26 '13 at 3:07
  • I guess that's my answer. – Hakase Oct 26 '13 at 3:14
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The Bebop uses centrifugal force to generate "gravity". It has a rotating cylinder which is where the crew spend much of their time when in space. It is shown from both inside the ship and outside the ship, and in a few episodes, it is shown that when the cylinder stops spinning, the people inside that portion of the ship suddenly start to float.

Presumably, there would be no apparent gravity in the portions of the ship which do not rotate when the ship is not thrusting. When the ship is thrusting (accelerating), then the entire ship would experience a force similar to gravity along the axis of thrust.

  • 1
    Not sure, but I think in this case the cigarette's flight in a straight line should make sense. I'd like to try that sometime in zero-g. – Hakase Oct 28 '13 at 3:24
3

The gravity on the ship is somewhat inconsistent. However, it is useful to keep in mind that there are actually two systems used on the Bebop for attachment to hard surfaces; gravity and magnets (Such as seen in "Honky-Tonk Woman").

The Bebop, at least in theory, generates apparent gravity by rotating, at least part of the ship (see "Toys in the Attic"). How this fits in with the stationary appearance of the Bebop in orbit, I couldn't really say.

Gravity on the command deck, as you alluded to, is somewhat inconsistent in the show. In the opening episodes, only Spike and Jet appear to have gravity. As the show went on however, more objects on the bridge appear to experience gravity - shogi pieces, and Ein being prime examples. However, looking at the Bebop, the command deck is actually in the opposite orientation to be experiencing apparent gravity due to centripetal force - if this was the cause of the gravity in it, Spike/Jet would be walking upside down, and there would have to be two control consoles; one on the ceiling and one on the floor, for when landing on a planet.

Here's my rather generous theory: The Bebop has artificial gravity in the living quarters of the ship, which it accomplishes by rotating its interior fore-deck independently of the rest of the ship, explaining the lack of apparent rotation of the Bebop itself. In the rear of the rear of the ship however, "gravity" is generated by magnetism. This explains how Jet's tendency to fix the ships in 0-g conditions in the hanger deck (if not Faye's ability to jump and land on her ship, and Ein); it also means that during "Toys in the Attic", Spike was disabling a magnetic system of artificial gravity in the rear, as well as the rotation of the front living quarters, to float the fridge out of the airlock.

Fun Fact: Based on this, the nuclear reactor powering the Bebop is either in the (rotating) foredeck; or Jet does 0-G Bonzai. Personally, I'm hoping for the latter.

This has clearly bugged me more than I thought. :P

0

The gravity is generated by a centrifugal force. The floor pulls objects to its surface. The smoke from the cigarette is drawn to the center of the centrifuge.

But when the cigarette is thrown, it becomes free of the simulated gravity, and begins to act as if it was in micro gravity. This is also why when he jumps to the floor from the ladder, he appears to be in micro gravity. Until he makes contact with the floor and thus the centrifuge, he is in a micro gravity environment.

The smoke rising from his cigarette is an indication of him spinning.

  • 1
    If you google "cowboy bebop ship" you'll see that it doesn't have a ring shape, nor does the bridge, where they are in this scene, rotate around the ship on any axis while in space, as you can see in the gif (The stars are stationary, and yet there is centrifugal force? Probably not). Additionally, how do you explain smoke being drawn to the center of the centrifuge, and so to the top of the bridge room, if Spike and Jet are standing with their feet going in the opposite direction, towards the floor of the room? – Hakase Jun 15 '16 at 2:36

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