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Say I have a rotating torus filled with air at 1 atmospheric pressure at sufficient speed (and inclined along the direction of the force of gravity with respect to Earth).

If the rotation speed were sufficient, would I be able to simulate a free fall environment for an object suspended inside the spinning torus, due to the pressure exerted by the air spinning inside the torus counteracting gravity?

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, rotate with sufficient velocity to equate centrifugal force with gravitational ! $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Jan 16 '14 at 22:15
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Possibly, but the technical hurdles are large:

The atmosphere is not necessarily going to rotate with the torus. In particular, it will face drag from whatever's falling through it. To make the air rotate, you could put fins around the inside of the torus (but you would have to make sure that the fins don't hit your suspended body). As a rough estimate, you would need the interior torus to have at least as much surface area pushing the air around the torus as the body you wanted to suspend on the air.

The position of the suspended object would also be unstable. If a person-above-fan starts to drift in one direction or another, they can drift back toward center by changing their shape and angle of attack. In the rotating torus, gravity is not directly opposed to the lift from the air. Above the midline, objects will drift toward the torus's center. Below the midline, they will drift away from it. In either case, you will likely have things rapidly hitting the wall.

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Like in the sky-diving free-fall chambers that use big fans? Sure. It sounds like a really expensive (and very large mechanically) way to do the same thing. Maybe you could power from a big waterfall - which will have to hit a bucket wheel at a lesser radius than the torus.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good point about using big fans. This somewhat silly question arose when thinking about a roleplaying game setting. :) I was curious if a fall down an "endless shaft" could be simulated in one way or another by suspending a hapless character in a rotating torus. $\endgroup$ – RobertF Jan 17 '14 at 15:54

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