Yesterday, we listed the seven basic methods scientists use to get rid of gravity. Today, we’d like to go in the opposite direction, and look at a tool used to introduce a high amount of gravity to a test subject: a centrifuge.

Artificial gravity can be simulated by the centripetal forces due to rotation, and centrifuges can help us train astronauts, make cotton candy, and a lot of things in between.

Centrifuges can be sorted out by their function: centrifuges are used in commercial applications, in laboratories, for aeronautics and astronautics testing, , geotechnical research and more.


But beware! This is a dizzying collection of 45 centrifuges, from the smallest to the largest:

A small water-motor laboratory centrifuge (L), and an electric centrifuge (R), from the 1900s.

Cancer researcher Emil Freireich with a blood cell separator centrifuge at M.D. Anderson Hospital.

This small tabletop centrifuge spins DNA samples in a laboratory at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center in New Orleans.

Image: Gerald Herbert/AP

Facile: a 100 rpm hand cranked laboratory centrifuge, 1901.

Laboratory centrifuge driven by electric motor, capable of 700 revolutions per minute, 1912

A laboratory technician operates a medium size desktop centrifuge at the Doping Control Laboratory of Athens in 2004.

Image: Ian Waldie/Getty Images

A biologist at Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant isolates aging granules from human heart tissue in a zonal centrifuge, c1965.

Image: DOE

This centrifuge simulates Earth-like gravity aboard the International Space Station.

Image: J. Hatton/ESA

A potter spins a clay pot on his potters wheel.

Image: Amel Emric/AP

Cotton candy machine spins and melts crystal sugar into floss.

Image: Jordan Strauss/Invision for The Americana at Brand/AP

A separator is a centrifugal device that separates fresh milk into cream and skimmed milk.

Image: Matthias Schrader/AP

1955: A housewife and a new spin dryer, the drum of which revolves 1,500 times per minute.

Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A horizontal axis Drytime rotating drum for drying laundry, recommended by Good Housekeeping Magazine in 1961.

Image: Chaloner Woods/Getty Images

LG washing machine and dryer at CES 2016.

Image: David Becker/Getty Images

Sharples oil centrifuge in the lower oil room at Diablo Powerhouse, on Skagit River, near Newhalem, Whatcom County, WA.

Cascade of gas centrifuges used to produce enriched uranium at the U.S. gas centrifuge plant in Piketon, Ohio from 1984.

URENCO centrifuge uranium enrichment plant, Capenhurst, England.

Image: Delta, 1974. 9.

Centrifuge at an instant coffee plant in New Orleans, 1960. Coffee flows into a centrifuge (left foreground), where extraneous solid matter is being removed.

Image: RWT/AP

Beet sugar centrifuges separating sugar from syrup, inside a sugar beet processing plant, California, c1900.

“Ella G,” a massive platform supply vessel equipped with 4 centrifuge devices was deployed to the Gulf of Mexico for oil spill cleanup operations in 2010.

Image: Cheryl Gerber/AP

The 6-foot Space Station Centrifuge prototype in Building N-244 at the NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California, 1987.


Short-arm centrifuge at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), used by scientists to simulate and study the effects of artificial gravity on the human body and improve the physical condition of astronauts by using different training and testing methods.

Image: DLR

M1, the next generation short-arm human centrifuge at DLR. Radius: 12.4 feet, maximum radial acceleration: 6g at outer perimeter, acceleration from 0g to 6g: less than 30 seconds.

Image: DLR

The Vestibular Research Facility (VRF) centrifuge in Building N-242 at the NASA Ames Research Center, 1985.

Image: NASA

Actidyn Systems geocentrifuge at the Idaho National Laboratory, where researchers can study the effects of tens of years of gravity-induced fluid movement in a few days or weeks.

Drum-like amusement park ride called the “Rotor” in Frankfurt, Germany, 1950. The drum, invented by Ernst W. Hoffmeister of Hamburg, is about five yards in diameter and makes 23 rotations per minute. Some 30 people can ride the Rotor at one time. When it is at full speed the floor suddenly sinks down, leaving the riders stuck to the wall with a pressure double their own weight.

Image: Hanns Jaeger/AP

Round Up amusement ride spins visitors until the centrifugal force is enough to push them against its wall.

The 4-arm 26-foot-diameter Large Diameter Centrifuge (LDC) at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, Netherlands. In the range from 1 to 20 g this instrument can provide a hypergravity environment for cells, plants and small animals, as well as physical science and technological experiments.

The recently renovated centrifuge at Sandia National Laboratories was designed to simulate gravity for-re-entry situations for all kind of devices and materials used in the space program.

Image: DOE
Image: DOE
Image: Susan Montoya Bryan/AP

The 20 feet long-arm centrifuge at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne, Germany, can be accelerated to 22 revolutions per minute.

Image: DLR

A 30-foot-radius geotechnical centrifuge at the University of California. A technician stands near model container that mounts on the centrifuge swinging platform. This equipment is used to test scale models of geotechnical engineering problems.

The NASA Ames 5 degrees-of-freedom motion simulator in a centrifuge with a 30-foot spin radius. The simulator was placed in operation early in 1961.

Image: NASA

The Authentic Tactical Flight System at the National Aerospace Training and Research Center is a 25-foot arm centrifuge, combined with authentic modeling of a high-performance jet cockpit and real-world visual displays.

Image: Mark Stehle/AP

Centrifuge at General Dynamics/Convair Astronautics high-g facility, Kearny Mesa, San Diego, 1960.

Image: SDASM

Centrifuge at Poland’s Military Institute of Aviation Medicine, with a full F16 cockpit and flight simulator inside for training pilots.

1955: A human centrifuge at the RAF Institute of Aviation, Farnborough.

Image: Central Press/Getty Images

The 20g centrifuge at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.

Image: NASA

1960: Astronaut Wally Schirra enters the gondola of the U.S. Navy’s high-g centrifuge.

Image: NASA

1971: N-243 Flight and Guidance Centrifuge at the NASA Ames Research Center man-rated for 3.5g maximum.

Image: NASA

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s centrifuge at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, was used by NASA Space Shuttle Astronauts to simulate the G-forces astronauts experience during a shuttle launch.

Image: Bill Waugh/AP

A three-ton metal ball at the end of a 50-foot arm whirled around at 24 revolutions per minute, at speeds up to 88 miles per hour: this centrifuge at Johnson Space Center’s Manned Spacecraft Center, was designed for training Apollo astronauts, and started to operate in 1966.

Image: NASA

Goddard Space Flight Center’s Launch Phase Simulator or High-Capacity Centrifuge simulates vibration, G-forces and changing pressures that a spacecraft would encounter during launch and landing. Powered by two 1,250- horsepower motors, the facility then spins at up to 38.3 revolutions per minute to simulate a 30g environment.

Image: NASA

A large and a gigantic high-g human centrifuge at the Yuri A. Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC), Star City, Russia.

Image: GCTC
Image: GCTC