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I'm trying to edit someone's sci-fi novel, and I'm running into a need to refer to levels of gravity in a space station and on other planets in terms of Earth gravity. I cannot find a correct standard for this. Would it be 0.3 g? 0.3 G? 0.3 Gs? 0.3 G's?

And generally it's desirable to spell out units of measure in fiction, I think, but that doesn't really work here, does it? "A third of Earth's gravity" is a fine workaround when it's seldom needed, but when the concept comes up a lot, the correct unit is necessary.

I have had no luck Googling this; believe me, I tried. I'm not even sure if conceptually what I'm dealing with is G (Newton's gravitational constant) or g-force. I have seen both "g" and "G's" used in various places, but what I'm looking for is the accepted standard for use in science fiction novels.

EDIT: For clarity's sake, I should mention that almost all the main characters are humans from Earth or space stations near Earth, so the perspective is based on Earth gravity.

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  • The accepted standard for use in science fiction novels written on Telus of Sol or Velantia? Modelled on zero-g, I'd expect 'a 3-g planet', as found in Smith's and Goldin's writings, to be totally acceptable (what would 3-G mean? g is the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface, whereas G is the universal gravitational constant.) But do you really expect SF writers, of all people, to accept literary constraints? Mar 4, 2016 at 22:43
  • @EdwinAshworth So we're looking at, for instance, scenes involving people moving from one place to another on a spinning space station, like, "...passing from Deck A at 0.3 g to Deck Z at a full 'g' would..." I'm totally at a loss.
    – Rae
    Mar 4, 2016 at 22:50
  • Keep in mind that "g" references Earth's gravity. There's no reason to expect residents of the planet Adhoc to use the same term or numbers on the same scale.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 4, 2016 at 22:51
  • @Hot Licks And chocolate chip cookies (even the best of them) are probably deadly poisonous to Adhocians. Mar 4, 2016 at 22:53
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    In the d'Alembert series, mention is made of 'three gravities' (meaning the acceleration due to gravity on that world / that deck of the ship is / is set at 30m/s/s). Mar 4, 2016 at 22:57

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It might require you to embed some explanation up front, but, for levels of gravity in the space station (or other such spacecraft), you could leverage the term micro-g (or µg).

Wikipedia says:

The term micro-g environment is more or less a synonym of weightlessness and zero-g, but indicates that g-forces are not quite zero, just very small.

As for the gravitational forces on other planets, I don't know if there's a "standard" convention, but you could easily devise your own early in the work, and stick with it from there. For example:

Special gravity boots were standard issue on this mission. Xerov was a .3G planet, so Ted would weigh less than one-third of his normal body weight after they landed.

I think most sci-fi fans would be able to put two and two together with an introduction like that.

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