Force field (science fiction)

Force field (science fiction)

In science fiction and fantasy literature, a force field or protective shield is a barrier made up of energy to protect a person, area or object from attacks or intrusions. The idea may be based partly on the concept of a vector field. In the physical sciences, the term also has several specific meanings ("see force field (disambiguation)").


Science fiction venues postulate a number of potential uses for force fields, especially in "Star Trek", "Star Wars", "Stargate", "Babylon 5", "Independence Day", and other science fiction works:

* A barrier to allow workers to work in areas that can be exposed to the vacuum of space, keeping the atmosphere inside while allowing certain other objects to pass through.
* Emergency quarantine of an area afflicted by some sort of agent (eg. poison gas) to prevent it from spreading.
* The extinguishing of a fire by forcing the reaction to use up all the available oxygen in the confined space.
* As a shield (in some cases large enough to cover an entire planet) to protect something from damage by natural forces or enemy attack.
* To create a temporary habitable space in a place not usually suited to sustaining life.
* As a security method to direct someone in a particular direction for capture.
* In Babylon 5, advanced races such as the Shadows and Vorlons employ forcefields which disperse damage throughout the entire field. The shields of Shadow vessels can be defeated by firing a powerful sustained beam of energy which overloads the ability of the ship to disperse it. The Thirdspace alien race employ shields which form a bubble around their ships and the Thirdspace portal/artifact. When the Army of Light opened fire on the front of the portal's shield, the shield, it drew energy from the rest of the bubble to reinforce the areas being hit by the energy weapons. This had the effect of ripping a hole at the back of the bubble large enough for a human to pass through.
* For cell doors in jails and prisons.
* In , sections of the ship have internal force field generators that allow you to put up transparent energy walls that prevent any matter or energy from passing though them. This has been used for starship windows to separate the vacuum of space and the room atmosphere, defense and sealing off parts of the ship where hull has been breached or destroyed.
* In the Anime show, Neon Genesis Evangelion, the AT field (the wall that encloses minds and limits individual entities) can be physically expressed by both Angels and Evas, and has both defensive and offensive uses.
* In Arthur C. Clarke's novel The Lost Worlds of 2001, The Monolith aliens had perfected the use of force fields to such a point that they were used as the hulls of their ships.
* On Earth Final Conflict, the Taelons use "virtual glass" which act pretty much like force fields but with varying results. Virtual glass placed on balcony entrances are used to keep the noise and wind out of a building but allows passage of people. Virtual glass is used as the windows of shuttles and ships (i.e. the cockpit of a Taelon shuttle has virtual glass as its "window"). The Mothership's entire hull is one gigantic virtual glass. Sections of it can be activated and the vacuum of space can suck out individuals (such as when a Taelon specter tried to kill Zo'or). The Taelons employe shields around their ships as well.
* In the video game EarthBound, you can cast PK (PSI) Shield which protects you from physical and or special attacks as fire, ice or electricity, which works exactly as a force field for the characters.
* In the video game Warhawk, the APC features an 'E-POD' shield which is impervious to weapons fire and aircraft, but does allow troops and ground vehicles to pass through.
* In the Dune universe, personal shields have been deployed that can stop objects with high kinetic energy, like bullets. In response to this, many have returned to using melee weapons, slowed before strike to peneterate the shield. However, they cannot be used on Arrakis as they cause nearby sandworms to go berserk. Fremen take advantage of this in a way that they can strike much faster than soldiers who are used to slowing their attack.
*In the "Fantastic Four", the Invisible Woman/Sue Storm has the ability to generate force fields.
*In Halo 3, the Bubble Shield projects a force field around the user though which players and vehicles may pass but bullets and other projectiles cannot.


The plasma window is a technology that partially recreates the functionality of a force field, providing a separation between vacuum and gas that allows some radiation and energetic particles to pass through. However, there is currently only one actual method of creating an energy shield: the use of electromagnetism to affect the movement of metallic objects. No power sources currently exist that can create a field of sufficient strength to function as depicted in science fiction. It is likely, however, that it may be refined to the point of resembling the internal hallway and window field generators of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

External links

* [ Science of Shields article] from []
* [ Electrostatic "invisible wall" encountered in a plastic film factory] Report from an electrostatics industry symposium.

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