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"At its best, SF is the medium in which our miserable certainty that tomorrow will be different from today in ways we can't predict, can be transmuted to a sense of excitement and anticipation, occasionally evolving into awe."
- John Brunner

Drop Shaft (Neutralization of Inertia)  
  An 'elevator shaft' in which the user can fall at the speed of gravity, then be stopped without inertia (i.e., instantly).  

Cadets in formation descend the full ninety stories of Wentworth Hall using an unusual elevator. Just the shaft of the elevator is used - and a device to neutralize inertia.

In perfect alignment and cadence the little column marched down the hall. In their path yawned the shaft - a vertical pit some twenty feet square extending from Main floor to roof of the hall; more than a thousand feet of sheer air, cleared of all traffic by flaring red lights...

Dropping with a velocity of over two thousand feet per second though they were at the instant of impact, yet those five husky bodies came from full speed to an instantaneous, shockless, effortless halt at contact, for the drop had been made under complete neutralization of inertia - 'free' in space parlance.

From Galactic Patrol, by E.E. 'Doc' Smith.
Published by Street and Smith in 1937
Additional resources -

Inertia is a difficult property of matter to get around. As Isaac Newton wrote "The vis insita, or innate force of matter is a power of resisting, by which every body as much as in it lies, continues in its present state, whether it be of rest, or of moving uniformly forwards in a right line."

Compare to dropshaft from Deeper than the Darkness (1957) by Harlan Ellison and bounce tube from Robert Heinlein's 1956 juvenile Double Star.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Galactic Patrol
  More Ideas and Technology by E.E. 'Doc' Smith
  Tech news articles related to Galactic Patrol
  Tech news articles related to works by E.E. 'Doc' Smith

Drop Shaft (Neutralization of Inertia)-related news articles:
  - Yabafo Brings Free Fall Experience To Jaded Shoppers

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