celestial choreography,

the science art of beautiful orbits. Theres beauty in a circle — the simplest two-body orbit — but the true breathtaking complexity is where thousands of bodies dance in loops, daisies, convoluted knots, exchange momentum in whizzing flybys and slow off in long outward excursions, never touch each other but feel the rolling pull of the whole constellation. Best choreographies — always symmetric, never decaying, breathful swarms “dancing on the edge of chaos” — take years of painstaking design and evolving; their bodies, each on its own smoothly synchronized closed path, dont have to be point-like spheres: “dreamlike” fractals, with protrusions and fly-through holes, may even embed lazyballs whose negative inertia produces non-classical “chaotically stable” orbits. ■    Apart from a few decaying constellations at the solar system outskirts, celestial choreography remains a virtual art — but cosmic leap may change that. Its probabilistic nature fits the bill perfectly; designers dont really need to see their creations — they only want them to exist: to last unperturbed, say, a billion years (a typical minimum though latest self-correcting designs claim orders of magnitude better half-life); and they dont care exactly where in the sky will their mechanic dances unfold so long as it happens in the ultimate flat space — in deep intergalactic voids, as far as possible from gravity and electromagnetic sources. A seed craft would thus jump unaimed — to emerge, with equal probability, anywhere in the multiverse, probe the spacetime around itself, and jump again if it is not flat enough; once a good gravity-free spot is achieved, the craft splits into bodies which reshape, homogenize, and accelerate into motion. With the minuscule gravity of the (usually human-scale) bodies, movements are slow — a full cycle may take thousands of years.  ■    A flourishing celestial choreography would present a most enduring and unmistakably artificial landmark for hypothetical alien travelers; with their ships' gravity and radiation they will likely disrupt the dance — but, so long as it survives, the visit will remain recorded (even, to an extent, reverse-computable) in its orbit perturbations.  ■    To become a material part of a “message from humanity,” “the most eternal artificium creatable”: there have been petitions for various mementos or bodily remains to be interred in the celestial dancing balls — but prominent choreographers spoke forcefully against “soiling” (“gravity symphonies, not clockwork cemeteries”).

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