lazyball,

a colloquialism for what is technically a homeostatic vacuum knot — a “curl of stopped time”: a physical entity that powers the flight of people, vehicles, dwellings — pretty much everything human or human-made in the sky or underwater. In atmosphere, its an egg-sized fuzzy globe that characteristically distorts light; born in the ring of high-energy hatcheries in close orbits around the Sun, lazyballs are stable in Earth conditions, chemically and biologically inert, very nearly indestructible, and as indistinguishable as atoms. ■    An early term for lazyballs was transparent holes by analogy with gravitational black holes (e.g. a lazyballs time-dilution sphere is similar to a black holes event horizon); the zero-dimensional singularity of a lazyball lacks most properties of macroscopic objects but its time-stretching — perceived as motion-dampening — effect on nearby objects makes it handleable as if possessing a certain size and tactility (“airy, rubbery, and steel-solid at the same time”). The motion dampening quickly solidifies as you approach the center; it would take the energy of a supernova to push anything to within a millimeter from the singularity. ■    A lazyball is unaffected by gravity and other fundamental interactions; its gravitational mass is zero while the inertial mass is either infinite (it cannot be accelerated by force) or, more accurately, indeterminate. You can, however, induce it to accelerate itself by changing the configuration of matter around it: a property often (incorrectly) called negative inertia is a lazyballs tendency to remain “at rest on average” (hence “lazy”) relative to the universe its in. To an observer, a lazyball appears constantly shifting around so as to balance out the movements of universes masses; the amplitude of a response depends on an objects mass, relative speed, and proximity to the lazyball. In practice, the effect of celestial bodies outside the Moon or human-scale objects a few miles away is under the measurability threshold; Earth — by far the biggest mass in a lazyballs vicinity — ensures that, unattended, it stays more or less put on or near the planets surface.  ■    A moving lazyball, in turn, drags nearby matter with it. This is in fact a statistical illusion of the slowed-time envelope: for an outside observer, particles slow down as they pass close to the ball, forming a clump of denser “pseudo-attracted” matter centered on the singularity; when the lazyball moves, that clump pushes the nearby matter, via regular particle interactions, in the same direction. Any material enclosure dampens the balls reactivity by shadowing the universes moving masses with its close and relatively immobile mass — which is usually the desired effect to make a lazyball propulsor easier to control.  ■    Imagine you are in a spaceship, far from stars and planets, with a lazyball fixed in the gravity center of the ship. Stretch out your hand to point to a star; your hand has a mass, so the lazyball reacts by moving a bit in the same direction — to minimize the change in the averaged mass distribution around it. This drags the lazyballs solid enclosure, giving a push to the entire ship. The closer a body and the greater its speed and mass, the stronger the response of the lazyball — which thus acts as a momentum amplifier: even a grain of sand flying close and fast will induce it into vigorous motion that can be harnessed for accelerating a massive vehicle. ■    A motor that takes negligible energy to function, a lazyball is also an automatic safety device. Imagine you are in freefall, holding a lazyball and inducing it, with your body mass, to fall along with you; as you keep falling, the ball senses the approaching mass of the Earth and tries to cancel it out by accelerating away, i.e. upwards. At first the balls acceleration in the free-falling reference frame is small, but it grows as you approach the ground: the ball keeps braking your fall until you soft-land at nearly zero speed. A lazyball thus gives you some protection from collisions with massive bodies — even if it wont save you from a bird or hailstone (it will still push you away but not nearly enough to make the collision safe). ■    Now firmly on the ground, slowly release the ball; it will drift in the air to chase your receding body. Pushing the ball is of little use — it will just stir, slightly and seemingly erratically, reacting not to the force but to the reconfiguration of your bodys masses as you budge; however, if you grab it with one hand and shoot the other up, the ball will compensate by bobbing upwards. Dampened by the Earth, the jerk will quickly decelerate — but it will already lift you off the ground. Another handwave, another jump; as the ground recedes, its dampening effect eases off: up in the sky, using swim-like movements (fast and close forward throw, slow circular backstroke), you can acquire any speed in any direction.  ■    Flying on a lazyball with your bare limbs as inducers is more of a circus trick: for all the simplicity of the idea, handling a naked lazyball is extremely difficult. Soon after the first successful lazyball hatching awed humankind, the skies were teeming with vehicles where one or more inductor masses are mechanically thrust forward close to a lazyball, then moved back away from it; such a vehicle can smoothly accelerate, counteracting perturbations from ground objects, other vehicles, and passengers inside. Flying machines' explosive early evolution began to stabilize when motio — a massive, densely innervated muscular knot in the thorax, purpose-evolved to control an inserted lazyball — “gave humans the sixth sense” and enabled unencumbered vehicless flight. ■    Two lazyballs dampen each others relative movements stronger and differently than they dampen regular matter, which is how your motio lets you distinctly (once you get used to it) sense other lazyballs nearby. It takes conscious effort to push yourself into a close “motio grip” within inches of someone elses motio, and a similar effort to disengage; two clinched lazyballs behave almost like a solid object that can be moved and rotated as a whole. This means your motio can, to an extent, grab and steer other lazyballs nearby — via your own: this is how you “fly someone in a hug” or carry a pet cage or cargo harness with a stabilized lazyball at the top. ■    Motio didnt prove itself overnight: if anything, the biological Change bolstered humans' revulsion for technological artifacts in their bodies or too close outside; besides, by giving you new powers motio takes away some of the old — surface walking is never the same once youre unempty. Eventually, free-as-in-thought flight won — it must have helped that lazyballs are plainly not a technology (inert, structureless, ideally asystemic, no maintenance or recharging or upgrades); clunky aerial conveyances were being retired — “the sky was clearing again” — as the motio strengthened, universalized, enrooted ever deeper in the body and the brain to augment or outright displace much of its sensing and locomotion circuitry: heres one of the very few “new human” revolutions that outdid expectations.

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