Yesterday I noticed a spectacular machine racing across the front interior of my van. It functioned something like a small hovercraft drone.
Only a few millimeters in width and roughly a centimeter in length, the machine moved for three and a half hours, the entire duration of our journey, back and forth across the windshield. Simply watching the frantic pace was exhausting. Imagine running a marathon on a 40 foot wide treadmill, also moving laterally while pressing your forehead against a pane of glass. The machine was equipped with landing gear which also allowed for multidirectional movement. But this was not the preferred method of navigation, and was only deployed for seconds before returning to flight.
The machine must have used a relatively enormous amount of energy, and the battery life was absurd. My van required replenishment midway through the trip, the cell phone was connected to a gasoline engine through a charger, and I snacked on an apple and a handful of Cheez-Its. But the machine maintained nearly perpetual motion with no observable energy intake. I cannot exactly describe the mysterious process in which this was accomplished. I once heard a story about combining specific ratios of certain elements and subatomic particles, the cycle whereby electrons are lost and gained. But phhsshh! All that packed into this device? That is magic talk.
The machine was quite determined to achieve…something. Its motives, or who was operating it, were not readily apparent. It seemed to have been programmed with motion detection algorithms that also rendered it keenly sensitive to changes in air pressure. But did this intelligence have a choice in any matter?
When we arrived at our destination, given our history together, I thought that it would be a shame for the machine to remain in the same pattern. Past experience has shown that these do eventually stall out and permanently settle on the dashboard. Maybe the machine would achieve its goal or at least be a part of the energy chain that eventually moves larger machines like vans, phones, and humans.
With the freedom to decide, I reached up and shoo’d it out the door.