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"I think we're still on that topic, still trying to figure out what computers are, how they change us, why we use them."
- Neal Stephenson

Parastatics  
  Means of completely eliminating injury in vehicles during crashes.  

This is something that we really wish were true; seatbelts and airbags are just the palliative measures we use until the real article comes along.

Every vehicle, every craft on water or in the air, had to have its little black box; it was a guarantee of "salvation now," as Mitke jokingly put it toward the end of his life; at the moment of danger - a plane crash, a collision of cars or trains - the little black box released a "gravitational antifield" charge that combined with the inertia produced by the impact (more generally, by the sudden braking, the loss of speed) and gave a resultant of zero. This mathematical zero was a concrete reality; it absorbed all the shock and all of the energy of the accident, and in this way saved not only the passengers of the vehicle but also those whom the mass of the vehicle would otherwise have crushed.
From Return from the Stars, by Stanislaw Lem.
Published by Not known in 1961
Additional resources -

This is a relatively early version of this idea; you can also see it in the nullentropy bin from Frank Herbert's work, as well as the Slaver stasis field from Larry Niven's novels.

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  More Ideas and Technology from Return from the Stars
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