They stooped over the control panel. What they saw just didn't make sense. The gravity readings for the altered inertrium mass were rising - not fast, but steadily. Its gravitational effect should have been constant, cancelled out by the matching volume of inertrium in the containment sphere... unless it was accreting more altered inertrium, anyway, which just wasn't possible because the Chiralitron was off. Lew rapped on the gauge. Gallegher pounded the control panel. They both stared at the latticework of the sphere.
"This could be bad," they said together.
"The guy with the big head...." started Lew. "It wasn't me," Gallegher finished.
Lew paced back and forth in front of the sphere. "So the whole device is stable as long as the amount of inertrium in the sphere exactly balances the gravitational pull of the altered inertrium inside. But if the mass inside increases, its pull will overcome the containment sphere, and the sphere will collapse toward the mass. And then... well, it'll suck everything around it into itself, which will increase its gravity, which will pull more matter into it...."
Lew realized that Gallegher wasn't there any more. "Ah," he said. "Swell."
The only way the gravity could be increasing was if the device was attracting some other form of matter to itself. Even if the new matter wasn't altered inertrium it would still increase the mass in the center, and over time that increased gravity would overcome the containment sphere. Lew looked around the room. Dust? Atmosphere? It didn't really matter. Sooner or later the mass would increase to the point where it couldn't be stopped any more.
He eyed the Chiralitron. It couldn't be stopped, anyway, unless he could change all of the altered inertrium back to its original, weightless state. He started toward the Chiralitron just as the laboratory wall exploded.