First of all, for all you prompt bloggers out there, there is a new writing challenge that can take off if we are willing to help out, called the “What If? writing challenge”. Find it here.
Imagine for a moment that I am a mad scientist; I “have the knowledge, the lab, and the madness.” You know what I would do with that?
Me neither. Define madness! Are we talking about the kind of mad where you think destroying the planet or blowing up the Moon is a good idea for some reason that no one else can comprehend? Or is it more like the kind of mad where you’re so eccentric that nobody understands what you’re up to? I have to assume it’s not the stark, raving madness that lands one in an asylum, the madness that affects those who have been reduced to gibbering lunatics that can’t interact normally.
I’d like to think that as a mad scientist I would be one of the latter, but let’s go ahead and address the former first. Let’s say that I have a plan. I have decided that it would be a great way to assume world dominance if I held the Moon hostage; to that end, I have built a super-concentrated ion beam emitter ray, also known as a SIBER. With it, I plan to slice the moon into two pieces; each having half the original mass of the moon, will also exert half the gravitational force, and thus will fly out of the current orbit, causing meteorological havoc all over the planet – we’re talking earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, wildfires, stock market surges, new Rob Schneider films, and all manner of things generally unpleasant; complete with the attendant uptick in police and military presence, and while they’re trying to keep the peace, I will seize control of the planet with the plan which I will not reveal here.
Of course, all of that can be avoided if you just hand over the reins of power now. Think about it; nobody has to die, nobody has to get hurt. Nobody loses their home or their loved ones, their SUVs, their wood-fired meat smokers, their beehives, their plastic pink lawn flamingos. . . and then I can turn all of my mad science to good causes, like ending world hunger and curing cancer. Except the SIBER, of course. You’ll be my hostages in perpetuity, or at least until I have decided that I can trust you not to try anything. . . stupid.
Or if I were one of those (more or less) harmless mad scientists who did things that seemed like a good idea, but that are rarely understood by others, I might focus my efforts on the beneficial causes right from the start. Maybe I will end world hunger by inventing a manna machine that causes nutritive substances to form in the cloud layer and then rain down upon starving third-world countries. It’s like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, only not burgers and fries, but just kind of a hyper-nutritive bread from heaven that will biodegrade over a short period of time. On the other hand, if things do not go as planned there might be issues of pollution and meteorological havoc to deal with, as well as possible unintended effects upon the ozone layer, worldwide darkness, things like that. All easily fixable, I’m sure.
Or maybe I could cure cancer by creating nanoscopic swarms of robots, controlled by custom software algorithms, finely tuned to the individual patient, that will allow them to work together to seek out and destroy cancerous tumors and cells; or in some cases where that’s not possible, at the very least keep them under control, limit angiogenesis, and prevent metastasis. That is, if I can prevent them from getting outside of the body, which is famous for being able to expel anything that does not belong in it (and some things that do.) Once on the outside they might cause havoc by creating a grey goo epidemic, which would lead to widespread respiratory illness and heaven knows what else, thanks to the individual nature of the algorithms and variation between different people, plus possible unforeseen bugs in the software. Ha ha! Yeah, we probably ought to address that now. . .
Now, those are just two examples, and in fact I took them from the previous supposition that I was out to rule the world. But what if the so-called “evil” mad scientist really thought he was doing what was best for humankind? I mean, what person commits senseless acts on a worldwide scale for no reason? What do you do with the money when you have to take down the economy to get it, right? That mad scientist who wants to rule the world probably has some really good ideas for reinventing Earth into the planet of the future; it might involve killing all of the lawyers and politicians, but hey, how do you make an omelette without breaking some eggs? Especially if the end result is an end to world hunger, an end to dependence upon fossil fuels, an end to terminal illness, an end to involuntary workaholism – making the world, in essence, a veritable utopia?
And what if the average brilliant scientist came up with a perfectly good plan that backfired in unforeseen and unimagined ways, would we villainize him, even demonize him to the point where everyone believes that he was up to no good in the first place? How do we punish someone who really just made an innocent mistake, but doesn’t really relate that well to others and so could possibly flub his defense?
If all the lawyers are already dead, I’d hope I could get Neil DeGrasse Tyson to represent me. People just love that guy!
This post was prompted by today’s What If? writing challenge prompt