Two Story Ideas

Feel free to steal, though if anything comes of it I’d be interested in hearing about it:

Neurobiologists investigate the biological causes behind religious ecstasy, and geneticists and developmental biologists identify the genes involved in building this phenomenon and the areas of the brain responsible for it. A CAT or PET scan can reveal people in whom this area is not well-formed, and a genetic test can identify fetuses that will grow up into adults incapable of achieving this ecstatic state.

Religious extremist (Taliban?) consider such a condition a sign that the person has been cursed with separation from God, and start killing the people and aborting fetuses with “cursed” genes.


Scientists come up with not one, but two Theories of Everything. They explain all known physical phenomena equally well, but are not equivalent. Further, more refined experiments fail to falsify either theory.

Eventually, it turns out that this is a feature, not a bug. One can imagine playing Conway’s game of Life with different sets of rules. Some allow too much or too little growth, and the board quickly dissolves into either all black or all white. Other sets of rules bring about too much flipping, and the board becomes chaotic, with no permanent structures. The rich, interesting game that we know strikes a balance between order and chaos.

Likewise, in order for the laws of physics to allow a universe as rich and complex as ours, they have to fulfill a set of mathematical constraints. One of these, it turns out, is that not only must the laws be balanced between order (an empty universe or a big crunch) and chaos (lack of stable structures like protons, molecules, or galaxies), but that there will always be at least two models that explain all phenomena, and no test carried out inside the universe can ever differentiate the two.

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