If I Could Change Just One Thing…

Ever since Douglas Adams wrote the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy it’s been common knowledge that the answer to the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42.

But what if you had the power to change one law of nature? What if the answer to the meaning of life were 43?

There are lots of laws of nature I might want to change.

It would be cool if you could go faster than the speed of light (299,792,458 meters/sec).

It might be cool to alter the coefficient of gravity. Imagine the possibilities for marketing new weight loss schemes.

What if π was just an even 3? Would that make space curve differently to make up for the extra 0.1416…. ? Think what kind of skateboard park you could build. It would be a hell of a half-pipe.

Or Planck’s constant (6.626069….). Could we change the energy of blackbody radiation to reverse the effects of global warming?

Or what about Euler’s number (e) — 2.71828…. ? If I could change this then maybe I could finally get a better interest return on my lousy 0.02% savings account.

All these universal constant numbers seem so arbitrary. What’s so magical about 3.14159 anyway?

The trouble is, if you only get to change one, you end up with a lot of unintended consequences that are entirely impossible to predict.

Einstein famously said he didn’t believe God played dice with the universe.

He was objecting to the idea that in quantum mechanics, one measures things in terms of probability. He was wrong. Quantum mechanics has long since been vindicated.

But in another sense, he was right. There’s noting happenstance about any of the constants that make the universe what it is. They all line up to make things the way they are. Change just one digit a few thousand decimal places out and the whole universe tilts.

Are there things I’d like to change about the way the world works? Sure.

But on balance I’d probably screw up more than I’d fix.

I guess I’ll use my supernatural power to change just one natural law to give myself the capacity to live within the universe I’ve been given.