“I need an opinion regarding a hypothetical I’m having trouble working out in my brain.”
(This is how most of my text message games – and arguably most of my texts in general – go. I toss out a fishing line to a few of my smart friends, see who finds it interesting enough to bite, and then we proceed to ping pong ideas for the pure sake of my own amusement.)
My pal Peter bit, saying: “Okay. Shoot.”
“Okay,” I say, “If Ursula the seawitch offered Stephen Hawking a fully functioning body in exchange for his next level super genius brain, do you think he would accept the deal?”
(Yep. This is what I do in my downtime.)
And Peter knows this.
Thus, not one to underestimate how seriously I take my hypothetical mental Jigsaw matches, he made sure to confirm a few of the deal’s parameters first: “Depends. Does he get to go back to being mid 20s when his body stopped working, or does he get a fully funtioning body at the 60 something he is right now?”
Oversight on my part. I like that he points this out, and jump on the blind spot immediately:
“Okay,” I begin, “If he remains at the age he is now, he is allowed to have half his genius. But for every year that he chooses to reverse, he loses that much more intelligence.”
“New wrinkle!” he replies (which is a funny pun because of both the physics and age topics we’re entertaining here). He goes on to make sure he’s got it right: “So he goes back to 20 something, becomes a “normie”, but all of his discoveries stand? Or he goes back in time to being 20 something and none of his revelations have been made?”
At this point, I’m improvising:
“He gets the choice,” I respond, “He age reverses now in this time and becomes fully functional but very dumb (but he won’t care because he will have the I.Q. of a potato and be off auditioning for Jersey Shore). Meanwhile, his discoveries remain. But if he chooses to actually go back in time, none of his discoveries are made – and yes – still just as dumb but without all the technology around.”
“Shoooot,” he says, “He goes to 20 something right now? Dumb as a stump? I would!”
I had to think about this convo a little further after it became too convoluted (it continued, but I’ll spare you), and realized something. Like Peter, I totally would too. The decision wouldn’t be that tough because I’m selfish (who cares about my future discoveries possibly saving the universe?) and don’t know enough about physics to be one of those people who love it so much that they can’t imagine a life sans playing with numbers and formulas and theories all day like children do bubbles. I also don’t have a wife I fell in love with and had years of my marriage robbed from me due to a totally unexpected disease. So, yeah, I tend to think I’d make the same decision Pete did if I were me in Mr. Hawking’s bod. But I dunno if I would if I were Steve in Steve’s bod.
And being offered a quasi-Faustian deal. By a purple Disney seawitch.
While floating under the sea.
Or outer space.
’cause why not?