A planet is in the brink of destruction with constant wars and chaos. To somehow save their world a group of scientists launched a nuclear warhead all over their planet to release a gas that would make everybody forget all destructive emotions.. But somehow their plan backfired. Affected individuals forget everything after they have slept.

Here is one account of a individual affected by the gas:


Let me introduce myself... Well, call me Bob. I know my name, my age and where I live. I work as a programmer on a software industry, and I pretty much now how to code.

But my problem is... I forgot what I did yesterday, I know today is my birthday. I think yesterday I ordered pizza, but I have 30 boxes on my garbage bin and garbage collection should be done tommorrow. I hope they come early because I have all of my garbage cans at full.

There is also a note on my desk that today I have to buy my groceries, I wonder why because I have a stockpile of food on the fridge, but I'll buy it anyway because I might have forgotten why I need to buy food.

Later this day, I have a schedule to get a haircut. I have no hair left on my head, and I wonder why I am doing this. But well, its free!

I also sent a letter to Earth inviting a friend to come here in our planet, but he keeps on saying I already sent 30 invitations to him already.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Minor note: you'll probably want to take the word "nuclear" out of your story. You were probably thinking of "ballistic missiles." Nuclear and gas don't go together. Nukes have a tendency to turn gas into hot plasma, and the gas stops working after that! $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon Ballistic missiles could release the gas right? without harming the chemicals? I'll take note of that. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 5:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yep. In fact, while we typically think of the giant ICBMs when we think of missiles, SCUDs are ballistic missiles too, just designed for shorter range. The SS-1c (aka SCUD-B) and later were designed to be capable of delivering VX nerve gas as a payload. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ I used nuke to illustrate a "ballistic armament capable of delivering payload to long distances". I too have to use many of my so called "nukes" to scatter the gas, I could also use Ballistic missiles to deliver the payload too, my question is, can I use these ballistic missiles in long distances realistically? $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 6:47
  • $\begingroup$ Like 50 first dates, just on a larger scale? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 7:47

3 Answers 3


I'd take a lesson from Henry Molaison, H.M.

The particular amnesia you refer to is anterograde amnesia. It prevents the creation of new memories. The most famous individual with this is known in studies by his initials, H.M.

Molaison developed severe anterograde amnesia: although his working memory and procedural memory were intact, he could not commit new events to his explicit memory

One of the major lessons we learned from him was that he could build new memories, but there were severe limits.

Near the end of his life, Molaison regularly filled in crossword puzzles.[11] He was able to fill in answers to clues that referred to pre-1953 knowledge. For post-1953 information he was able to modify old memories with new information. For instance, he could add a memory about Jonas Salk by modifying his memory of polio.

From this, its clear that one needs to take advantage of what they can remember if you want to help them. Your "Bob" was a programmer. He should be able to follow a flow chart or a state machine without too much trouble. A physical state-machine could serve as an artificial short term memory long enough to get back to the house and modify the post-it telling him to go get groceries.

Fortunately, the brain doens't give up, so there's hope. The brain will keep learning, consciously or not:

He, along with other patients with anterograde amnesia, were given the same maze to complete day after day. Despite having no memory of having completed the maze the day before, unconscious practice of completing the same maze over and over reduced the amount of time needed to complete it in subsequent trials.

We have a lot to learn from H.M. Fortunately, we are rather good at remembering things using computers as our artificial memory:

The digital atlas of HM's brain was made publicly available on the Internet free of charge; its "permanence on the web relies on contributions from users"


An Antidote

Frankly, the fact that testing wasn't done prior to deploying this weapon needs to be explained. Scientists don't just spray psychotropic drugs all over an entire planet hoping to see what happens. That's not really how the process from theory to finished product works. You would think that prior to launching the weapon large scale controlled testing would be conducted, and possible outcomes determined and prepared for. Maybe the project was sabotaged? In any case that is beside the point, I'm not even a scientist, but if I were to deploy psychotropic drugs on a planetary scale I would at least have an identical device loaded up full of a neutralizing agent hot and ready to go in case my years of testing and preparation went awry. (But maybe that got sabotaged too?) In any case, I do not see a massive and expensive relief effort like the one you mentioned being put into action without a way to reverse the effects being developed as part of the program.

So in summary, the same weapon loaded up with a counteracting agent would be the fastest and safest bet.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In wars throughout history scientists have done all sorts of terrifying stuff without full and proper testing only to find out later that there are awful side effects. Mustard gas, nuclear bombs and agent orange being the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Humans aren’t very long sighted when fighting for survival! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 6:20
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the scientists breathed in the gas and the next day they had forgotten they had an antidote. $\endgroup$
    – John Locke
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 11:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ naw, those awful effects were fully forseen and were part of the weapons system. T $\endgroup$
    – TCAT117
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 20:17

Bob still remembers somethings and his still doing all the stuff he was mean to do the day before (however long that was ago). Eventually Bob should get curious. Why do I have so much food, why does my friend say I have sent 30 letters, why is there so much pizza boxes.

This creates a very interesting story scenario where one day Bob will realize something is a bit off in his life. He investigates it, but before he can finish, its a new day and he forgets again. So one day, Bob realises that something is going wrong and that he forgets every time he goes to sleep and he leaves himself clues. Small things like a broken up which wasn't meant to be broken. A painting with a part torn out or missing. Hidden notes around the house written cryptically and messy because he was in a rush when he wrote it.

Basically, after a long enough amount of time, Bob should realise something is wrong, try to leave himself clues or keep a diary or write notes and this continues until he figures out why. Once he figures out why, he can either try to solve it, try to save his neighbors or the story ends.

Another potential solution, would be for everyone to stop sleeping. Crazy idea isn't it. Most people can't function after a day without sleeping, but a potential solution would be via meditation or very short naps (where you are forced awake before you reach deep sleep). If you can identify what stage of sleep resets your memory, then you can force people to adjust their sleeping patterns and lifestyle to never reach that stage.

The final method, would be having every person watching a video recap of what they have been doing the last couple of days or keeping a log and reading it first thing in the morning. If bob sees a paper going, get groceries, why would he keep it after he got the groceries. Why hasn't he written down what he did. The same applies for all his schedules, tasks, meetings, catchups, chores and what not. Once a person has started, they read their note book, know what they did the day before and can do what they want/need today.

For example

Let me introduce myself... Well, call me Bob. I know my name, my age and where I live. I work as a programmer on a software industry, and I pretty much now how to code.

But my problem is... I forgot what I did yesterday, but I wrote it all down. Yesterday was my birthday. I wrote it down and there is a picture of me. I had pizza and there are several boxes in the bin that I should throw out today. The garbage collection comes every Wednesday and today is Thursday, so its going to be another week before they are removed. Hopefully there is enough space in those bins.

I have a crossed out note on my desk about buying groceries. I have a pretty large stockpile since I kept forgetting out it. But now I just make a note and cross out what I brought and I don't need to worry. I think I'm out of milk though. I'll just make a new list and write milk on it.

I should also go buy a bald brush. I accidentally kept trimming my hair until there was none left. Good thing I burned that note. Lets me add that to the grocery list so I won't forget tomorrow and repeat today again.

I also need to write a letter to my friend on earth. I checked the postmans website and it says I sent him 30 invitations already. I'll just say its a administrative error. Better make sure to write that down on my to-do list so I don't forget either.


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