3
$\begingroup$

Imagine that by some futuristic means, it was possible to alter past events in some way by affecting probability (likely by using the word "quantum" a lot).

Are there any important events in human history that were so coincidental and unlikely that one could make the argument that we in fact live in an alternate history caused by tampering in the future of the "real" timeline?

We're talking stuff like assassins missing at point blank range, an accidentally fired missile jamming instead of starting a war, a misplaced comma in a military order, some person who against all odds just happened to be in the right place at the right time, bombs hidden under the White House failing to go off because a rabbit chewed off the cable, or similar things that could have drastically altered the future were it not for some extraordinarily unlikely event.

$\endgroup$

closed as too broad by Liath, bowlturner, Philipp, HDE 226868, Vincent Nov 16 '14 at 15:48

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ While an interesting question I've voted to close this because I envisage hundreds of answers each as likely as the last. Classic list question. Can you refine it a bit? An unlikely event which prevented the Cold War sparking for example? $\endgroup$ – Liath Nov 16 '14 at 9:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the number of cases is small enough that this question may be ok...how often have really drastic events occurred that were both highly improbably and had large historical impact? $\endgroup$ – Tim B Nov 16 '14 at 15:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would really like to answer the question but right now it's meaningless. The possibilities are just too many. I would really like to see this question narrowed down. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Nov 16 '14 at 15:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Liath & everyone else, can't we just enforce a wiki format for list questions? So many are very interesting and would be appropriate for this website $\endgroup$ – Sheraff Nov 16 '14 at 15:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Maybe we should require that answers should focus on only one possibility and describe that possibility in detail ? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Nov 16 '14 at 16:08
2
$\begingroup$

The conception of every single human on earth.

When a human egg cell and a sperm cell merge to form an embryo, the genetic code of the father and the mother are combined in a random way. That's why your siblings are nothing like you: they got a different random mix.

Just messing a tiny bit with the probability during the conception of any person with historical significnce would alter their DNA, turn them into a completely different person and thus change which decisions they make (even if they go into politics at all).

It might be quite difficult to get them to take on exactly the personality you want them to take so they make a specific decision 40 years later. But you could use this technique to get people out of the way who make decisons you consider unfavorable. For example, messing with the genome of Michail Gorbadschov or Hans-Dietrich Genscher could result in them never getting into the positions they had in the 80s and could have prevented them from ending the cold war.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.