Bob is a normal young boy of planet earth. One day, when he is 11 years old (in 2016), scientists prove that the entire world is just a setup for Bob's life. They prove that when Bob dies, the world will vanish, and that Bob's happiness and survival is the reason for the existence of the universe. I don't care how this happens, but assume it does.

What are the short-term and long-term effects of this in culture, technology, etc.? In other words, how would the life of a normal human be changed if this were to happen?

Extra Credit Question: Now 15 years old, Bob has built up the normal amounts of stress and teenage angst plus the attention of billions of people, and decides to kill himself. What happens?

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    $\begingroup$ Somebody will try to kill Bob. Humans are weird. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Dec 1, 2016 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ Normal amounts of teenage angst do not = suicide. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2016 at 2:58
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    $\begingroup$ So what happened to pre-Bob timeline? Did the world spontaneously emerge as Bob comes into being? Who father Bob? Why Bob? Who's Bob? What actually happens when Bob is KOed? During puberty? Clone? $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 2, 2016 at 8:29
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    $\begingroup$ Everyone just laughs off the arguments, however logically sound or otherwise they may be. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2016 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ Any scientist claiming the universe will end if Person dies without killing Person would be a crackpot theorist. You can't prove a thing will happen, only that it might. The scientific method, then, would require experimenting on the hypothesis and, in this case, killing Person to see what happens. But the experiment isn't repeatable, so isn't scientifically valid. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Dec 2, 2016 at 13:26

4 Answers 4


I think first of all, Bob doesn't make it much past 11 without being seized and put in so much protective custody and monitoring that he won't be able to commit suicide... UNLESS we discover the reason life is there to serve him (i.e. We all get into Heaven if and only if Bob has a happy life). If he just needs to stay alive, well, that's going to suck for Bob. Strapped to a gurney, we can keep him alive for a long time... maybe a very long time with some cryogenesis.

Much will depend upon why the universe cares about Bob.


Well, to start, science cannot do what you say. It's not that it's highly unlikely, its that the thing science actually does cannot prove what you want it to prove. Period. The closest they could get is to create a model where Bob is the center of the universe and demonstrate that that model is consistent with our reality, and that the null hypothesis that Bob is not the center of the universe is statistically unlikely, and thus reject the null hypothesis.

But let's modify it and say that a 100% reliable Oracle machine is the thing which makes this claim, rather than science. That way we can go forward with the question.

The short term effects are: everything you think of in life is turned upside down.

The long term effects are: everything you think of in life is turned upside down.

There will literally not be a single aspect of life which remains the same. In marriage, we often say that you have to put your spouse before yourself. It's a challenge. Every day we struggle to meet that standard. What your scenario shows is that Bob must be put before you, because Bob is literally the only thing that matters. We would, in effect, all be married to Bob, with the exception that this marriage is combined with the most suicidally depressing reality that your life literally means nothing beyond what happiness it creates in Bob.

Every single religion would cave in overnight, unless Bob decides it would make him happy to keep the religion around. After all, religions tend to make claims that are not aligned with "Bob is the center of the universe," so they will all be proven false by this Oracle in one fallow swoop.

Every economy would be completely upheaved as the entire concept of capitalism (and communism) is rocked to its core. All of our economic theories center around trying to identify the best allocation of resources. Now we know... it's to give Bob whatever resources Bob needs.

Every international treaty, every patent, ever poet's word, every last one of them would change utterly and completely. Nothing would be left untouched.

And as for the suicide, if Bob decides to kill himself, what happens next is 100% dependent on details that are not in the question. Bob is fully capable here of having every one of us grab a dagger and commit sepuku in his name before killing himself. Bob is also capable of realizing that there's some pretty smart people out there who may be able to help him with his purpose, and he may instruct them to act to stop him from such drastic acts. Take your pick. The answer to this doesn't depend on the world, it depends on Bob. Questions about individual characters are not on topic for Worldbuilding, so there's not much we can do about it.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 because this is thoughtful and addresses a lot, although "Every single religion" is something I disagree with. Science has provided ample evidence disproving multiple religious texts, and for the mostpart, religion has remained the same. $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Dec 2, 2016 at 3:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra I thought about that one too, while writing it. However, in my first two paragraphs, I transitioned from science providing ample evidence to an Oracle machine asserting a statement of truth. (Oracles are often used in cryptography proofs, providing the ability to do things no real machine ever could). I think an Oracle would have far more impact on religion than scientific evidence would. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Dec 2, 2016 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ To the best of my knowledge the OP is suggesting a world otherwise exactly the same as our own - no religion-changing Oracle machines present. $\endgroup$
    – Zxyrra
    Dec 2, 2016 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Zxyrra In that case, my first paragraph is the answer. Science cannot do what he wants it to. Case closed. Next question. I brought in the Oracle to give the question a chance =) In reality, if a group of scientists made this discovery, it would take way longer than 4 years (from age 11 to age 15) for this to become accepted science canon. It probably never would, because people typically don't work that way. We'd need the OP to pick the exact set of evidence science is bringing to the table to dig any further into how the psychology of the masses would take it. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Dec 2, 2016 at 4:12

If Bob dies, we all die. So Bob isn't allowed to die.

When the claims that Bob's death will end everything are justified - at least enough that a government or two takes notice - pfft, why just sit and wait for the end of all things? Stop Bob from ever dying.

After the government (of an unspecified, wealthy country) invites Bob to visit and have a chat, he is sedated, moved into a lab, and put onto the most expensive life support money can buy. Multiple safeguards are in place so that no one can reach him, an immense facility is built, and a team of scientists with huge amounts of funding starts to work, around the clock, to find a way to keep Bob ticking for as long as physically possible. This should buy the universe some time.

Also, noting that "happiness" is considered just as important as "survival", medically-induced-comatose Bob can have a steady stream of dopamine pumped in.

False alarm, Bob isn't the center of the universe.

What? Bob, the center of the universe? Oh, that was just a fringe theory accepted by one too many news agencies. False alarm, false claims, and Bob has been punished for the global commotion he produced by executive order.

Before this, of course, there may be a moment of change.

It's hard to predict the consequences of this scenario on all of society.

What may happen:

  • Some small, cultlike religions will form
  • Terrorists will be interested in killing Bob (perhaps to disprove "false ideologies", perhaps just to troll, or perhaps to end all things for the sake of it)
  • Global media and pop culture may focus on him (introducing the Bob Snapchat filter!)
  • Bob will be provided secret-service type security
  • Many people will simply deny the outlandish circumstances
  • A new field of science may develop studying exactly how Bob has accomplished this feat
  • Economics may change in favor of Bob's wants

What will not happen:

  • Permanent global change. How many people will actually be ignorant enough to believe the world is centered around Bob? Some, perhaps, but this is just like saying "The world will end on Dec 12, 2012" - shrugged off as a myth.
  • In other words, if climate change, a sound scientific phenomena with ample evidence, is denied by millions (billions?) how many people will accept Bobism?

Finally, let's talk suicide

This is up to you, although I'm assuming that all things will end. The way the question is phrased, it seems like you're asking "if Bob's death ends the world, and Bob dies, what happens?" to which I can only answer "the universe is obliterated". (If this is not what you intended it to mean clarification would be great)


i go for the felix scenario.

an anime with this background is "the melancholy of haruhi suzumiya". there the knowledge is very restricted, but the few who know try to please haruhi without letting her know which power she has. That is a likely scenario: the proof would be top secret to avoid having fanatics kill the person. the goverment could provide an ideal environment like in the truman show, too.


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