"Women can tell you how many degrees (Fahrenheit and Celsius, to say nothing of Kelvin) it was outside." -Optimistic. on first kisses
Question #81932 posted on 04/03/2015 10:28 a.m.

Dear and esteemed 100 Hour Board,

I have a hypothetical question for you. Let's say that, suddenly, earth's gravity changed so that the shell between the deepest part of the ocean and somewhere in the atmosphere experiences just enough gravity to counteract any "centrifugal force" that would fling anything out. In other words, everything is weightless. And there's some kind of force field keeping the atmosphere in. What would be the results of this on the world's oceans? Weather? Vegetation? Other things? Feel free to explain any assumptions you make where my scenario isn't clear. Thanks a ton!



Dear El-ahrairah, (man, I'd forgotten how hard that is to spell!)

It sounds like you're basically asking about life with dramatically reduced gravity—there's enough gravity that stuff will drift downwards (the oceans won't just float up and mix with the air, creating an algae apocalypse and ending all other life), but nothing close to what we're used to. For the sake of argument, let's talk about gravity of 1-5% of normal. This would actually have some pretty sweet effects. 

Flight under human power would be easy. Currently, human-powered airplanes require around 0.5 hp, something close the max power output of someone is excellent physical condition (source). That's the amount of power needed to overcome drag, maintain airspeed, and (through speed) generate lift. Lift needed is directly proportional to gravity, so at 5% gravity you'd only need 5% of the lift. I think this stuff behaves in a linear-ish way at low speeds, so that would be in line with a power output of 0.025hp, which an average person can put out all day. Similarly, building airplanes would be much easier.

Hopping would be a preferred mode of transportation for humans and animals. Max jump height is proportional to gravity; in 1% gravity, you can jump ~100 times as high. Your jump motion would need to be jerkier, or your first tiny push off from the ground would send you drifting, but with practice the results could be impressive. A current average vertical jump height of ~22 inches would become a height of 183 feet. (Landing after falling back from that height would also feel no worse than falling from 22 inches currently does, although you might bounce back up, and both the up and down trips would take 100x as long.) Elevators and stairs don't make sense any more, and hopping/gliding/flying becomes generally preferable to walking. 

Kangaroo robots would replace cars. In microgravity, wheeled vehicles don't work well because they can't get traction, which is proportional to gravity. The wheels will skip around just off the ground instead of providing forward motion. For this reason, hopping robots are being developed for missions to low-gravity asteroids. Similarly, on a low-gravity planet you'd want hopping robots or something similar rather than cars.

Terminal velocity is proportional to the square root of gravity, so with 1% gravity terminal velocity for a human would be 12 mph (rather than 120 mph at present). That means that a skydiver would only reach the speed we currently see with a fall from 10 feet or so. People could skydive without parachutes.

Wind, currents, and weather would change dramatically. With less gravity, convection forces driving the movement of air and water (winds and currents) would be proportionally reduced. Because of this, many ocean currents would collapse. Temperatures and nutrients in oceans would experience less convective and current-driven mixing and more stratification, which would influence sea life (mostly for the worse). Without currents and winds redistributing heat, weather would correspond more closely to latitude; for example, northern Europe would be much colder without the Gulf Stream. The lack of wind would also tend to reduce the amount of water from the oceans that makes it inland, turning much of the earth's area into desert. Thunderstorms and hurricanes, as they are driven largely by convection, would likely not occur. 

Slow-motion ocean waves would be a thing, because wave speed is proportional to the square root of gravitational acceleration. So the same wave in the same place would move 10x slower in 1% gravity. There would also be some potential for waves to grow much taller, as there's less restoring force, although having less wind would also reduce wave formation. Any kind of sloshing or liquid-handling activity could show similarly odd behavior.   

The human body would get all messed up, as bone and muscle mass atrophy and fluids are redistributed throughout the body.

Trees could be much taller. Currently, gravity limits the height of the tallest trees by limiting by their ability to get water from their roots to their upper areas, but this limit would obviously move way out. Competition for sunlight could then get pretty crazy. (Although again, primarily on the coast due to the lack of rain inland.) Tumbleweeds, dandelion seeds, and the like could travel much farther, which could cut both ways as they might also be less likely to take root. Giant living floating/bouncing tumbleweed-type-things might be possible. 

Animals would face all kinds of screwy evolutionary pressures. Kangaroos might take over the world. Snakes might have a hard time getting traction. Elephants might end up with much skinnier, longer legs. As vegetation grows taller, the rewards to a giraffe-like build would increase. Average height-to-weight ratios would change to approach a number more optimal for the new gravity. (I wish they did multi-generational studies on mice in the ISS.)

Modern industry would in some ways become much more challenging. Most chemical processes, from pharmaceuticals to petrochemicals or refining, rely on gravity-driven separations between gases and liquids and/or liquids of different densities, all of which would become dramatically slower. Things that in today's world hold themselves down would need to be tied down, or they'd bounce away when jostled. 
Fire would act funny; compare a candle in normal gravity to a candle in zero-g, both pictured below. This would also tend to have screwy results for heavy industry (most power generation comes from fire), and even for the existence of civilization depending on how it influenced cooking. Of course, cooking would be goofy regardless: how will you reliably keep food from bouncing out of a pan? Would large-scale agriculture even develop in a world where cooking bread from grains was challenging? 
Civilization would likely collapse. Much of our livestock would bound out of its enclosures, it would stop raining across most of the world, wheeled mechanical harvesting machines and the like would stop working, industry would collapse, fire would no longer work normally, and everyone would have some much fun just bouncing and flying around that they might not even notice most of the above until mass starvation set in. 
So, it would be fun to fly around in 1-5% gravity for a while, but if you've found the Board's old experimental global anti-gravity machine, my heartfelt advice would be to not turn it on.

~Professor Kirke

Question #81889 posted on 04/01/2015 7:14 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have some questions about repentance. When we repent we won't suffer for that sin in the eternities and we can have it wiped away so we can return to God's presence. I know repentance doesn't take away consequences like if you had sex and got pregnant just because you repent doesn't mean you're not pregnant anymore. But what about sins that impact someone emotionally? Like for example pornography. We know that it does all kinds of bad things to the brain, does repenting take those emotional consequences away? Also if you do a sin repeatedly like gossip and then repent when you repent should you repent for the current time you gossiped? Or are you really repenting for all the other times you gossiped because clearly since you are continuing the sin then you didn't truly gossip in the future? If you keep making the same sin again despite trying really hard does that mean you're just not strong enough or that deep down you're not truly sorry or you don't love Christ enough?

Also when we sin we make it so God can't bless us (because obedience brings blessings). So let's say God was going to bless you with a spouse but then you lied or stole something and then you repented. Do you get the opportunity for that blessing back? Or do you miss out on all the blessings you would have gotten in that time period when you were disobedient and didn't have the spirit to guide you?

When the scriptures say though your sins be as scarlet they will be as white as snow what does that really mean? Does God really forget that we made that sin? What about the consequences of those sins? Like if you were mean and tried to make restitution but the person now hates you? Or doesn't He remember the blessings you didn't recieve because you didn't keep the commandments?

You know how we are supposed to repent daily? What if you forget to repent one day and then you forget what sinful things you did that day? Can you repent for sins you made in the past or times you hurt someone's feelings and you don't remember? Is it possible to ever feel completely clean and worthy and at peace with God besides being baptized? When you repent during the week and take the sacrament is that when your sins are washed away for that week?

What are some other things you've wondered about repentance?

-I've made some mistakes I regret/I'm just wondering (do you know this song? It's pretty good)



Some days I sound exactly like you. Most days I know better. Today I know better, and I'm going to tell you what I know. Tomorrow, you may have to tell me the same thing back again, and I won't believe you. Maybe by the time you read this, you'll be feeling okay again. Maybe you'll still be stuck in the spiral of shame and sadness and won't be able to hear me. Have you tried therapy? I recommend it. Anyway, you're about to get a really empathetic, really long, dose of the gospel as Uffish understands it.

You're right about some points. Repentance isn't a time machine, and it can't undo the past. However, I see you as being wrong on several points, and I'll explain them as best I can.

First, the difference between repentance and the Atonement. Repentance is a process that we can go through through the power of the Atonement. It signals our willingness and dedication to be on God's side. Repentance, though, doesn't buy us freedom from the suffering that our own actions would cause us. That's the Atonement. I don't really understand the specifics of how the Atonement works, of course, but man, I'm so glad for it. Repentance is what I can do, but it's not enough on its own. It doesn't heal me. Luckily, the Atonement DOES heal me, and it's always functioning.

Next, emotional and mental wounds are, as I understand them, much like physical ones. Yes, engaging with pornography can teach you some false concepts that might be difficult to unlearn. You might need help to break the habit and to figure out what's true and what's not. You'll need to learn to stop picking off the scab and let the wound heal, and you may need some antibiotics. But having viewed pornography once or many times does not make you incapable of change or healing. Of course, you can't have never seen pornography once you've viewed it, and you know that. But it doesn't have to inform your thought process forever.

I also sometimes struggle with my most oft-repeated sins, such as your hypothetical gossiping. If I do it again after I thought I repented, then was that real repentance? Isn't repentance never doing it again? I guess I failed! And if I've been doing repentance wrong, then how should I do it right? I'm so confused! And God's Atonement is perfect, right? If it's not helping us, it's our fault, not his. So if I'm not getting better, that's my fault, and maybe I'm permanently broken. Maybe I'm not strong enough or dedicated enough to make it. Maybe I'll be sent to the island of misfit toys who just can't hack it.

Nonsense. Brad Wilcox is your friend here. Watch his devotional His Grace is Sufficient, and bookmark it. Watch it often. Check out his book The Continuous Atonement. (As an English teacher, I have to say some of his rhetorical techniques really rub me the wrong way, but that doesn't mean he isn't making good points. It just means I think he dresses them up annoyingly. Give it a chance anyway.) I'll give you the short version of both. God's grace (or, as we call it, the Atonement) isn't just about giving us a second chance. It's about giving us unlimited chances, and also about building us up so that we're strong enough to take them. If you get up one more time than you fall down, you're a winner. So when you mess up, don't give up. Don't give in to thinking that you're not strong enough or sorry enough or that you don't love God enough. Just try again. Try harder or try smarter if you can. Try again the regular way if you can't. If you're trying, you're making progress, even if you can't see it.

Also, God can bless us. Always. When we're righteous, we may have a greater capacity for blessings. So let's say your blessing-cup is atrophied right now, and can only hold a golden coin or two, and a whole crown falls past, but you can't catch it in your tiny little cup. Will you ever get the chance to catch that crown again? Maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? Your cup can grow again, and as it does, it will fill up. You may get that one crown, or another, or several, or you may get all golden coins or rubies or whatever. You will not live with a crown-shaped hole in your cup for all eternity. You may regret that now, but I can't imagine us still regretting them in the eternities, can you? "Oh, if only I hadn't lied about what grade I got on my math final, I would have had a 2-month head start on my current level of righteousness/happiness, and I would have gotten to marry Jimmy. As it is, I'm 2 months behind where I could have been, and I'm married to dumb ol' Greg." Yeah, sometimes I look at my patriarchal blessing and I wonder if by making various mistakes, I've missed out on various blessings. I may have, I may not have. If that was a snapshot of my possible future back when I got it (and I'm not sure quite how it works), then sure, that may not be a path open to me anymore. But when I am not in the throes of depression, I believe that there's a path equally bright for me, now. And if I murder a man and get addicted to drugs and become a prostitute, I believe that (with an incredible amount of work and maybe not in this life) there is an equally bright path for me, even then. Don't cry over missed opportunities. Look forward, when you can, to the next ones.

You ask if God forgets our sins. I don't know that God gets repentance-induced amnesia. I think that him remembering our sins no more is more about that not being information vital to understanding you, anymore. Let's say I had a peanut allergy as a child, but for some reason, I grow out of it as an adult. My mom probably hasn't forgotten that I had the allergy, but when she sees me, she doesn't think "peanut allergy!" anymore. And she can give me a peanut butter sandwich, if I'm hungry.

I think the scarlet to snow-white transformation isn't, again, a time machine that means the scarlet never existed. But I think it means that you can be whole and perfect again. If you've been a jerk, and someone can't forgive you, your repentance can't force them to change their mind. It is their (unwise) choice to hold the grudge. But the repentance/Atonement combo can turn you into a kind person. The sort of great person that treats others wisely and compassionately. While you can't make choices for others, you can make choices for yourself, and those choices can make you whole again. You can be free of the pull of pornography or gossip or whatever you're thinking of. You have not done any damage that cannot be fixed. No, not even that secret sin that you're thinking of. Or that recurring shortcoming. You're not broken past repair. You're not a crumpled paper that can never quite be smooth or a board with nail holes in it or a wineglass mended clumsily with glue or a white dress with a blood stain that will never wash out. You can be smooth and unblemished and as white as snow again. That is what the Atonement means. You can be as good as new. The Atonement doesn't heal us mostly. It heals us all the way.

Lastly, you ask about the specifics of repentance: how it works daily vs long term, and if you can repent of things you don't quite remember, and where, exactly the sacrament and baptism fits in. Here's my favorite metaphor. Life is a journey--a path to heaven. (When I draw this in Relief Society, heaven looks part like a crown and part like a castle, because I can't draw.) Sometimes we wander off the path, on purpose or by accident. Repentance is realizing that we're moving in the wrong direction, and turning and moving towards castle-heaven again. Maybe it will take 18 tries to get back on the path. Maybe as soon as we get on the path, we fall back down the same slope. Doesn't matter. Keep trying.

So I don't know when, exactly, the penalty for my sins is lifted off. I'm sure I don't remember everything wrong that I've done. I try to fix the things I do know I've done wrong. Sometimes I don't try as hard or as effectively as I would like to. Usually I don't. Sad, yes, but normal. But I try. And occasionally I reflect on my life and my character, and I think about how I could do better. If I'm wise, I also think about how far I've come. For me, "trying to be a better person" and "repentance" are the same thing. That's something I can do daily. I am not making fast progress, and I often backslide. That's crushing. But when I'm most emotionally balanced, and when I'm honest, I know I am going to be all right. Why? Because I want to be all right. I have that righteous desire. I don't have many claims to greatness, but I have promised myself I will not give up, and if I notice I've given up, I'll try again. Since God also wants me to be all right, and he will help me when I try to improve, and he will never give up on me, I will succeed, given time. As Blues Traveler says, "coasting to the bottom is the only disgrace." (Go listen to their song "Just Wait," and imagine the speaker is God. It fits.)

Don't give up on yourself. It's normal to try and fail and try and fail and fail and fail and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try and fail again. I recently taught the RS lesson called, "Principles of True Repentance," which I mostly recommend. There's a great bit in there about how the examples in the scriptures are dramatic, and teach us about how clean and strong we can become, but do NOT give an accurate representation (at least for 99.99% of the population) of the speed at which the process happens. It's gradual. You'll fail often. You won't see the progress you make unless you look for it, and sometimes not even then. But if you want to be better, and it looks like you do, I think you'll be all right, as long as you can keep trying. So do it. Don't give up. You will be okay. You'll be better than okay. You'll be amazing and perfect. But if all you can imagine right now is okay, than hold on to that. You will be okay. So will I.

TL;DR: Repentance is great, but the Atonement is better. Take advantage of it by both trying not to suck and by trying to be awesome, or in other words, by repenting. Maybe also by talking to a therapist. You have fallen short, yes, and you will continue to fall short. That's normal. Dust yourself off and try again. You have not broken yourself beyond repair. You cannot. If you keep trying, you will improve, although you may not notice the process. Also, listen to that Brad Wilcox talk.

-Uffish Thought

Question #81860 posted on 04/01/2015 4:45 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have a question about trials. I am having a huge struggle with anxiety (social anxiety, to be precise). I didn't know that this was a thing until about a year ago, and since then I've realized that this has been a part of my life for at least ten years. It's been really hard. I've gotten to a point where I am unable to deal with everyday life, I go through depressive episodes, and I don't even feel like myself anymore. (I am seeing a therapist, just fyi.)

Sometimes I ask myself why this is a thing, and why I have to have this struggle in my life. My first thought is that we're all here to have trials and grow, and this just happens to be my trial right now. I sometimes think that I have to overcome this because it's meant to help me become a much better person. Which I think is true, to a point; I will be a better person after overcoming this trial than I am now.

The problem I'm having with this is that I'm pretty sure that if I didn't have this struggle, the person I am now would be even better than the person I would be after overcoming it... Does that make sense? This thought makes it hard to believe that this trial really was given to me to make me stronger. I feel like it was either something that just happened, or I didn't do what I should have in order to prevent it. Essentially, I feel like there is no purpose to this trial.

If that's the case, how am I supposed to deal with it? I've gotten through my struggles before by believing that they happen for a reason. Well, that isn't working. This is probably the biggest struggle I've ever had, and feeling like it's purposeless makes it much harder to deal with. So what should I do? Or what can I try? Am I looking at everything all wrong?

-so tired


Dear tired,

In the LDS Church, we have some common patterns for the way we talk about certain experiences in our life, particularly trials. The standard LDS trial narrative (the kind of thing you might hear in Fast and Testimony Meeting) roughly follows this pattern: (1) I was going along in my life, trying to be a good person, (2) I had this really difficult trial come up out of nowhere, (3) it was so hard that I even started to doubt my faith, but then (4) I decided to double down on prayer/fasting/temple attendance/etc. (5) I finally made it through my trial with the help of the Gospel, (6) now I understand why I went through it or why it was “meant” to happen, and (7) I'm in a better place than I was before because I have learned so much about myself and about the Gospel and my faith is stronger than ever because of this trial.

Now, I have no problem with stories of this type. I fully believe that that many people go through this type of trial and that they are representing their experiences honestly. The problem I see is that not all trials follow this pattern. Some trials leave you worse off than you were before. Some trials last for months or years with no end in sight. Some trials not only don’t end, they get progressively worse. Some trials end, but they seem pointless, in retrospect.

I think the first big thing to remember in your situation is that not all trials fit the Standard LDS Trial Narrative™. To be honest, the reason that we hear that genre of narrative so often is more because it’s easy to digest within our belief system and because it reaffirms our faith and less because it is actually representative of the lives of most people.

The second point I want to make is that some trials really are random (and that’s OK). I tend to divide bad things into three categories: (1) bad things caused by randomness, (2) bad things deliberately caused by someone else, and (3) bad things I naturally brought upon myself.

Category (1) includes things like natural disasters, random genetic mutations, and freak accidents. Category (2) includes things like cruelty, theft, and murder. Category (3) includes things like doing things to my body that I know will hurt it, procrastinating until something is a much bigger problem than it originally was, and generally choosing today’s wants over tomorrow’s needs. (It should be noted that most things in life do not actually fit entirely into one of these categories. E.g., there is a degree of randomness to most natural disasters, but there are still some areas that are more statistically prone to them than others. Someone may chose do something terrible to me that is partially motivated by a mental illness beyond his or her control. I may not have all of the information I need to make the choices today that are best for my future, etc.)

You’ll notice that what’s missing from my taxonomy of trials is . . . God. Some people believe that God actively causes every single thing that happens in the world (including all of the bad things). I am of the opinion that most of the bad things that happen in the world happen because we live in a fallen world and God allows them to happen, which means that sometimes other people choose to do bad things to us and sometimes terrible things happen that nobody wanted to have happen at all.

You could still say that God causes category (3) bad things in the sense that if we disobey his commandments, we will be punished for it. Even then, I think that most sins tend to carry within them their own punishment and don’t require God to stand at his computer, hovering over a “smite” button (to paraphrase an old Far Side cartoon).

Even if we accept that there are a lot of bad things in the world that stem from the choices of others or from randomness, we still have a tendency to want to push things into the (3) category. It’s an odd phenomenon, because you’d think that we wouldn’t want to blame ourselves for the bad things that happen to us that genuinely aren’t our fault. However, choosing to shoulder the blame for our trials gives us the illusion of control. (“If I brought this trial on myself by insufficient righteousness, then I can get rid of it by being a better person.”) It also gives us an excuse not to extend empathy to others who are in difficult circumstances. (“Well, if they had just kept the commandments, this wouldn’t have happened to them!”)

In your situation, especially, please don’t blame yourself for your illness. Yes, there are times when health problems result from not taking care of your body properly, but when it comes to mental health, there are so many other factors at play that blaming yourself is generally counterproductive. (In addition, mental health problems affect the very tool you use to make diagnoses—your mind—which means that it’s particularly easy for people with depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses or to blame themselves for having those conditions, in ways they would never do if they had a tumor, an infection, or a broken bone.)

The third point I’d like to make is that our meaning in life can come from how we turn to God as we live with our trials, not necessarily from God tailoring each trial specifically to us. Even if we accept the idea that some trials seem random, we still have the tendency to try to make them fit into a more meaningful narrative. Think of the ups and downs experienced by characters in a romantic comedy—they might seem random to the characters within the story, but from the perspective of a reader looking at the whole story, every conflict or setback has a purpose that thematically fits the story and eventually propels the characters towards their happy ending.

As human beings, we tell stories in order to make sense of life. Conversely, we often look at the events in our life and try to make them fit into the a tidy narrative structure, where every event has a clear purpose. Unfortunately, many people face challenges in life that would make for pretty poorly-structured fiction. (Once there was a person who really wanted to do something and spent a long time trying to do it, but in the end, he wasn’t ever successful. Once there was someone who got really sick for 5 years and pretty much didn’t get anything done in that time. Once there was someone who was trying really hard to keep everything together but in the end her life still fell apart and and things got a lot worse for her and her family.) Letting go of that narrative structure can seem scary, but it's better than beating yourself up for not being able to force your life to fit an arbitrary pattern.

Of course, finding meaning outside of the common and comforting narratives we're used to can be very challenging. I’m reading a book right now called I Can Do Hard Things with God. It’s a collection of essays by Mormon women about dealing with very difficult trials (suicide, severe mental illness, divorce, death of a child, etc.). One of the essays is by a woman named Kylie Turley who has two progressive chronic illnesses and talks a lot about how her condition doesn’t fit into our standard narratives, especially because her health is only going to get worse. She doesn’t shy away from the pain and sadness she feels, but near the end of her essay, she says:

The angel Gabriel told Mary, “With God nothing shall be impossible.” I used to imagine that Gabriel’s “impossible” things were astonishing healings, dramatic environmental wonders, and spiritual marvels. To be healed would indeed be miraculous—black-and-white, intense, direct, grandiose, and marvelous; I revel in the possibility and pray daily for the mere chance. But there is another type of miracle, slow and hazy, so unhurried and obscure that I have to squint my spiritual eyes and search my soul to know if I see it at all. The misty miracle lingers in daily-ness, a sacrament cup filled one meager drop at a time, a soul sanctified by a slow redemptive burn, a chapter in the book of life written word by exquisitely painful word. I am starting to understand the power of a God and the suffering of a Savior who are with me moment by unbearable moment, hour upon painful hour, and day upon drawn-out day, bringing a semblance of grace and peace, illuminating a deep darkness. I see Their handiwork in the “chronic” help given me by godly friends, neighbors, and family around me. . . . Through Him, nothing is impossible. “Help thou mine unbelief.”

I think one of the most difficult things about the kind of problem you’re dealing with is that it deprives you of the opportunity to serve others. It’s one thing to be in a situation where you want something selfish or worldly and you have to give that up for something you know is more righteous. It’s much harder, in my opinion, to be in a situation where you have a righteous desire to make a contribution, but your health or some other external circumstance is making that impossible. The opportunity cost of what you could be doing with your time or energy can be as painful as the disease, itself.

My last point to you is that it’s OK to throw all of your problems back on God, even the problem of not knowing what to do about your problems. (This is similar to the advice I give in Board Question #71755, which might also be helpful for you to read.) If you’re feeling like your situation is purposeless, have you told God that? Have you asked for some reassurance as to your worth in His eyes? Have you asked for daily grace to sustain you even as you can’t see your way through this challenge? I’ll warn you, the answers I get when I ask these kinds of questions are almost never the answers I want or expect, but sometimes I get answers that are better than anything I would have chosen for myself.

- Katya


Not all trials fit the Standard LDS Trial Narrative™. Some trials really are random (and that’s OK). Our meaning in life can come from how we turn to God as we live with our trials, not necessarily from God tailoring each trial specifically to us. It’s OK to throw all of your problems back on God, even the problem of not knowing what to do about your problems.

Question #81848 posted on 03/31/2015 8:08 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board music buffs (Cognoscente et al., looking at you),

Imagine taking a recent or contemporary music group back in time. (You pick the group and the target time period.) How would this have influenced music's subsequent development?

To get at a similar idea from a more general perspective, how much do you think music is influenced by individuals vs. impersonal societal trends, technology, etc.?

~Professor Kirke


Dear Kirke,

This exercise is called a counterfactual, a beloved pastime of history buffs and time travel enthusiasts. I spent a day thinking about this, and it's hard to make any definitive claims. There are so many thresholds of innovation in music history. The invention of the printing press helped establish and promulgate a standard form of notation and spread existing compositions farther than they had ever traveled before. The invention of the phonograph changed how people viewed music completely, from a composition and performance to a recorded commodity. The invention of electronic instrument amplifiers in the 1930s changed the sound of an entire century of popular music. Going back in time and altering any of these revolutions would have unimaginable effects on the history of music.

To answer your second question first, I think music is influenced primarily by broad social and cultural trends and technology, and secondarily (and on a smaller time scale) by outstanding individual artists. Music followed culture throughout the common practice period—there was Baroque architecture and Baroque music, and Romantic art and Romantic music. The Jazz Age wasn't just about the music, it was about the culture and literature and the Harlem Renaissance. Music reflects the zeitgeist of the artists that compose and play it. That's why, despite the fun of imagining Jim Morrison play a set in an Elizabethan court, I don't think you would influence music's development very drastically unless you didn't take a particular artist more than a generation or two into the past. Any more and there would just be too much of a gap in understanding and context. Even the greatest European composers wouldn't know what to make of modern rock-and-roll—it's too deeply rooted in 12-bar blues, which came from old negro spirituals and gospel music, which has its origins in Africa. It would sound like cacophonous folk music, as foreign to their ears as Indian or Chinese tonal scales sound to American listeners.

Here's an example why: Igor Stravinsky. He's generally considered to be one of the greatest composers of the modern era. His works shocked audiences because they flew in the face of established tonality and rhythm, but they were written in reaction to the high Romanticism of dudes like Mahler. Romantic artists wrote flowery and passionate compositions in contrast to the perceived restraint of the Classical era. Classical artists were exploring the simpler clarity ignored in the Baroque era, which favored complex and intricate pieces. If a time traveler whisked away Stravinsky back into any of those previous eras, his music would have been considered the work of a madman. Heck, when The Rite of Spring debuted in Paris in 1913, in Stravinsky's own era, it was so poorly received that it literally started a riot right there in the theater. And yet, it's now considered one of the most influential works of the last century. Context is important.

If I wanted to get the biggest reaction out of a particular period, I would take a modern version of something back to the artists who first pioneered the genre. Imagine taking a modern electronic synthesizer or Pro Tools suite to the guys in Kraftwerk in 1970 and showing them the potential of electronic music. Imagine what young B-boys in the Bronx in 1979 would say if you gave them a box set of the greatest hip-hop recordings of the last 30 years.

Or, instead, enjoy the greatest musical counterfactual in movie history: "All right, this is an oldie... well, it's an oldie where I come from."


Question #81833 posted on 03/31/2015 6:50 p.m.

Dear The Board,

Optimistic. and I recently decided to make attack ads about people we know, because, well, we were bored and it sounded like fun. And it was. So will you please choose a fellow Board writer and make an attack ad about them? You know the drill: dramatic music, unflattering pictures, quotes taken out of context, blatant lies, that sort of thing. For example, I think we have the right to know about Katya's plans to raise taxes in order to fund her own private experiments on orphaned Irish puppies.

- Genuine Article


Dear Ms. Article,

Sadly, we weren't able to get the video to be embedded here on the site, but I'm happy to present an ad that will make you think twice about Gimgimno. It's saved for posterity here on the Board, or you can view it on YouTube here.

Not the type to click on links because you can't be bothered? The video is 34 seconds long, and I can assure you it will be worth every one of those seconds of your time. Trust me. Just like you can't trust Gimgimno. What is he hiding?

- D.A.R.E.

Question #81788 posted on 03/30/2015 7:08 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I was reading question Board Question #71545 to my roommate and when I said, "Stained Glass, and Animal Restraint," she thought I had was talking about a class called "Stained Glass and Animal Restraint." What would be the syllabus for such a class? What department would it fall under? Would it have prerequisites?

-The Cousin of Freshwerf


Dear you and your cousins:

Course Syllabus

Stained Glass and Animal Restraint, HIST 489

Instructor:     Dr. Portia of Belmont

Office:          The Universe

Email:           portiaofbelmont@gmail.com

Office Hours:  24/7



Textbooks: Animals in Early Medieval Art, Carola Hicks. Animal Encounters, Contacts and Concepts in Medieval Britain, Susan Crane

Prerequisite: HIST 202, equivalent, or instructor's permission

Purpose and Objective

What is the relationship between master and servant, the archetype of the Wolf as embodiment of The Wild and the Dog as Man's Best Friend? Did this relationship between Man and Beast change over the course of the Medieval era? What is the history of domestication of animals in the Western world, and how does one see this relationship reflected in Christian art?

This course will explore the meaning of restraint as found in animal imagery throughout Medieval European stained glass artwork. As Carola Hicks puts it, "animal ornament is a crucial element in Medieval art, especially in Britain where pagan imagery from the Celtic and Germanic traditions was adapted for use in Christian art." From the patron saint of Animals, St. Francis of Assisi, to Ambrose's views of birds as models of "social and sexual restraint" (Crane, 84), we will explore the Medieval view of animals, wild and restrained, through primary sources, written and visual. 


Unit 1: Tally Ho! Medieval Hunting: Praxis and Social Norms

From the woven Bayeux tapestry to stained glass images such as the one shown above, Medieval Europeans had a near-talismanic relationship with hunting dogs. We'll discuss how the hunt penetrated all manner of literary and visual metaphors. For example, The Parlement of the Ages presents an early "stages of man" allegory using a young hunter with his crossbow ... and, of course, his trusty dog on a leash. 


Unit 2: All Creatures Great and Small: St. Francis and Love of Animals, Unrestrained

What would St. Francis's views on animal restraint be? It's easy to guess that he may have had more sympathy with the stand of PETA than his contemporaries. By viewing animals as agents in their own right, St. Francis set the stage for Enlightenment-era debates regarding the status of the souls of animals, and what our responsibilities and obligations towards them may be as human actors.

As a Christian saint, we'll have ample opportunity to examine stained glass representations of Francis from throughout Medieval Europe, and debate how the current Pope Francis may or may not carry on his legacy.


All university policies regarding cheating, harassment, and untoward behavior apply. Be prepared for a collaborative project with the School of Arts, to be discussed in further detail the first week of the course.

---Dr. Portia of Belmont

Question #81769 posted on 03/29/2015 1:20 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

If not for the 3/5's compromise in the constitution would Lincoln still have been our president. I know there are a ton of variables, but just assuming that southern states got to count their slave population for their slice of the electoral college.



Dear what do you mean I'm less than b,

That's a really interesting question, actually. For those of you who aren't as familiar with the ins and outs of the U.S. Constitution as b and I are, the Three-Fifths Compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3, and it reads as follows:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free Persons, including those bound to a Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Simply put, only free people were counted when determining how many representatives each state would have in the House. Predominantly slave-holding states felt this was unfair, and wanted to have their slaves count toward that end. A compromise was reached in which three-fifths of the slave population of those states would count toward apportionment of Representatives. That was a good thing for those states, as many of them had large numbers of slaves, sometimes as much as nearly 50% of the overall population of the state. This gave those states more power in the House than they might otherwise have had, and possibly contributed to slavery persisting as long as it did.

So how would the election of 1860 have changed if those slaves had been counted as full people when apportioning out Representatives and votes in the electoral college? Well, to understand that, we'll first need to understand how the election looked in the first place. I've created a helpful map, which you can see below:

1860 actual.png

It's a commonly repeated fact that Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election despite winning less than 40% of the popular vote and not appearing on the ballot in nearly any of the Southern states, but this map shows just how sizable an electoral victory he ended up with. His 39.7% of the popular vote translated into 180 electoral votes, more than the other three major candidates combined. John Breckinridge, the Southern Democratic candidate who supported expanding slavery into the western territories, won nearly all of the Southern states, just missing out on the Border states. Stephen Douglas actually came in second in the popular vote with 29.5%, but ended up with just 12 electoral votes (Missouri's nine and three of New Jersey's seven). Lincoln's support may have been sectional, but the fact is that with so many people living in the North, that section alone was more than enough to carry the election.

But remember, we're not counting 40% of the population of those Southern states. How would the electoral college look if we added them in?

It's actually a trickier process than it seems on the surface. Representatives are apportioned based on the population of their states, which we calculate every ten years during the Census. After those results come in, Congress will generally pass a apportionment bill that establishes the number of Representatives for each state. The 1850 apportionment bill, which was still in effect during the 1860 election, not only established those numbers, but also set a cap of 233 Representatives in the House, which was the current amount at the time. That means that until stated otherwise, when the House was reapportioned, there were a total of 233 seats to go around, so adding Representatives to one state required taking them from another. So if we're going to add Representatives to the South (and we'll need to, if we have an additional 40% of the population we need to take into account), we'll need to take them away from Northern states.

The numbers Congress may have come up with may have been different, but I think mine seem reasonable. I took the total population of the United States in 1850 (2,319,876) and divided it by 233 to see how many people each Representative would represent. That gives us 99,536 people, which I rounded up to 100,000 for simplicity's sake. For every 100,000 people in a state's total population, I gave them one Representative, generally rounding up. That means that Vermont, with an 1850 population of 314,120, got three representatives, while Rhode Island, with a population of 147,545 got two. After checking to make sure that I had a total of 233 Representatives and therefore 303 electoral votes (remember, Washington D.C. couldn't cast electoral votes for the President until the 23rd Amendment in 1961), I came up with the map below. This assumes every state still goes for the same candidate, since while we're counting the state's full population, we're still counting the same votes, since blacks (free or slave) weren't allowed to vote:

1860 reapportioned.png

Some of the Northern states have fewer votes and some of the Southern states have more, but ultimately, it's not enough to really make a difference. Lincoln's electoral votes drop from 180 to 172, but he only needs 152 to win. He still has more than Breckinridge (79), John Bell (40), and Stephen Douglas (still 12) combined. So even if it weren't for the Three-Fifths Compromise, Lincoln would still have won comfortably.

But why stop there? We've already decided to count the South's slave population in apportioning Representatives. If we're going to count them as full people for the purposes of apportionment, why not count them as full people for the purposes of voting? Let's assume that all of the slaves in the South are allowed to vote for whichever candidate they choose.

To figure out how that would change the election, we're going to have to make a few assumptions. First, we're assuming that not only are the slaves allowed to vote, they're allowed to vote free of pressure or harassment. That's a brave assumption, given the wave of Jim Crow laws that prevented blacks from voting freely in the South for generations, as well as general intimidation practices. But since we're already rewriting history, let's go ahead and rewrite it so that they can vote freely. Determining who they'll vote for is trickier still. We can't just look to the North for general voting trends, since blacks weren't allowed to vote anywhere in the U.S. during the 1860 election. We could look at future elections, but that only gives us a sense of party loyalty. A person voting for Ulysses Grant in 1868 wouldn't necessarily have voted for Lincoln in 1860 any more than a person voting for Barack Obama in 2008 would necessarily have voted for Al Gore in 2000.

We're going to have to be a little reductionist here. For the purposes of this thought experiment, I've decided that slaves are going to be single-issue voters, and that their single issue is going to be slavery. The Republican party wasn't as overtly abolitionist as it was in 1856, but it was at least sympathetic to the cause. Lincoln is probably going to be the top choice of slaves in 1860. Douglas and Bell were neutral on slavery, and as mentioned earlier, Breckinridge supported spreading slavery into the Western territories, even in cases where those territories' populations didn't support the practice. (It will come as no surprise to you, I'm sure, that Breckinridge served as a general in the Confederate army after he lost this election.) I'm assuming that when slaves are allowed to choose between these four candidates, 80% of them are voting for Lincoln, 10% each are voting for Douglas and Bell, and 0% will vote for Breckinridge. An inexact method, to be sure, but since we don't have any sort of polling data on the subject, it'll have to do.

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, Lincoln didn't even appear on the ballot in many of the Southern states. (Nor did Breckinridge in many of the Northern states, for that matter.) I decided that in states without Lincoln on the ballot, slaves would split their vote 50-50 between Douglas and Bell, and in cases where Douglas wasn't on the ballot either, slaves went 100% for Bell.

The last bit is the easiest. While we're extending suffrage to the slaves, we're also assuming that not all of them are going to be able to or choose to vote. Voters still have to be over 21 and male to vote in this election. A quick look at the 1860 Census shows that about 44% of slaves were 21 or older at the time, and about half of them were male. Voter turnout was 81% in the 1860 election (one of the highest in history!), so only 17.8% of slaves are actually going to end up voting in the Southern states. We're keeping the apportioned votes the same for this, as you can see below:

1860 suffrage.png

Looks quite a bit different, doesn't it? Lincoln still carries the North handily, and in this case, he very nearly wins Virginia, too, taking 80% of the state's 87,473 voting slaves. (Consider that Bell actually won the state with 74,481 votes in 1860. That's an awful lot of disenfranchised voters.) In fact, with Breckinridge not receiving a single slave vote, he loses all of his states except for two, and he probably only wins South Carolina because at the time, its electoral voters were appointed by the state legislature rather than determined by the popular vote. It wouldn't have mattered how many slaves were voting if the legislature was unchanged. (Of course, if slaves were permitted to vote, the legislature may have had an entirely different makeup.) Bell carries most of the South due to picking up the slave vote. And it doesn't make an ounce of difference, because Lincoln still has 172 electoral votes to Bell's now 107. He's still our President.

Of course, had slaves been given a full vote, everything would been different. Maybe they have a chance to effect some real change in government. Maybe these four candidates stand for different things. Maybe different candidates for the presidency emerge. There's lots to consider. Political science is a complex field with lots of variables, like you said. But even if we don't and can't take all of them into account, it's still fun to think about how things might have turned out differently, isn't it?

- D.A.R.E.

Question #81660 posted on 03/25/2015 8:31 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I recently made a fruit fly trap by putting red wine vinegar in a glass bottle along with a couple drops of dish soap. A few weeks later I noticed that the red wine vinegar hard quadrupled in volume!!! No one had added any other liquids to the bottle. I tried this experiment again only to see that the level on the bottle continued to climb. How is this happening??

- Lindsey Brown


Dear You,

I set up an experiment with red wine vinegar with a few drops of dish soap in it, marked it with a permanent marker, and set it on top of my fridge. 

Here's the following picture to show what took place after 153 hours, or a little more than six days:

red wine vinegar.jpg

it is a supr grate pickshur, amirite?

As you can see, the vinegar level has not risen. If anything, it had fallen. I could wait three more weeks to see what happens, but I feel like this trend would just continue. 
Now, I'm going to try and be open-minded here: You tell me specifically what brand of red wine vinegar and what brand of dish soap you used and I will try the experiment again with you so we can see what happens. If it does indeed rise, I'll do some serious chemistry sleuthing to see what's happening (though what Man, Certainly says sounds logical if there is a change.)
You go and prepare another sample of your vinegar-soap mixture. Announce to your roommates you are preparing one and put it somewhere where they will notice it and ostensibly be tempted to tamper with it if that's what's going on (if they read the Board, this probably won't work.) 

Now, prepare one more sample in secret and put it somewhere they won't think to check, like under your bed or something.

We would now have three samples: Two controls—one at your dwelling, one at mine—and one experimental jar in public.

This setup will help you determine once and for all what is going on with yo' flytrap: Is there some chemical process taking place, or are your meddlesome peasant roommates to blame?

Email me if you're game. ardilla[dot]feroz[at]theboard[dot]byu[dot]edu.


--Ardilla Feroz 

Question #81552 posted on 03/16/2015 10:24 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Let's say that Voldemort tried to kill Harry and the Killing Curse's backlash killed the Dark Lord (like in canon), but that baby Harry was killed by the ceiling collapsing on top of him. How would this affect the lives of the other characters, especially those deeply affected by canon!Harry, like Ron, Hermione, Snape, etc.?

-Chaos Legion


Dear Chaos, 

To be honest, I'm still not sure why Voldemort didn't just toss Harry out the window. He was a year old- it would have been super easy to just kill him with his bare hands and then move on with life. That tiny little plot detail could have undone the entire Harry Potter world, but that would have negated the point of the entire series and of course, we wouldn't be aware that that had happened because Harry Potter would never have been written. But before we delve into how the world might be different, we must first answer the question we have already posed:

Why Didn’t Voldemort Just Toss Harry Out the Window?

The biggest thing we must consider is that Voldemort didn't know the curse wouldn't work when he used it. If he had had access to some sort of window into the future (which raises a whole 'nother point, considering the availability of seeing the future, which will be discussed below) he might have seen that the curse would backfire and destroy his body, eventually leading to the whole story arc. If he had seen that the curse would backfire, he might have chosen another way to kill Harry.

What if Voldemort Knew the Curse Wouldn’t Work?

So let’s say that he knew the curse was going to backfire. Just because he knew that would happen doesn’t mean that he knew why it was going to happen. Voldemort didn’t fully understand love, after all, given the circumstances of his conception and birth. I’m sure that he was familiar with the concept of love, and what it entailed. What he was fuzzy on was the power that love imbued people with and the strength of love. After all, it was Lily’s love for Harry that caused the curse to backfire. Voldemort wasn’t stupid, though. He knew that most parents loved their children, and I’m sure that he was aware that Harry’s parents deeply loved him. But it would be a bit of a stretch to assume that the curse backfired because of love.

I mean what a foreign concept! The killing curse had never failed before (in recorded history), so it’s doubtful that anyone had any idea that it was fallible, and even if they did have some idea that it was fallible, they likely didn’t know what could cause it to fail. As a side note, this part of the plot and the world-building is a bit problematic. Rowling never tells us how long magic has been around, but it can be easily assumed from the text that magic has existed for a very long time. I can’t really quantify that, other than that we know magic is archaic and longstanding. So if it’s the case that magic has been around before, it’s likely that the killing curse had been used a substantial amount of times. How could it not have been? The wizarding world has likely seen its fair share of warfare and bloodshed.

It’s hard to imagine that it took that long (again, I can’t quantify how many years here, but a substantial length of time) for anyone to discover that the killing curse could fail and backfire on the wizard who cast it. I find it hard to believe that at some point in history, someone didn’t sacrifice themselves for a loved one and die by the killing curse, only to have the killer try to use the curse again on the loved one and have it rebound. Those were the ingredients, right? Love protects the second (or third, theoretically) person who is about to become a potential victim. As long as someone with a substantial amount of serious, deep love sacrifices themselves first, then the person they sacrificed themselves for should be able to escape the curse.

So my question is: How did this not happen at any point before Harry’s family came along? Sure, the whole of wizarding society has its fair share of miscreants and evildoers and whatnot, but people sacrifice themselves all the time! We saw it several times alone in the current canon. I will grant Rowling a bit of leniency here though (how thoughtful of me!): even if it did happen and had been recorded and the wizarding world was well aware that the killing curse could be rendered useless by the power of love, it had probably not been rendered useless on very many infants before. Harry was probably one of the youngest to have been saved by this caveat.

So let’s go back to Voldemort finding out somehow that the curse would backfire, but not understanding why. Let’s go back to assuming that Harry would have been the first one to survive. In this instance, Voldemort might have been more careful the night that he approached the Potters’ home. He might have been more cautious about using the killing curse in general. If it was to backfire on Harry, who’s to say that it wouldn’t backfire on Lily or James first? Of course, if he had used divination, or required someone to use it for him (or let’s say he had found a slightly more helpful prophecy than the one he decided to base his actions on) he would have seen that it would only have backfired on Harry. He might have then felt safe to use it on Lily and James and use another means to dispose of Harry.

Why Wouldn’t a Time Turner Have Been Involved?

Voldemort probably wouldn’t have felt safe in making any assumptions about what would cause the curse to backfire. A time-turner would have been an impossible addition to this plot line. If he had decided to use the killing curse anyway and it had backfired, he wouldn’t have been able to use a time turner, and the bedroom of a baby is no place to try to stop yourself. Voldemort would have been smart enough to not be confused by the sudden presence of himself in Harry’s room (had Voldemort somehow been able to use a time-turner) but it could have become messy very quickly and the whole time-travel thing that involves stopping yourself from destroying yourself is messy and I really don’t think we can consider it, since again, he wouldn’t have been in any kind of shape to turn back time.

Did it Have to be The Killing Curse?

So we’ve ruled out a time-turner in this situation. Are there any other curses or means whereby Voldemort could have killed a baby? I would err on the side of no. I don’t believe that any other killing curse exists- at least not one that kills someone immediately. If that were the case, it surely would have been included in the canon, or at least in the big three curses that Harry and the others learn in Defense Against the Dark Arts. There were probably other magical means that Voldemort could have killed infant Harry, but at that point they probably would have all been messy or rather time consuming. Voldemort wouldn’t have been as pressed for time at that point (because the rebounding of the curse is what destroyed the Potters’ home and alerted everyone else) but he might have felt hassled by slower methods.

Why Didn’t Voldemort Have Someone Else Kill Harry?

A better solution would have been for one his Deatheaters to kill Harry instead. Rowling’s canon says nothing about whether or not that might work. Technically, you might be able to assume that Lily’s protection would protect Harry regardless of who cast the killing curse, but there’s also an equally safe assumption in saying that it would have only protected Harry from Voldemort. Thus, a Deatheater could have been responsible for Harry’s death. Voldemort liked to do the killing himself, but if he was facing a certain demise either way, I think he still might have been willing to have someone else do it for him.

Another possible scenario would have Lily dying last, and Harry dying in the middle. But even that raises thorny questions. If Lily had died last, her love would not have been able to protect Harry, since she was required to sacrifice herself first to save him. But then why didn’t James love save Lily or Harry, even? James surely loved Lily and Harry. The movie (no, it’s not canon-sue me!) shows James sending Lily off to go protect Harry, while he faces Voldemort first. This isn’t a crazy assumption to make overall, though. I’m sure that even in the book, he was likely trying to protect his wife and son before he was killed first. In that vein of thought, his love should have been deep enough to be able to save Lily. If he had saved Lily, then Voldemort would have tried to kill her next and the curse would have rebounded off of Lily (via James’ protection) and destroyed Voldemort, leaving Lily and Harry to live out the rest of their lives.

Why Didn’t James’ Death Protect His Family?

So the question here is: why didn’t James’ death protect his family? Was his love not as deep for Lily as Lily’s was for Harry? Is there some sort of subtle commentary about the love that a mother has for her child being paramount to spousal love? Perhaps there is, because as we know, James’ death did nothing to save his wife. There’s simply not enough context in the canon to know for sure why James’ death did not save Lily and then Harry.

Heidi Book suggested that it was perhaps the result of Lily having a choice, and James not having that same choice. She references Voldemort telling Lily to stand aside, telling her that she didn’t need to die too. So we know that James needed to die, and Lily didn’t. James didn’t have the choice to die, even if he did die protecting his wife and son. Because Lily could have lived otherwise, but still made the ultimate sacrifice for her son, she was able to protect Harry in a way that James couldn’t. This is actually a really plausible theory that I didn’t think about when I originally wrote this, but I’ve added it in now, because it adds a dimension that wasn’t there before.

So if we go off of the working assumption that James’ death would do nothing to protect the rest of his family, we could then have Voldemort killing Harry second and Lily third. It would be fairly easy to incapacitate Lily without killing her and wrest the baby from her arms. We don’t know if Lily used magic against Voldemort to try and protect Harry in her last moments, but even if she did, Voldemort was a seriously powerful wizard and Lily was no match for him, magically or physically. With Lily unconscious or magically bound or something, it would have been a moment’s work to use the killing curse on Harry. At that age, Harry had no deep emotional bond with his mother. Frankly speaking, no one year old is capable of any of that kind of stuff, so there’s no way that we can even begin to assume that he could sacrifice himself in order to protect his mother. Harry would have died instantly, and then it would have been a breeze for Voldemort to turn his wand on Lily and finish the job.

This altered scenario assumes that Voldemort would have understood why the killing curse would end up backfiring on him, but if we’re still under the assumption that Harry would have been the first to survive the curse, then it’s unlikely that even Voldemort could have figured out that it was the protection Lily’s love that would be the cause. Dumbledore clearly was able to figure that out later, but Dumbledore was one of the wisest wizards to ever live and we have no idea how he figured it out, or how long it might have taken it him. So there’s no indication at all that Voldemort would have been able to understand.

Going back to somewhere near the beginning, we can start to put some of the pieces together in a more clarifying and illuminating manner. We know that Voldemort couldn’t just throw Harry out a window or dispose of him non-magically because he didn’t know the curse was going to backfire. If we operate under the assumption that he knew it would backfire, we could potentially assume a few scenarios that would leave Harry dead and Voldemort alive. But those get thorny and raise some questions that only Rowling could answer, such as:

Why Didn’t Voldemort Use Divination to See that the Curse Would Fail?

Why didn’t Voldemort use divination to see into the future and ascertain whether or not he would be successful? Had he done that, he would have been able to avoid the whole shebang that followed. He was already operating almost completely under the contents of Trelawney’s prophecy, so clearly he believed in divination quite deeply. It’s a little strange that he would so deeply believe in divination when he was such a powerful and intelligent wizard already. Contrast that belief with Hermione’s derision of the art, and it’s an interesting comparison. But that’s beside the point. If Voldemort believed in the art of divination and prophecy (and he clearly did, especially if he was taking a prophecy from Trelawney (of all the seers!) so seriously!), surely he would have consulted some other seer for further information? It’s a bit odd to me that he wouldn’t have. But then again, Voldemort was arrogant and had a sizeable ego.

He may have assumed that this was a no-brainer of an operation and would not take him long. We can see evidence of his ego in the fact that he wanted to get an entire matching set and take out the whole family. He could have just marched in there and killed Harry directly (he would have died if his mother had not died before him) and solved the whole thing, but left Lily and James alive (or even killed them second and third), but instead he decided to kill from the top down, collecting pieces, if you will. So we could potentially excuse away his lack of preparation in consulting an oracle or further prophecy by using his ego. I don’t think that’s a particular strong excuse, but it makes sense and it would account for it. And frankly, there aren’t too many other explanations that would outline why he wouldn’t have consulted anyone else to look into the future. It seems to be a readily available enough resource (albeit more of an art than a science, really), but maybe Voldemort believed so readily in prophecy that he figured it was set in stone and again, pretty simple to take care of.

But all of this is ignoring the simple fact that Voldemort had already been splitting his soul at this point. He wanted to use Harry’s death to make his final horcrux. (Side note: some have said that Voldemort intended to turn Harry into a horcrux, but how could this be true? Like Nagini the horcrux, Harry would have continued to live, and it would be patently unsafe to keep a sliver of your soul in the living body of the person prophesied to destroy you. To create a horcrux required taking a life, and Harry’s life was going to be the price of Voldemort’s final horcrux.) After all, what better way to remember you cinching up the game by destroying the competition than by turning a baby’s death into a soul-carrying memento, right? It’s appropriately dark for Voldemort. And as we know, it takes some seriously dark magic to split your soul and create a horcrux. And what curse constitutes darker magic than Avada Kedavra? Voldemort’s pride and ego got in the way here again. He was so intent on creating a horcrux out of Harry’s death that he was dead-set (no pun intended) on using the killing curse against him.

Was Harry a Horcrux or Not?

I did some more reading on horcruxes here, and discovered that Harry is actually not technically a horcrux, even accidentally made, as I suggest below, and as Rowling says. There’s actually quite the controversy on whether or not Harry was actually a horcrux. Rowling and her canon say that he is, but fans and the Harry Potter Wikia ardently insist that he is not a complete horcrux. I address both possibilities in various parts of this. The following is the argument against Harry being a horcrux:  When Voldemort’s curse rebounded, it caused what remained of his soul to split, with one fragment dying with his body, while the other fragment rebounding and inserting itself into the closest living thing: Harry. So because this was not intentional and Harry was not actually killed, he could not technically be his own horcrux, in a manner of speaking. Harry just held onto Voldemort’s soul fragment until his final encounter with Voldemort. This explains a lot, actually, as we later learn that the soul fragments within Horcruxes have some magical and even physical powers. Recall Slytherin’s locket trying to strangle Harry and causing the wearer to be moody and have dark thoughts. If Harry had been a horcrux, he would not have a particularly pleasant (or normal) person to be around and even though he was very angsty in some of the books (as well as Ron), he did not have that effect on everyone, and therefore we know that a seventh horcrux was never made.

In the end we do know that the soul fragment in Harry didn’t really affect his personality. It did have physical effects on him, allowing him to connect with whatever remained of Voldemort via dreams and intense pain when he was near Voldemort, but the fragment clearly wasn’t able to interact with Harry’s soul. This raises a completely unrelated question, but would it have been possible for the other horcruxes to somehow connect, communicate or pull on the soul fragment within Harry? I mean, Harry wore a horcrux for several months on his body. Presumably (barring our incomplete knowledge as to the residence of the soul), the soul fragment in the locket was pretty close to the soul fragment within Harry. With the power that the fragments had, it’s a little surprising to realize that they didn’t have any interaction or pull on each other. The soul fragment within Harry was not strong, but the one in the locket was strong. And yet, it still tried to strangle Harry. I wonder if the horcruxes were able to communicate with each other, because apparently a horcrux soul fragment could not communicate with a non-horcrux soul fragment. I don’t think that the soul fragment in the locket had any clue that a soul fragment resided within Harry.

This realization that Voldemort really wouldn’t have used any other means than the killing curse to kill Harry because he wanted to use his death to make his last horcrux almost completely undoes pretty much all of the theorizing up above (which was still important, despite being negated). Voldemort would never have used a deatheater or any other means to kill Harry. If the curse had worked, or Harry had died by other means, then Voldemort would be missing out on his prize horcrux. It gets thornier again if we assume that Voldemort knew the curse would backfire. If he had known the curse would backfire, but was still set on making Harry’s death the last of his horcruxes, he might have taken Harry hostage while he attempted to figure out why the curse would backfire. And overall, the prophecy said that one must kill the other, so Voldemort still would never have entrusted the killing of Harry to anyone but himself. As far as we know, he came to the Potters’ home that night completely alone. The canon does not suggest that anyone came with him.

At this point, we can’t assume if Lily’s protection was ever going to wear off or not. I think we could perhaps say that her protection was lifelong, so Voldemort would never have been able to use Harry’s death to create his final horcrux. At some point, he might have grown bored of Harry and disposed of him, or he might have turned Harry into a tool. Harry was good, yes, but under Voldemort’s tutelage, he might have grown just as dark and twisted as Voldemort. But then, would Voldemort have taken Harry in to train him? What incentive would he have had to try and turn the boy who supposedly would destroy him into a trained, dark wizard? That would never have ended well for Voldemort. It’s far more likely in this instance, that with the proposed assumptions dawning on Voldemort, that he would have just sucked it up and considered other ways to kill Harry in a normal fashion – or at least in a fashion that didn’t require the killing curse.

If there was some other way to kill Harry without using the killing curse that simply took longer or was messier, Voldemort probably could have easily taken infant harry and then killed him via those other methods on his own time. But then again, Lily’s protection might also have extended to other methods of magical killing that were dark, but maybe not as dark as avada kedavra. The real hole in the plot here is in not understanding the full capabilities of Lily’s gifted protection. If we understood its extent and abilities, it would be far easier to theorize Voldemort’s various potential actions in different scenarios. And if I wanted to add another major hole, I would also add our lack of understanding about the history of dark magic. Considering how the plot revolves around the use of dark magic, it’s really somewhat surprising that we know so little of its history, usages and limits. Adding those two together (so really, the understanding of dark magic, and the understanding of defense against dark magic) would allow us so much more insight in Voldemort’s mind the night that he killed Harry’s parents.

Even if it didn’t have to be dark magic that killed Harry, Voldemort was still limited in the magical ways that he could have done it. For instance, it was suggested on Reddit that Voldemort could have just conjured up a large rock and dropped it on Harry, but we are reminded of Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration. Hermione notes five exceptions to the law, but we only know that one of them is food, meaning that any wizard can conjure up food without having to know where it exists somewhere in the world. Rocks and other related sundries might have been an exception, but if they weren’t, Voldemort would have had to go rock hunting, pick out the perfect rock to crush a one year old, and then transfigure it. It’s certainly not an elegant way to kill your infant enemy, and if Voldemort was one thing, it was elegant.

We also mustn’t forget the true depth of Voldemort’s belief in magic. Magic was more important, more powerful to him than anything any Muggle could have ever created. Dark magic was even more powerful. With that kind of mindset, it’s easy to see why he was so sure that the curse wouldn’t backfire. All of this explains exactly why Voldemort couldn’t/wouldn’t kill Harry by any other means than the killing curse (a rock is about as non-magical as you get). Assuming he knew that the curse would backfire still doesn’t open very many other avenues for killing Harry, given Voldemort’s personality and propensities.

So we know (and can pretty safely assume) that there wasn’t really any way for Voldemort to kill Harry. So if Harry was going to die that night, it would have been by some other cause. With all of that out of the way, we can move slightly out of the realm of magic and into the realm of actual, real-life possibilities. The house had just been blown up since the curse had backfired (as you said) and we know that the house was reduced to rubble. Hagrid references pulling Harry from the remains of the home. We know that it wasn’t just a simple hole in the roof or a blown out window, either, since Harry goes back to the remains of the home he lived in for only a year. Voldemort’s physical death caused some serious damage.

In all reality, there’s not really any particular reason that Harry should have survived the destruction of his home. He’d just been branded with what was likely a very painful, fresh scar on his forehead. It’s hard to believe that he didn’t suffer any other immediate, physical effects from the curse backfiring, but Lily’s protection was strong, and the canon doesn’t mention any other effects, so we must assume that he escaped the curse mostly unscathed. However, it’s unlikely that Lily’s protection extended to physical, non-magical infrastructure, but again, this is where our limited knowledge of the extent of Lily’s defense leaves us high and dry.

I’m inclined to say that Harry probably should have died in the explosion or in the collapse of the house, but clearly he somehow survived. Whether this was just a happy miracle, or by magical intervention, we’ll never know.

More on Whether Harry was an Actual Horcrux:

However, at this point, Yayfulness pointed out that Harry wouldn’t have died in the roof collapse almost assuredly. At this point, he would have been turned into the accidental horcrux, and as we know, horcruxes can’t be destroyed easily at all. A roof caving in would absolutely not kill Harry in his new status as a horcrux. So technically, Harry’s pretty indestructible at this point- there’s really only a few very slim chances that he would have died, and any death in the aftermath of Voldemort’s explosion would have been pretty dang impossible. My retroactive research after this conversation with Yay reminded me that Harry wasn’t actually a horcrux, accidental or not, so he actually wasn’t as immortal as we think. Really, it was just pretty impossible for Voldemort to kill Harry, but it was completely possible for Harry to die by natural, non-magical/non-Voldemort causes.

But then again, why didn’t Harry die when he was stabbed by the basilisk? Surely that would have killed him, since the basilisk fang destroyed Hufflepuff’s cup and Riddle’s diary? I think we could probably safely explain that one away via the Pheonix and his tears. It’s not a super strong argument and it certainly has holes, but it’s the only way we can explain it within the canon, unless Lily’s protection was still in effect at that time. I decided to do some additional research on this and found that Rowling herself had commented on this question:

“I have been asked that a lot. Harry was exceptionally fortunate in that he had Fawkes. So before he could be destroyed without repair, which is what is necessary to destroy a horcrux, he was mended. However, I made sure that Fawkes wasn't around the second time a Horcrux got stabbed by a basilisk fang, so the poison did its work and it was irreparable within a short period of time.... I established early in the book, Hermione says that you destroy a Horcrux by using something so powerful that there's no remedy. But she does say there is a remedy for basilisk poison but of course it has to be administered immediately and when they stab the cup later - boy I'm really blowing this for anyone who hasn't finished the book - there's Fawkes, is my answer. And thank you for giving me a chance to say that because people have argued that quite a lot.”

So there we go, Fawkes is the answer and that’s why the basilisk didn’t kill Harry, and that’s why Harry is, essentially, immortal, provided he IS actually a horcrux. Although when we look at the other horcruxes that were destroyed by the basilisk fang (the diary and Hufflepuff’s cup) we note that they were destroyed almost immediately when pierced by the fang. Harry wasn’t destroyed immediately, and there was definitely some time (the space of a few seconds to a minute or more) as Fawke’s descended to Harry. If he had been a horcrux, shouldn’t he have been immediately destroyed when the fang pierced his blood stream? Perhaps it takes longer for basilisk venom to destroy a horcrux in a living thing. But either way, Rowling’s quote suggests that she intended for Harry to be a horcrux, not just a vessel for Voldemort’s soul fragment.

Horcrux or not, we can all agree that a piece of Voldemort’s soul was within Harry.

Okay, Almost Time for the Character What-If’s:

Despite the fact that the roof caving in would NOT have killed Harry, we’ll go ahead and pretend that it does. We’ll completely throw away the accidental horcrux making and say that that didn’t happen and that Harry died, and the piece of Voldemort’s soul died.

Lily’s protection apparently only protects in the case of magical injury and Harry does end up dying that night. So what happens, you ask? How does the world of everyone else change in the aftermath? The biggest question here is:

Is Voldemort Actually Defeated if Harry Wasn’t a Horcrux?

I originally assumed that Voldemort was defeated when Harry died (because if Harry wasn’t a horcrux, then Voldemort only had six fragments left), but then Zed pointed out that that was a bit of a hasty assumption. Technically, one soul fragment would be enough to keep a wizard alive in his unfavorable, incorporeal state, as proven by the fact that the very few magical folk who had made a horcrux had only made one. So if Voldemort had been blown up that night, he still technically would have been able to be restored by Wormtail or anyone else who was equally dedicated. I’ll admit that it’s very likely that Voldemort would have been restore-able. Seven is the most powerful wizarding number, and with only six, it’s likely that Voldemort would not be as powerful as he might have been with seven fragments, but he could still come back to some semblance of his powers.

Is Voldemort Actually Defeated if Harry Was a Horcrux?

The answer here is probably no. If Harry was a Horcrux and did manage to die that night somehow (we know that that’s highly unlikely) in a roof collapse involving magical fire or a basilisk fang, Voldemort would be weaker, but also again still restore-able. So that brings me to my next and final question which is the assumption I base all of the following character stories on:

Is Voldemort Actually Defeated if Harry died?

Regardless of whether he was a horcrux or not, I choose to make the assumption that yes, Voldemort is defeated. His Death Eaters were aware of the prophecy and knew that one must kill the other. They didn’t know about the horcruxes, though. Very, very few were aware those existed. Without that knowledge and with the understanding that both Harry and Voldemort had perished (why would they ever believe that Voldemort had survived?), the Death Eaters wouldn’t be as committed to Voldemort, for obvious reasons. If you’ve believed that your leader had just died, but his nemesis had lived you would likely go after his nemesis and try to revive your leader. But if both leader and nemesis die, revenge has very little point and the prophecy appears to have been fulfilled. The Death Eaters would not be likely to stick around to try and restore Voldemort, and for that reason, I assume that Voldemort is actually defeated if Harry dies.

I could, of course, assume that Voldemort isn’t defeated when Harry dies, but that would nearly double the length of the character follow-ups below and this answer is already horrendously long. I’ll just sum up very quickly what would happen overall: Neville would end up being Voldemort’s next target (just to cover the bases), Dumbledore would have an epic battle with Voldemort, and Hermione and Ron would have nothing to do with the fighting.

Okay, Time for Character Stories:

Of course, this is all purely conjecture, but then again, this whole thing has just been a load of conjecture, assumptions and canon-based discussion. Taking Harry completely out of the equation changes the world entirely, and what happens in the world. Buckle your seatbelts, because this question is only about to get longer as I dissect what might have potentially happened to the rest of the characters (provided the assumption that Voldemort never regains his powers and returns):


Let’s start with Ron, since he was Harry’s first real friend. His life would have been arguably very, very different. He first met Harry at Hogwarts, after they had been sorted into Gryffindor. Up until this point, his life would have been relatively unchanged with or without Harry’s presence. Voldemort would still have been destroyed. Technically, he would have been off living his less-than-human self, but without his seventh horcrux in Harry (Harry would have died, and with him, the accidental horcrux that he created in Harry would have died) he wouldn’t have been able to reconstruct himself completely and return to his old powers.

So at this point, Voldemort is effectively defeated, with Harry being the sacrifice for this defeat. The rest of the wizarding world probably doesn’t know that Harry’s death was caused by the house caving in. They might have assumed that somehow Harry’s death also caused Voldemort to die, at which point, the prophecy may have resurfaced and Harry’s death would have been explained away as a necessary sacrifice for Voldemort’s demise. Infant Harry would have been lauded by the wizarding world and venerated as the infant who saved everyone by dying. Hooray! Cheery thoughts!

However sad this might be, to Ron’s family, this was a welcome boon. Molly had a bunch of young boys at the time of Harry’s death, and was probably pregnant with Ginny. She was likely saddened by the sacrifice made by an infant she never had anything to do with, but now it meant there was hope for her children to grow up in a safe environment. Ron probably would have grown up hearing the story once or twice, but not really dwelling on it. Since Harry wasn’t alive, he and his story wouldn’t have been the objects of such fascination and reverence. Harry’s story would probably not have had a huge effect on Ron growing up.

A fun side story might entertain the thought of Molly naming her newborn daughter Harriet, or something similar in remembrance of the infant that died. In fact, if Harry had died, it’s very likely that many young wizarding children born after his death would have received the same name, or some derivative.

The story for Ron really starts changing when he gets to Hogwarts. Without Harry to be his friend, he would have likely been good friends with Seamus and Dean. He probably still wouldn’t have had a lot of patience for Neville, but even Neville would have been drastically different. I won’t give Neville his own section, but after the demise of Voldemort and death of Harry, it’s unlikely that his parents would have been targeted by the Deatheaters (his parents were tortured around 1982), who would have probably died out (since Voldemort would never again regain his old powers, Wormtail would have never worked to help Voldemort, and the rest of the Deatheaters would have gone back to their old lives, or gone to Azkaban) and Neville would have grown up in a relatively stable household, despite his family’s fears that he was a squib.

So Neville probably wouldn’t have been as jittery and fearful and self-conscious as he was, and Ron would have gotten along just fine with him. It’s not too difficult for four similar young men to get along fine, especially without Harry to create some divisiveness in the group (like it or not, Harry was divisive without every really meaning to be).

Ron would have never been a stellar student, still, but he might have been more relaxed and easy-going. He would have been plagued by less self-doubt. As good as a friend to Ron as Harry was, Harry overshadowed Ron and Ron had already been overshadowed his whole life by his older brothers. Without Harry as his best friend, Ron’s talents and personality would have shone through a little more and he might have been less prone to his fits of moodiness.

I think he still would have tried out for the Quidditch team, and I think he also would have made the team. He wasn’t a fabulous player, but he wasn’t awful. Without Harry causing his self-doubt and fears he would have been a stronger player and without Harry’s obvious skills on the team outweighing his own, he would have ranked a little bit higher. But who would have been seeker if Harry was not there to fill that role? It’s hard to say. Ginny (or Harriet, if we go with that little plot addition) would have filled that role in her second year, most likely, but until then, for those first two years without Harry or Ginny, an older student would have had to fill the role and Gryffindor would probably not have been nearly as successful in Quidditch. Similarly, they probably wouldn’t have won House Cup, without Harry and his escapades causing Dumbledore to top the scales heavily in Gryffindor’s favor (side note: seriously, why did no one ever call Dumbledore out publicly on his obvious favoritism?)

Ron wouldn’t have had Scabbers, either. His family would still have been poor, but Ron might have been sent to school with a toad, but in all likelihood, he would have shared an owl with his brothers. Scabbers would not have been the beloved family pet passed down through the brothers, and Hermione’s cat would then not eat Scabbers, causing less contention between Hermione and Ron (not that any contention between them would really exist in a Harry-less future)

All in all, I think Ron would have had a fairly average, boring life. I don’t think he would have married Hermione, though. By Rowling’s own admission, Hermione and Ron should never have been gotten together in the first place. It’s an unnatural pairing, but even if Harry was absent (since Harry and Hermione would have been the obvious pairing), it’s doubtful that she would have married Ron. Ron took a while to warm up to Hermione, and Hermione didn’t make friends easily. Ron would have continued to see her as stuck-up and insufferable and Hermione wouldn’t have been so fondly accepted into Gryffindor as she would have been with Harry.

Ron might have gone on to marry Lavender Brown, but given how annoying Lavender was and how messy that relationship was, I still don’t really see that happening as much. He may not have even gotten into a relationship with Lavender Brown. He might have gone after some other girl in another House. I think if Harry died, Ron’s love life would be drastically different and he would marry someone we were never introduced to in the books. Ron might have graduated and gone on to work at the Ministry of Magic like his father, in a quiet department that was more clerical than anything else.

Basically, I predict a pretty normal, non-spectacular life for Ron that is very similar to his father’s. I don’t predict quite the same level of poverty or as many children, but Ron is by no means rich. He merely lives a quiet, comfortable lifestyle with his wife a few children.


While Ron’s life is drastically altered, I actually see Hermione’s personality playing out pretty much the same way that it did in the book. Of course Hermione didn’t grow up knowing about Harry Potter or Voldemort, or The Boy Who Died, but she would have read about it before school started and would have been familiar with the story. However, it would have likely just been another story in a long litany of magical histories that she would have read and it probably wouldn’t have had the same effect on her that it would have on Ron’s family and the families of other wizards.

So Hermione goes to school, and gets sorted into Gryffindor. Harry’s presence had had no effect on Hermione up until and past her sorting, so I’m fairly confident that the Sorting Hat would still place her in Gryffindor. However, the troll would have never been let in (on account of Quirrell not being possessed by Voldemort) and Hermione would never have really had a reason to become friends with Ron. The two would have likely avoided each other and Hermione probably would have continued to be fairly snooty until her later years as she grew up and matured. I don’t imagine that Hermione would have had too many friends outside of the females in her year who were in Gryffindor, and even then they might have been irritated with Hermione.

I think Hermione would have continued to be far too eager to prove herself, and to engage in learning. I think she would still have been granted a time turner in her third year, but without Sirius Black on the loose (more on him below), she would have continued to have been entrusted with the time turner.

There’s two ways this could go from here: Hermione could either be completely overwhelmed by her ambition, burn out and continue quietly and slightly less manically through her years at Hogwarts after a nasty mental breakdown, or she could end up succeeding wildly and becoming one of Hogwarts’ top graduates. I think it might be a mix of both. I think with the time turner in play she would continue unchecked with her ambition until the professors would start noticing how run-down and ragged she was. Her lack of a social life would give her more time to do homework, but eventually even she would be overcome. Her professors would insist on moderation with the time turner, but Hermione would still be wildly ahead of the rest of her peers.

As a result of Harry not being around, Hermione would miss out on a lot of valuable life experiences that helped shape her into the brave, humbler, determined woman she became. She would, of course, miss out on the troll. She would not be turned into a cat, or petrified. She would not have to use obliviate on her parents, or go on the lamb. She would finish her education, and get a high-paying, top job at the Ministry of Magic. After a few years of that job, she would be invited back to Hogwarts to teach, since she was the best in her class and was one of the best students ever seen, behind Dumbledore and Voldemort, of course.

To be completely honest with you, I see Hermione growing older and more similar to Minerva, perhaps even taking over her post as transfiguration professor. Eventually, Hermione would become Headmistress of Hogwarts. She would be wiser and capable of that post at that age, even without the experiences that shaped her. However, I see equal likelihoods of Hermione being single. That’s not to say that she wouldn’t have love interests, or even get married, but I just don’t see Hermione as really settling down with anyone. She’s very ambitious and high-powered and love was never high on her list. With such successes, she definitely doesn’t marry Ron, and there aren’t too many other people that she could or would marry. I vaguely entertained the notion of her marrying Percy, but they’re both too high-strung and high-powered. Percy and Hermione would be constant competition, but Hermione would pull ahead. Percy was too peevish to go too far. Hermione knew how to charm and work with adults.

I could potentially see Hermione having a daughter similar to herself, but with personality differences enough to cause some disharmony and issues, but beyond that, I don’t see Hermione having any other children. Her associations with Ron and Harry softened her, if you will.

Hermione might have still had her flirtations with Viktor Krum during her fourth year, but even though the book is a bit misleading in accidentally convincing you that they are much older, Hermione is still only fourteen and Krum is much older and much more famous than she. He would be fascinated with her and she with him, but I don’t see that romance lasting any longer than Hermione’s graduation from Hogwarts. Viktor was simply not smart and snappy enough for her. He was no idiot, despite some of his portrayals in the book, but Hermione needed more personality than he had to offer.

Also, Hermione would likely never have any run-ins with House Elves and would therefore not create SPEW. She would not have any run-ins with centaurs, either, since Dolores Umbridge would have had no reason to be posted at Hogwarts.

Hermione’s daughter grows up pretty much at Hogwarts and while she excels in school, she wants to be an auror and have a more exciting life than the academic life of her mother. She rebels, leaves school without graduating and gets pregnant young. Hermione turns her anguish into books and becomes a very prolific writer, revolutionizing the transfiguration texts and inventing several major spells that she is well known for. Out of Harry’s would-be friends, she is the only one that manages to really make a name for herself long term.


Draco’s life without Harry in it is also interesting to consider. His father would have likely continued a seedy underground life, but his heydays would have been over. Lucky to have escaped arrest, Lucius and his family would remain fairly wealthy, and probably involved in some shadier deals in Knockturn Alley. Draco might have been slightly less bitter and angry, however.

With Harry’s death and Voldemort’s downfall, the Malfoy’s wouldn’t have their scapegoat anymore. There was no object to hate for the downfall of their leader and while Draco would have grown up hating the Potters and Harry in particular, he wouldn’t have hated everyone else quite as much. I still think that he would have been a vindictive, mean boy, but not to the extent that he was in the books.

He would have eventually grown up and grown out of it, marrying some blonde Slytherin (definitely not Pansy) and having one or two aristocratic children. His father’s wealth and his own status would have assured him a job upon graduation and he would have been able to live comfortably, especially since they would still have Dobby in their possession. His life would be drastically changed, of course, but in positive ways. His life would have been far more stable, even if it was dark. He also would have had no reason to hate Ron or Hermione and he probably would have been only vaguely familiar with who they were. He would not have resorted to his darker tactics in the later books.

Draco is eventually arrested for fraud and sentenced to two years in a low-security wizarding prison. His wife leaves him during that time, but his two children are adults by then and are very like their father. They stand by him and Draco eventually sets up shop in Knockturn Alley, doing little more than selling the kinds of things his family used to own.


Ah, Ginny. What would happen to her without Harry in her life? Like Ron, I think that Ginny would have had a fairly mundane life. She would have done well in school and also been one of Gryffindor’s better Quidditch players, playing alongside her brothers for a few years. For the most part, however, I think Ginny would be unremarkable.

She wouldn’t have been as shy and insecure her first year because Harry wasn’t there to make her nervous. She wouldn’t have had a crush on him, and resorted to spilling her feelings into Riddle’s diary. And Riddle’s diary wouldn’t have even made it to her in the first place! It’s hard to say what would happen to Voldemort’s horcruxes, but I think that even if his loyal followers did make an effort to collect them, that they would eventually hit a dead-end and be unable to help Voldemort. So Ginny would never have been brought into the Chamber of Secrets, and she would not have been traumatized or controlled by Voldemort at any point in time.

Ginny would eventually grow to be more secure (if she was still insecure and shy in the first place) and would have been a perfectly likable, productive member of Gryffindor. I could easily see her continuing to date and eventually marrying Dean, especially since Dean would have likely been one of Ron’s good friends. It’s a pretty natural assumption for me, actually. Dean and Ginny had a fairly decent relationship, and without Harry distracting her she would have happily settled into life with Dean.

I think Ginny might have worked a bit- she might have still played professional Quidditch for a little bit, but as a lower-ranked player and eventually I think Ginny would retire to be a home-maker, like her own mother. Without Harry and all of the ambitions and allure and fame that came with him, she wouldn’t really have any reason to be unhappy with a life at home. She and Dean would have three or so kids and life would be just fine and dandy for her. I could also see Ginny returning to Hogwarts to teach as she was also pretty good with her wand.

She and Dean eventually divorce when their youngest is about thirteen and Ginny moves to Scotland where she raises her children and teaches at Hogwarts. Dean goes off and does who knows what. He wasn’t important enough as a character for me to want to follow. He just replaced Harry in Ginny’s life.


Hagrid would have continued to get himself into trouble, I’m sure, but not to the extent that he did when Harry was around. Hagrid would have still been expelled from Hogwarts, and still living on the property, but the night that Harry died he would have shown up to the rubble of the house on Sirius’ motorbike and brought back Harry’s body to Dumbledore with great sadness.

I think it’s easy to assume that Hagrid would have been greatly saddened by this. He’s really a very soft-hearted man, and holding the body of a crushed infant would be so, so painful to him. He would be relieved that Voldemort was gone, but I think he would always secretly protest the cost of getting rid of Voldemort. He would never be fully comfortable with venerating Harry for the sacrifice he made unknowingly.

Hagrid would still be very trusted by Dumbledore, but he would never be a center fixture at Hogwarts. He would go on tending his pumpkins, taking food to Aragog and generally getting into minor scrapes and troubles with his love of dangerous creatures. He would eventually be entrusted the Care of Magical Creatures class, but without Draco’s vindictiveness, he would not get into as much trouble and the class would be a decent one.

Furthermore, I think Hagrid would be kind of lonely. He didn’t have very many friends, especially among the students, and without Harry I think that both Hermione and Ron would never really get to know Hagrid or have anything to do with him. I think when Madame Maxime comes along in the fourth book that he would strike up a slightly longer romance with her that continues off and on. However, I don’t think that Hagrid ever marries or has any children.

Nor does Hagrid ever visit the giants, as Dumbledore later has him do. I think all-in-all Hagrid fares alright. He’s lonely, but he doesn’t realize how lonely he is, because he never had friendships to compare his loneliness with. Also, he’s still always deeply saddened over the night that he pulled Harry’s body from the wreckage and carried it to Dumbledore. He’ll never forget the tiny package, which he carefully and respectfully wrapped in his coat. He froze the entire motorbike ride back to Dumbledore, but to Hagrid and his sense of love and duty, no sacrifice was too small to make for The Boy Who Died.  


It’s pretty easy to try and figure out what Sirius Black would be doing if Harry had died. He would most likely still be alive, but would he still be in Azkaban? The books never say how long Sirius was sentenced to Azkaban for, so it could have been a life sentence. A life sentence would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible for Sirius. He recounts that he was kept sane by the knowledge of his innocence, but with such bleak, dark surroundings, how sane could he really be kept, especially over the course of many decades?

Sirius was spurred to escape after seeing a picture of Wormtail in the Daily Prophet, but if Wormtail wasn’t with the Weasley family when they went on vacation (and we have already decided that Wormtail doesn’t make it to the Weasley family) then Sirius may not have been spurred to escape. I think eventually Sirius may have attempted an escape, but he would have been older and more grizzled and his chances of success would have been much lower. I think that while Sirius ends up staying alive, his future is still very grim. After Harry dies, he is now also blamed for the death of a child, and the wizarding world hates him even more. With Wormtail deep in hiding and not likely to come out anytime soon, no one ever suspects any different. There is no one to clear the record, and Sirius remains in Azkaban until he is either released, or he dies.

Alternatively, I could see him writing to Dumbledore, pleading for help. I know that Dumbledore knows the truth and would believe Sirius, but with the evidence stacked against Sirius, I think that Dumbledore would have great difficulty in getting Sirius out. The wizarding world would also be furious and likely shun Dumbledore, since they would never be so sure of Sirius’ innocence.

I guess I could still see there being a chance of Sirius escaping. Like I said, he would have attempted it later, but he still would have done it. There would be a lot of alarm, but when nothing comes of his escape, everything would die down and Sirius would live a lonely existence, spending most of his time as a large dog, scaring the living daylights out of the remote people he passed, but mostly doing no harm other than to root through some garbage cans or sleep in an opened garage. He would live with immense guilt for the rest of his life, wondering if there was some way that he could have saved any of the Potters.

The Dursley’s

Ah, the Dursley’s. They probably escape with the most positive changes in their lives (according to their own needs and desires, that is) in a Harry-less world. After they receive word of the Potters’ deaths, Petunia is secretly relieved. She’s a little sad deep down that her sister is dead, but she never knew her nephew, really, and it’s such a relief to her that she doesn’t have to hide and worry about the strangeness in her family ever being revealed. Dudley grows up as spoiled as ever, and without anything to check him, ends up in some trouble with the law.

However, by the time this happens, Vernon has risen in the business world and has made several lucrative deals, including the one that was destroyed by Dobby in book 2. They have a holiday house in Majorca and Petunia is delighted with the fact that she can lord it over all of her neighbors. In fact, they have moved from Privet Drive to a ritzier neighborhood. It’s still essentially the same, but the Dursley’s go on with life. There are no strange owls, and there are certainly no issues with a boy living in a cupboard or in a boarded-up room. Dudley’s trouble with the law is soothed by his father’s money and business connections and Dudley goes on to be a rather large bully of a man.

He marries in his early twenties at the insistence of his parents to the daughter of one of his father’s business connections. Of course Vernon would use his son as a pawn! The two have two equally spoiled girls who Petunia absolutely dotes on. No more is ever heard or said of the Potters’.

Petunia was somewhat worried that the nasty wizards would show up with their bodies and ask the Dursley’s to make funeral arrangements, but Harry and his parents were buried in their village and a very lovely monument was erected to them. Petunia was a little perturbed when she found out about the monument, but she quickly got over it, deciding that being alive and free of the wizarding world was worth a stupid monument to her sister and her no-good family.

At the age of 63, when his two granddaughters are 11 and 13, Vernon has a massive heart attack and drops dead. Petunia loses even more weight and becomes an even nastier crone while Dudley falters a bit. He tries to take over his father’s firm and keep his father’s business contracts going, but Dudley has no business expertise. How could he when his father bought him his university degree?

Dudley’s family returns to their former middle-class lifestyle and his daughters grow up slightly less spoiled, but still fairly rotten.


Snape’s story in a Harry-less world is still pretty sad. He obviously hated James and was still in love with Lily, but he feels a sort of weird ambivalence toward the death of Harry. He was a double agent, as we know, but in the aftermath of the Potters’ death he goes back to the good side and gives up the double agent stuff. Every now and again he dips back into that world to check up on the whereabouts and activities of certain Death Eaters, but for the most part it is obvious that his loyalties lie with Dumbledore.

The death of Lily deeply scarred Snape and he was never the same. James’ death had no effect on him, and the death of the Potter baby was merely another death to him. He had little attachment or concern for the child, and in truth, he was happy to be rid of Voldemort.

But now, his life seems to have very little meaning anymore. Everything he did was to protect Lily, and now Lily is dead, and he doesn’t even have Harry to bully or keep an eye on. He teaches potions at Hogwarts and remains a reclusive teacher. He is not as biting and bitter as he used to be, although that still does come out at times. Instead he is deeply sad and lonely, similar to Hagrid. The death of an infant always has that effect on people, even the most seemingly hardened. Snape doesn’t bully Hermione or Ron in the slightest because they are nothing more than two Gryffindor students to him.

Every now and again he reminisces on what might have happened if Lily had married him- if Harry had been his son. The scenario changes every time. What if James and Harry had died and Lily had lived? What if Harry had been his son and Voldemort had still come after them? Snape’s heart grows heavier over the years as he realized the futility of these thought exercises, but they come to him so easily. In his mind, Harry is a tall man, with the eyes of his mother, but the same dark hair as Snape. He is healthy and intelligent and a Slytherin. Sometimes Snape catches himself smiling crookedly as he imagines himself and his son teasing Lily that they are both Slytherins and she is a Gryffindor. But then he reminds himself that Lily is many years dead, and Harry was never his son, anyway.

He still slightly favors Draco and the other Slytherins, but what we are really discovering in a Harry-less world is that everyone is far less polarized than before. People are calmer and more moderate. The extremes no longer exist and Snape only mildly dislikes everything that isn’t Slytherin. After Dumbledore dies and Minerva retires, Snape becomes headmaster of Hogwarts, but only for a very brief amount of time. The school is fine under his administration, but Snape is old and his heart is not in it. He prefers his dark dungeons and the sad memories he still carries around. He returns to the dungeons and an arithmancy teacher becomes headmaster for a few years before Hermione comes around and takes over.

Snape never marries, and he never has any children. He dies one cold December morning just before Christmas in his icy chambers in the dungeon. The last word he breathes is “Always.” His funeral is respectable, if not frigid, and a new potions teacher is quietly hired, replacing Snape, who never told anyone about how broken his heart really was.


Dumbledore is never quite the same after Harry’s death. He feels responsible, somehow, even though it wasn’t he who betrayed the Potters. He is devastated that an entire family was wiped out at the cost of destroying Voldemort. He feels responsible because he was the one who more or less groomed Riddle and brought him into the wizarding world. He saw what Riddle was becoming, but was unable to stop him in his formative years.

Dumbledore is well aware of what year Harry would be in, and he’s well aware that Harry likely would have been in Gryffindor. He is no longer partial to Gryffindor, but when he looks at the classmates that would have been Harry’s peers and friends; he feels that same deep sadness that Hagrid and Snape feel. None of the three men ever share this feeling, but they all carry it together in a way, each connected to the Potter family.

Dumbledore continues as headmaster at Hogwarts for a few years longer after Harry would have graduated Hogwarts, but his heart is longer in it. He feels has now failed twice with two separate dark wizards and he is old and frail. Even he cannot live forever. He retires to a little house on the seaside where he knits socks and dies quietly. He has a lavish funeral and is remembered well in death; even though his life was never quite as glamorous as it would have been had Harry lived. 

Fred and George

Fred doesn’t die, obviously. He continues on with George and the two run a successful magical gag shop for many years. Fred marries Angelina Johnson and they have four children together—all of them boys. George gets married late in life and doesn’t have any children. The two become rather famous and wealthy and enjoy lording it over Ron, who shrugs it off and takes home free things for his own children.


Percy marries Penelope Clearwater and they have two children, both boys who are very much like Percy. Percy and Penelope end up divorcing and Penelope gets full custody of the children. Percy works himself into old age very quickly at a menial desk job at the ministry. He dies in old age very humbled, with neither of his sons by his bedside. His sons both die childless.

Tonks and Lupin

Lupin obviously doesn’t die, and Tonks and Lupin end up having a lovely time together. They have their first son from the books but they also have another son and daughter, all three of which are metamorphmagus. Tonks and Lupin are a fairly happy couple and grow old together and raise their children, all of whom graduate from Hogwarts with good jobs as happy, well-liked and productive members of society. Lupin  and Tonks name their second son James Harry Lupin in memory of James and his lost son. They visit the Potter memorial once a year on the eve of Voldemort’s demise to pay their respects.


Wormtail goes off to hide after the explosion in which he frames Sirius and is never seen or heard from again. In reality, he stowed away on a cargo ship from London that was meant to go to Canada. Wormtail was fairly confident that he could live undercover amongst the Canadian witches and wizards. The ship ended up docking in the Hudson harbor and Wormtail sets up a seedy wizarding shop in the American version of Diagon Alley. He marries a plump, spinster witch and the two live out the rest of their days. Wormtail never pays for his crimes and he is never caught.

Minor Characters and Other Details

Luna Lovegood and her father would continue writing their magazine and escape persecution. Luna and Neville would get married and have one very awkward son who is luckily at least a little more down to earth than his mother. Neville and Luna never have anything to do with Harry and their magazine remains relatively unknown and somewhat mocked by the larger wizarding world. Luna does end up discovering that nargles are real, however, and after that the publication has moderate success and their son is not bullied at Hogwarts.

The basalisk would eventually die deep underground in the Chamber of Secrets and that entire side of the school would smell terribly for a few years until the carcass had rotted away, leaving the skeleton to sit in the darkness. It will not be found until the bathrooms are renovated during Hermione’s time as headmistress. Moaning Myrtle will haunt the bathroom less and less after the renovations, especially now that the years have passed and most of the new students don’t really know who Voldemort is. She will develop a brief crush on Neville’s son, but eventually even Myrtle will leave.

In fact, many of the ghosts will begin to leave the castle in the coming years. Peeves is eventually banished by Minerva in a fit of anger and the other ghosts spread out as Hogwarts becomes a more mundane, usual place.

The Triwizard Tournament is held in Ron and Hermione’s fourth year and the same students participate. Cedric wins easily and the tournament is then regularly scheduled. Cedric becomes somewhat famous and becomes a professional Quidditch player. He marries Cho Chang and they have two daughters who become professional models in the wizarding world (they have to have those, right?).

The Ministry undergoes an overhaul in Hermione’s days there and Dolores Umbridge and many other corrupt officials are removed unceremoniously. They aren’t really heard from again. The new Minister of Magic goes on to forge important alliances with many groups of creatures, including the centaurs and giants. All in all, life in a Harry-less world goes on. It is almost a century before another dark wizard arrives on the scene, and in the modern world it is harder for a dark wizard to go unnoticed and he is quickly taken care of.

Fleur Delacour does NOT marry into the Weasley family, because she never met them. She competed respectably in the Triwizard Tournament, flirted a lot with Krum despite his interest in Hermione and then went on with her life. Her sister did not almost die in the second challenge, and Harry was of course not there to save her not-really-dying sister. After Krum finishes his flirtations with Hermione, he turns his attention back to Fleur Delacour. The two get married and have one daughter before they separate amicably for a few years. They continue to get back together off and on and remain in the wizarding spotlight. Krum goes on to great success as a Quidditch player and is known as one of the best. He regularly sends Hermione Christmas and Birthday cards. She never responds to them.

Dobby the house elf remains in the servitude of the Malfoys. Despite Draco’s improvements, Dobby is still mistreated. Hermione eventually passes laws during her time in the Ministry to ease the burdens of the house elves and Dobby is eventually freed on his 68th birthday. He travels to Hermione’s home where he presents himself and begs her to take him on as her house elf. She rejects his offer, but he stays anyway and becomes more live-in help than anything else. Hermione pays him generously and takes him with her everywhere, including back to Hogwarts when she accepts a teaching position. Even without Harry, the two become good friends.

Minerva (whose name I have conveniently left out of this entire missive because I forgot how to spell it and I’m too lazy to look it up) continues to teach at Hogwarts until Dumbledore retires. She takes his place and is a perfectly fine headmistress for many years before she too retires to a pristine cottage in the countryside.

So there you have it: The fates and lives of most of the Harry Potter cast if Harry had died that night (I skipped Neville and kind of just lumped him in with Ron and with the minor characters- that might be an unforgiveable for some of you guys, but for real, Neville would be SO boring without Harry and the prophecy and what not—it might have never come out that the prophecy was even targeting him as well as Harry). Most of their lives would be pretty boring, even if the exact details aren’t correct. And let’s be real: SO much would change between the books. Quirrell would never have been attached by Voldemort and he probably would have been hired at Hogwarts. The Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching post would not have been cursed and Quirrell might have stayed there for many years. At the very least, someone capable would have easily filled the post.

Snape might have even eventually filled it, had his associations with Voldemort been forgotten or had he really desired the post. With the death of Lily and Harry and his deep sadness, he never quite had the same desire for the post as before. The Sorcerer’s Stone would have remained at Hogwarts for many years, before finally being transferred back to Gringott’s where it would eventually be destroyed (also under Hermione’s mandate—I imagine Hermione passing a lot of regulations and laws during her time in the Ministry of Magic).

Bellatrix Lestrange would have been an interesting one to follow. She was always in love with Voldemort and so eager to follow his every word. But after Voldemort’s demise she would have been sent to Azkaban and I don’t think she would have ever emerged. She would have gone insane. Secretly, she might have even enjoyed the soul-sucking atmosphere of Azkaban. She never had much of a soul to suck.

The Black house would remain empty and unused, and eventually the wizarding world would sell it off in an auction and it would be bought by none other than Horace Slughorn, who would use it as a trophy to store his prizes and collectables. He prefers a comfortable lifestyle though, so he would never dare to live there. He will still run the Slug Club and still teach at Hogwarts, but he will only teach briefly and the Slug Club will never gain much traction, especially after Cedric Diggory refuses to attend.

Essentially, the books would suck if Harry had died young. I mean, that’s kind of an obvious point. Harry is the reason there is a plot. Without him, the books are pretty pointless and they’re just an exercise in world-building. For the most part, the books are pretty airtight. One thing I noticed as I read around and studied up for this answer was that almost all of the plot holes have potential answers. Rowling didn’t even have to retroactively answer a lot of questions for the plot holes to be filled. And her world-building is so airtight that her readers can answer a lot of the questions for her.

Of course, it’s still completely entertaining and fun to speculate as to what might have happened to the characters had Harry died that night, so long as we remember the fact that Harry was pretty much immortal and that this is all impossible speculation. Yayfulness remarked that it was kind of a downer to realize that Harry was immortal for pretty much the entire series, and I think he’s right. It ruins a lot of the suspense once you pick apart the specifics of Voldemort’s attack and why Harry survived it, but it still makes sense. All of those times that Harry could have been killed and he wasn’t?

One thing I still do want to know is how detailed Rowling’s plans were. Some people think that she didn’t have the horcurxes all planned out before she revealed them in the last few books, while others thing that everything aligned too perfectly in the earlier books for the horcruxes to be an idea that came along accidentally as she was finishing them up. I think Rowling’s world-building was the strongest in the earlier books, and while those ideas may have been vaguely there, the finer details definitely came to her more as she wrote the later books.

All in all, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a bit obsessed with theoretically analyzing Harry Potter. The whole “Why didn’t Voldemort just chuck Harry out the window?” question has bothered me for forever and this question finally forced me to do some research on it. Reddit and the Harry Potter Wiki were all very helpful, as were the other writers references throughout this answer who provided commentary and additional thoughts and explanations.  In the end, like I said, I’m still just very impressed with Rowling’s world building. The plot holes are very easily filled and understood, although I still think that we could benefit more from a more clear understanding of Lily’s sacrificial protection and how that worked, as well as a more nuanced understanding of the killing curse.

Tl;Dr: I just wrote the longest Board answer in four straight hours and now I can't feel my hands. Also I kind of never want to talk about Harry Potter ever again after this answer. 



Question #81380 posted on 03/05/2015 10:20 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How do you create self-motivation that outweighs laziness and other demotivating factors?

Example 1: My boss is never mad at me when I'm late and getting up in the morning is not my specialty. Any internal/external motivation I have from not wanting to be judged by my co-workers or not wanting to be that kind of person is outweighed by not wanting to go to work (I don't like my job) and laziness and sometimes other factors.

Example 2: My mental health. I just don't want to make the effort required to have good mental health and sometimes I get little boosts of motivation because I get too far down, but they don't always last. With this there's also things like not even wanting to be happy with my appearance because I don't like the way I look and other things.

Example 3: Exercise takes effort, time, pain, and other things. And I don't think I'll like the way I'll look afterwards anyway so it's hard to want to do it if I figure I won't be attractive afterwards anyway.

word processor


Dear Word Processor,

Welcome to one of the greatest plights of our generation.  Fun, isn't it?

I am really excited to answer your question, not because I am an expert on the subject, but because I have been there before and have found a lot of things that help me, personally, to get rid of that annoying thing called apathy.

As Sam Bracken says, "The desire to be different is where change begins." You simply cannot change without a strong desire to do so. The fact that you submitted this question shows that you do have at least a starting desire to be different.  Now you have to do all you can to help that desire grow.

So, start by taking an inventory of where you are. Are you busy right now? No? Good. Sit down and start with some introspection. Be completely honest with yourself about where you are now and about where you want to be.  What are the specific things blocking you from becoming your ideal self? What are the negative effects of choosing to go to work late, not exercise, not care for your mental health, etc. What would some of the benefits be if you started to change those things?

Now, if there is one thing necessary to self-motivation it is positivity. If you are constantly feeling down in the dumps, it is going to be practically impossible to motivate yourself.  For this reason, I would suggest attacking the problem of your mental health first.  If you are a BYU student, take advantage of the free counseling services. If you are not, seek counseling in some other setting. You may be experiencing some degree of depression, and if that is the case, you are going to need some outside help before you can begin to motivate yourself.

Apart from counseling, one of the best ways to become more positive, and thus more easily motivated, is to surround yourself with positive things. Read motivational books.  Start your day off with the teachings of the gospel. Before you leave in the morning, read your scriptures for 5 minutes or watch a 5 minute Mormon Message. This may seem difficult, but planning, accountability, and rewards, all of which I will discuss later, will help.

It's also important to remember that surrounding yourself with positive things is often accomplished through eliminating negative or even neutral things in your life. One of my goals right now is to not watch TV. And let me tell you, I think I discovered one of the secrets of the universe. Yes, I have slipped a couple times (I needed to watch the Parks and Recreation finale, obviously), but in general, cutting TV out has helped me immensely to feel more motivated to do more productive things. During the time I would have spent watching TV, I end up sitting there, realizing I now have nothing to do, and then suddenly thinking, "Well, I could write a letter to my cousin who is on a mission," or, "Well, I guess I could get started on my homework." Cut time-wasters, whatever they may be for you, out of your life.

L. Tom Perry said, "We all make daily entries in our books of life. Occasionally we take it from the shelf and examine the entries we are making. What kind of memories will flood your mind as you examine the pages of your personal entries?" Value your life and your time enough to cut out things that are wasting it.  I promise this will help you to feel more motivated across all aspects of your life.

The next essential in creating self-motivation is planning, and by that I mean specific planning. If I tell myself that I'm going to go to the gym tomorrow, the chances of it happening are maybe 20%. If, on the other hand, I write in my planner that from 7PM-8PM I am going to the gym, the chances it will happen improve to maybe 85%.

Buy yourself a planner that has specific lines for each hour of the day and plan each day before you go to bed. Don't just make a to-do list, put each thing that you have to do at a specific time during the day. I am glad that you have going to the gym on your list because honestly, once you do accomplish it, it will motivate you in many other aspects of your life, as well.

In fact, it has been a goal of mine lately to go to the gym three times a week and, wow, has it made a difference. Another thing that helps me is listening to motivating music at the gym, as I walk home from the gym, and even as I am doing daily chores like putting my laundry away. Turn down your Bon Iver just for a while, and make a playlist of motivating music.

Since I have already brought up goal setting, let's talk about it. My favorite method of goal setting is the spiritual-physical-mental-social method. Right now, on the wall right next to my bed I have a post-it note for one goal from each of these areas of life. Physical: Go to the gym 3X a week. Mental: NO TV. Spiritual: Read the scriptures for 15 minutes every day. Social: Talk to at least 3 new people every day.

Make goals and keep them where you can see them, otherwise you will likely forget about them. Don't make too many goals, make just enough that you have a road map for where you are going.

Still, goal setting on its own is not enough. In fact, goal setting can be a well-intentioned road to nowhere without the next step: accountability.

Never allow yourself to be the only person who knows about your goals. Tell as many people as possible about your goals, especially people whose opinion of you is important to you.  Tell friends, roommates, family, heck, even post it on Facebook as long as it isn't too personal.  Finally, tell the Lord. Then ask specific people to hold you accountable. One of my friends at work is currently holding me responsible for my spiritual and social goals, and it motivates me a lot to know that when I go to work the next day, she is going to be asking me how things are going.

In addition to these kind of social rewards from others, reward yourself! Next to each goal that you make, list a reward of something you are going to give yourself if you succeed. (Again, tell somebody else about it so that you can't cheat).  I've also found that one of the greatest rewards I can give myself is being able to record my successes in my journal.  Keeping a journal allows you to see how far you have come and gives you motivation to keep going.

Now, for anyone who is actually still reading, I've only got a couple of tips left.  First, just as positivity is important in creating self-motivation, keeping up your self-esteem is just as important. Stop comparing yourself to others and make a conscious effort to silence both the critics without and the critics within. Sam Bracken said, "Getting where you want to go begins with opening your eyes and seeing yourself differently. Our potential is almost unlimited, but we hinder ourselves when we allow critics to drag us down or let low self-esteem keep us mired in a pit."

Finally, stay energized. For the kajillionth time, I am putting in a plug for going to the gym, but that is not all. Make sure you get enough protein and take B-vitamins. Don't take naps during the day, and get enough sleep at night, without oversleeping.  If you are tired or unhealthy, it will only be that much harder to motivate yourself.

Okay, last but not least, when you really have a hard time getting yourself to do something, just start. Starting is always the hardest part.  Put away anything and everything that may be distracting you and just start.

I hope you know that I am not even close to perfect at living all the ideals that I just described, but I feel a lot more motivated, happy, and fulfilled when I do live them.  Be patient with yourself, know that you will make mistakes, but keep trying and remind yourself daily of the value of your life and of the time you have been given.



Question #81323 posted on 03/13/2015 9:12 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I've had a few ideas for fairy tales based on The Board, but alas! no time to write them. Can you spin any of the following yarns for me? (You obviously don't have to do all of them if you don't want to.)

Snow White and the Eight Dwarfs (including yayfulness, of course)
The Soulful Gingerbread Woman
Haleakaladdin and the Magic Lamp
Oedipus and the Riddle of the M.O.D.A.Q. (Monstrous Organism Destined to Ask Questions)
The Prince With a Hundred Hours (El-ahrairah)
Owlet Little (Chicken Little)
Sleeping Handsome (Inverse Insomniac - Sleeping Beauty)
The Squirrel Prince (Ardilla Feroz - The Frog Prince)
Tally Midas
Anne and the Beanstalk
Heidi and Gretel
The Pied Piper of Vienna
Squirrel in Boots (Squirrel)
Ms. O'Malley and the Three Bears
The Elves and the Psychologist (Divya - The Elves and the Shoemaker)
Pinocchio Meets the Tunnel Worms
BYUbeard (Bluebeard)
The Writer Who Called Editor (The Boy Who Cried Wolf)
The Writer Who Wrote Golden Answers (The Goose Who Laid Golden Eggs)


Thanks so much in advance!

-Renumerative Lair


Dear ReaL,

I like stories.

The Little Owlet that Could

O is for Old English.pngnce upon a time there was an Owlet. This Owlet was a cute little woodland creature who had always dreamed of writing for the 100 Hour Board. One day Owlet asked her not-a-furry-woodland-creature friend if she thought she could ever achieve her dream.

"Of course not!" said her friend. "Everyone knows woodland creatures can't be Board writers!"

This made the Owlet sad, but it didn't make her give up. She kept reading the Board every day. A few months later, she asked another friend if he thought she could achieve her dream.

"Hah!" scoffed the friend. "Maybe if you were a human like me, they might accept you. But a woodland creature? You'll just get fed to the tunnel worms!"

Now the Owlet wasn't sad. She was determined.

So the Owlet sat down at her woodland computer. "I think I can! I think I can!" She typed up her application, thinking carefully about each letter as she pecked it out. "I think I can! I think I can!" This she did hour after hour until at last it was done. She hit "submit," and soon after, a glorious email appeared in her inbox: she was accepted!

"I thought I could! I thought I could!"

She was, of course, too polite to actually say this to her doubting friends.

The Legend of Zed Hollow

O is for Old English.pngnce upon a time there was a great and powerful writer named Zedability. She was, in fact, one of the writing-est writers ever to write. She read, and she wrote, and she wrote, and she read. She also hated all numbers greater than 100, so she wrote even faster when questions got over hours.

One day, she had written so much that she wrote herself into a terrible, terrible tiredness. As she wandered the tunnels, she came across a cozy-looking hole in the wall.

"I should climb inside," she thought. "I bet this would be a good place to take a nap. Then maybe when I'm done I can do answer that crazy-over-hours question that yayfulness keeps forgetting about. If I'm ever going to tackle that, I need to get some sleep."

So that is just what she did.

She woke up feeling beautifully refreshed.

"Oh, that is the best decision I've ever made!" she exclaimed between yawns. "I feel like I slept enough to make up for my last thousand answers. Now, about that temples question that yayfulness never answered..."

But it was a miracle! When she checked the Board, the question was gone! At first, she was excited that she didn't have to see a four-digit number anymore. But then things started getting strange.

"Wait a second. Where did Concealocanth go? What's a M.O.D.A.Q.? When did Squirrel learn Spanish, call herself Feroz, and... become a boy? This is all so confusing!"

It was right around this moment that she realized that her hair was so long that it was touching the floor.

"Oh no! I must have slept a year and a half! This is terrible! So many overdue questions! So many answers I could have written! So much I need to do!"

And so she started writing again, and there was much rejoicing.

The Little Red (Tally) M.

O is for Old English.pngnce upon a time there was a little red M who wanted to make the inbox clean.

Zed, of course, was asleep, and so she couldn't make the inbox clean. And since she had gone, nobody else cleaned it up either. It was, in fact, a terrible, terrible mess.

And so the little red M decided she was going to clean it up. First she talked to the Haleasdfjkl.

"Haleabcd, can you help me clean up the inbox?"

"I'm sorry, little red M," he replied. "I've just been swamped with homework and I'm actually on hiatus right now. I can help when I get back!"

The little red M did not give up. Next she talked to the yayfulness.

"Yay, can you help me clean up the inbox?"

"But then I'd have to stop playing with maps!" said the yay. "I'll do it tomorrow. I like tomorrow. Tomorrow is a better deadline than today."

The little red M tried not to grumble. Instead, she went to visit the Inverse Insomniac.

"Inverse Insomniac, can you please help me clean up the inbox?"

"I'd love to!" he exclaimed. "Here, I'll get started by answering this questiozzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..."

And just like that, he fell asleep.

The little red M sighed and walked out the door.

"Haleakaqefij is on haleahiatus, yayfulness is procrastinating, and Inverse Insomniac is asleep. None of the other writers will help me. But the inbox will be clean! I'll just have to do it all by myself."

And that is exactly what she did.

It was a long, hard day's labor, but at the end of the day, there was a nice, shiny inbox with beautiful words: ZERO OVERDUE.

When all the other writers saw it, they were thrilled.

"We did it!" they shouted.

"No," the little red M responded, "I did it."

And that was that.

Anne and the Beanstalk

O is for Old English.pngnce upon a time there was a writer who was called Anne, Certainly. She needed to find a new place for the Board to live, since the Universe no longer existed every day. She also didn't like beans.

One day, someone gave her beans to eat. "Yuck!" she exclaimed, and threw them out her window. She then forgot about it completely.

The next day, when she woke up, something marvelous had happened: a giant beanstalk had grown in her back yard!

"I have no idea why," she said, "but I feel like I should climb this beanstalk."

So climb it she did.

When she reached the top, she saw a giant castle. "This would make a perfect home for the Board!" she said.

She ran inside, and saw stacks upon stacks of giant-sized servers. "This looks wonderful! But who could ever need such a giant collection of servers?"

The answer, of course, was a giant.


"Um..." she mumbled. "Running away!"

So she ran and she ran, but the giant ran faster. Soon he had caught up to her.


Anne was too terrified to speak.

"WOW," said the giant, "AM I REALLY THAT SCARY?"

He was.

But the story was a happy story, because he sent Anne down to talk to the rest of the Board, and soon they had all moved into their new home. And everyone was happy. 


O is for Old English.pngnce upon a time there was a writer who thought he was very clever. He liked to call himself yayfulness, but he had a great secret: that was not his real name.

This writer loved to get emails from readers, especially since they were usually girls. Each time he did, he sent them a challenge.

"I am the great and most thoroughly clever yayfulness! And to prove my great cleverness, I give you a challenge! You see, my real name is not yayfulness. (I know, surely you are shocked.) Guess my real name, and I will grant you anything you desire!"

Some gave up immediately. Some tried to find his true name. When they did, the writer would give them clues. Sometimes they were real clues. Sometimes they were true, but they made you think the wrong thing. Sometimes, they were just made up.

The writer did this because he loved to see people guess wrong.

One day, the writer received an email from a girl who called herself "Rumplestalkskin."

"Hm," thought the writer. "I have a new victim. I will make her play my guessing game!"

And so he sent her his challenge. She sent him an email again the next day.

"I'm afraid I have no idea how to find out who you are. Unless your name is... maybe... John?"

The writer grinned. He loved it when people guessed wrong. He wrote back:

"I see we have no mutual Facebook friends, Rumplestalkskin, so I can't give you clues, can I? I guess... that name has one letter of my real name."

Sure enough, she wrote him back.

"But that doesn't do me any good! There are millions of names to guess! Um... Andrew!"

"Wrong!" the writer wrote to her. "But you're getting more of the right letters."

"This is so fun," he thought to himself. "She will never guess my real name."

When he saw another email from Rumplestalkskin in his inbox, he grinned.

"I don't even know what to do. I give up! Unless your name is..."

[Unfortunately, it would appear that this page has been ripped out of the book.]

The writer's grin was no longer a grin. Actually, it was the opposite.


But the writer had a promise that he had to keep.

"Okay, okay, Rumplestalkskin, you've guessed my name. This means that you get one wish, and I have to fulfill it. What is your wish?"

And she wrote back:

"I wish... to marry you!"

So that's what they did.

The writer still thinks he's very clever. And Rumplestalkskin still loves to prove him wrong.



Question #81069 posted on 02/16/2015 12:32 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Dating. Marriage. Blessings.

I received a blessing by my stake president a few years ago that told me the place where I was moving to would be where I would meet and marry my eternal companion. Then when I moved to this place, I received a calling and while I was being set-apart, the 1st counselor mentioned that it would be in this ward that I would marry my eternal companion. I have never had this told to me explicitly before. It has been a few years since those blessings by two different priesthood holders that had stewardship over me had what seemed random at the time told me I would marry in this location, and I have still yet to even been in a serious relationship. I have been in this location for a few years, and I know pretty much everyone in the ward, especially the guys. To be honest, I'm not interested in any of these guys so I don't feel bad for not being in a relationship, but I'm getting anxious about being unmarried. There are not too many members here, and I feel my opportunities are slimming down drastically, and I fear it will only get harder to find "Mr. Right." Have I not met him yet because I haven't been worthy enough for him to be sent my way? Not that you know. But do you have any recommendations of what I should be doing? Should I be out trying to missionize more in case my eternal companion is not yet a member? Should I start attending mid-singles adult ward activities? What to do? What to do, almighty relationship experts? Or are blessings sometimes wrong?

-Always a bridesmaid, never a bride


Dear Future Bride,

I have a friend who is going through a similar situation, and so this is something I have actually been thinking about quite a bit lately.

I think the number one most important thing to remember is that priesthood blessings, as well as patriarchal blessings, are never meant to cause us stress.  They are simply meant to provide us with a glimpse of the possibilities in our future, giving us determination to do our best and a sense of assurance that as we do so, God will guide us in our endeavors.

When it comes to the type of promised blessings you are describing, the trick is finding a balance between two things:

1. Striving your best to do your part in bringing your promised blessings to pass.

2. Not allowing yourself to stress out about when or how in God's timetable those blessings will occur.  

It's a hard balance to find, but it is possible.

I want to talk about point one first.  Being promised blessings does not mean that you can expect those blessings to happen without doing any of the work.  Sometimes, God promises us a blessing, not because He is just going to set the blessing right down in front of us, but because He knows that, as we pursue that blessing, we will grow in important ways.  This has really hit home for me lately, because, in honesty, when I returned from my mission, I expected a lot of blessings to just appear in my life.  But it didn't work like that. God knew that if He gave me the blessings I desired immediately, I wouldn't be able to grow in ways that I needed to.  If He had simply placed a perfect boyfriend in my life, I wouldn't have had to leave my social bubble, I wouldn't have had to reach out to so many people, and I wouldn't have grown as much.  Having to wait for and strive to obtain the blessing of marriage has helped me become a better person.  And since I'm not getting engaged any time in the near future, I am guessing there is still a lot of growing that I have left to do!

Sometimes we think of marriage as something that will just passively happen to us in God's timing.  IT IS NOT SO. We must act to see our promised blessings fulfilled.  So, I think that, yes, you should do all you can to meet new people in your area.

Another thing that may be holding you back is the "soulmate mentality" so common in our LDS dating culture.  You may be looking specifically for Mr. Right and not seeing him, and that could be the problem.  I used to have a huge "soulmate mentality" problem.  In fact, I am the asker of this question, and the reason I  was thinking about dating in that way was because I was too fixated on figuring out if someone was "the one" way too early.

But since I have let go of the soulmate mentality, a lot of amazing things have been happening.  First, I feel a lot less pressure when I meet and talk to boys now, which allows me to be myself and not feel so awkward.  Second, I am more motivated to meet MORE people because I'm not fixated on just one person at a time. Third, and I don't even know why this is exactly, but I get a lot more dates and interest from boys now that I have changed my dating mentality.  Girls, I am telling you, this works. So, future bride, I would say that you should do all you can to meet new people.  It may seem silly, but make goals about how many boys you want to meet or talk to each day. Don't be afraid to get to know people better, even if there isn't an obvious initial spark. My basic advice is to just make sure you are doing your best to give yourself the best chance you can of having a relationship, and a huge part of that is simply talking to everybody placed in your path. Here is an easy thing to remember: Get to know more people, and get to know people more.

Still, since I am definitely not the best dating-advice-giver at the Board, here are some links to some of Anne, Certainly's dating advice for you:

Board Question #80844

Board Question #79407

Board Question #79501

Board Question #77657

Now for the second point.  Yes, you should do all you can to actively date and meet new people, but also, don't feel bad about yourself if the blessings don't come immediately.  Never let the fact that a blessing doesn't come as soon as you had hoped allow you to feel unworthy.  If you are striving to keep the commandments, repenting when you make mistakes, and trying to see your blessings fulfilled, you have no reason to believe that any blessings are being withheld from you.  In fact, you shouldn't allow these things to reflect on your perception of yourself at all.  It doesn't mean that you are a less incredible person, or that you are any less loved by God.

Honestly, this is where trusting in God comes into play.  Because at the end of the day, all we can do is just that: all we can do.  And the rest is up to God. Trust in His promised blessings, but also trust in the timing of those blessings.  He loves you and knows what is best for you. Good luck with everything!



Question #81003 posted on 02/18/2015 11:26 p.m.

Dear archives,

If a list of historically significant questions were to be compiled, what are a few of the questions that might be included?

May I suggest Board Question #47628 for starters?



Dear General,

After looking through the thousands, and thousands of questions asked and answered by the 100 Hour Board since it went online in 1998, I, along with the help of many others, have compiled a list for you. Needless to say, this is certainly not a comprehensive list. I am sure you could get a better list during reunion week next month.  

First, I would like to direct you to the popular questions link on the left, where you will find the most popular questions of all time! Including The Widest Book in the Library, the Corner Hobo, the Great Recycling Myth, and the Best and Worst Things About Each President, among others. 

Along with that, I would also suggest the Editor's Choice link. 

Less easy to find ones, but historical and memorable, nonetheless, include:

  • Board Question #37225: The very first question posted on the website. 
  • Board Question #50462: Fish-washing—in which HFAC cook salmon, and other things, in a dishwasher. 
  • Board Question #49414: Liver Cleansing—in which HFAC cleanse their livers.
  • Board Question #55631: The Mad Limerist—in which Hobbes and Marzipan defeat the insane rhyming abilities of mysterious vaudeville poet.
  • Board Question #54078: In which every board writer confesses the truth—we are all Matt Meese. 
  • Board Question #71909: Which demonstrates the infamous quoting capabilities of MSJ. 
  • Board Question #73839: The 100 Hour Board: The Return of CATS.
  • Board Question #55069: In which all 100 Typing Monkeys introduce themselves.
  • Board Question #43429: The Battle of the Majors. 
  • Board Question #43468 and #77583: Board Trading Cards. 
  • Board Question #38913: The 100 Hour Board: Horror Movie.
  • Board Question #14600: Katya's booklist.
  • Board Question #60332: A complete count of all of the door knobs on campus.
  • Board Question #38724: The Battle of the Library Security Guards.
  • Board Question #34094: While it does not comprise the entire debate, herein lies the Great Modesty Debate of 2007.
  • Board Question #2366: In which all of the stairs on campus are counted. 
  • Board Question #65639: How much it would cost to buy the Twelve Days of Christmas.
  • Board Question #58366: How to write the most excellent of all board questions. 
  • Board Question #10655: The best bathrooms on campus. 
  • Board Question #8959: What I believe to be Katya's very first, official, board answer.
  • The Great R-Rated Movie Debate

Interesting board facts/statistically important questions 

  • Board Question #69406: The readers who have asked the most questions.
  • Board Question #54984: This one could probably do with some updating, but it is a list of all writers who got married to each other as of 2009.
  • Board Question #56883: A list of other historic questions, but these ones are historic for statistical purposes.
  • Board Question #68008: A list of the board questions with the most answers.
  • Board Question #71118: The longest board question ever, coming in at a grand total of 11,155 characters. 
  • Board Question #70269: Where old writers are now...er, I mean two years ago. 
  • Board Question #67537: An analysis of board writer life spans. 
Almost every dating application of a board writer, ever 
Lists of other questions that might be historic
  • Board Question #44406: A comprehensive list of "short stories" writers have written over the years. 
  • Board Question #73793: Questions that influenced the lives of the writers who wrote them.
  • Board Question #51712: A list of ten HFAC questions. 
  • Board Question #21556: Really funny, and really old board questions. 
  • Board Question #57795: A list of favorite questions answered by some older writers. 

The Soulful Ginger  

posted on 02/24/2015 3:31 p.m.
Dear Soulful Ginger,

Thanks for the shout out! My first ever question as a writer was actually Board Question #8200 ( http://theboard.byu.edu/questions/8200/ ), but it's hard to find in the archives because I didn't actually sign it as "Katya."

- Katya
Question #80966 posted on 02/18/2015 11:20 a.m.

Hey 100 hour board,

What is marriage like? How do you figure out how you want your marriage to be like if you didn't have good examples growing up? What's the day to day or marriage? What are the struggles? How do you figure out what it will be before you get married? How do you trust someone to never leave you if you get fat/ugly/hard times come? Or how do you trust they won't leave you after they are successful? So many things to think about!



Dear FISH,

What is marriage like?

Awesome, that's what it's like. But it's not awesome just because I'm married. It's awesome because of who I'm married to. That's the key, I think. Too many people are so obsessed with just getting married that I think they rush into something that is a lot more work than they're expecting. Done right, with the right person, it leads to incredible happiness. My wife and I share good times, hard times, and even some times when we don't get along. It's not easy, but it is wonderful.

How do you figure out how you want your marriage to be like if you didn't have good examples growing up?

Find some good examples somewhere. Don't listen to people who want to limit you and your options. Shoot for the stars--it isn't unrealistic to expect a wonderful marriage, no matter what anyone says. The Gospel is a wonderful place to find expectations for your marriage. Look at the marriages of many of the General Authorities (Thomas S. Monson, Richard G. Scott, and Gordon B. Hinckley come to mind immediately.)

What's the day to day or marriage?

Well, it's different for everyone, of course. For me, it consists of waking up, family prayer (if we remember), going to school or work, desperately missing my wife and baby all day until I get home, and then spending as much quality time with them as I can before going to bed and starting all over again. I can't tell you how comforting it is to have someone with whom I can be absolutely, 100% myself all the time. We have a grand old time.

What are the struggles?

Listen, the biggest things that make a marriage successful are communication and putting the other person's needs above your own. Sometimes it's really hard to understand your spouse's needs and other times it's really hard to fulfill them, especially when you have your own needs. What you have to do is trust them to give of themselves as much as you give of yourself. That way, both of you are taken care of. Madam Insomniac and I have a pretty conflict-free marriage, but it's really hard work sometimes.

How do you figure out what it will be before you get married?

Hahaha. You don't. Seriously. It's like nothing you've ever imagined. (That counts double for having a baby, by the way.) The thing is that marriage isn't the be-all-end-all. After you (an imperfect person) marry your imperfect spouse, you both will continue to learn and grow afterward. It's a game of constant change.

How do you trust someone to never leave you if you get fat/ugly/hard times come? Or how do you trust they won't leave you after they are successful?

Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship, especially marriage. Trust comes from understanding. Understanding comes from honesty. You need to be completely honest in your relationship if you want to get anywhere and you need to expect complete honesty from your spouse. Be prepared for a lot of talking about feelings. It's good for you. Try to grow to really understand your potential spouse before you take the plunge, because people can seriously surprise you.

Good luck! It's not as scary as it seems, trust me. You find the right person and treat them the right way, with trust and understanding. If they reciprocate, it's a good sign that they're capable of the kind of dedication it takes to make a marriage work.

It's a lot of work. Don't fool yourself into thinking anything different. But it's celestial work. It's the kind of work that lets you look back with satisfaction at what you've accomplished and look forward with excitement for what's to come.

-Inverse Insomniac

Question #80955 posted on 02/06/2015 1:38 p.m.


Usually, for the standardised format of my ongoing question posts, the question would be on the top line, but I don't really know what I'm asking, so...

~ { context } ~

I find it incredibly surprising how a limited array -- theboard.byu.edu/about/current -- could answer such an expansive range of questions, especially ones with graphs, or charts -- theboard.byu.edu/questions/80592 --

or highly specific question -- theboard.byu.edu/questions/80616/ -- that would take me a week to a month, given other things to do, and I still won't be able to answer the question. Then again, I just realised right now that those active likely includes PhDs, and other graduate students. (side note: they should open it up to those that graduated, but that's all policies)

So I guess my curiosity is,

How in the world do you do it?
What's the recommended generalistic research path to finding an answer?
How do you answer so many questions... (aka: why is your brain so big?)
AND within such a short time span?
What's the success rate of answering questions within deadline?
Do all the actives ever meet in person? (i.e. q&a party? cos you should!)

So... I don't really have any specific questions, so free feel to advise however you see best =)

~ { question meta-data } ~

* question goal -- Fulfilling A Wonder (which thereby leads to life being boring cause wonder has been diminished to none)

* challenge level --

0 Even A Baby Could Do It! 0 | =>> 1 What A Kicker! <<= 1 | 2 Wow, Really? 2

* topical chart -- Research > Productivity > Knowledge

~ AMBW (A More Beautiful World)


Dear Gaea,

Calling people can also be a quick way to get information. I think a lot of people would be surprised at how useful and painless making a phone call can be. I can sometimes answer a question in under 10 minutes that way.

As far as graphs and charts go, the data collection can definitely be tedious. But actually making the graphs and charts can be as easy as pie with Excel and other more sophisticated data visualization tools.

The highly specific question you mentioned? I don't know exactly how long it took to post, but I know that finding the actual answer took less than a day. It took longer to find two writers to meet together than it did to walk down to Special Collections, talk to the people there, and take pictures of the book. If Tally hadn't given us the tip about Special Collections, we might not have had such success, but it still wouldn't have taken a PhD.

Like Tally M. said, we do it with Google and with the contacts around us. We're naturally investigative, and it helps to be part of such a tight-knit and information-packed place as BYU. I definitely see searching out answers as something I do not only because of this responsibility, but also because I find it fun. Some people spend time, I don't know, knitting or watching cat videos or browsing Pinterest, but I use that time for my weird hobby called the Board. (Granted, we do watch our fair share of cat videos here, but I was having a hard time coming up with examples. Here's a better picture about what we'd do with our time otherwise.)

"What's the recommended generalistic research path to finding an answer?" Hmmm ... Good question. It sounds like you're asking about finding resources for fact-based answers (as opposed to relationship/opinion/funny/whatever answers, which can still require their own kind of research), so I'm going to address that. I'm kind of uncomfortable numbering these or calling them "steps" because in reality, I just go in whatever order I feel will help get the answer the quickest or most accurately. I included some examples from my own answers so you might be able to see how this looks in real-life applications. Here are some recommendations I have for finding answers:

  • Know the answer off the top of your head because you had a class about it, read about it, watched a documentary about it, heard a podcast about it, or were otherwise exposed to the information. Keep your eyes and ears open all the time—when you know you could be called upon at any time to answer random questions, you start to get good at collecting bits here and there. You may still want to employ some of the following research steps, though, to make sure you're remembering correctly and getting all sides of the problem. This is what I did for Board Question #75692, which asked about a book I had read when I was little. I had to search a bit for the actual title, but I knew pretty well what the reader was asking about.
  • Remember where you heard it but forget what exactly the answer was. Turn back to your original source (class notes, your mom, a bookmarked page, YouTube, the Board archives, etc.) to find the answer. I pulled out a textbook from one of my linguistics classes to refresh my memory when answering Board Question #78304.
  • Remember topic-specific resources to turn to first. For example, if it's a question about a word's etymology, I look up the Oxford English Dictionary before going to Google. Some other fun places for facts include Y Facts, the World Factbook, the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the Notable Names Database, and WolframAlpha. I used that last resource to determine the average age of people named Bertha for Board Question #80564.
  • Perform a preliminary Google search. Use words in the question and good Google technique. For me, the most common tricks at this stage include quotes and site-specific search. If a Wikipedia page isn't one of your top results, you might want to look it up specifically in Wikipedia as well. Follow the trails of links that you come across. As in Board Question #77723 and Board Question #80050, sometimes the answer is just the first hit.
  • Search the archives. There are quite a few questions that have been asked more than once. You just have to be careful about using outdated information, but the archives can at least give you a good starting point. As I mentioned in Board Question #74032, we should totally have a theme song for every time we direct someone to the archives.
  • Do an in-depth internet-based search. Pull out things like advanced search and Google Scholar, or do something drastic like view the second page of results. I'm pretty sure I used this for answering Board Question #72127 about names.
    • Don't forget about online academic library resources. Search the HBLL website in general or turn to the subject guides to narrow it down a bit. Try chatting with a librarian online to ask for a good place to start.
    • When you do find an article or other helpful source, look at its citations to see if you can look those up for even more information.
  • Go to the library! Go to the help desk of the appropriate field and ask them for resources. They may also recommend professors or other people to reach out to. I checked out a few books concerning ancient Spartan society to answer Board Question #72319.
  • Make a phone call/email/post/message/personal visit. The tricky part with this, I guess, is knowing who to call. Keep your eyes open for contact information when you're doing the above steps. As a Board writer, I pay particular attention to BYU events and resources that I think will come in handy for someone. Also, think about family members, friends, colleagues, ward members, anybody around you that might have some special knowledge in this area. Even if they don't know the answer, they should be able to point you somewhere you might not have considered before. Don't neglect specific physical centers of information. Libraries, community centers, forums, clubs, organizations, etc. can all be great niches to investigate, and those people are particularly enthusiastic to help out. I talked to a family history TA in the Family History Lab here at BYU to answer Board Question #72705.
  • Make your best educated guess. After all the things you've looked at by now, it's probably been at least 100 hours. Try linking to a picture of a cookie, or ask the reader to resubmit with more information. We also need to acknowledge that, while we're surrounded by a lot of brains here at BYU, we can't pester all our professors with a bunch of random questions, so it's a good idea to explain the reader the efforts that you took so they get an idea of where to look or not look themselves.

Sometimes questions involve primary research. In that case, you can either use the methods above to find your data, turn to your friends to conduct surveys, acquire resources to perform an experiment, use boss programming skills to compile data from the interwebs—carry out whatever your research question calls for. Attempt to make good use of the scientific method, but again recognize your limitations and give a ballpark result if necessary.

Once you have your sources, you just compare all the information you have, judge the research, summarize your findings, insert relevant quotes and figures, acknowledge limitations, and cite your sources. (Judging the legitimacy of the research may be the most difficult part. The Research and Writing Center in the HBLL, a library workshop, or this Research Starter Guide can give you some more information about that. Also, a decent background in statistics and research methods can't hurt.)

That covers most of it. There are other things we do for more unique questions, but that's the general path. Looking back on it now, I pretty much do any one of these things, but I always include Google in there somewhere. It's always a good idea to pair anything you do with Google to make sure you're not missing some really good, easy-to-find additional information.


Question #80922 posted on 02/04/2015 12:56 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Are the current apostles and First Presidency living longer than the apostles and First Presidency 50 years ago? Or 100 years ago? It seems that lifespans in the US have gotten longer over time so I wondered how that affected the leaders of the Church. Has the age when the prophet passes away changed much over time?

-fangirls for Tally M. (but anyone can answer this)


Dear Fangirls,

I put together a spreadsheet of all the apostles' lifespans, and this is the scatter plot that came out:

Apostolic Life Expectancy.png

  • The dotted red line is the line of best fit, an average of ages across the years.
  • Each blue dot is an apostle.
  • The yellow dots are those who became prophets.
  • The red dots are those who were murdered.
  • The yellow dot with a red outline is Joseph Smith, who both became a prophet and was murdered.
  • President Monson and other living apostles are excluded from this plot, since they don't yet have an age at death.

According to the numbers, the life expectancy of apostles and prophets has increased by about 0.16 per year. Therefore, if you were born in 1900, you were likely to live about 1.6 years longer than someone born in 1890. I included the "murdered" variable because I thought that a high number of martyrdoms in the early years of the Church might skew the data. Fortunately, there were fewer of those than I had anticipated. I have good news, guys: the likelihood of apostles and prophets meeting their deaths at the hands of vengeful mobs has decreased dramatically since the early 1800s.

Yours, &c.

Heidi Book

Question #80825 posted on 02/03/2015 10:12 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have a confession...I really like reading self-help books on dating. I suppose it makes me feel like I'm doing something to progress towards marriage, but I know that sitting alone in my bedroom reading a book isn't actually going to help me get married. So my question is, what are some things that I can be doing that WILL improve my marriage prospects? I've got lots of free time and I'd like to think at least some of my time is going towards something more productive than watching every episode of every show on Netflix.

-Single and ready


Dear you,

One of the biggest things that I think you can do to improve your marriage prospects is doing what you can to meet people and go on dates. That's kind of obvious, but I'm going to expand on it below. I took this as a chance to consolidate a fair amount of dating advice into one question, so some of this isn't directly relevant to your inquiry (and you may not need it) but hopefully it'll help someone out there.

The Anne, Certainly Guide to Revolutionizing Your Dating Life

(Oooh, that's a really pretentious name for a guide. This one better be good). 

0. GPS Searching for Signal, or, Figuring Out Where You Are

I think that it's easy to feel like we don't know where to go because we the advice we read doesn't necessarily seem to reflect what's happening to us right now. Before you can have a hope at deciding which way to turn at the next intersection you reach, you have absolutely got to know where you are compared to where you are trying to get. In thinking about this question, I've realized there are (at least) three important areas of self-reflection: understanding your mental/emotional state, understanding your spiritual state, and understanding your current approach to dating. 

  • Your mental/emotional state: As I discussed in my Life Changing Summer Answer, the way you view yourself makes a huge difference in dating. Take a few minutes to reflect. Do you honestly believe that you are desirable? Do you believe that someone would be fortunate to date you? Do you believe that dating someone is going to solve certain problems in your life? What problems? Taking a few minutes to sit down and analyze your thought patterns can help you understand why you're acting in certain ways and what things it might be helpful to change.
  • Your spiritual state: This is closely related to your mental and emotional state. I firmly believe that dating (although totally fun sometimes and well worth the effort) can be really difficult and is something God wants to help us with. Do you remember that God loves you, even when the dating is rough? Do you continue to pray for courage to put yourself in the right situations? Do you act on promptings to do simple things like helping others, talking to them, etc? God will help you. Are you putting yourself in a situation where that's possible?
  • Your current approach to dating: What are you doing right now on the dating front? Are you flirting with a lot of guys? Are you flirting with one guy? Have you given up? If you're feeling really cynical, why is that, and what can you do to restore your hope?
1. Route Analyzing, or, Determining Where You're Headed
I am still realizing the wisdom of the Young Women's adviser who warned us as high schoolers that you marry the people you date. For many BYU students, even if they're not planning on marriage immediately, it's an end goal. That's important. That means you need to start considering right now how and who you're going to date. Fortunately for us, we actually do have a large degree of control over who we fall in love with. That does mean, though, that we need to be careful about the choices we make about dating. If you've decided that a temple marriage is a requirement for you (a standard I strongly endorse) then think about at least 3 things:
  1. What do I need to do to achieve this goal?
  2. What do the people I date need to do to achieve this goal?
  3. How should we date in order to achieve this goal?
I encourage writing things down because it helps us process and gives us a record of where we were. Man, Certainly and I actually have some written stuff from early in our relationship when we were having discussions about how things would need to function if we were going to be able to date successfully. So, sit down and write these out. This will give you something to look back at as you date and will hold you accountable for both the things that you do and the things you might be tempted to justify in others and in relationships with them.
2. Getting Started, or, What Has To Happen If I Want to Get Married?
There are obviously a lot of things that have to happen if we want to get married. This answer is obviously a simplification. However, once you've figured out where you are and where you want to get, it is time to:
Take Action: Get Off The Board (After Reading This Answer) And Talk To A Human
Okay. We all know that the odds of us getting asked out by people we've never met are pretty low. That means that the number of people you date is going to be bounded by the number of people you know.
  • For you extroverts, getting off Netflix and going out with some friends may be easy: make sure that you also take time to go to events where you don't know people and where you have an opportunity to meet people of the opposite gender who you could see again.
  • For the introverts, I know this is harder. I think a lot of people think I'm an extrovert, but I'm actually somewhere in the middle of the I-E scale. With the understanding that I have some empathy, here are some thoughts on getting to know people:
    • Go to things: sometimes you don't want to do this. It is often more difficult to make yourself vulnerable to boredom, casual rejection, or awkwardness at an activity in your new ward, a club meeting where you don't know people, or the random party your roommate invited you to come to with her. For introverts, realize that sometimes going to these things isn't something you do because it's immediately enjoyable, it's something you do as part of a longer-term investment with potentially amazing returns.
    • When you get there, find a place where you're comfortable enough to be yourself. This might somewhat limit the activities you go to (for example, I'd be uncomfortable at a rave in a club, probably even at the side along the wall. That's fine.) Find the corner with a person you know, the food table where there are just a few people casually chatting instead of dancing all crazy in a huge group, etc.
    • Say something. This can be hard, but it's critical. Sometimes other people are shy too. Taking the first step by making an offhand comment to someone  - "I like your shoes." "Is that a [fandom] shirt? I love that [book/movie]!" "So, which cupcakes here are the best?" - gives them the chance to start talking to you without feeling like they're being weird. If they give you a monosyllabic answer, you can totally ditch out and try someone else, but a lot of people will like that you're asking for their opinion, complimenting them, or otherwise showing interest in their existence and will start a conversation.
    • Get - and remember - people's names. When you meet that new guy/girl in the ward, try to remember who s/he is. This probably goes without saying.
    • Remember next time you see them that you've already started building a relationship. If you had a great conversation at the ward mixer last week, they remember it too! You don't need to act or feel like you're starting from ground zero the next time you talk to them. 
Find and Identify Humans You Like
This is one area where I think dating in college can vary pretty significantly from the way we understood it when we were younger. Back in middle school it was "Who do you have a crush on?" In college, there have been times for me where that wasn't a name - it was a list. And you know what? That's totally great. After all, diversification in a competitive market can lead to some solid returns. 
Key to this process is having reasonable expectations for what a new relationship is like. Now, I am not suggesting that we start dating guys who are clearly beneath our standards. I am suggesting that we remember that beginning relationships (and that's lowercase r relationships including acquaintanceships and friendships as well as dating relationships) is very often awkward. Even inviting a friend of the same gender to hang out for the first time is stressful, because what if they don't think you're as cool as you think they are? Remember this. Don't compare new relationships that are still dealing with the kinks with the rock-solid ones you've had for years or decades (or even a semester or two.) It's easy to count out a guy/girl because there were a few minutes of awkward silence in the conversation or a joke went flat. To this I say: try, try again. Give it some time.
This idea of meeting people and getting to know them is one of the most important things I think people need to understand about dating. It's really easy to surround ourselves with a small group of people we already know and don't consider as dating prospects and then not meet anyone to actually date. To this, I have two points of advice:
  1. People who say you shouldn't date your friends are wrong. You guys know me. I don't make a ton of categorical statements. However, the idea that dating your friends is somehow an inherently terrible plan is dumb. You want to date someone you're friends with. For an elaboration of this, see this answer. People who think they can only date their friends are also wrong. Take a chance! I'm not recommending anything unsafe, but don't feel like you can't start to flirt with a guy you don't know very well. I was vaguely aware of Man, Certainly before we started dating, but I became more aware of him when I noticed he was cute and added him to my general list of guys to flirt with (that makes me sound like a terrible person. Hey, it's well-established that I play the field when I'm single. It works for me.)
  2. Find Places to Be Friends with People. If you're going to date someone, they're presumably going to become your friend at some point. To this end, you need to be in places and doing things where you can meet people you'll be interested in. Join clubs! Go to ward choir! Do that weekly ward service project! Talk to someone about starting a study group in your class (that just happens to include that cute guy/girl). Meet your co-workers. I cannot express enough the importance of meeting people in dating! Anyone you think you could potentially be interested in, talk to and get to know! This is the some of the specific advice I'd give to you, reader: find things to attend that you enjoy doing and find other people who enjoy doing them too. That's a great place to start, and even if you don't find anyone you'll still have fun.
Go On A Date With A Human You Like
Obviously, this is a lot easier said than done. Fortunately, I have already published the Anne, Certainly Date-Getting Flirtation Method as well as the Anne, Certainly Guide to Having a Positive Date Experience (and some tips on dealing with physical flirtation). I'm guessing from your question that you're a girl, but if you're a guy, feel free to submit follow-up questions, because I'm happy to give more specific advice for that as well.
4. Re-routing is Okay, or, Don't Give Up
Remember that as Hannah Montana wisely informed us, "everybody has those days." Sometimes the guy turns you down. Sometimes the girl tells you she just wants to be friends. Sometimes you have to break up with someone and it's really awkward. Like Taylor Swift tells us, we need to shake it off. As the wisdom of Jimmy Eat World reminds us, "It just takes some time, little girl you're in the middle of the ride. Everything, everything will be just fine. Everything, everything will be alright." You may be noticing a pattern. This is a totally universal thing. Even the people who appear to have it totally under wraps struggle. Don't give up. Keep at it and get back on the horse.

Things probably won't work out perfectly the first time. That is totally fine. I had been on dates with something like a dozen guys before I kissed anyone. I was up to something like 20 before I had a relationship that lasted a significant amount of time. It's a bit of a numbers game, and that can be discouraging at times. Just try to remember that continuing to try will have benefits: possible relationships, new friendships, strengthening your character (Man, Certainly's really into that whole character-building thing... he's trying to convince me,) learning about what you want in the future, and being blessed for making efforts to achieve a good thing. It might feel like you protect yourself from pain by not hoping for anything and not acting like you're trying for anything, but if you don't hope for good things, you are letting yourself down. 

5. It's Okay If You Don't Have an ETA, or, Don't Insist on Seeing the End from the Beginning

We don't know how our lives will go yet. Some of us (Anne, Certainly) can be control freaks, but learning to take joy in the fact that God is the one who is in charge. Give yourself time to listen and learn and decide what's working without feeling like everything has to happen (or not happen) right now. Reflect on what's happening to you and whether it is good. If not, what could make it better? If it is, have you taken time to be grateful and find ways to make it even better? 

Be grateful for the good things about where you are, and trust that if you follow God, He will in time take you somewhere even better. He'll give you ideas for what you should be doing if you ask Him for them with a determination to do them. You can do it. 


~Anne, Certainly

Question #80717 posted on 01/22/2015 4:02 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Why do baby towels have hoods? Is this actually a helpful feature or just a way to make you buy a new towel when you have a baby?



Dear Waluigi,

Let me demonstrate with a chart, based on my exhaustive research of this subject.


As you can no doubt see, in most clinical trials, hooded towels were consistently rated about 85 centi-teddies more snuggly than non-hooded towels for babies. The results were statistically significant (p<.05) and hoodedness accounted for about 82 percent of the variance in snuggability in our sample group (N=3,792).

-Inverse Insomniac

Citation: Meyerhoffer, Klaus. 2015. Snuggability and baby towels: What's up in the hood? Journal of Quantifying Baby Opinions 14(Summer): 410-563.

Question #80643 posted on 01/20/2015 12:56 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have a Tinder account. My problem is when I come across a relatively good friend of mine that I'm not really interested in, but I feel like I have to acknowledge that I saw them. What's the proper etiquette for seeing friends (mostly those you aren't interested in) in Tinder?

-Left Swiper


Dear swiper stop swiping,

IN  CONGRESS, waaaaay after  JULY 4, 1776.

The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen emotional States of Ardilla

WHEN in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one person to dissolve the social stigma which has heretofore prevented him with connecting with Another and to assume among the powers of The Worldwide Web, the separate and equal station to which a certain Social Network's Terms of Agreement entitle him, a decent respect to the opinions of womankind requires that he should declare the causes which impel him to the association.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the fruitless Pursuit of Relationships. That to secure these rights, dating websites are instituted among men and women, deriving their just powers from the common consent and frequenting of their users — That, whenever any Form of Online Interaction seems to be more alluring than its contemporaries, it is the Right of the Single People to investigate it closely, and to institute membership, laying their justification in vague principles and leveraging its powers in ways as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety, Happiness and general amusement. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Dating Habits long entrenched should not be changed for light and transient causes, and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer the evils of dating while these are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of unreturned calls and friendzonings, incurred while pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Denigration, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Habits, and to provide new strategies for their future relationship security — Such has been the patient sufferance of this Writer; and such is now the necessity which constrains him to alter his former Methods of Dating. The history of the present Dating Records is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations by disinterested Parties, all having in direct object the establishment of a dating stagnation over this Campus. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

She has refused her Assent to Dates, the most wholesome and necessary for the public approval of a given relationship.

She has forbidden her roommates and close friends to associate with him, suspending normal societal conversational norms until her Assent to the contrary should be so obtained, and whenever this decision is appealed she has utterly neglected to attend to it. 

She has refused other Affections for the accommodation of interest from other random people who Don't Even Go Here,

She has convened conversations to Define the Lack of a Relationship at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from matters of the heart for the sole purpose of fatiguing him into compliance with her measures.

She has dissolved men's resolutions to not be wimps repeatedly, for deflecting with womanly firmness their attempts to merely say hello in public places,

She has disappeared for a long time, after decisions towards missionary-service related relocations, to cause men to despaire whereby they, incapable of the Annihilation of their affections, have returned to the gyms at large for their exercise to blow off some steam; their emotions remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

She has endeavoured to prevent the population of the local dating pool with new individuals, for that purpose refusing to encourage them to sign a contract within a league of his residence, and effectively prevent their migrations hither.

She has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing to stop dating Tools and establishing proof of a modicum of Good Judgement.

She has made men dependent on her Will alone for the tenure of their relationships, and the amount and payment of any surfeit of their salary forfeited regularly in the hope of maintaining these.

She has erected a multitude of New Heritage Buildings, and sent hither swarms of Freshmen to harass our people and eat out their substances in lunch dates that will go nowhere.

She has kept among us, in times of what would otherwise be peace, ward prayers without the Consent of our ever having said we even wanted to have one, for surely reposing instead on the ottoman during a cold Sabbath evening is no great Sin. 

She has through her unreciprocated emotions affected to render men in favor of giving up and joining the Military for at least their Basic Training squad leader will Remember Their Name,

She has combined with others to subject us to judgments foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our Man Laws merely because we apparently did not text back quickly enough even though she knew us to be engaged in a particularly intense bout of Halo,

For quartering large bodies of Instagram photos among us,

For protecting them, by a veritable array of Pinterest pages unbearable even to visit for their pages replete with Bedazzled things and Recipes so Cutesy and visually complex in their Presentation only a Professional Pastry Chef could Actually Make Them,

For cutting off our Trade of Pokemon with other parts of the world:

For imposing purges of our favorite old T-shirts without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the Benefit of the Doubt:

For transporting us beyond the doors of her parents' homes to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the use of Plain English in daily conversations, establishing therein Arbitrary meanings to voice inflections and pauses; and expecting sideways glances and other nigh-imperceptible movements to be accepted examples of fit instruments to convey encyclopedic amounts of information instantaneously.

For eating our Lucky Charms, abolishing our most valued gaming systems and altering fundamentally the Compositions of our Closets:

For suspending our own food preferences when deciding where we should Eat Out, and declaring herself invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever while we are Using the Restroom.

She has abdicated from the throne of reason by dating men she met scarcely two weeks ago, waging emotional War against us and any notion of hope for reasonable accomodation of romantic interest we harbored in our naive hearts.

She has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our pixelated people by obliviating deliberately the file of our favorite Minecraft world because she deemed it a Waste of Time,

She is at this time suggesting we Date her Friend who She Promises is Finally Over Her Ex even though previously falling for this diversion has resulted in dates so long, awkward and filled with venomous diatribes we wish large Armies of foreign Mercenaries would end and compleat our miserable evenings with whatever work of death, desolation, or tyranny strikes their fancy provided it terminates the circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages in which we now find ourselves embroiled, for which release we would gladly trade our position as the Head of a prosperous and civilized nation.

She has constrained our fellow Brothers taken Captive in relationships to bear Advice against their Comrades, to become the self-decreed custodians and executioners of their friends and Brethren's dating lives during innumerable Holiday Conversations by inquiring if they are Dating Anyone Yet and deeming the reply unsatisfactory subsequently offering unsolicited and unwelcome Profound Relationship Wisdom, causing these same annoyed Brethren to consequently desire to strangle them with their Bare Hands.

She has excited domestic insurrections amongst us by flirting shamelessly with us and our roommates while maintaining she is Dating Someone, and has thusly endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our apartments, the merciless plague of jealousy whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages and conditions of emotional stability.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Princess, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a once free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our feminine friends. We have warned them from time to time that attempts by their constituents to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us are most unwelcome. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here in Provo. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common Facebook friends to disavow these usurpations, which do incessantly interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of common sense. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of womankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

I, therefore, a citizen of the united States of America, in General Congress with all aliases heretofore created, unprovoked, appealing to the general kindliness of the world for the rectitude of my intentions, do, in my 'Nym, and by Authority granted by my street cred with the good Peasants of Provo, solemnly publish and declare, That this writer is, and of Right ought to be Free to Independently decide to join Tinder, and that he is absolved of all social stigma that would prevent him from doing so, and that as a Free and Independent Participant has full Power to swipe Left, swipe Right, establish Communication and the untaxed Commerce of Emoji, contract Alliances, establish Relationships, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent Persons may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, despite a sneaking fear that this is probably but a more efficient vehicle for further emotional Trauma and Heartbreak, we mutually pledge to Give it At Least A Fair Shot out of respect for our Lives, Fortunes, and sacred Honor.

TL;DR: I joined Tinder (Tally M. facilitating this by the use of her smartphone and know-how). You know, for science. Wherefore upon joining this Citizen did discover the proper etiquette upon encountering a Friend with whom you do not wish to engage in courtship is to swipe rapidly in the sinistral direction, this being less deceitful, more honest, and ultimately more kind. 

--Ardilla Feroz, Ardillas Friendzoned, Flirtroz, Fur-roz, Fluteroz, Frozen, Fayoz, Fearmonger, Functionista, Preblessed, Broke, Brain, Totally Unhelpful, Volador, the Hun, Armadillo Fuzz, Sasparilla Rush, Arbitrary Buzz, Rosquilla Schnozz, Esquilo Feroz, Ques-ardilla, Lizard Loafer, Flailed Razor, Afar Dill Zero, Lizard Florae, A Razor Filled, Zaire Far Doll, Ladle Razor If Lard Ail Fez Or Lazed Friar Lo Ordeal La Friz, Razed Oaf Rill, Dial Razor Elf, Areal Old Friz, Farad Zero Ill, Rodilla Tenaz, Zeal Friar Old, Leaf Razor Lid, Deaf Razor Ill, Floral Lira Zed, La Razor Filed, A Lizard Elf Or, Ren Xiao Lei, Lard Laze Fro I, Earl La Do Friz, Area Doll Friz, Afar Doze Rill, Lead Oral Friz, Razed Floral I, Lizard Earl Of Far All Id Zero, Aid Razor Fell Dial Razor Elf, Adze Fair Roll, Air La Lord Fez, Raze La Old Fir, Far Roar Zed I 

Question #80616 posted on 01/22/2015 10:32 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What is the smallest (width * height * depth) book in the Harold B. Lee Library?

I have searched somewhat on my own, but I believe that the skills of the Board far outstrip my own for these sorts of tasks.

-V. J. M. (Yes, the very same one)


Dear V.J.M.,

Challenge Accepted!

As you probably know, the library has close to five million books,and 98 miles of shelves. Needless to say, I was daunted. Nonetheless, I set out to find what you seek. At first, I expected a long and arduous trek through the miles and miles of stacks. I started on the second floor, and found hope in these "Very Short Introduction" books. They are about 4" tall, 3" wide, and .25" thick. I felt sure that I was on the right track.

I have never been so wrong before.


I scoured the 2nd floor and found nothing else, and hopelessness began to overtake me. As I prepared myself for many more hours of this tedious work, a missive came that was like manna from heaven. Tally M. had sent me a covert tip:  "Look in Special Collections," she told me. Now, I had heard of this place, "Special Collections." I knew it was a place of wonders, and secrets, and it lay exceedingly close to the lair of our great enemies the tunnel worms. (I suspect they control Special Collections to some extent). So with great trepidation I prepared to enter into that cave of caves; that wonder of wonders. Thankfully, as I prepared to journey into the netherlands, I encountered Owlet who joined me in my searching. Together we infiltrated the depths of Special collections...


...Well we tried to infiltrate the depths of Special Collections. At the entrance, we face two surprisingly helpful guards. After speaking with them, we gleaned a great deal of information concerning the smallest book in the library. Apparently, in addition to having a small book collection, containing over twenty cases of tiny books, the library has a copy of The Smallest Bible in the World, which is a microfiche that is smaller than your fingertip. However, we decided we were more interested in the books they had in hard copy. After some goading, cajoling, and threatening, we managed to convince them to bring us their smallest book. Here is what we were shown. 



This was the biggest book they brought out to us. It easily fit in the palm of my hand 


And here is the smallest we found. Wise Kwaks is 2 cm long, 1.5 cm wide, and .25 cm thick. 



It even had jokes on the inside.


We were forced to flee from Special Collections shortly thereafter, as the real enemy had discovered our whereabouts. While we were able to get the necessary photos and measurements, we were unable to find out what Grace is when she overeats. 

As I write this answer, I am forced to ponder on Grace and the things she eats. Why does she eat so much? Does she not know what happens to her when she overeats? Doesn't she know that she needs to save some of that food for the starving children in Africa? What am I when I overeat?

These are the questions that keep me up at night, but I hope you will be able to sleep, now that you have this information. 

Challenge completed.

The Soulful Ginger and Owlet  

posted on 08/16/2018 10:43 a.m.
There is yet a smaller book in the vaults of Special Collections... it is the 1974 knjiga. It is 10 pages long and it is 4x4 MILLIMETERS. That is a .16 inches by .16 inches. TEENY!

Here's the library record:

Here's a link to an auction for a copy a few years back so you can see a pic:
Question #80592 posted on 01/19/2015 2:32 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I'm seeking some help for emotional issues and anxiety. I've found two campus resources to help with this: the Counseling and Psychological Services in the Wilk and the Comprehensive Clinic across the street. What are the differences between these two services? I'm not really sure where to go.

Thanks for being someone I can ask without being afraid!



Dear Diane,

Both Counseling and Psychological Services (known as CAPS or the Counseling Center) and the Comprehensive Clinic are great resources for therapy. Here's a quick comparison table to help you make the decision. 



Comprehensive Clinic


Mostly students working towards their PhD in Counseling Psychology, some faculty (licensed psychologists) as well.

Mostly students working towards their PhD in Clinical Psychology, or graduate degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy or Social Work.

Services available

Individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy, biofeedback lab

Individual therapy, couples/family therapy, group therapy, psychological assessments

Eligibility for services

Must be a BYU student taking ¾ time credits, however waivers are available for those taking fewer credits due to mental health reasons, or if it is your last semester at BYU. For couples therapy, at least one spouse must fit the eligibility requirements above.



All services are free

Individual therapy is free for BYU students, otherwise it is $15/session for individual or couples/family therapy, $15 one time payment for participation in a group, $50 for psychological assessments, $400 for neuropsychological assessments

Group Therapy

This semester, groups are available for general process (everyone brings different issues to work on), as well as the following specialized groups: autism spectrum, couples, chronic pain and illness, eating disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, meditation/mindfulness, sexual concerns, stress management, trauma recovery and empowerment, and video game addiction.

This semester, there are groups for coping with depression, premarital topics, and cancer support. The Comprehensive Clinic also typically offers general process groups, parenting groups, and other marriage-related or divorce adjustment groups.  

Intake Process

Fill out intake paperwork online, then call to schedule an in-person intake. The counselor you are scheduled an intake with will be your counselor moving forward unless you request a transfer.

Call to schedule a phone intake. Phone intakes are conducted with an intake worker, who will either give you a referral to services in the community or forward your case to a counselor at the Comprehensive Clinic, who will contact you to schedule a first appointment.

A few final words: It is important to note that all student therapists are closely supervised and are essentially working under the license of their licensed psychologist supervisor. Although people are often a little apprehensive about having a therapist who is a student rather than a licensed professional, outcome research has shown that graduate student therapists can be just as (if not more) effective in their therapy than licensed psychologists. This is probably at least in part because student therapists tend to be a little more humble about trying something new if current therapy isn't working, as well as the fact that student therapists discuss their cases with their supervisors and have additional frequent opportunities to consult with colleagues, meaning they are actually less likely to miss something important and have the advantage of drawing upon the expertise of many professionals for each case they see. However, if you're set on seeing a faculty member, you can make that request. Just be aware that you will probably have to wait longer for an intake and have a lower frequency of sessions if you decide to see a faculty member, as they are much busier and their schedules are less flexible. You should also not be afraid to switch therapists if the one you are initially scheduled with (at either location) doesn't seem like a good fit for you. 


Question #80522 posted on 01/12/2015 5:02 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I'm not able to fathom how two people can remain in love for eternity. Marriage seems so beyond awkward. What do you talk about when you've talked about everything you can think of? What do you do when you run out of ideas for dates and activities? I guess it's because I'm leaving one of my first relationships because I couldn't seem to get the conversation flowing and I felt like we were talking about the same things all the time that I'm feeling like I can never commit to someone for eternity. I also have social anxiety (medically diagnosed), and it's really difficult for me to be around people I feel awkward with. I've had countless panic attacks over it. Basically I just want to know if I'll ever be able to find someone that I'll be able to feel comfortable with and to talk to for the rest of eternity because it's really not seeming like it right now. I'm perfectly fine with having a few cats and living on my own.

-Painfully Introverted


Dear you,

A few thoughts:

1. On talking with someone you've been with for a long time

I'm obviously not qualified to talk about eternity, not having been in an eternal relationship (or even one that gets close). However, I have been dating Man, Certainly for a significant time period. Here are some things I've learned (with recognition of the fact that he is quieter than I am):

  • Sometimes you don't have to talk as much. I think there's a lot of value to having a relationship where you reach the point that you can feel comfortable in each other's silence.
  • If you think about the relationships that you're comfortable in (with family and friends) I'm betting that a lot of the conversations you have aren't super deep, though some probably are. You aren't spending all of your time having deeply scintillating conversation; a lot of the time you just exist around each other. You talk about the things that happen that day, the things you heard about in the news or from friends, etc. We sometimes have different expectations for how conversations will go when we're in social situations (we need to be Having Conversation!) whereas with those we're comfortable with we don't necessarily see that same need.
  • There are things you can do to encourage conversations between people who don't know each other as well or feel as comfortable yet. One thing my boyfriend and I do is play "truth or truth". It's a pretty self-explanatory variation of truth or dare. Basically, we just ask each other questions. Some questions are deeper, some are less deep. In general when we play question games like this we stay away from simply repeating each other's questions (My favorite color is blue. What's yours?). Alternating questions can be a useful device for keeping conversation going because both people get to think of what they'd like to get the other person's opinions or views on and learn about each other.
  • It takes time to get to know someone. Don't cut someone off too early just because conversation doesn't flow effortlessly from the beginning. There are some people we have very good initial conversational chemistry with and some people with whom it can take a while to break the ice. There are people other than Man, Certainly, who it's been easier for me to start a conversational relationship with, but that doesn't mean that taking longer to get it with him hasn't been worthwhile and rewarding. Don't stick around forever if you can't get what you need, but I don't think that initial awkwardness that gradually fades but occasionally resurfaces over time should necessarily be fatal.
Finally, remember that you're going to keep having lives. There will always be things happening to both you and your SO. Forever and ever, things will keep happening. As we learn and grow, we can find lots of new topics of conversation if we look.

2. On being in love with someone forever

This I won't go into in depth, since I'm obviously not qualified to discuss being in love forever (because I obviously haven't). However, I will share something I have been learning that I shared with a roommate last night.

I think falling in love can be like walking down stairs in the dark. You move down a step and you're like "Yep, that's one step more attached to this person." At some point, you think you've reached the bottom of the stairs, and you're like "Yep, I'm in love." Then, you put out your foot to take the next step forward and there's actually another stair. And then there's another stair. Being in love is not binary; it's a matter of degree. If it was just that we "fall in love" and then have to maintain that static state for eternity, I agree that the concept would be quite worrisome. What I think is helpful is to remember that you learn and grow together and that there is always another step.

~Anne, Certainly

Question #80395 posted on 01/03/2015 10:38 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

An oft asked question but one which the writers may have more thoughts to share on: how can I be happy when I'm single when I really want to be married?

The only time I've gotten close to happy with my single status was when I didn't have a crush on anyone and that is not currently the case. How can I be happy when I want to be cuddled with and told I'm pretty by a husband instead of my female friends? How can I be happy when I really crave romance and physical and verbal affection? I would like to be really, truly adored by a spouse. And yet, I am single. Is this God's way of saying I'm not good enough yet? Am I not allowed to get married until I'm more charitable? Until my mental health is better (I'm in counseling already)? Is it the world's way of punishing me for not being an interesting enough person? For not being pretty enough? For not being nice enough or social enough? How can I be happy not knowing when this will end? Not knowing when God will send someone that likes me and I like back (that's actually a member/an option)? I could be alone for years for all I know. And I really don't want that. It makes it harder to plan my life as well.

unhappily single this holiday season


Dear Donna,

Let me first clear something up for you. I personally believe that in most instances, circumstances are not created by God for us to learn lessons. He can help us to learn lessons, but He's not necessarily holding off marriage until you get better at whatever you think you need to get better at. Granted, there may be some cases in which this is true, but I'm not so certain that it's all of the time. That being said, that doesn't mean you can't learn lessons in the meantime. In my opinion, you should always be preparing for marriage, even when you don't know when it'll come. 

I think it's ridiculous to assume that because you aren't married yet, it means you aren't good enough. It's a way of thinking that is incredibly negative. I live in an apartment of six wonderful girls and all of us are good enough for marriage. And yet, all of us are single, most of us without prospects for marriage. It's so much nicer to pretend that it's because we aren't ready yet. Then it's our fault. It's easier to believe. So how do we be happy when it probably isn't entirely our fault? 

To be absolutely honest, I have no clue. I could've written this question and there was a part of me that wanted to. I do have some tactics that work temporarily.

First of all, don't write your love story before it starts. What I mean by that is that you shouldn't try and plan out every possible scenario with a guy before anything actually happens. When it comes to the beginning stages of a relationship, you often need to live in the moment. Otherwise, when you're away, you start constructing scenarios in which your relationship advances, and then when you are actually with that person, you're depressed that your relationship isn't where you thought it was. Along these lines, take a page from Hitch's book: there are no basic principles. I was talking to Concorde earlier this week and said, "Everyone's love story is different. There's no rules, no plan. And yet we all try and construct rules and plans to try and figure out the system. We never will. One day it'll happen to us, and we'll try to explain how our story fits in the system, but deep down, we know that it won't because there is no such thing." Don't worry about whether you're doing things that fit what you think the pattern is.

The above thoughts are mostly related to the beginning stages of relationships, which, while you're single, can be really stressful because they give you hope. They give you hope that you aren't going to be stuck single forever, that the pain you're feeling might be relieved. And then, inevitably, you're disappointed with the results.

When this happens, live your life as if there are no guys in your future. Make your plans as if you're not going to be dating someone in four months. Focus on extracurriculars or hobbies that you find enjoyment in. Find ways to progress in other areas of your life. Commiserate with your roommates occasionally and indulge yourself in a chick flick marathon when you watch four in a row while doing homework on a Saturday. It is all right to be sad about being single. Let me repeat: IT IS OKAY TO BE SAD ABOUT BEING SINGLE. IT IS OKAY TO WANT TO BE MARRIED MORE THAN YOU WANT TO BE SINGLE. You aren't going to be happy about your single status all of the time, and that's perfectly fine. But you also can't be miserable about it all of the time. Indulge the sorrow once in awhile, as long as you get back up and carry on with your life. Don't begrudge the happiness of the other couples, because you don't know how many of them were in exactly the same position you were in.

I don't know when this will end for you, nor when this will end for me. But in the meantime, let's be the super awesome people we both are, and eventually a couple of guys will realize they won't want to let us slip out of their lives.

-Tally M.

Question #80272 posted on 12/14/2014 12:08 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

so I saw a website the other day that listed 72 places you could get a student discount

I'm not sure if you can put web addresses in a question but if you can here it is

Some of those things are common knowledge (for example, Amazon Prime). And I'm pretty sure I've heard about a discount at Banana Republic, but honestly even with 15% off, I'm still a poor college kid who can't afford it, so I've never tried it out.

I am guessing some of those are not actually true, like 10% off at McDonald's, or perhaps only true at a specific location, because if these are legit discounts, how come nobody knows about them? Or am I just out of the loop?

Have you tried getting discounts from any of those places listed and had it work? Any recommendations? or favorite places in general (not necessarily on that list) to get a student discount?

-college student


Dear College Student,

I was able to verify the following student discounts with the company's website. All of the others listed on that website were not listed on their company's. However, that doesn't necessarily mean they don't exist, they probably just don't advertise the. On that note though, it was made abundantly clear by the McDonald's website that they do not have a student discount currently. 

  1. Amazon Prime
  2. Spotify
  3. Supercuts—I could not verify if this is true outside of the UK
  4. New York Times Subscription
  5. Metropolitan Opera in NYC 
  6. The Economist
  7. Wall Street Journal
  8. Rail Europe
  9. Eastern Mountain Sports 
  10. J. Crew 
  11. Madewell
  12. Sam's Club—with the purchase of a membership
  13. ASOS
  14. Banana Republic 
  15. The Limited
  16. Buffalo Wild Wings—Sunday nights only 
  17. Apple
  18. Radio Shack
  19. Amtrak
  20. Ann Taylor
  21. Adobe 
  22. Microsoft
  23. Sprint
  24. Allstate—Good Student Discount
  25. General Motors
  26. Fenway park 
  27. Art Institute of Chicago
  28. FedEx 
  29. JoAnn Fabrics
  30. Coast London 
  31. Alex and Ani
  32. Club Monaco
  33. Norton Protection Software
  34. Dairy Queen—by location
  35. Moo.com
  36. Greyhound 

Of those listed, I have only used the Amazon Prime Discount and the Met Discount. They are quite nice to have. I have also taken advantage of Student Rush Broadway tickets, which is awesome. I never paid more then $40 to see a Broadway play. Also, it seems that PuckerMob has updated their list with links for the student discounts.  

The Soulful Ginger  

Question #80216 posted on 12/10/2014 5:08 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

So, I was lying in bed, half-asleep, half-awake, when an interesting scene played out in my mind. I imagined two men about to participate in an old-fashioned duel (where they walk a certain amount of paces and then turn and fire at each other), and they were arguing about who was more accurate at long distances. Finally, one of them said: "Fine then! Why don't we go one million paces, and then we'll see who's a better shot!" They then started marking off the paces.

The daydream didn't last long enough for me to see the end result of the duel, but it got me wondering: If the two men started in, say, the middle of Kansas, and each walked one million paces in a straight line (one going east, one going west), where would they end up? And is there any weapon short of some ballistic missile that they could hit each other with?

-Cowboy Reggae


Dear Bebop,

I spent this entire semester doing computational problems almost exactly like this so I'm only slightly disappointed I didn't get to show my computations for this answer. A pace is about 30 inches so one million paces is 762 km. I don't even have to make any estimations this time! WolframAlpha provides us with the geographic center of Kansas. At that latitude, for every one km west or east the longitude changes by about 0.0115 degrees. (OK, I'm estimating again but at least I'm not doing any order-of-magnitude estimations, right?) In other words, a million paces at that latitude is about 8.757 degrees of longitude. One of these guys will end up southeast of St. Louis in Illinois and the other will find himself near some national forests in Colorado.

Coincidentally, this is just about 1,000 miles of separation. No firearm can even come close to this distance. But you know I'd walk a thousand miles... if I could just see you tonight. (You probably thought I was going to go with a The Proclaimers reference, didn't you? Sometimes I like to be a little unpredictable.)