Destruction on different scales:
Come let us reason together

Suppose some evil wizard decided to exterminate humanity by making random changes and for some unaccountable reason he decided to do so on only one scale.  What scale would do?

He might try taking the nuclei in our atoms and rearrange them at random but leaving the envelope of each nucleus intact.  What would happen?  I do not know.  Perhaps all the neutrons and protons are scattered at random or have no individual identity anyway.  But it is observed that among heavy nuclei, the more stable seem to have about an equal number of protons and neutrons and have an even number of protons and an equal number of neutrons.  Perhaps the unit of two neutrons and two protons has an inherent stability.  That unit is known to us as a helium nucleus or an alpha particle.  So perhaps there is structure within the nucleus after all.

At smaller scales I do not know enough even to speculate.

But if he were to take the atom, its neutrons, protons and electrons and scatter them around in the usual domain of the atom, it is easy to see what would happen.  We would be reduced to a ghost of highly compressed hydrogen with a lot of free protons.  The resulting explosion would be noticeable for some distance as each of us expanded and possibly exploded, and the neutron radiation would be substantial.  Such a random rearrangement would serve his diabolical purpose.

Leaving the atoms intact, he could scatter them around in or molecules, which would lose their physical chemical structure and leave us shapeless puddles.  Or he could scatter our molecules within our cells or burst all our cells.  The effect would be the same up to the scale where he reduced us to eight inch hunks to be scrambled.

Start at the other end of the scale.  He might scatter the galaxies in the universe.  Provided there was no disruption within individual galaxy, we might not suffer, might not even notice a difference for many, many years.  And at larger scales the same thing might be true. 

But if he were to rearrange the Milky Way Galaxy at random, it would probably finish us.  We live in the rim of our galaxy, our cosmic neighbors few and tranquil.  Scattered at random, we would probably lie close to some of the unsetting features at the core.  Several years ago, December 27, 2004, we were struck by radiation from a magnetar.  It was actually not in the core but on the far side of the galaxy, and we were partly shielded not only by interstellar clouds but by the fact that the sun was almost exactly between us and the magnetar.  Even so, the radiation forced the ionosphere, which fluctuates anyway, much closer to the earth and strangest of all held it there for hours.  I doubt animals would have much luck breathing ionized air.

A galactic rearrangement would probably toast us fairly soon.

Rearrange the solar system, and we would either be closer to the sun or farther from it or swinging between two such locations, and his evil plan would be fulfilled.  Stir the earth up and we would be mixed in with the magma.  Even stir up the top mile or so and we would be unable to survive in the resulting environment even if a few of us wound up on the surface. 

On any scale from the atom to the galaxy, if we were to churn things up at random, we would all die.  But somehow or other people – lots of intelligent and well meaning people – think that there is no problem at all churning up the gene pool.  They think we can only make things better.  I can no more get into such a bizarre mind set than it seems just about anybody else can get out of it.    

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