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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Truly Forking Paths

Two days ago I heard a story about Nikolai Kibalchich in a small peaceful garden at Mähe, told by my friend's wife H. Kibalchich was her great grandfather and also the man who made the bomb that killed Russian czar Alexander II in 1881.

I remember myself standing at the place in St. Petersburg where Alexander II was killed and listening to the guide's story about the assassination. Even then I was thinking, what if that assassination would have failed? What would have happened to the world history? Would there ever have been a Soviet Union?

If you know Russian history, then you would probably join me in this argumentation, since the success of the communist October revolution depended on several preconditions, including the weakness of the czarist rule. Also, the success of the 1881 assassination may have triggered self esteem of the revolutionaries decades later.

Now, hearing the bomb-makers story directly from the family, I started to think, what if Kibalchich would have made a bomb with a defect? What if he would have given the wrong instructions? What if he would have made a mistake?

And man, what if he would have not participated in the plot, may be he would have had time to develop his rocket propulsion ideas, that remained buried in the Academy of Sciences for decades, what impact would this have had to the development of technology of the world? Rocket weapons in the 1920-s, space travel in 1940-s?

Nikolai Kibalchich