If you ever catch on fire, try to avoid looking in a mirror, because I bet that will really throw you into a panic. -Jack Handey
Question #89509 posted on 04/27/2017 4:20 p.m.

Dear The Board,

If you could place two teleporters anywhere in the world, where would you put them and why? You can use them to instantaneously transport people and goods, but once they're in place they can't be moved.

As a follow-up question, do you think it would/should be within the rights of whichever country you place them in to regulate them TSA-style?

-Nellie Bly


Dear NB,

I'd put one at the bottom of the ocean (inspiration from XKCD) and the other somewhere just above its surface, then hook up some sort of hydroelectric generator. Using the figures from the comic plus the equations provided here: 720 watts times 400,000 liters per second times 24 hours times 365 days divided by 1,000 for unit conversion comes out to just over 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours of energy produced per year. Which sounded awesome until I looked at the total US energy usage per year: ~13,000 kWh/year times ~320 million people equals a total US energy consumption rate of over 4 trillion kWh per year.

A wardrobe-sized portal isn't going to cut it. Let's make it bigger.

The Panama Canal can fit ships with a width of 161 feet. Since some of the other answers assume the portal would be large enough to fit shipping, I'm going to make that same assumption and adjust the math accordingly. We'll say the portal is a 161-foot square, which translates approximately to a 50-meter square, or 2,500 square meters. Based on math found at Explain XKCD, the original equation appears to assume a wardrobe volume of two square meters. If I'm doing my math right, the increase in size would increase water throughput from 400,000 liters per second to 500,000,000 liters per second. If I run the equation from the first paragraph a second time, that gives us an output of just over 3 trillion kilowatt-hours, enough to provide about three-quarters of the annual US energy consumption, or over 10% of the world's total energy consumption.

Sure, pesky little things like physics and reality might get in the way, but when has that ever stopped me?


Question #89491 posted on 04/26/2017 4:35 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Is it time for the Jedi to end?

-No, no, (*inhales*), no.


Dear No

My 4yo is very concerned about which Jedi is going to end. He's asked me a good two dozen times since I showed him the trailer.

-Humble Master

Question #89462 posted on 04/24/2017 9:29 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What is a book you've read in the last year that you would recommend to others?

- Katya (Hooray! It's alumni week!)


Dear Katya,

  • The Sabriel series, by Garth Nix
  • The Leviathan series, by Scott Westerfield
  • Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien. It's shameful I hadn't read this before, but I just didn't find it interesting in 7th grade. But it's a great story.
  • The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Inverse Insomniac agrees that this is SOOOOO GOOD.


Question #89458 posted on 07/26/2017 11:26 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Re: the Facebook comments conversation, can we get some visuals to divide the Board into eons, eras, periods, epochs, and ages? And provide Reasons?

...Or I guess with people that's called generations. But it's okay; sometimes rocks are better.

-Auto Surf


Dear Auto Surf,

This was fun. You're also ridiculously lucky that the editors had mercy on me and let me hold it significantly past the end of Alumni Week so I could finish it properly.

Now, there are all sorts of ways to answer your question. Katya suggested dividing up the Board into its technological eras. Der Berliner thought that perhaps it would be good to look at the tenure of the various editors on the Board's history page. These are both good ideas which I will come back to at the end of my answer. But did I take them to heart?

No. Because that would be easy. And my life is pretty much defined by rejecting the perfectly acceptable easy way in order to do things the hard way instead.

So, despite never having done anything like it before, I decided to make and analyze a network diagram of writer contemporaries.

To start out, I took data on writer tenure from our internal Board directory, narrowed the dataset down to the 135 writers who had spent at least 12 months with the Board, and documented every pair of writers whose tenure overlapped in at least one calendar month. (There may have been cases in which one writer's final answer was written on, say, May 3, while another writer's first answer was written on May 25. They would be considered contemporaries, since I only know the month in which the answer was written, not the exact day. I imagine this doesn't apply to too many cases.) In total, that came out to 2,461 pairings. This is an extremely zoomed-out version of the chart:

big board project step 1.png

It was at this point, after putting in several hours of work that I really should have spent on homework instead, that I realized I have no idea how to turn this data into a network diagram, or if that's even possible in Excel. Luckily, while Excel itself doesn't support what I wanted to do, Google led me to a free Excel plug-in that can get the job done: NodeXL. From there, it was a simple but time-consuming matter to transfer the data into the NodeXL framework, and a few hours later, I was presented with this absolute piece of beauty:

big board project step 2.png

Each dot on the diagram represents a writer, and each line between two dots represents overlapping tenure with the Board. As you can see, the diagram can be intuitively divided into several clusters. Using my entirely unscientific intuition, I formalized that division as follows:

big board project step 3.png

(Note that the diagram is rotated every time I introduce any new data or elements; however, the spatial relationships remain the same.)

In the diagram above, you can see the flow of Board history in a sinuous path from the top left, to the center, to the center-right, to the bottom-center. Some of the borderline cases between groups are relatively arbitrary; for example, the lowest green dot on the chart (L'Afro) could arguably be moved into the blue group and fit just as well. However, for the most part, I think these are defensible divisions.

So how does that compare to a chronological analysis of writer tenure? I made another Excel chart, this time showing writer tenure by three-month block, and colored the writers' bars to match the network diagram:

big board project step 4.png

As you can see, there's still a fair bit of overlap between each group. In some cases, writers with unusually long tenures (compared to their contemporaries) were treated as members of a later group.

After further thought, I decided to divide the blue group (which stretched from early 2003 to late 2011) into two groups. I also took several transitional data points and removed their group designation entirely. Here's the result:

big board project step 5.png

It was at this point that I realized that the NodeXL could also cluster the connections between points, which makes for a much more intuitively understandable chart:

big board project step 6.png

The program also allows me to highlight dots and show their connections. I used this feature to highlight each group's connections.

Group 1: Orange (Early Board)

Earliest writers started: 1998

Majority of writers: 1998 to the second quarter of 2002

Last writers retired: the fourth quarter of 2002

big board project orange.png

Group 2: Yellow and Green (Early Board)

Earliest writers started: 1998

Majority of writers: the third quarter of 2002 to the fourth quarter of 2004

Last writers retired: the first quarter of 2006

big board project green.png

Group 3: Cyan (Middle Board)

Earliest writers started: the first quarter of 2003

Majority of writers: the third quarter of 2005 to the fourth quarter of 2006

Last writers retired: the first quarter of 2008

big board project aqua.png

Group 4: Blue (Middle Board)

Earliest writers started: the third quarter of 2006

Majority of writers: the fourth quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2010

Last writers retired: the fourth quarter of 2011

big board project blue.png

Group 5: Purple (Transition)

Earliest writers started: the second quarter of 2006

Majority of writers: never; peaked in 2010

Last writers retired: n/a

big board project pink.png

Group 6: Red (Late Board)

Earliest writers started: the fourth quarter of 2009

Majority of writers: the third quarter of 2011 to the present

Last writers retired: n/a

big board project red.png

In chart form, here's what that looks like:

big board project step 7.png

While my group descriptions noted the quarter that each group began to make up a majority of writers, it's better to think of transitional periods rather than exact transitional dates. Each transition takes anywhere from six months to one year, so an abbreviated listing of Board generations would look something like this:

  • First generation (orange): 1998 to early 2002
  • Second generation (yellow and green): late 2002 to late 2004
  • Third generation (cyan): mid 2005 to early 2007
  • Fourth generation (blue): late 2007 to early 2010
  • Transitional generation (purple): late 2009 to early 2011
  • Fifth generation (red): mid 2011 to present

Each of the first four generations lasted around three years, give or take. The fifth generation, however, has lasted around six years so far, and so far it resists easy attempts at breaking it up into smaller units. The best provisional transition I could come up with began around the end of 2015. Here's what that generation's connections look like:

big board project future.png

And here's how that group appears on the chart.

big board project step 8.png

Finally, here's a version of the diagram with several notable writers highlighted.

big board project step 9_1.png

As it turns out, some of these eras correspond to important milestones in Board history. Although odds are you've never noticed it, there is a history page embedded under the "About Us" section, with entries by every head editor from 1998 to 2012. The timeline runs as follows:

  • 1995, give or take a few years: The physical Board is founded
  • 1998: The Board goes online under Andy Pearson, who then hands control over to Matt Astle
  • 2000: Matt Astle passes Headitorship to Eric Carlson
  • 2002: Eric Carlson passes Headitorship to Jennifer Stubben
  • 2003: Jennifer Stubben passes Headitorship to Erin Hallmark; the current system of question numbering is implemented and Board Question #1 is published
  • 2005: The Great BYUSA Drama occurs; Headitorship passes from Erin Hallmark through the Linguistics Society to Ethan Bratt
  • 2006: Ethan Bratt secures the Board's home with the Daily Universe and passes the torch to Sam Orme
  • 2006-2007: Katya numbers all of the pre-2003 questions
  • 2007: Sam Orme passes Headitorship to Yellow
  • 2009: Yellow passes Headitorship to Sky Bones
  • 2010: Board 5.0 (the basis for the current format) is implemented
  • 2012: The partnership between the Board and the Daily Universe ends, as does the tenure of Sky Bones and the public written history of the Board's leadership

As you can see, a few events correspond to major generational transitions. The Board's departure from BYUSA corresponds with the shift from the Early Board to the Middle Board. The implementation of Board 5.0 corresponds with the shift from the Middle Board to the Late Board. Nearly every generational transition, of course, matches up with a change in Headitorship. And with Zedability's retirement and the imminent and unpredictable changes to the Board's web hosting situation, we very well might be on the verge of experiencing the dawn of the sixth generation, which I believe retroactively justifies my three months of procrastination on this answer. Where will this take us? Is it actually a generational shift in writers or just a change in the Board's functionality? We probably won't know for several years, maybe longer. So, Auto Surf, set your calendar for Alumni Week 2020 and don't let me forget.

Until next year,


Question #89437 posted on 04/25/2017 2:38 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Why is it that sometimes, when you're on an elevator going up, it feels like you're going down (and vice versa)?



Dear Arg,

Right at about the turn of the 20th century, we thought we knew and understood everything there was to know and understand about physics. Specifically, about pulleys. You've probably heard of a pulley. It's one of the six "simple machines", hypothetical mathematical objects at the basis of theoretical physics, the other five being the level, the wheel and axle, the inclined plane, the box, and the perpetual motion machine. Until recently the only of these objects that had been created experimentally were the pulley, realized during the Renaissance by Leonardo Da Vinci, and the perpetual motion machine, used by the ancient Egyptians and regarded by most scientists to have been gifted to them by an alien race. As such, almost the entirety of "real-world" physics was thought to be the study of pulleys, the basics of which comprise most introductory physics courses. (Of course, what you're taught is a sort of "idealized" version of the pulley. In reality pulleys are actually frictionless, massless, and behave like simple harmonic oscillators. The maths required to study a "real-world" object is generally regarded as too much and is eschewed lest we scare away potential research servants.)

The foundational breakthrough of "modern" physics, then, was the discovery of the box. No one understands how we were able to finally create a "real-world" box* but research into boxes by many turn-of-the-century physicists led to the development of a new branch of physics, quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is, simply put, the study of what happens inside boxes. You've probably heard of some of the more startling consequences of quantum mechanics, such as Schrödinger's cat, the uncertainty principle, and quantized energy levels. Schrödinger's cat is an interesting experiment carried out by Ewrin Schrödinger in 1935. Schrödinger placed a cat inside a box and observed what happened. Of course, when something is in a box you can't observe it, so there was no way to know what happened. Was the cat dead? Was the cat alive? You can't know until you open the box and look. Sometimes the cat was dead and other times it was alive, but until the box was open there was no way to know. According to one interpretation of quantum mechanics, until the box is open the cat is both simultaneously dead and alive, a situation called a "superposition" or "zombism". In another interpretation (and the interpretation I personally believe) when a box is closed, parallel universes corresponding to the cat being dead or alive and their relative probabilities are created and we are unable to know in which one we reside until the box is opened. The uncertainty principle is a mathematical formalism created by Werner Heisenberg to model what goes on inside boxes. As implied by the name, the uncertainty principle shows deterministically that what occurs inside a box is unknowable. Lastly, quantized energy levels refers to how numbers describing properties of boxes occur in discrete intervals. In the example of Schrödinger's cat, while the cat may have been dead or alive or both, there would always be an integral number of cats.

If you're a student of scientific history, that last consequence may surprise you. In his famous notebook Da Vinci records the results of his experiments which consisted of attaching cats and other objects to pulleys. What he found by so doing is that the object he placed on a pulley could then raise them to any height, even a non-integral number. Mathematically, pulleys are continuous functions while boxes are discrete functions. So what happened when we put a box on a pulley? The startling results were discovered by Elisha Graves Otis, inventor of the elevator. Elisha has assumed that attaching a box to a pulley would allow him to raise that box to any height. To his surprise, boxes on pulleys can only be raised to discrete heights, which Elisha recognized could correspond to the discrete floors in a building, which is how he went on to capitalize on his invention. The actual mathematics of these box/pulley combinations (elevators) are extremely complicated but engineers have perfected them so that there is only a slim chance of dying when you ride one. (You may have noticed how many elevators don't have a 13th floor. This is the most dangerous number and it is very difficult to remain alive when a box is attached to this number.)

So, now that you're primed on elevator mechanics**, a branch of quantum mechanics, let's get to the crux of your question. You're probably familiar with general relativity, a theory of magic proposed by German warlock Albert Einstein. Einstein talked about "gravity" which he found to be how much it felt like you were moving up or down. (One of the more interesting results of Einstein's theory is that "artificial" gravity, that is gravity created by magic, is indistinguishable from "real" gravity, gravity which has existed since the beginning of time.) The problem arises when a person steps into an elevator. What wins? Physics or magic? Einstein's theories fail in the extreme cases of quantum mechanics while quantum mechanics are unable to predict how much it feels like you're moving up and down. Much work in science today is in creating a "unified" theory, one which takes both the science of boxes and combines it with the magic of gravity. So ultimately, we don't know the answer to your question but we hope to someday soon.

-Terrible Scientist

*Nor we will ever be able to, a paradox at the heart of quantum mechanics
**I failed to mention this earlier, but it's worth noting: according to one interpretation of quantum mechanics, elevators are essentially portals to nearly identical parallel universes. Fascinating stuff!

Question #89379 posted on 04/22/2017 7:02 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Why is AIDS associated with homosexuality, and why at the peak of the American epidemic did it primarily affect gay men? It can be transmitted via any kind of sex, right? So shouldn't it show up at the same rate in heterosexuals as in those with other sexual orientations?



Dear Thusly,

Thanks for asking this question. As a member of the gay community (albeit the gay female community), accuracy and historical understanding is really important to me.

Current US AIDS statistics

Before we go back in time to how things got this way, let's review the current HIV/AIDS statistics. According to the CDC's statistics on HIV in the United States, HIV continues to affect the gay and bisexual male community disproportionately. (From here on out, I'm going to use GBM for "Gay and Bisexual Men," just to make this less clunky.) While there are positive developments related to HIV in the States (for example, new cases declined by almost 20% between 2005 and 2014), 67% of all people with new HIV diagnoses in 2015 were GBM. Heterosexual sexual contact accounted for 24% of all new HIV diagnoses, and IV drug use accounted for 6%. So, even today, while you can contract HIV from heterosexual sex and injection drug use, GBM have more new HIV diagnoses than any other group. The reasons for this are a little complicated and they go back decades.

Very important sidenote: HIV continues to be a major issue in the American LGBTQ community today, because it affects a disproportionate number of people of color. In 2015, black GBM had the most new HIV diagnoses at 26% of all new cases, and white GBM had the second most new HIV diagnoses at 19%. The most troubling part of these statistics is that, while white GBM experienced a decline of 18% of new HIV diagnoses between 2005 and 2014, new cases among Latino/Hispanic and African American GBM each rose by more than 20%. New HIV diagnoses among young African American GBM rose by 87% over the same time period. These higher rates of infection have to do with increased stigma in the culture of those groups and with all of the ways those groups are disenfranchised: lower education levels, poverty, less access to medical care, higher levels of migration, possible language barriers, and higher rates of other STIs. These increases in new cases, however, are also reflections of some of the issues that helped to deepen the original AIDS epidemic back in the 1980s.

Stonewall, gay liberation, and the arrival of HIV/AIDS

So, let's go backward in time and get a little American gay history. Before 1969, the American LGBTQ community was almost completely deeply closeted. Any dating, sex, or identifying as LGBTQ had to be done in secret, and if you were outed you were ruined. LGBTQ people were disowned by their families, fired from their jobs, kicked out of their housing, and condemned and derided by their religious leaders. LGBTQ people were also frequently murdered or beaten and they had no way of defending themselves, because standing up for themselves would have meant outing themselves. Some bars became de facto gay meeting places. The police would conduct raids, which were often very violent, and they would haul the people they found in the bars off to jail, outing them and ruining their lives. In one such bar in Manhattan, called the Stonewall Inn, the police conducted a raid in June of 1969. A series of violent demonstrations lasting six days erupted in response during which LGBTQ people began fighting back. (Note: The Stonewall riots were started by transgender women of color, not white gay men.) While there had been earlier demonstrations in response to police raids, the Stonewall riots were the first to be significantly publicized. This event motivated the LGBTQ community to come together in an organized, out way to fight for more equality. It also led to the LGBTQ community being willing to use less socially acceptable methods in advocating for themselves. They went from marching in straight lines dressed in Sunday best in 1968 to holding hands with their partners at a protest in July 1969. It was an abrupt and powerful change. It's also why Gay Pride events are traditionally held in June.

Anyway, Stonewall kicked off a new chapter gay liberation movement. On the one-year anniversary of Stonewall, June 28, 1970, the first American gay pride marches (then called Gay Liberation Day parades or by other names) were held in Chicago and Los Angeles. By 1972, gay pride marches happened in 12 American cities. An early gay rights advocate, Frank Kameny, who did highly influential work with the Mattachine Society in the 1950s and 60s, said that at the time of Stonewall there were 50 or 60 gay rights organizations in the United States. A year later, he estimated that there were more than 1,500. In 1973, two elected officials in Ann Arbor came out. In 1974, a different incumbent in Ann Arbor who had come out was reelected. In 1976, an openly gay non-incumbent named Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. After the team behind it successfully passed homophobic legislation in states across the country, the Briggs Initiative was defeated in California in 1978. Harvey Milk and other California gay rights leaders advocated coming out as a strategy to defeat the measure in order, believing that homophobia would diminish once people knew they loved a gay person. This was a new idea for a community that had been almost completely closeted less than a decade before. It's really hard to overstate the changes the community went through in this brief time. Suddenly it was easy to find many other gay people who understood you, not just in bars but out in the open, provided that you could get to a major city. It was possible and positive to advocate for your own better treatment. People began coming out, freeing themselves from the limits of the closet, and moving to cities with large gay populations. San Francisco and New York became especially prominent gay centers. 

In places like San Francisco and New York in the 1970s, people were consciously shaking off the shame of the closet. They were consciously deciding to celebrate who they were. One of the ways that GBM in these centers celebrated who they were was through sex. These men had spent their entire lives pretending to be (and often trying to be) something different than what they were. They had been made to fear for their lives, their souls, their jobs, and their relationships for being attracted to who they were attracted to. A major value in the gay male community of the day, therefore, was free love. They refused to be hemmed in by societal expectations, as society had made it clear that it did not want them. It's worth mentioning, of course, that American society at large had undergone a sexual revolution during the 1960s, so straight people were also having more sex with less guilt than they had before. The free sexual environment during the gay liberation movement was one extension of that. People also started coming out very young and moving to large cities with large gay populations, so teenage and young adult men were offered unlimited, joyful sex with as many partners as they wanted, and they took it. Because free love was such a prominent value in the gay male community, the bathhouses were a major community center. There was also a cavalier attitude about condom use because prominent STIs of the time period, such as chlamydia, were curable with antibiotics. Condoms were also seen as a straight problem, as pregnancy was not an issue and no one had received sex education that included the risks of same-sex sexual behavior. Recreational drug use was also pretty common. Poppers, a then-popular inhalant that causes an intense high popular at clubs, were especially ubiquitous. Poppers can lead to a more intense sexual experience with less buildup, which can lead to more tearing of the mucous membranes, which causes easier transmission of HIV. Anal sex, whether between homosexual or heterosexual partners, is also more likely to cause tearing than other types of sex because the lining of the rectum is very thin, and anal sex is a prominent sexual act in the GBM community. More importantly, HIV more easily permeates the mucous membranes in the intestines, including the rectum, than the mucous membranes of the vagina or the mouth. (Receptive anal sex is by far the most risky sexual behavior in terms of HIV, followed by insertive anal sex and vaginal sex. Oral sex and other sexual acts pose little to no risk.)

To sum up: Large communities of gay men came together to celebrate their newfound freedom. A prominent expression of that freedom was sex, with as many partners as one wanted, most of whom were also having very large amounts of sex with many partners. This was done without protection, which increased the risk. This created a prime scenario for widespread HIV infection. Note: It's really important not to judge the early gay male community for this. They were just beginning to reclaim themselves from shame following being completely rejected by society, their families, and their religions. Suicide was very common among LGBTQ people at this time. The community engaged in some unwise behavior (with the best intentions behind their value system), but the penalty for that behavior should not be a slow, painful, undignified mass death that wipes out an entire community. They did not deserve what they got.

AIDS, yet undiscovered and undescribed, had caused symptoms such as wasting in Africa by the mid-1970s, and there is evidence that it killed a Norwegian sailor in 1976. HIV arrived in the States sometime around 1970 or 1971, probably from Haiti, where it arrived around 1966. Many Haitians worked in the parts of Africa where HIV originated around the turn of the 20th century. It arrived in New York pretty soon thereafter and arrived in San Francisco around 1976. Once HIV arrived in the concentrated gay male communities in cities like San Francisco and New York, it was quickly passed from person to person. Making matters worse, HIV is asymptomatic for years, so no one in those communities knew what was happening until people were dying and many of them were infected. By the time that Harvey Milk's murderer was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than first degree murder using a highly dubious defense in 1979, an estimated 10% of the gay men in San Francisco were already infected.

A history of scientific advancements in HIV/AIDS research and treatment, 1981-1995

In 1981, the disease that would later be named AIDS was medically observed and described for the first time. The CDC published a report of unusual cases of pneumocystis pneumonia in five gay men in Los Angeles. Pneumocystis pneumonia only occurs in people with suppressed immune systems, but there was no reason for these young, seemingly healthy men to have it. Over the next year or so, more clusters of pneumocystis pneumonia and other opportunistic infections, such as Kaposi sarcoma, were discovered. Because the first medically documented cases of AIDS were among gay men, in 1982 the disease was named GRID, Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. It was not yet known what caused AIDS or how it was transmitted, but AIDS' first name connected it solely to the gay community. During this same time, AIDS was also called "the gay cancer," with some, both inside and outside the community, believing that just being gay was making these people die, and some people feeling that gay people deserved this apparent punishment from God. Medical professionals soon noticed that half the men with AIDS were not homosexuals, though most of the others were Haitians, (IV) heroin-users, or hemophiliacs. This caused some people to begin calling it 4-H Disease. By late 1982, the CDC had coined the term AIDS and declared that there was a sexual component to its transmission, though they still did not know what caused it.

Medical progress on HIV was slow. The virus that would be named HIV in 1986 was discovered in 1983 and again separately in 1984. The virus would later be confirmed to be the cause of AIDS. In September 1983 the CDC had mapped all of HIV's major transmission routes, including sexual contact (opposite sex as well as same sex), IV drug use, blood transfusions, and from mother to child during childbirth. They ruled out transmission through casual contact and transmission through the air or water. In November 1983, the WHO held its first meeting to assess the AIDS situation. By this time, over 1,200 Americans had already died of the disease. When HIV was discovered the second time in 1984, the researcher who discovered it estimated that there would be a vaccine within two years. It would take almost that long for a screening test for HIV to become available. By this time, an estimated 50% of the gay men in San Francisco were already infected. A more specific HIV screening test was not available until 1987, a month after AZT, the first drug approved to treat AIDS, was approved by the FDA. Prior to AZT, AIDS was universally fatal, and death usually occurred one to two years after diagnosis with AIDS. Because AZT was not effective by itself, was prohibitively expensive, and had side effects which were intolerable to many people who tried to take it, AZT did not much improve the situation. AZT also did not stop people from eventually succumbing to the disease. Protease inhibitors, which began the era of effective AIDS treatment, were not available until 1995. By then, around 300,000 Americans had died of AIDS. Earlier in 1995, the New York Times had reported that AIDS had become the leading cause of death for all Americans between the ages of 25 and 44.

Effects on the gay community and other affected communities

AIDS devastated the gay community. Many thousands died. People lost friends, lovers, and partners at such a staggering rate that by the later 1980s many had lost count. Many survivors compare their experiences at the height of the epidemic to living in a war zone. Many of them felt that they would all die. At the height of the epidemic, the Bay Area Reporter, a gay weekly San Francisco newspaper, published as many as 31 AIDS-related obituaries in one week. Its annual retrospectives featuring all who had died of AIDS during that year went on for pages and pages. It took until 1998 for the Reporter to publish an issue with no AIDS-related obituaries.

Hospitals would refuse to treat AIDS patients out of fear of being labeled an "AIDS hospital." Funeral homes refused to take the bodies of those who died of AIDS or hold funerals for them. Some airlines would not allow people with AIDS to fly. People would not even go near the infected, especially the sick. Opportunistic infections associated with AIDS caused a host of medical problems, such as blindness, deafness, wasting, pneumonia, cancer, profound weakness, and intense pain. With no one else to help, members of the gay community did a heroic job of helping themselves. Countless organizations were started within the community to address the various needs of a sick and dying populace. Meals were delivered to those too ill to cook for themselves who were dying of wasting. Friends took turns caring for each other, rotating between who was well. Counseling and companionship services were set up so no one had to face death alone when his friends had all died before him. When funeral homes could not be found, they buried their dead themselves. Money was shared. One HIV+ San Francisco artist even started a charity to ensure that artists had access to art supplies when they could no longer afford them because they could not work and had huge medical expenses. Cleve Jones, a gay rights and AIDS activist, started the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which was first shown on the National Mall in Washington in 1987. All of this was done by people who were sick themselves and staring down what was, at the time, inevitable death.

Profoundly, the lesbian community, which had long been mistreated and excluded by the gay male community (as well as being mistreated by and excluded from women's groups at the same time), stepped in and cared for sick gay men when no one else would. Sex between women is at very low risk for HIV transmission, so lesbians were not dying or sick. Still, lesbians came to the aid of gay men when they needed it most in a matchless way. They participated in every AIDS-related relief organization, took up AIDS advocacy, and took care of the sick and dying. Many survivors of the AIDS epidemic have said that we would all be lucky to belong to a community that took care of its own in the way that the gay community did during that time. If Stonewall proved that queers were not limp-wristed fairies who would weakly accept mistreatment, the community's response to AIDS proved that they were not two-dimensional, sex-crazed degenerates. They cared for each other selflessly and courageously.

Misconceptions of how the disease was spread and homophobia combined to create intense fear and hatred toward AIDS victims, especially gay men but also people with hemophilia and people who contracted AIDS through blood transfusions. The hemophilia community was also devastated by AIDS. 90% of those with severe hemophilia contracted HIV during the 1980s and thousands died. Young children with hemophilia who contracted AIDS were stopped from going to school by the hateful protests and threats of their neighbors. The homes of one family with children with hemophilia and AIDS was burned down to force family out of the community. Infected children were called the worst gay slurs. People who contracted AIDS through blood transfusions faced similar discrimination. Still, activists from these communities fought back and made meaningful contributions in the fight against AIDS. Ryan White, a child with hemophilia who contracted AIDS, became the national face of children with AIDS who fought to continue to attend school. Arthur Ashe, a famous tennis player, contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during heart surgery. In 1992 he publicly announced that he had AIDS, facing incredible scrutiny, and then he created his own foundation to raise awareness and educate people on safe sex and AIDS.

Political negligence and homophobia

One of the reasons that medical progress was slow and that the AIDS epidemic lasted as long as it did was apathy on the part of the government and especially the president. Though he publicly opposed the Briggs Initiative in 1978, then-President Reagan ignored the AIDS crisis, believing it to be a gay issue rather than a health issue. A significant portion of President Reagan's base was the then-newly identified religious right. The Moral Majority, a new political organization, contributed to this movement, and its founder, Baptist minister Jerry Falwell, once said, "AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh's charioteers." In 1983, while Ronald Reagan was president but two years before he would serve as President Reagan's Director of Communications, Pat Buchanan wrote an op ed in the New York Post that said, in part, "The poor homosexuals -- they have declared war on nature, and now nature is exacting an awful retribution." It also described the gay community as "a common carrier of dangerous, communicable, and sometimes fatal diseases." Perhaps because of all this pressure, and the fact that President Reagan had campaigned as an anti-gay candidate in 1980, Reagan did not even say the word AIDS in public until 1985. This came after a famous actor (whom Reagan had known personally) named Rock Hudson died and mutual friend Elizabeth Taylor urged President Reagan to acknowledge that now he, too, knew someone with AIDS. In 1987, near the end of President Reagan's second term, he did finally address the issue of AIDS at the third International Conference on AIDS. By then, almost 21,000 Americans had died.

Meanwhile, Dr. C. Everett Koop, the surgeon general, has said that he was kept out of all AIDS discussions during the first five years of the Reagan administration. According to Dr. Koop, this was "because transmission of AIDS was understood to be primarily in the homosexual population and in those who abused intravenous drugs" and due to the attitude of the president's advisers, which was "they are only getting what they justly deserve." Treatment and research professionals at every level, including at the CDC and NIH, constantly requested more funding than they had to deal with the AIDS crisis. Their requests were routinely denied. President Reagan publicly opposed an increase in spending on AIDS research when the most prominent AIDS researcher in the country said that the current funding was "not nearly enough." Members of the administration publicly lobbied against sex and AIDS education both in high-risk communities and in schools. President Reagan eventually spoke out to agree with them. Along this vein, President Reagan said in 1987, "After all, when it comes to preventing AIDS, don't medicine and morality teach the same lessons?" In 1985, President Reagan directly contributed to the anti-AIDS (and thereby the anti-gay) hysteria that was keeping children with AIDS out of schools when he answered a question at a press conference about whether he would send his child to a school with a child who had AIDS. He said, "I'm glad I'm not faced with that problem today. ... It is true that some medical sources had said that this cannot be communicated in any way other than the ones we already know and which would not involve a child being in the school. And yet medicine has not come forth unequivocally and said, 'This we know for a fact, that it is safe.' And until they do, I think we just have to do the best we can with this problem. I can understand both sides of it." The CDC had, in fact, stated unequivocally that transmission through casual contact or the air was not possible two years earlier.

At a press conference in 1982, a reporter asked the press secretary about the epidemic and whether President Reagan had ever spoken about it. "I don't know a thing about it," the press secretary said. After the reporter pointed out that 1 in 3 people with the disease had died from what was then called the "gay plague," the press pool laughed and, as they did so, the press secretary said, "I don't have it. Do you?" Over the next year, the same reporter would ask the same questions about the epidemic with the same result -- laughter. The press secretary once retorted that the reporter had an "abiding interest" in "fairies." The president said nothing.

President Reagan failed to control the homophobic and AIDS-phobic attitudes of his administration and party, and he himself demonstrated apathy and a lack of vision on AIDS during his presidency from 1981 to 1989. President Bush would bring more of the same. The tide would not begin to turn until a gay AIDS activist named Bob Rafsky aggressively confronted then-candidate Bill Clinton at a 1992 campaign rally and Clinton responded by publicly promising to address the AIDS epidemic and support its victims. By then, approximately 200,000 Americans had died of AIDS.

ACT UP, fight back, fight AIDS

In addition to the political climate, treatments were initially nonexistent and then expensive and ineffective, and the process to get medications approved at that time seemed needlessly and negligently long to AIDS activists. It took six years from the initial CDC report on AIDS for the first AIDS treatment drug, AZT, to be tested and approved. At that time, over 20,000 Americans had died of the disease and the average life expectancy from diagnosis was one to two years. Though AZT, which had was originally developed as a cancer drug, had been approved in record time, the approval process had still taken 25 months. Facing death in less time than the process took to approve already-existing drugs, AIDS activists were enraged. AZT was also the most expensive drug in history, costing about $10,000 for a year of treatment. ($10,000 in 1987 adjusted for inflation is roughly equal to $21,000 in 2017.) This was well outside what the average AIDS patient could afford.

In response to these and other issues, a direct action advocacy group called ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) was formed in March 1987 at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in New York. ACT UP's motto of "Silence=Death" and its ability to turn out hundreds or thousands of people to protests (many of whom were arrested each time) got it and its concerns widespread media coverage, and they got results. Several days after its first series of protests at Wall Street in late March and early April 1987, in which they protested the lack of a national, coordinated strategy on AIDS, the lack of transparency of and access to the drug testing process, and the high price of AZT, the company that owned AZT announced that the price would drop to $6,400 per year. Soon thereafter, the FDA announced plans to significantly shorten the time it took to get through the approval process.

In 1988, ACT UP successfully shut down the FDA for a day in order to process the continuing issues with drug testing. The turnout to this protest, the media said, was the largest event of its kind since the Vietnam War, and it resulted in massive media coverage. At this event, the protesters were able to demonstrate how knowledgeable and savvy they had become when they demanded specific improvements that could be made. As a result, gay and AIDS activists were asked for input by the FDA and NIH and were allowed greater access.

During this time, AIDS activists assumed that there was an existing drug that, if tried on AIDS alone or in combination with other existing drugs, would be effective. They therefore pushed for, and got, much shorter testing and approval processes on many drugs, including DDI, which helped prevent blindness caused by one of the opportunistic infections associated with AIDS. They also fought for the right to use other drugs which were believed to be potentially helpful against AIDS but which were not approved by the FDA despite being available over the counter in other industrialized nations. This was especially important to the community because AZT was initially given in extremely high doses which caused side effects that were often intolerable to AIDS patients. (None of these drugs proved to be effective against AIDS.) ACT UP also fought for more humane testing protocols, representation of people of color, women's issues, housing protections, and accurate reporting of AIDS facts and against homophobia, religious intolerance, unfair travel and immigration policies based on AIDS status, and apathy. In a time of intense homophobia and AIDS-phobia, and without any government support, ACT UP was able to make many extremely positive changes for people with AIDS.

A part of ACT UP, called the Treatment and Data Committee, specialized in learning about the testing and approval process for drugs as well as the current science behind drug development. They were aided by a chemist named Iris Long, who had no prior connection to the LGBTQ community. After listening to their approach, she suggested that she could help them improve it. She taught the members of Treatment and Data about the current AIDS drugs and the ins and outs of the testing and approval process. They began to digest huge amounts of the medical and testing literature and bring that information back to the larger body of ACT UP. Because they were so knowledgeable, they were taken seriously by the scientific community and they were able to gain unprecedented access to the process. They were able to secure a position of power for people with AIDS and make real contributions. This was especially true after they wrote and presented a pamphlet which outlined specific and realistic changes that could be made to drug testing to make it more time effective and humane.

Treatment and Data eventually split off from the main body of ACT UP due to conflict within the group. The main body of ACT UP felt that Treatment and Data had become too close to oppressive pharmaceutical companies and other negative forces, and Treatment and Data felt that ACT UP was overly concerned with social issues. In 1992, Treatment and Data became TAG (Treatment Action Group). The members sat on committees at the FDA, such as the Anti-Viral Advisory Committee, and they were vital to streamlining the process and personally designing the trials that led to the release of protease inhibitors, which in combination with other drugs transformed AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable chronic disease. In 1995 and 1996, the death rates related to AIDS dropped dramatically, and many people's viral loads dropped to undetectable levels. TAG was vital to this process that has since saved millions of lives and restored life expectancies to normal or near-normal. One of the founders of TAG, Mark Harrington, was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1997 for his work on AIDS. Together, ACT UP and TAG's gains in access to all steps of the process for victims and advocates were unprecedented for any disease. Patient-centered care, medical care homes, patient advocacy, and other movements all have their roots in AIDS activism.


I believe I have answered your second question (in case I haven't: societal factors and activists energized gay liberation, gay men were concentrated into metropolitan areas with shared risky behaviors, the majority of gay men were infected, existing prevalence within the group with limited partners made each sex act more risky, anal sex is the most risky sex act for HIV transmission, and ongoing issues related to education, etc. continue to contribute), so now I will circle back to your first one: Why is AIDS associated with homosexuality? There are a lot of bad reasons for this, of course. As I said in the beginning, HIV continues to affect GBM (especially GBM of color) more than it affects other groups. A lot of it also has to do with homophobia, because AIDS gave a convenient excuse to hate and fear gay people that seemed pseudo-scientific and was widespread. The attitude persists among many that the gay community got what it deserved, either because it had offended God or because it had engaged in reckless and (per their opinion) immoral, unnatural, or disgusting behavior. The stigma is still potent enough that I have a positive friend who has told no one but me about his status.

However, I think there are a lot of good reasons for this, too. The AIDS epidemic was an almost incomprehensible tragedy for all involved. However, when faced with death, disease, fear, loss, hatred, lack of support, violence, and their own mortality, the gay community and their supporters showed the world how to deal with tragedy. They showed up for each other in ways that most of us will never understand. They advocated for their community even when they were sure that they themselves would die in case they could save lives. They forgave each other for serious slights in order to help each other. They showed incredible bravery and intelligence and they did not allow the outside hatred to turn inward. I am incredibly proud to belong to their group.

The AIDS crisis brought attention to the LGBTQ community, and the community pulled together in that tragedy. Both of these circumstances have enabled the community to make all of the recent advancements in LGBTQ rights. We also, however, lost a generation of brilliant, vibrant, beautiful people who cannot be replaced. If you are interested in this topic, there are two documentaries, both on Netflix, which I cannot recommend enough. How to Survive a Plague is about ACT UP and TAG in New York during the height of the epidemic. We Were Here is about life in San Francisco before, during, and just after the epidemic.

- The Black Sheep

Question #89345 posted on 04/16/2017 1:44 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Is mayonnaise an instrument?

-Patrick Star


Dear Pat,

I did some research.



 17858375_1664134226948330_1417542436_o (1)_1.jpg


Keep it real,
Sherpa Dave 

Question #89268 posted on 05/08/2017 10:08 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I'm looking for religious artwork to use in my new home. In particular, I'm looking for paintings of Christ. My frustration is that all of the paintings of Christ I am finding are very...white, and I'm looking for artwork that is more reflective of what Christ really looked like, as well as artwork that is representative of how other non-white cultures conceptualize Christ. What are your favorite pieces of artwork of Christ that don't depict him as obviously white?



Dear frog princess,

Sorry I held this over for so long, but hopefully this will be worth your while. 

This question came in just a few days after a piece in the Provo Temple made me cry. Looking back on it, Christ is quite light-skinned, but I like that he's still ethnically ambiguous. And that his deep-set eyes still shine. I'll have to find a place to hang this one when I one day have means to buy it. Here it is, by Jeff Hein:  

 Screen Shot 2017-04-12 at 4.49.37 PM.png

That was my favorite portrayal when I first read the question, but then I got excited and made tables of more. 

 1: "Maybe You Could Find Me in Seagull Book" 

You can see the same table but with previews of the photos here. 

Artist Site Artwork
Jeff Hein
Christ Heals the Sick Christ Washing Apostle's Feet  
Jeremy Winborg
And He Blessed Them One By One The Raising of the Daughter of Jairus  
Brent Borup
Greatest In the Kingdom (Boy) Greatest In the Kingdom (Girl) That They Might Have Joy
Howard Lyon
Redeemer Light of the World Though Your Sins be as Scarlet
Greg Olsen
Out of the Wilderness Joy of the Lord The Way of Joy

 Some comments: 

-Depedning on the artist, Christ may be more or less light-skinned. However, the facial structure and features don't seem to be typical Anglo-Saxon features. 
-I'm a big fan of Brent Bessop, and his are a bit more affordable than others, depending on the style. Plus, it seems easier to commission from him if you wanted. 

1.B: I actually went to Deseret Book and snapped shots of ones I thought you might like. 

Here's that table. Most of them are by David Bowman, and I've become a big fan of his work. 


2. From the Alumni

Pilgrim showed me this picture, which is strikingly beautiful. And Heidi Book shared some nativity scenes that she got from a friend who's an art history major, and looking at them made me want to be an art history major, for there seems to be a lot of truth that my untrained eyes can't see. Here is the table of those paintings.


3. He is not here, for He is risen.  

Based on the following quote from Greg Olsen, these next few paintings  all by artist Ron Richmond  might be some of my absolute favorites. 

“The idea of doing a painting which somehow claims to be a representation of the Savior Jesus Christ seems both presumptuous and impossible. At the very least it is intimidating. Each individual Christian probably has a very personal and unique image of Him in their mind, none of which an artist can duplicate or fully capture. My intent has been to paint images that I refer to as “symbols” of Him. They are an attempt to capture my feelings about Him and to reflect some aspect of His spirit and character. The intent of such a painting is to help us remember Him, and as we do, we invite His spirit to be with us.” 

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 3.51.08 PM.pngsourceScreen Shot 2017-05-07 at 3.51.17 PM.pngsource

These works, with the human figure being absent but the heartfelt characteristic standing strong, remind me that Christ is in everything. Through their principles I can better understand that the physical world is a key to understanding the spiritual.

I met this artist once, and we joked that some people don't like his paintings because they are a bit 'dark' to represent Christ.  But, the way I see it in order to complete his mission, Christ had to become well-acquainted with darkness. How else could He overcome it? And how else can we, but through him? 

Take care,

-Auto Surf

Question #89259 posted on 03/31/2017 11:52 p.m.

Dear The Board,

Can you help me come up with 30 synonyms for the adjective "little," listed in order of size? For example, would you consider wee to be bigger or smaller than tiny?

-Nellie Bly

Dear Nancy,
Here is a completely objective and non-arbitrary list of synonyms for little with their relative sizes, starting with the most Lilliputian. 
  1. Infinitesimal: the size of an individual element in the Cantor Set (fun fact: the Cantor Set has a length of 0, but is still uncountably infinite; it's also perfect).
  2. Microscopic: the size of a single cell.
  3. Imperceptible: the size of a dust mote.
  4. Negligible: Just one more bite of something delicious.
  5. Minuscule: the physical energy it takes to type out these words.
  6. Teensy weensy: the amount of relief I ever feel during a semester; oh I just somehow finished a difficult midterm in an hour since that's when the testing center closed? Time to get ready for the even harder midterm directly following it!
  7. Eensy weensy: the size of a spider baby
  8. Itsby bitsy: the size of two spider babies.
  9. Miniature: the size of the angels dancing on the head of a pin.
  10. Diminutive: the size of the Who Horton hears.
  11. Minute: the space between two stitches in a dress.
  12. Itty bitty: the inside of a jinni's lamp.
  13. Puny: the size of our ambitions when compared with the vastness of all of space and time.
  14. Teeny: the size of a baby's hand.
  15. Mini: the size of Mickey Mouse.
  16. Meager: the size of meals in communist China
  17. Scant: the size of meals in communist Russia.
  18. Compact: the size of micro-fiber towels.
  19. Tiny: the size of a newborn.
  20. Runty: the size of Piglet.
  21. Wee: the size of a two-year old child.
  22. Shrimpy: the size of the ten year old who looks like a six year old.
  23. Small: small children.
  24. Smallish: the same small children, but now demanding to be carried on your back.
  25. Slight: Size 2 jeans.
  26. Stunted: the size of sad trees that actually look like depressed shrubs creeping on the ground.
  27. Petite: the size of little black dresses.
  28. Pint-sized: Hobbit-sized.
  29. Undersized: Supermodels.
  30. Micro: the size of anything in the economy that's not macro.


Question #89237 posted on 03/28/2017 10:50 p.m.

Dear Editors of the 100 Hour Board,

Every time I read Anne, Certainly's answers, I am super impressed by the thoughtfulness, thoroughness, and compassion of her answers. But I've realized that almost none of her answers are editor's choice. Why do you hate her?

-Fan of Anne


Dear you,

My lack of EC answers is "the most tragical thing that has ever happened to me."

Thanks for liking what I write.

~Anne, Certainly

Question #89211 posted on 03/28/2017 10:44 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Hey I want to know what you think about this article


Do you think we give Women too much leeway?



Dear Anti,


-Frère Rubik

Question #89164 posted on 03/27/2017 10:05 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I'm gay, so is my brother. We have several cousins who are gay or lesbian or bi (all on one side). Our parents each have a few gay cousins as well. There's reason to believe that there were some closeted gays in our family history, especially on the side that has all the gay cousins.

Other people don't have any gay relatives at all, or very few.

Studies have not yet found a specific gene or genes that explain homosexuality. However, my anecdotal experience suggests that it may run in families. Does it? Also, what are the current theories (accepted by science, the crackpot ones suggested by people threatened by gays seem dubious) about the causes of homosexuality?

-My Name Here


Dear MNH,

Good to hear you have some LGBTQ relatives! Regardless of whether there's a genetic cause for it, that's probably good for support. When my cousin came out as bisexual, I felt a lot less ostracized in the family and able to rely on her as support. Having a brother who knows (at least on some level) what you're going through sounds like a comforting thing.

As for whether it's genetic, anecdotal experience may not be the most reliable factor. It may be that your family just has a lot of LGBTQ relatives, or it could be that for some reason that side of your family is more open to exploring their sexual orientation. That being said, one study has shown that gay males are more likely to have gay male cousins and uncles. This means that in specifically male sexual orientation, some aspects may be genetic. It would need to be studied further and tested with a larger sample size, though, to come to further conclusions.

Some twin studies have attempted to find a link between sexual orientation and genetics. They found that identical and fraternal twins both have an increased rate of sharing a sexual orientation than other siblings, meaning that genetics could play a part but is not the only key. While it may be tempting to want a link between sexual orientation and genetics, this may not be the best thing or even fully correct. Sexual orientation is fluid and can shift in many directions as a person is more open with themselves. Finding a genetic cause for sexual orientation may not even change how people look at sexual orientation, as there would still be those out there viewing it as a medical disorder. 

Some even worry that if there was a pinpointed genetic cause for sexual orientation, mothers would abort unborn babies that showed signs of becoming gay later in life or that doctors would be more likely to develop medical or surgical procedures to "cure" it. It would not necessarily be a good thing, nor would it change how prejudiced people see sexual orientation.

That doesn't mean that sexual orientation is in your control (ie: a choice), though, or that strictly environmental factors cause it. Although researchers are currently unsure what might influence sexual orientation, they do have some theories. It could be that, like many factors that make up a human being, there is no one "cause" but many biological or environmental factors that make a person more likely to develop a certain sexual orientation. Here are a few:

  • Evolutionary factors could also come into play, though these are at best theories. The "gay uncle hypothesis" posits that gay men or women who don't have children may contribute to resources for the offspring of their relatives, increasing the strength of their family genes for future generations. This is, of course, less true in contemporary society as gay couples have many resources if they want to start a family.
  • Prenatal development may be another factor. Hormone exposure in the womb could affect brain development and possibly sexual orientation when exposed to different testosterone levels. Female fetuses exposed to more testosterone during development could be more likely to experience attraction towards other females, and male fetuses exposed to less testosterone may also be more likely to experience attraction towards other males.
  • Females with a gay relative tend to have more offspring than those without gay relatives. This may mean that a similar factor that promotes fertility is linked to sexual orientation. In addition, the way that gay and straight people respond to pheromones of the gender they're attracted to is identical. This means that on a biological level, sexual attraction operates in the same way regardless of orientation.
  • Some studies have found that when it comes to male sexual orientation, a man without older brothers is two percent likely to identify as gay but a man with four older brothers is six percent. This could potentially mean that exposure to certain antibodies in the womb could make a person less likely to be attracted to the same gender, as these antibodies are produced less with every baby. These studies and their result has been called into question, though, so take it at a face value.

Hope this helps! I'm not even going to pretend to know a lot about genetics so take this at a very basic level and do your own research. Again, these are all theories and there is no one known cause of sexual orientation. If any readers have more information about this, feel free to leave a correction.

-Van Goff

Question #89121 posted on 06/15/2017 12:38 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

So. I read about something Called the Chinese Soldier Theorem in algebra that made me think the following questions (which I think about every time I do a session at the Salt Lake Temple) might actually be solvable.

Premise 1: In the Salt Lake Temple when you do endowments, you move from room to room, for a total of five rooms before you get to the Celestial Room, counting the chapel where you wait.

Premise 2: As you move from room to room, the order starts at the head of each row until the row is finished and then restarts at the head of the next row.

Premise 3: Even if you were technically seated in one of the front rows in the chapel, the seating format shuffles people up to the extent that, by the time the session is finished, someone who was seated in the front row in the chapel could be seated in the middle or back rows in the Telestial Room.

Premise 4: Seat #1 is the seat on both sides used by the man and woman acting as the witness couple.


1. For each room in the Salt Lake Temple, how many seats are in each row in each room on the female side, starting in the Creation Room?

2. Assuming that there are six rows of women starting in the Creation Room and that no seat is ever empty, how many seats can you sit from seat #1 and still be guaranteed that you will always be sitting in the first row in every room?

2.5 Assuming the same as in #2, how many seats can you sit from seat #1 and still be guaranteed a seat in the second row in every room?

3. Assuming the same as #2, if the temple matrons leave an empty seat on the aisle seat of three of the six rows starting in the Garden room, how many seats can you sit from seat #1 and still be guaranteed a seat in the second row of every room?

4. Assuming that there were six rows of women to start with in the Creation Room and that the temple matrons created three empty aisle seats starting in the Garden Room and continuing into the other two rooms, and assuming that no row in the Terrestrial Room was seated with more people than the second row from the front, how many people would be seated in each row, and would there still be six rows of people (or more or less)? How many seats would you have to sit from seat #1, starting in the Creation Room, to still be seated within the first two rows in the Terrestrial Room?


-Sand Dollar


Dear Reader,

Sorry this took a bit longer than I promised in Board Question #89327. While I was able to go the temple as planned, I got slammed with finals and a subsequent case of burned-out-itis, causing this to be held up longer than I originally thought. But without further ado, let's get around to actually answering you. (Now even more time has passed since I originally penned this paragraph, meriting another opening/apology.)

I come to you midst broken promises of times when I would have this finished. And, quite honestly, personal broken dreams for when I would do this. When I initially saw your question appear in the inbox, I immediately was drawn to it simply because it mentioned the word "theorem". With eerie prescience, I set forth a placeholder that said "I feel an obligation to answer this just cuz the word theorem was mentioned. It will probably go waaaay over hours, though." Little did I know just how true that statement would turn out to be. 

Rather mistakenly, I thought I'd easily be able to figure out the math behind this. But no flash of sudden inspiration ever came, and so this question got moved to the back burner. My grandiose dreams of an absolutely scintillating answer slowly dwindled and died, leaving the bitter taste of ash in my mind as I thought of your patience waiting for the answer that must have seemed like it would never come. And probably you don't even care so much about this answer anymore, just that it is no longer sitting like a three month overdue baby in your My Questions page, with the note at the bottom saying "Waiting for an answer." Well, you have certainly waited, and for how long that wait has been, I am truly sorry.

But no more of my apologetic/pathetic rambling; I humbly proffer you the best answer I was able to cobble together:

To start off, assuming what I found is the same thing you were referencing in your question, the Chinese Remainder Theorem is actually a part of number theory, specifically dealing with modular functions. While it does have some pretty cool applications (like in RSA encryption), it doesn't have as many implications in optimization, which is what you want. So while I thank you for the interesting read on number theory, I'm going to go the optimization route to provide an answer (*Note that this is completely different from dynamic optimization as well--thank goodness, cuz as hard as I'm trying to learn Optimal Control Theory in order to do my job, a large portion of it still goes over my head). Haha, jk, jk, turns out I never really figured this out either. But never fear; your answer still awaits below!

The first step to answering was of course going to the SLC Temple to gather data. Auto Surf and Kirito were nice enough to accompany me, and it was with Auto's help that I counted the rows and columns. Quick disclaimer here: I had no writing utensils on me, and so I just memorized the numbers for rows and columns for each room, and then sent myself an email with those numbers afterwards. However, not anticipating the drag between going to the temple and writing up my response, that email solely consisted of "794, 8910, 912, 9105". So, while I am fairly certain I remember whether each of those numbers represented rows or columns, there might be some error stemming from that. Also note that I'm attempting to solve this with the calculator on my phone whilst holed up in the library (so probably take my findings with a grain of salt). (True to the form of my life, though I wrote that previous sentence over a month ago, it still perfectly describes my exact situation in presently attempting to solve this.)

1. For each room in the Salt Lake Temple, how many seats are in each row in each room on the female side, starting in the Creation Room?

Creation Room: Okay, this room has a pretty crazy arrangement of seats, which reminded me of a seashell overall. There are five rows at the front of the room, positioned in a sort of curvy diagonal, with 7 seats in the first row, 9 seats for rows 2-4, and 4 seats in the back row. Then there's a more block like group of seats at the back of the room, which is 7 rows, 9 columns (or... that might be flipped). Totaling these two sections together yields 101 seats for the female side.

Garden Room: I have to admit that I took a breath of relief when I saw I wouldn't have to memorize as strange an assortment of seats here. The arrangement pretty much sticks to a rectangle, just with less seats in the first row than the others. There are 9 rows overall, with 8 seats in the first, and 10 seats in all the others. So the seat total comes to 88 (honestly, this number makes me just a bit dubious because it's so far off from the totals for the other rooms, but oh well).

In Between Room (thusly dubbed because apart from the seats, all I remember about it is that it came in between the Garden Room and the Terrestrial Room): This was the nicest room to count seats in. Everything was a perfect rectangle! (I never knew just how much I value rectangles until having to count and remember random numbers for a few hours.) Anyways, here there are 12 rows with 9 columns, coming to a nice total of 108 seats. (Edit: after re-reading your question, I realized this must be the Telestial Room. But hey, the name still works, right? After all, we live in a Telestial world, and our time here is our in between state of not being mortal... )

Terrestrial Room: And we're back to different numbers of seats per row. At the back of the room, there was a cluster of rows with less seats than normal, but unfortunately, as I was--slowly, cause apparently counting and moving is above my multi-tasking skills--walking up, I didn't get the chance to count just how many of those rows or seats per row there were. Excluding that bunch at the back, in the foremost row, there were 5 seats, and then 9 seats per row for the following 9 rows. Adding those up gives 86 seats total (considering this is pretty similar to the Garden Room, I'm thinking there might have been a comparable section of seats I missed in there as well.

Overall, it seems as though there were about 100 seats per room on the female side leading up to the Celestial Room.

2. Assuming that there are six rows of women starting in the Creation Room and that no seat is ever empty, how many seats can you sit from seat #1 and still be guaranteed that you will always be sitting in the first row in every room?

And this is where the fun math part kicks in. As previously mentioned, I didn't ever get struck over the head by some beneficent math fairy of optimization, so instead of using half-baked formulas, I'm going to go painstakingly old school with the aid of the following charts of the layouts of each room I drew up in a notebook:



With the use of these handy-dandy diagrams, finding your answer now becomes a matter of testing out all the different seats to see which allows you to always be in the first row. Thanks to the Terrestrial Room, we automatically know it can't be more than 5. Now, in one of your premises, you state that the order follows the heads of each row. However, because the witness woman (I don't really know what else to call the woman who's part of the witness couple... ), always has to sit in the leftmost seat, I'm going to say the "head" of the row becomes the person sitting directly on the right of the witness woman. 

Numbering all the seats in my pictures (numbering left to right according to seating in the Garden Room) reveals that people 1-4 are always guaranteed a spot in row 1. It also reveals that person 18 will be sitting in the front row in the Terrestrial Room, while poor person 19 is stuck in the middle of the 5th row (who would have thought). 

3. Assuming the same as in #2, how many seats can you sit from seat #1 and still be guaranteed a seat in the second row in every room?

Since you haven't added conditions on the aisle seats being empty yet, I can use the same numbering as for #2. A quick look tells me that lucky #13 is the highest secured second row seat (which is the 4th seat from the right on the second row in the Creation Room).

4. Assuming the same as #2, if the temple matrons leave an empty seat on the aisle seat of three of the six rows starting in the Garden room, how many seats can you sit from seat #1 and still be guaranteed a seat in the second row of every room?

Again, the witness woman requires a little specification with your premises, so I'm going to leave an empty aisle seat starting on the 2nd row. This time 12 is the highest seat number to stay in the 2nd row. As a bonus, it's still 1-4 that are always in row 1, though this time 17 is the random higher seat in the front in the Terrestrial Room.

5. Assuming that there were six rows of women to start with in the Creation Room and that the temple matrons created three empty aisle seats starting in the Garden Room and continuing into the other two rooms, and assuming that no row in the Terrestrial Room was seated with more people than the second row from the front, how many people would be seated in each row, and would there still be six rows of people (or more or less)? How many seats would you have to sit from seat #1, starting in the Creation Room, to still be seated within the first two rows in the Terrestrial Room? 

Okay, This question needs the most accuracy disclaimers attached to it, because I'm not even totally certain that I'm interpreting it exactly correctly (so all y'all know what I'm doing, I'm just leaving three seats empty per row starting in the 2nd row in the Garden Room). Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to do my best.

To make sure I was doing this right, I copied my charts in order to re-number everything. Thanks to my tiny handwriting, pictures I took of my work with my phone are nigh illegible, and I don't particularly want to attach 4 pictures of badly drawn squares and lines with minuscule numbers hovering over the top. If anyone would like to see where all the people end up, shoot me an email, and I'll be more than happy to give you a copy of my results. 

The final results turned up 8 rows in the Terrestrial Room. This time the seat which started out in the second row in the Creation room and ended up on the front row in the Terrestrial Room was 15. However, 11-14 were all in the third row of the Terrestrial Room. The highest seat number where all the seats below it are also guaranteed being within the first two rows was 10.  Somehow 23 got pushed back from the third row in the Creation Room to the 6th row in the Terrestrial Room. 47 actually made some decent progress, moving up in the world an entire row. And the very last person to go through the veil would be 37.

So, there you have it. Hopefully it was worth at least part of the wait.

In closing, I'd just like to leave with a scripture which I have found the seating in the Salt Lake Temple to cast considerable light upon:

"...there are they who were first, who shall be last; and there are they who were last, who shall be first."


Question #89104 posted on 07/11/2017 12:08 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I realize now that I did not communicate my question in Board Question #89059 more clearly. When I wrote this question, I was thinking of the "what if" hypothetical comics that XKCD does on the side that explore people's random science and psychology questions. By "how long would it take for a house to be broken into" I was thinking in terms of a matter of days/weeks/months, etc. as a reflection of Provo's various crime rates in different city sectors (as opposed to, how long would it take to complete a burglary).

But as I did not communicate this originally, and the resulting lack of information resulted in a misinterpretation of what the question was even about, would it be possible to get a "re-answer" on this, insofar as any writers have the non-urgent time or interest to answer it?

I completely understand if no writers want to continue with this particular question. I will, however, continue to send you hypotheticals as I think of more, since that is one of the best uses of your collective answering skills.

A reader

P.S. The "burgle" joke is actually from Over the Garden Wall, which I knew some writers have seen, and was hoping that one of them would pick up on that reference by being the one to answer that question. I can see how some humor can get lost in translation on Internet writings particularly after the Board has had some trolling questions sent to it.


Dear you,

Well, I'm nowhere near as legit as Randall, but here's some slightly (read:very) questionable estimation on the matter:

First: How likely are you to get robbed in these areas in the base case?

The easiest one to figure out is on-campus housing, since they actually publish a report every year that includes how many burglaries they get in on-campus housing. Here's a table.

Location Year Number of Burglaries Population? Rate Per 100K
On Campus 2016 Clery Report Data 0 (literally there were none) 6396, per 2016 Clery Report  0
On Campus 2015 Clery Report Data 2 5670, per 2015 Clery Report 35.3  

It gets a little more complicated to get rates for the second and third areas you were interested (both off campus) since I'm too cheap to pay for actual neighborhood-by-neighborhood crime data. Here's a guesstimate at it from me:

Here's a map. I found it using this site, which was helpfully linked to by our very own campus paper, the DU. It covers the last 6 months from when I did it (and I'm not going to try to go further back because this is the biggest range it would let me do at once and also because Randall gets to sell books and I don't and I just don't care as much as he does). 

The stars are burglaries reported during the time frame. The ones with red Xs are the ones that were non-residential burglaries. (The one on the dot that says 2 only applies to one of the two burglaries in that dot; the other one was residential).

map provo burglary.png

 The problem we run into at this point is that I don't have comparative population density. So, I'm going to adjust the area parameters you gave (east/west of Freedom) so that we can compare these two neighborhoods, since I can get rough data for them from this site. North Park, on the west, is mostly West of University (rather than Freedom) while Joaquin covers much of the "south campus" area. 


 So here's the revised map we're looking at for burglaries in the last 6 months:

 map provo burglary J and NP.png

*Note on this: I think it's kind of weird, but the neighborhood map actually cuts off right before university avenue. (Like half a block). This results in the one burglary that's right on the "edge." I'm going to count that in Joaquin, since it seems like University is a sensible barrier.

According to that, for the last 6 months, we get the following rates:

North Park: 3 burglaries/5290 people (*100k people*2 since this data is only for half a year) = 113.4 burglaries per 100k people (*2 for another 6 months of the year (yeah, I know there are seasonal differences in crime, but I don't really care)

Joaquin: 8 burglaries/13903 people (*100k*2) =115.1 burglaries per 100k people per year.

This is actually somewhat encouraging to me, because it seems to indicate that my numbers aren't necessarily insane (at least with regards to each other.) Furthermore, I have no idea what my margin of error here is (other than LARGE), but I'm pretty confident we're well inside of it at those numbers.

So, after all of this unnecessary work to figure out that there aren't really much differences in the rates, we get the following Tiny Table. I'm going to average the last two years of on-campus housing because otherwise it's dumb since I have to figure out how long it takes to never get robbed, and it seems unlikely that the 0 burglaries this year are really a permanent change.

Neighborhood/Area Estimated Burglary Rate Per 100k People
On-Campus 17.6
Joaquin (Student Area) 115.1
North Park (Non-Student Area) 113.4

So, having established base level burglary rate estimates, how long before you get burgled?

Well, here's another question I don't have a real answer for: How much does leaving your apartment unlocked increase your chances of burglary? I don't know. Furthermore, how much does the increase differ depending on where you are? For example, are there more people who just walk door-to-door checking for unlocked locations on Sundays in the Joaquin area (student housing where most people will likely attend Church at the same time?) If all the doors are locked, will those burglars just say "Oh, well," and not burgle anyone? I don't know.

So, because I'm not as cool as Randall, I'm just going to ignore the complications raised by the feature of 'leaving the door unlocked.'

...Especially because the above line is where I lost motivation to work on this question for like a month or so. So, if you want more hypothesizing on that factor, ask a follow-up question.

~Anne, Certainly

Question #89095 posted on 03/13/2017 9:12 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How much do you think the vampires from Stephenie Meyer's world weigh? From what we know, they are:
*Hard as marble
*Sparkly like diamonds
*Bullet proof
*Incredibly strong
*Loud as crashing boulders when they slam into each other
*Silent and graceful when they move
*Don't leave footprints (at least on the forest floor in book 2).
The only clues I can find for weight is that Renesmee (who is half vampire) is said to be "sturdy" when Charlie holds her and Edward doesn't break Bella's old rocking chair when sitting on it. Thoughts or ideas?

-Curious fan


Dear person,

You could be silent and graceful when you move even if you were really heavy - it would just require stronger stabilizing muscles to combat the inertia of any movement. The fact that they don't leave footprints I think is probably just because vampires are so beautiful that the dirt feels unworthy to touch them so they actually don't come into contact with it. We don't need to do a meta-analysis of this data to conclude from all of the barely-contradicting points you bring up that vampires are very heavy.

Vampires are all different, of course, and we have a limited sample. I think this means our best option for answering your question meaningfully is to do a case study. The best vampire is Edward Cullen and we know the most about him so we will use him as our subject. We know he is 6'2'' and that he is fairly lean (we know he has a "sculpted, incandescent chest"). For the sake of our study, we will estimate that he has a body fat(-like substance) percentage of about 10%. 

From this information, we can estimate his body volume. We don't have an Edward to put in a bod pod, but we do have a sample bod pod output for a man who is conveniently about 6'2'' whose total volume is 90 litres. This man has a body fat percentage of about 15%, so we will want to subtract one third of his body fat, or about 11 pounds worth to match Edward's lean physique. Because body fat is about 2.2 pounds per litre, that would make his total volume 85 litres. We will also want to subtract the thoracic volume because it's air and not body tissue, about 4.5 litres. So our estimate is that Edward's body volume is 80.5 litres.

Clearly, vampires are made out of different substances than humans. We know that Edward's skin is literally scintillating, so it probably is made out of literal diamonds. The integument is about 15% of the total body weight and contains both lean and fatty tissue, so let's assume it also comprises about 15% of total body volume. In the case of Edward, 15% of his body tissue volume is about 12 litres. The density of diamonds is about 3.51g/mL.

3.51g/mL*12,000mL=42,120 grams, or 42.12 kilograms, or 92.9 pounds. 

Next, we can probably assume that because Edward is literally ice cold to the touch, his blood is made out of molten gold. Stephenie Meyer's vampires are paradoxical like that. Also, this probably explains the etymology of the phrase "heart of gold". The average man has about 5 litres of blood, and the density of molten gold is about 17.31g/mL.

17.31g/mL*5,000mL=86,550 grams, or 86.550 kilograms, or 190.1 pounds.

We will assume that the rest of him is made out of marble. The density of marble is about 2.7g/mL, and we have 63.5 litres left of non-skin, non-circulatory substance.

2.7g/mL*63,500mL=171,450 grams, or 171.450 kilograms, or 378 pounds.

If we tally all of those weights up, we get a total of 661 pounds. That's right folks, Edward Cullen weighs a grand total of 661 pounds. That would put his BMI at 84.9. 

Conclusion: Edward has super obesity.


Question #89072 posted on 03/30/2017 12:38 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

The water bottle filler in the Benson is the BEST that I've been able to find on campus so far. It shoots the water out really fast, allowing for the shortest, most efficient bottle filling stop. Are there any other bottle fillers that match the velocity of the one in the Benson? So far, all others I've tried seem so slow in comparison. Help a girl out, would ya?

-Dihydrogen Monoxide Addict


Dear You,

Ok, so first and foremost I want to apologize for taking so long to answer this question. First it took way longer to do the research side of it than I expected, then when I finally finished that I suddenly was hit with a long wave of homework and tests and such that I had to deal with which cut into my answering time significantly. But here I am now with the answer you have so patiently awaited.

So I decided to test (almost) all the water bottle fillers on campus to see how long it took them to fill my water bottle. But because that seemed like it would be too easy, I also decided I would rate each water bottle filler by how the water from it tastes in comparison to the tap water in my apartment. So, before starting I familiarized myself with the taste of my tap water to have a solid taste baseline, and I checked how much my water bottle can hold, finding out it hold a total of 24 fluid ounces or 3 cups. 


Here is a pic of my water bottle so you can have an idea (Yeah I know it's blurry. You'll just have to deal with it).

Once I had gathered this preliminary information I set off with Baby Z from our house (Zed was at work) and got started.


Me and Baby Z ready to start our adventure.

I started at the LSB, arriving there at about 2:00pm. I explored all 5 floors to make sure I didn't miss any hidden water bottle fillers, testing each one I came across to see how long it took to fill my water bottle. Baby Z fell asleep after about 10 minutes.


Tuckered out.

I proceeded to work my way through most of the buildings on campus leaving out the Law Building, the Tanner Building, the Hinkley Center, the Marriott, the Bean Museum, and a few others that didn't seem worth it to visit. The whole process took me far longer than I expected it to. 7 hours and 45 minutes to be precise, spread over three days. Over the course of this data collection, I also had to take 12 bathroom breaks, so yeah, I risked hyper-hydration poisoning for you. You're welcome. Just kidding, it honestly wasn't that bad, though I was pretty sick of tasting water by the end of it all.

Anyway, as for the data collection, I divided it by building, timing how long each individual filler took to fill my water bottle and then figuring out the flow rate in fl.oz./sec and taking an average for each building that had more than one water bottle filler. I also made a note of what type of water bottle filler each one was. I counted 4 different types of water bottle fillers which I labelled thusly:


"Normal" Filler, by far the most common on campus


"Different" Filler, there was only one of these and it's just colored differently from the normal ones


"Old Model" Filler, there are a few of these around and they generally tend to be slower but they make a lot of noise which makes it feel like it shouldn't be taking so long to fill your water bottle. Some older models also require you to push a button to dispense the water instead of having a sensor.


"Wilk Model" Filler, these only exist in the Wilk. Generally a bit slower.


I collected all this data, along with my personal taste rating for each fountain in an excel spreadsheet for you which I have included below. I listed the buildings in the order in which I visited them, the location of each filler within the building, the time it took to fill my water bottle in seconds, the flow rate in fl.oz./sec based on my water bottle holding 24 fl.oz. of water, and a taste rating of "Positive" - meaning better than my tap water - "Neutral" - meaning about the same as my tap water - and "Negative" - meaning worse than my tap water. Do note, that the taste rating are entirely subjective as you may have different opinions on how water tastes than I do, but I figure it can at least give you a decent idea of where the better tasting water is to be found.

Water Bottle Filler Info.xlsx

Okay, now that that's all out of the way, I will share with you some of the thoughts I had as I was wandering about campus filling and emptying and refilling my water bottle. I will organize them by the building in which the thought occurred.


LSB: "Okay, there are a ton of water fountains in this building but only one water bottle filler on each floor. What gives?"

Benson: "There is only one water bottle filler in the whole Benson/Nichols building but it definitely looks like it is indeed the fastest. It also tastes pretty great."

MARB: "There are way more water bottle fillers in this building than I ever realized."

Clyde: "I haven't been in this building since switching majors. I'm totally cool with that."

Kennedy Center: "Who even goes here??"

Eyring Center: "Okay this building is way more maze-like than I originally thought. Wait, there's a BASEMENT?!? Oh false alarm, just stairs leading down to a couple offices or classrooms or something."

SWKT: "Oh gosh... Okay, can't access the 12th floor so that's one less floor to check at least. Okay, really? Not a single water bottle filler on any of 11 floors?? Ridiculous."

McKay Building: "Okay, just don't even bother filling your water bottle here unless you have to. It's all to slow and tastes just mediocre."

Testing Center: "It's fitting that the Testing Center water bottle filler would taste this awful. Don't fill up here, it's not worth it."

Brimhall Building: "These aren't awful but the taste isn't my favorite. Pretty average as a building for filling your water bottle."

JFSB: "Just don't even use the filler that's outside the southeast corner of the building. It takes too long and it tastes awful. Not worth the trouble."

Fletcher Building: "Okay, so I could only access a small part of this building but considering how old it is, I'm fairly confident there's no water bottle fillers hidden in the parts I couldn't get to."

HFAC: "The best water in this building is from the fountain in the south foyer of the Madsen Recital Hall. Not a water bottle filler, but the taste totally makes it worth it to deal with filling your water bottle in a regular drinking fountain."

ASB: "Okay for real? Why does this building have so many water bottle fillers? And yet only 1 on the floor that sees the most traffic? So dumb."

Talmage: "THIS FREAKING BUILDING!!! I thought CS and Math majors were supposed to be logical! Why the actual heck is their building so convoluted?! Seriously, it's the architectural equivalent of spaghetti code."

Library: "The library is entirely too large for this... Also the second floor is ridiculous. How do people navigate down here?"

Smith Field House: "Whoa! There's an underground tunnel connecting the RB and the Smith Field House?! Okay, I did not realize the Smith Field House was this large. But really, only one water bottle filler? That seems silly for an athletic building."


So yeah, those were generally my musings as I went about collecting the data for this answer. The last thing I want to do here is just give a couple general notes. So first off, the fastest three water bottle fillers on campus are as follows:

1st: Benson at 4.28 seconds to fill my water bottle and a flow rate of 5.61 fl.oz/sec

2nd: Kennedy Center at 5.16 seconds to fill my water bottle and a flow rate of 4.65 fl.oz/sec

3rd: Library 4th floor by South Elevators, at 6.87 seconds to fill my water bottle and a flow rate of 3.49 fl.oz/sec

Third place was the most surprising to me since that particular water bottle filler is an older model and those tend to be slower than the normal models. The only problem with that one is that it shoots the water out so freaking fast that you'll probably get water all over the place and if you manage to successfully fill your water bottle to it's fullest that will be quite impressive (it took me like three tries to do it successfully).

The slowest filler on campus was the one in the main west hallway of the RB taking a full 32.4 seconds to fill my water bottle for a flow rate of 0.74 fl.oz./sec. That was very surprising to me since you'd think the athletic buildings would have better water bottle fillers than that. The filler I would rate the worst however is definitely the one outside the southeast corner of the JFSB. Yeah it's not the absolute slowest, but it's still one of the slowest ones on campus and it tasted the worst of all the ones I checked by far. So yeah, just don't even waste your time with that one.

Once again, I apologize for taking so long to get this answer out to you, but I hope my thoroughness in answering it makes up for my tardiness.

Best wishes in all your water bottle filling (and other) endeavors,

~Dr. Occam

posted on 03/31/2017 2:52 p.m.
I would just like to point out that, I believe just as of this week, there is a water bottle filler in the Fletcher Building on the main floor by the bathrooms. I tested it myself and it filled my 32 fl.oz bottle in 10.2 seconds (3.14 fl.oz/sec), putting it in 4th place. However, as I am a different person with a different bottle with a different timer, there is likely some experimental error here and I am unsure in which direction it would skew the data.

-Too Familiar with the FB
Question #88974 posted on 04/20/2017 12:03 a.m.

Dear Frère Rubik,

I was thinking about Board Question #85880 at 1:17 am on a Friday morning for some reason, the question from like a year ago about the heat escaping the house on Pluto. I know, I know, everyone else was too. Anyways, I thought of something that might impact the answer but don't know enough about physics to make a correction. Or even really know enough to know if this changes anything at all.

I have heard that air has a lot to do with how fast heat is transferred on earth because air is a fluid that allows heat to transfer by convection. I have read that in space, heat can only be lost via infrared radiation. (For example, apparently you could definitely stay conscious for like 10 seconds in space without a space suit!) according to this How much is Pluto like regular space? Assuming the walls of this "house" are infinitely strong and the atmosphere on the inside is the same density as Earth and the density of the atmosphere outside is the same density as Pluto, would that R value still make sense? Maybe this was some of the stuff you were talking about at the end of your original question that is a bit outside my understanding. If so, I apologize, and feel free to humiliate me (anonymously) in public.

If you have better things to do than answer this question that has clearly been on everybody's mind, I will be very angry and sad but I will understand even if I resent you forever.


PS - Thanks for the trapdoor with a portal to Earth, that sounds like a totally groovy addition to a house that already has an amazingly vaulted ceiling


Dearest Sheebs,

You're absolutely right! The atmosphere on Pluto is 100,000 times less dense than the atmosphere on Earth, and that makes a huge difference in heat transfer. There are three ways that energy can be exchanged between media: Conduction, Convection, and Radiation. Conduction happens when different substances are touching each other; convection happens when they're separated by a fluid (or when a substance is in contact with a fluid or when two fluids are in contact with each other), and radiation just kind of happens spontaneously: everything that's above absolute zero emits radiation. That's right, Sheebs: you're radioactive! I'm radioactive! Every member of Imagine Dragons is radioactive when they sing "Radioactive!" 

Now, in a vacuum, there is no fluid, so convection can't take place. If two objects in a vacuum are touching each other, they can still transfer energy via conduction (and, if they're both made out of the same stuff, like two iron bars, they'll stick together and become one object via a process called "cold welding," but that's another story), but if they're separated then the only way they can share energy is by radiating at each other. This is the idea behind those super-cool (ha!) insulated water bottles that I love. They don't have a perfect vacuum inside of them, but they do have a very, very low-pressure zone in between the inner surface and outer surface, which reduces how much heat can be gained/lost through convection, allowing the stuff inside to stay colder/hotter for longer.

Now that that's established, the next question we have to ask ourselves is this: how close is Pluto's atmosphere to a vacuum? Turns out, pretty close: Pluto's Wikipedia page lists the surface pressure of its atmosphere as 1 Pascal. For comparison, standard atmospheric pressure on earth is 101,325 Pascals. So the atmosphere on Pluto is 1/100,000th as dense as Earth's. A vacuum exists at 0 Pascals, so I'd say we're fairly justified in saying Pluto's atmosphere is like a vacuum.

Our house on Pluto can still lose heat to the ground via conduction, but I've chosen to ignore that for this particular model. We're interested in what the heat loss due to radiation looks like, and if we threw conduction in there it would quickly dominate the process and we wouldn't learn anything.

With all that in mind, I proposed this situation as a subject for a final problem in one of my computational physics classes, and it was approved! I then spent the next four weeks writing a MATLAB script that would make a model of our little Plutonian house and measure how it lost heat. In this model, our "house" is actually a 2D square; 3D was a bit too ambitious for the amount of time I had to work with (so it's more like a cross-section of our house, but it's still a pretty good approximation). The "house" is 5 meters x 5 meters, and it has walls that are 0.25 meters thick. The inside of the house is filled with normal earth air. My program divides the house into a 100 x 100 grid (with each grid square being 5 centimeters x 5 centimeters big) and records the temperature for each square as it goes.

To add some depth and breadth to my data, I wrote a feature in the program that let you choose what kind of material you wanted the walls of the house to be made of. Here are the options I went with:

1) Aluminum
2) Copper
3) Manganese
4) Diamond
5) Brick

I picked Aluminum and Copper because they seemed like pretty standard, average metals. I picked Manganese because it has the lowest thermal conductivity of any pure metal (thermal conductivity and volumetric heat capacity are used to determine a property called diffusivity, which is similar to the R-value we used in the previous answer). I picked Diamond because diamonds are a Sheebs' best friend (and also because diamond has a crazy high thermal conductivity). Finally, I chose brick because I wanted to have one substance that could stand in for an average house wall, and I was having a hard time finding numbers for the thermal conductivity of regular house walls.

Finally, so we could have a metric to measure all the values against, I decided to time how long it would take for the temperature in the room to fall from 300 Kelvin (about 80°F) to 280 Kelvin (about 45°F). I did this for three different spots in the room that seemed to change at different rates based on some early trial runs: the middle of the room, against one of the walls, and right in the corner where two walls meet. For the purposes of this answer, we'll focus mostly on the numbers from the middle of the room.

Alright, now that all the setup's out of the way, let's get into the fun stuff: the results. Before we do, though, take a second to look at the options and think about which one you think will work best and why.

All done? Then let's go!

Here are the times that it took for each of the houses to cool from 300K to 280K, arranged from quickest to longest:

1) Aluminum: 24.15 hours
2) Brick: 24.47 hours
3) Copper: 28.48 hours
4) Manganese: 29.64 hours 
5) Diamond: 33.11 hours

Right off the bat, we can see that the times here are waaaaay longer than I originally estimated a year ago; back then I was talking about minutes, whereas here we find that all of the materials tested take at least a day to cool down to the desired temperature. Pretty crazy, no? 

Now, the moment of truth: did your earlier pick end up being the longest-lasting material? If you're me, then definitely not. Usually, when something has a high diffusivity, we think that it will transfer heat really quickly, and this is definitely true for conduction. By that logic, the diamond house should have lost its heat the quickest, and brick the slowest, since they have the highest and lowest diffusivities, respectively. However, that's not what we see here: the diamond house lasted the longest of the five, and the brick house was almost the fastest in dumping its heat.

Another oddity: Whether or not the higher-diffusivity materials were faster or slower, I would have expected the results to line up according to the diffusivities of the materials. The order I expected would have looked something like 1) Brick 2) Manganese 3) Aluminum 4) Copper 5) Diamond or the reverse, since that's the order their diffusivities go in. However, as we see, it doesn't really follow that order at all; it goes 3-1-4-2-5. For the earlier regularity, I chalked it up to learning something new about space (that apparently high-diffusivity materials are really good insulators when all you have to worry about is radiating heat away). For this one, though, I have no idea what to think. Part of me wants to say "Well, maybe there's some other property of these materials that's making them act differently than you expect," but the problem with that argument is that the program only knows what I told it about these materials; it doesn't know that diamond is clear or brick is rough or that manganese can act as a neurotoxin if present in large amounts in the human body (though it does know all of their nicknames, which are secret).

The final surprising thing I found was this: After a certain amount of time, the rate of heat loss in the system goes down. The house never stops losing heat, but as time goes on, it loses less and less. Allow me to illustrate with some graphical representations (or, in layman's terms, look at these graphs):



(Sorry they're not labeled)

Both graphs are looking at the rate of heat loss as a function of time for the aluminum house. The top graph was taken from looking at a point in the middle of the room, and the bottom graph was taken from one of the corners. In the top graph, the rate of heat loss gets bigger and bigger (negative numbers on the graph = higher rate of loss), but toward the end the rate at which it increases starts to slow. In the bottom, we see it very quickly hit a maximum value, and then it gradually starts getting slower and slower. This is another phenomenon that I have no explanation for, but it's consistent across all the materials. 

As before, I'm not 100% confident in these models and findings. I'm a great deal more certain than I was before, especially since my professor helped me create this simulation, but there's still enough oddness going on in there that I can't say there's definitely nothing that I missed.

Finally, to wrap things up, here's a graph of the temperature distribution from the diamond graph once the middle has hit 280K. The x and y dimensions represent the dimensions of the house, whereas the z direction represents temperature: higher points imply higher temperature, as indicated by the scale on the right:


From the graph we can see that the temperature in the walls falls much more quickly than the temperature of the air inside, which is basically how insulation works. Pretty cool, eh? I also have a version of the program that makes an animation of the temperature falling. It's really cool to watch, but really tricky to export. If there are any MATLAB-savvy readers out there, they can download my script here (saved as a text file because I didn't know how nicely the Board system would play with a .m file).

That's all for now! Thanks for the question! It made for a really fun project.

-Frère Rubik

Question #88850 posted on 01/28/2017 10 a.m.

Dear April Ludgate,

Congratulations on reaching 500 answers! What better way to celebrate this achievement than retirement?

-April Ludgate


Dear myself,

For this final, 500th answer, I put off my (and my namesake’s) standoffish nature and get sentimentally sappy.

I started writing for the Board nearly 1 year ago, and in that time, I learned more than I ever thought I possibly could.  I originally joined the Board to prove to myself that I could write as well as my older brothers (let’s be honest, it still has yet to be proven). Nonetheless, I enjoyed my time on the Board and the joy it’s brought me.  But as the song says, it’s time for me to go my own way.

I have two regrets as I leave:

  • I regret that I didn’t join the Board earlier.  I applied for the Board in my senior year, when I was already married and spending almost all of my time off-campus.  Now I don't even live in Utah.  So I feel that I missed out on many opportunities in that sense.

  • I regret that I didn’t try to create better relationships with the other writers.  Never spending time on campus hindered my time with the other writers, but my own personality also got in the way.  I wish I could say I am leaving the Board having made lifelong friends, but through my own faults, I don’t know how true that is, and I’m incredibly saddened by that.

I’m still incredibly grateful that I was able to write alongside these talented people and make the friendships that I did.  They made me want to be a better person and develop personal characteristics to embody them.  I hope that someday I can be as kind as Van Goff, as clever as Ardilla, as comedically gifted as Frère, as courageous as Luciana, as empathetic as Sheebs, as well-written as Dr. Occam, as straightforward as Zedability, as friendly as Anathema, and as amazing as every other writer has been in their own unique way, even if I didn’t get to know them very well.

Most of all, I hope that I was able to brighten someone’s day.  To help somebody find something they truly needed.  To provide comfort, humor, interest, honesty, or just someone to talk to when someone most needed it.

So goodbye forever,



-April Ludgate

Question #88848 posted on 02/23/2017 1:10 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Which weighs more: the top half of your body (from the waist up) or the bottom (from the waist down)?

-Frère Rubik, carefully balanced on a very comfy recliner.


Mon cher Frère Rubik,

So I found super cool looking vintage report that has conveniently provided the average percentage of total body weight accounted for by each segment of the body. We will assume it is good because the Google Scholar says it was cited by 1137 other articles and 1137 people can't be wrong. It's true that all of the cadavers in this study used were male cadavers, but as you are a male I have decided that today it will do.

If I may direct you to tables 10, 11, 12, and 13, they provide ranges of total body weight per relevant segment for us:

Head, neck, and trunk - 54-61%

(Head - 5.9-8.2%)

Each leg - 14.3-17.5%

Each arm - 4.4-5.5%

It's hard for me to understand but from what I can tell, the arm pretty much ends at the acromion process and the leg ends at around the trochanter. (This is altogether tricky because the shoulder and hip joints are, well, where arms and legs connect with the rest of the body. There are some muscles that cross over that just strike me as odd to separate from the limb I usually associate them with.) I've included a diagram so we can guesstimate to the best of our ability:


The sides of the blue rectangle cut the arms off around the acromion, and the bottom of the big rectangle cuts off the leg at around the trochanter. Then I drew another box to roughly divide it into thirds to help visualize the distribution of weight across the trunk, which is pretty variable from person to person. (Spoiler alert: this will definitely affect our final answer.)

According to Wikipedia, the waist is technically halfway between the lowest rib and iliac crest (top of the pelvis). For men, it is practically measured a little below the belly button (for women, it tends to be a little above the belly button). Since the practical definition of waist is a bit fuzzy, we will assume our blue line just below the belly button will work.

Let's suppose you are very average. Each of your legs weighs 16% of your total body weight for a total of 32%. Your arms weigh 5% each and your head weighs 7% for a total of 17%. That leaves us 51% left in the blue box. Let's assume that your weight is evenly distributed across your trunk for 17% per third (this wouldn't be true of this diagram, by the way - this equal thirds assumes non-ginormous pectorals for the sake of mathematical convenience, sorry). That means, according to all of these assumptions, your bottom half is 49% and top half is 51%.

Even our assumption of the waist being the "practical" waist may have jeopardized our conclusion here. I'm guessing that the actual waist is right around the belly button (can't see the top of the iliac crest or the bottom of the ribs exactly and I don't remember), which might tip us over the edge and flip it so that the bottom half is 51% and the top half 49%. But what if we assumed ginormous pectorals? In that case, your top half might be above 50% even if we used a higher waist.

It really does look like it's approximately half and half and varies a lot from person to person. I'm guessing it would depend from man to man. I'd also guess that for women, the bottom half of the body would almost always weigh more because of less musculature in the upper body and increased adipose tissue in the hips and thighs relative to men.

And that, my friend, is the best I can do.


Question #88831 posted on 01/30/2017 8:38 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have a quick question and a related more intensive question:

1: How do you feel about the bells that mark the start and end of (most) classes/would you sign a petition that might be hypothetically created to remove said bells?

I personally find the bells an annoyance and a reminder of middle school days (the horrors), but I'm curious as to whether somebody out there enjoys the "melodic" ringing of the bells.

2: Why do we have those bells? I know of plenty of college campuses without a bell system. Why does BYU have one?

-Am I still in Middle School?

P.S. If necessary, please post answers to the first bit before the second bit. I am urgently interested in your opinions and mildly interested in the origins.


Dear you,

Hear the loud alarum bells --
                         Brazen bells !
What tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells !
          In the startled ear of night
          How they scream out their affright !
               Too much horrified to speak,
               They can only shriek, shriek,
                         Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
                  Leaping higher, higher, higher,
                  With a desperate desire,
               And a resolute endeavor
               Now -- now to sit or never,
          By the side of the pale-faced moon.
                  Oh, the bells, bells, bells !
                  What a tale their terror tells
                         Of Despair !
       How they clang, and clash, and roar !
       What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air !
          Yet the ear, it fully knows,
                By the twanging,
                And the clanging,
            How the danger ebbs and flows ;
       Yet, the ear distinctly tells,
             In the jangling,
             And the wrangling,
       How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells --
                  Of the bells --
      Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
             Bells, bells, bells --
   In the clamour and the clangour of the bells !

- Edgar Allan Poe

Question #88788 posted on 01/16/2017 6:06 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What do you look like when you squat down? Specifically, in what position are your feet? Do you squat on the balls of your feet like in this picture?

Or flat-footed like this picture?

On a related note, what exercises/stretches can get me to the second picture? (More than a year, and I still can only downward-dog on my toes.) Is this an impossibility?

All my love,
-dirty dots


Dear Dotty,

Most of the time when I squat, I squat like so.


It takes a bit more effort to lower my feet flat to the floor like this, but it's doable.


When I'm doing squats for exercises, I follow this form. This is also the type of squat that is good to add in some weights.


Then when I'm really trying to work out, I do this (in order to do this, start with a squat, rest your palms on the floor, then position your thighs to be supported by your triceps, and finally lift your legs off the ground).


In order to get to the second picture, here are some stretches you could try. For the first stretch, bend as far forward as you possibly can, with your legs spread apart, like so. And then the second stretch is really good for stretching your inner thigh.



However, I'd also add that practice makes perfect. As an example, a few years ago, I couldn't touch my toes.


But, remembering a childhood where I could touch my toes, I started stretching as far down as I could every day until I got to this point.


I continued following this process to achieve: 


Which all eventually culminated in...


So really, I think it's possible to become more flexible at anything as long as you keep on trying.


Question #88760 posted on 01/13/2017 9:28 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What's the best way to cheaply call someone in a foreign country (like Russia, for example) who has a mobile phone but no access to internet? I've been trying to compare services like Skype and WhatsApp, but I don't know whether I can call someone internationally who doesn't have the app, etc. What have you all used?

separation anxiety


Dear you,

I've mostly used WhatsApp, Facebook, and Skype, but I've always used them to call people who also have the app. I know that some apps have an option to call mobile or landlines directly, but which one you would want to use would depend on where you are calling. Each service has different rates for different countries. I'll list some of the more popular services, their rates, and their pros and cons. All rates will be given for mobile numbers. However, landline calls are often cheaper. Also, note that if I listed calling rates, that means you can use that app to call mobile numbers directly, even if they don't have the app or service.

Google Voice:

Calling Rates

Ex. Russia: 12¢/min
UK: 1¢/min (with Vodafone, O2, Orange, or Tmobile), 17¢/min otherwise
Brazil: 5¢/min
India: 1¢/min

Pros: It's made by Google. Fairly cheap and competitive pricing around the board.
Cons: It's made by Google, doesn't look as sleek and updated as some of their other apps.


Calling Rates

Ex. Russia: 10¢/min
UK: 10¢/min (No matter what)
Brazil: 15¢/min
India: 1.5¢/min

Pros: Has some handy calling packages that will allow you to call for even cheaper. Cheapest way to call Russia!
Cons: Can be confusing to navigate sometimes. Skype has a lot of other features.


Calling Rates (None) 

Pros: It's completely free if you have internet, and it's a well put-together app. Has a large user base.
Cons: You can't use it without the internet.

Facebook Messenger:

Calling Rates (None)

Pros: A lot of people worldwide have Facebook or Facebook Messenger. Calling and messaging are free with internet access.
Cons: Doesn't offer international calling to mobile phones that don't have Messenger.


Calling Rates (Not Available)

Pros: Has a massive user base, claims to have super cheap calling.
Cons: Built for China, and rates aren't available unless you're a user. I dug around trying to find them, but couldn't.


Calling Rates

Ex. Russia: 20.65¢/min
UK: .96¢/min (No matter what)
Brazil: 1.87¢/min
India: 1.18¢/min

Pros: Ringo is built specifically to call internationally. Looks fairly easy to use, and relatively cheap!
Cons: Prices can vary widely, does not have as large of a user base.


Calling Rates

Ex. Russia: 12.9¢/min
UK: 4¢/min
Brazil: 9.9¢/min
India: 2.39¢/min

Pros: Has unlimited calling packages that could significantly lower the price.
Cons: Can be pricy without packages.


Calling Rates (Make sure to scroll down a bit)

Ex. Russia: 21¢/min
UK: 3¢/min
Brazil: 19¢/min
India: 3¢/min

Pros: Has some calling plans that make calling cheaper.
Cons: Was originally intended for Japan, and so it's mostly geared toward Japan.


I haven't used any of these services to call mobile numbers directly, but if you were to call Russia, it looks like calling from Skype would be your best bet. They have the lowest cost, and additionally, they have handy packages to reduce cost. They're also a fairly trusted company and have a very large user base. If you wanted to call other places, probably compare prices Skype and Google Voice, they appear to be pretty reliable and competitive, as far as pricing goes. Have fun calling people!

Keep it real,
Sherpa Dave

Question #88743 posted on 01/11/2017 12:31 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I was driving to work this morning at a little after 7. The temperature was hovering just below the freezing mark, and the seat warmers were finally doing their job.

All of a sudden, a car turned onto the road right in front of me. I could tell that he had just started up his car, because I could see the exhaust coming out of his tailpipe. After a couple of miles, his exhaust disappeared, and it was as invisible as Aunt Maggie's smile.

Of course, I've seen this a million times, but until today I'd never questioned why it disappears. I figure it has to do with his car heating up, but it would almost seem that if the exhaust is warmer it would be even more visible. Help me out here, would you?


-Exhausted Eric


Dear Eric,

There are two things that can cause visible smoke when you first start up your car that disappears after a while. One is incompletely burned hydrocarbons, and the other is water.

Because a stoichiometric mixture of fuel and air (one that uses all the oxygen and all the fuel) burns too hot and can lead to knocking under high load(source), cars will often run rich, which provides more power and damages the engine less, but leaves hydrocarbons in the exhaust to be cleaned up by the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter needs to reach a high temperature to work, which is why the exhaust is more visible when the car first starts.

The other cause could be water build-up (typically from condensation, especially in cold weather), which is vaporized by the passing exhaust, then condensed into small, but visible, droplets when they exit to the cold outside air. This effect is similar to the one that makes your breath visible in cold weather.

-The Entomophagist

Question #88707 posted on 01/08/2017 12:34 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What are some of your top songs of 2016? This could be music you encountered this year, songs important for you personally this year (not necessarily from 2016), songs you most wish erased from collective memory... take it how you will, and with whatever time you need.

--Ardilla Feroz, writing in from dusty Argentina, hoping your Christmas breaks are lovely


Dear Ardilla,

Because this is the 100 Hour Board (and because I love music way too much) I have decided to put together a list of my top 100 songs for 2016. These are top in the sense of favorite, least favorite, personal significance, and everything in between. Most of these songs I discovered on my own, some were happily recommended, and others I came across through the Board. Without further ado, here's the list, organized according to the specified categories:

Top Absolute Favorite Songs (It kind of wrenched my heart to narrow this down to just ten songs. Almost all 100 songs here are my favorite.)

  1. I Have Made Mistakes -- The Oh Hellos. Early on in the year, I decided that if my life had a theme song, this would be it. At the time, I felt like an abject failure in every possible sense of the word, and my life was just really hard. I was able to relate to the lyrics a lot, and it gave me comfort and hope when I hardly had any, telling me that the rain was what would make me grow.
  2. A Long Way -- Josh Garrels.
  3. Angela -- The Lumineers.
  4. Lemons -- Woodlock. There are some songs where the melody just envelops me, and I feel like I'm actually inside of the music. This is one of those songs for me.
  5. Talk -- Kodaline.
  6. Stay Alive -- José Gonzalez. This is one of the songs I was introduced to. I was having a math study group with a girl, and our study session magically transformed into sharing our favorite music with each other (t'was quite glorious). This song immediately skyrocketed to the top of my favorites.
  7. Gold on the Ceiling -- The Black Keys. This song I fortuitously discovered through a board question.
  8. Paradise -- City and Colour.
  9. Caesar -- The Oh Hellos.
  10. Willow Tree March -- The Paper Kites. Think of this song as the serious side to YOLO.
Top Songs With Personal Significance
  1. Hello My Old Heart -- The Oh Hellos. This is the very first song I ever heard by The Oh Hellos, which is now one of my favorite bands. I also absolutely love the song.
  2. O' Sister -- City and Colour. Something about this song really spoke to my frame of mind at the beginning of the year.
  3. Clair De Lune -- Debussy. There was one particular perfect Sunday Fall afternoon that was filled with poetry and mountains, and colored by this song.
  4. I Dreamed A Dream -- Les Miserables. This made the list because due to mistakenly believing I would have accompaniment, I ended up singing this a'cappella in front of my entire ward. It managed to remain one of my favorite songs to perform.
  5. West -- Sleeping At Last. When I first heard it, it perfectly expressed what I was feeling at the moment.
  6. The Lament of Eustace Scrubb -- The Oh Hellos. Yet another song that somehow made me feel better about the world.
  7. Homeward Bound -- arr. Jay Althouse. This is one of my favorite songs to sing. At the crescendos, I feel like I could be flying.
  8. Savior Redeemer Of My Soul -- Joseph Smith the Prophet. Another favorite to sing. This song helps me feel closer to Christ than pretty much any other.
  9. Tuesday -- Oskar & Julia. This song is included because the woman, Julia, was my next door neighbor growing up, and I think it's cool to actually know a professional music artist. I decided on this particular song because it just so happens that I was taken on as a probie on a Tuesday.
  10. Send My Love -- Adele. This song is the nail that grates along the blackboard of my soul. It's personal significance is that I hate it.
  11. As We Ran -- The National Parks. This is the song that made me fall in love with The National Parks. I initially really liked it, because it talks about the Grand Tetons, one of my favorite places in the world.
Top Songs I Did Not Discover Independently
  1. Cough Syrup -- Young the Giant. I have to thank Alta for showing me this one.
  2. Something to Believe In -- Young the Giant. 
  3. Tighten Up -- The Black Keys. [Editors' note: this song does not contain profanity, but the music video does include a few rude gestures. Watch at your own discretion.]
  4. Click Click Click -- Bishop Allen. Another song from that wonderful "math study group."
  5. Bad Blood -- arr. Postmodern Jukebox. I dislike this song as sung by Taylor Swift, but love this vintage version. Listening to it made me dance, and determine that I now want to have a dance party with this style music.
  6. No Room In Frame -- Death Cab For Cutie. Another song I found courtesy of the Board.
Top Songs Recommended By YouTube (To my great delight, one day I noticed that YouTube started recommending a ton of indie songs for me.)
  1. If I Be Wrong -- Wolf Larson.
  2. Trojans -- Atlas Genius.
  3. 1957 -- Milo Greene.
  4. Don't You Give Up On Me -- Milo Greene.
  5. Elation -- Isbells.
  6. Wolf -- First Aid Kit.
  7. The Last Of Us -- Woodlock.
  8. Silver -- Woodlock.
  9. American Honey Blonde -- Woodlock.
  10. Seeker Lover Keeper -- Even Though I'm a Woman. I think the lyrics are a bit strange, but I like the tune.
Top Songs From My Top Artists (Not necessarily in the order of my most favorites.)
  1. City and Colour
    1. Wasted Love.
    2. The Girl 
    3. Hello, I'm In Delaware
    4. The Golden State
    5. Grand Optimist
    6. Commentators
    7. Waiting
    8. Sleeping Sickness
  2. Of Monsters and Men
    1. Empire
    2. Human
    3. Black Water 
    4. Crystals 
    5. I of the Storm .
    6. Wolves Without Teeth
    7. Winter Sound 
  3. The National Parks
    1. Stone's Throw 
    2. Young Whenever I hear this song, I can't help but dance.
    3. Ba Ba Ra  
    4. Ghost 
  4. The Oh Hellos
    1. There Beneath 
    2. Dear Wormwood 
    3. Pale White Horse 
  5. Lord Huron
    1. Lonesome Dreams 
    2. I Will Be Back One Day 
    3. Frozen Pines 
    4. Ghost On the Shore (I'm not providing a direct link to the song because it has some minor language.)
    5. The Man Who Lives Forever
  6. The Paper Kites
    1. Bloom 
    2. St. Clarity
    3. Maker of my Time
  7. Radical Face
    1. Always Gold 
    2. Severus and Stone 
    3. Black Eyes 
    4. Ghost Towns 
  8. The Lumineers
    1. Ophelia 
    2. Cleopatra 
    3. Stubborn Love 
  9. Seafret
    1. Give Me Something 
    2. Be There 
    3. Atlantis
  10. Hozier
    1. Like Real People Do 
    2. Work Song 
    3. Cherry Wine
 Top Songs To Study To
  1. Letting Go -- Saint Raymond.
  2. Michicant -- Bon Iver.
  3. We Don't Eat -- James Vincent McMorrow.
  4. River From The Sky -- The Weepies.
  5. Desert Father -- Josh Garrels.
  6. Farther Along -- Josh Garrels.
  7. Crosses -- José Gonzalez.
  8. Cycling Trivialities --José Gonzalez. (There's no link here because the song has some language.)
  9. Running For Cover -- Ivan & Aloysha.
  10. Outlaw -- The Staves.
Top Songs Frequently Listened To
  1. Way Down We Go -- Kaleo.
  2. Foxbeard -- Run River North.
  3. Run River Run -- Run River North.
  4. Georgia -- Vance Joy.
  5. Mess Is Mine -- Vance Joy.
  6. Fire and the Flood -- Vance Joy.
  7. High Hopes -- Kodaline.
  8. Pray -- Kodaline.
  9. No Matter Where You Are -- Us The Duo. 
  10. Believe -- Mumford and Sons. There's a part of my hipster soul that cringes at liking a song that's so mainstream, but like it I do.

To all the readers who actually read all the way through these lists: you have my respect. To all the readers who actually clicked on all the links: you have my deep incredulity, and respect. 


P.S. There really are 100 songs here.

P.P.S. If any of you readers have music recommendations of your own that you'd be willing to share, please email me. No seriously, I'd love it so much. I'm always reachable at anathema@theboard.byu.edu.

Question #88634 posted on 04/19/2017 1:52 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,
until about a year ago I was an entirely faithful church member, on track for my mission and BYU. Then I took a step back and analyzed both the church and a religion as a whole and did not like the information that I found, and decided that religion as a whole was untrue. Afterwards I faded out from both the church and religion as a whole, never really explaining to my ward or parents exactly why I now have such a distaste for religion. Then my friend at BYU told me about this board, and I was hoping I could get a response to the line of reasoning that led me to becoming an atheist. Sorry if this is a bit long but I would like to know how the church would have dealt with my concerns had I brought them forward. Ill shorten each of my points to single sentences if possible to make this brief so as not to make a response impossible.

-Why does the church fight for a tax exempt staus when they collect a 10% tithe and financial records show the church donates less than a penny to the dollar for the money it takes in, so how does this qualify as a charitable organization? And then use its funds to construct a billion dollar megamall?

-why would joseph smith run for president?

-why would african americans not recieve the priesthood until a certain date, one would think gods church would be pure from the start.

-why did mormons cling to polygamy even after it became unecessary and the mexican american war ended, only giving it up when the federal government threatened not to give utah statehood.

-why did brigham young appear to be so bigoted against other races in numerous church speeches that he decalred as doctrine.

-if god exists and is all loving, why would he genocidally cleanse the earth with floods, create such an imperfect world, allow slavery and the crusades to occur under his name, and allow such confusion around the matter of his existence.

Thats just a few of my concerns. Any more and i fear that the 100 hour board will find it too long to respond. Anyways thanks in advance and I look forward to any responses!


Dear You,

I'm not a Church leader, so I don't know if what I have to say is exactly what Church leaders would have told you had you brought these concerns to them, but I did take a history class on basically these issues (at least some of them). My professor was a bishop, and one of the leading experts on Church history in the world. Apparently these days he's in charge of the Maxwell Institute, a research institute owned by the Church. However, he was also very real about the seriousness of many of the topics, and didn't try to sugarcoat anything, so I really appreciated his take on things. Hopefully something I say can be of help, although if you would like to talk to someone with more expertise than I, shoot me an email at alta(at)theboard.byu.edu and I can get you in contact with my professor, Dr. Spencer Fluhman. In writing this answer I tried to link to as many official Church sources as possible, to give you the most official response I can, although I am admittedly not a spokesperson for the Church, and everything I say here is a conglomeration of official Church stuff, historical context, and my own opinions and conjecture.

Why Joseph Smith ran for president

To sum things up, basically it's because members of the early Church were deeply disillusioned with the United States leadership after seeing them fail the Mormons many times.

In the 1830s a large group of LDS pioneers moved to Missouri after Joseph Smith had a revelation saying Independence, Missouri, was to be the site of the new Zion. At the time Jackson County, where Independence was located, was mostly filled with rough and tumble settlers, who were disturbed by a huge group of what they saw as religious fanatics moving in. From the Saints' point of view, their own behavior made sense. They wanted to stay together because they had found a group where they fit in, and they were all able to mutually support and help each other. But the other Missourians didn't understand them and their odd behavior, and for as much as the Mormons said they weren't politically involved, they all had the same views and voted the same way, which seemed like a huge potential threat to the people who already lived there. The tension between the Saints and everyone else boiled over in a series of violent attacks on the Mormons by mobs, which you can read about here. This all culminated in Governor Lilburn W. Boggs' infamous Extermination Order in 1838, mandating that Mormons either be driven from the state of Missouri or exterminated (explicitly violating the 1st Amendment which guarantees freedom of religion). As a result virtually all the Latter Day Saints in Missouri were forced out of their homes during the winter of 1838-1839 with nowhere to go to, and Joseph Smith was unlawfully imprisoned in Liberty Jail in horrible living conditions. The Saints relocated in Illinois, where many of them died due to disease. Following the Extermination Order a mob also attacked a group of Saints living at Haun's Mill, brutally killing 17 people, including a child who was only 9 years old, and injuring many more.

In late 1839, after being released from Liberty Jail, Joseph Smith went to President Martin Van Buren to seek redress for the many illegal persecutions the Saints had suffered in Missouri. Although Van Buren initially seemed sympathetic to their cause, when Joseph Smith met with him again in early 1840, Van Buren told him, "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you. … If I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri." This was understandably incredibly frustrating, because the Saints had just suffered years of illegal mob action, and even though the president of the United States agreed that they deserved justice, he refused to help them because it would be an unpopular move. 

So when the election of 1844 rolled around, the Latter Day Saints were looking for a candidate who wouldn't simply ignore the problems they were facing. In late 1843 Joseph Smith wrote letters to the five main presidential candidates, detailing the abuse in Missouri and asking what they would do about it as president. Only three of the candidates even responded, and they did so with very little sympathy to the persecution the Mormons faced. So, in January of 1844, Joseph Smith announced that he was running for president as an independent. He had a detailed party platform which called for things like the abolition of slavery and the expansion of United States territory if they obtained the permission of the Native Americans already living on the land. He didn't specifically address the illegal mob action against Mormons in Missouri, but he did say that the chief magistrate should have "full power to send an army to suppress mobs … [without requiring] the governor of a state to make the demand." This would prevent anything like what had happened in Missouri ever happening again.

Joseph Smith himself said,

I would not have suffered my name to have been used by my friends on anywise as President of the United States, or candidate for that office, if I and my friends could have had the privilege of enjoying our religious and civil rights as American citizens, even those rights which the Constitution guarantees unto all her citizens alike. But this as a people we have been denied from the beginning. Persecution has rolled upon our heads from time to time, from portions of the United States, like peals of thunder, because of our religion; and no portion of the Government as yet has stepped forward for our relief. And in view of these things, I feel it to be my right and privilege to obtain what influence and power I can, lawfully, in the United States, for the protection of injured innocence (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:210–11).

He was assassinated in June of 1844, during his candidacy for president, but before the election occurred. 

It's also important to remember that church and state weren't nearly as separated as they are now at this time in US history. That made it a lot less weird that the prophet of the LDS Church would run for president. We also have to remember that a lot of Church members believed the Second Coming was imminent, and they were honestly concerned about the state of the nation if Christ were to come at that time, because their personal experience was that the United States was full of mobsters and corrupt politicians. They saw Joseph Smith running for president as a way to not only save the Church, but help save the country, as well. Since then the Church has said that its foremost leaders can't run for public office, and is now strictly non-partisan and politically neutral

For more detail about Joseph Smith running for president, and as a source for a lot of the information here, see this article

Brigham Young being bigoted 

So first of all, Brigham Young appeared to be bigoted against other races because he was bigoted against other races. He was a product of his times, and unfortunately, his times were ones where white people were widely considered superior to everybody else simply because they were white. Nobody exists in a vacuum, and it's virtually impossible for someone to completely throw off the preconceptions and ideas that are ingrained in them by their culture, society, and personal experiences. 

I know that it's hard to accept that a true prophet of God was so visibly imperfect, because shouldn't the prophet be better than everyone else? The thing is, though, literally everyone on earth is far from perfect. It is impossible for God to pick a perfect prophet, because nobody will ever fit that bill. God could maybe force the prophet to be perfect, but that would go against our agency to make decisions for ourselves, and honestly I would be more uncomfortable with a God who forced us to be perfect by taking away our choices than with a God who allows for some trial and error. Despite his imperfections, Brigham Young had the traits the Church needed at the time in its leader to help it continue to exist, and later prophets have had the traits needed to correct some of the problems that Brigham Young brought about.

Another factor in Brigham Young's more racist proclamations is the fact that he was actively trying to make the Church seem "more American." At the time, the LDS Church was seen as not white and not American, and that led to a lot of problems for them. In response, the Church (Brigham Young included) worked very hard to become more acceptably white, something that ended up leading to some very racist policies and speeches.

Like I already mentioned, the vast majority of Americans at the time were very racist, and they were suspicious of anything that seemed to threaten their idea of what an American should look and be like. As such, they were incredibly suspicious of the LDS Church. By the time Brigham Young was prophet, it was well known that the Church practiced polygamy, and that horrified most of the general public. There were concerns about child brides and morality, but perhaps more surprisingly, there were also concerns about polygamy being practiced in the United States because it was seen as an "Oriental" practice. People were really horrified about such an un-American practice being practiced in America, and that led them to think of the LDS Church and its members as un-American and even not white, despite the fact that most of them had come from places like England and Scandinavia. At the time, being "not white" was about the worst thing that could happen to an organization in the United States, and the perception of Mormons as their own separate "Mormon race" helped propagate the idea that Mormons deserved all the persecution that came their way, and did not deserve religious freedom. This article is very well-researched and does an awesome job explaining how the Church was painted as not nearly white enough, both because of polygamy and because of their tolerant stance on other races, and how that led to a lot of problems for the Saints.

Oh, also, in case it's not clear enough already that the Church faced a lot of problems for not being "white enough," the original Republican Party platform was dedicated to eradicating the so called "twin relics of barbarism," polygamy and slavery. That's right, an entire political party was formed to not just get rid of slavery, but also to force the LDS Church to stop being so barbaric with its un-American practices of polygamy (and as another part of that, intermarrying with other races, something that was seen as almost as heinous as polygamy itself). One of the huge problems that the American public, and also the American government, had with polygamy was that it was seen as an "oriental" practice, and not something that should be practiced in white America. Because the Church wasn't about to get rid of polygamy any time soon (I'll get around to that later), they had to resort to other measures to try to make themselves seem more white and American to the public to try to decrease some of the persecution and mistreatment they regularly faced. So, that meant they started disparaging other races, becoming more racist to fit into a racist society a little better. Or, as Paul Reeves, author of Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whitenesssaid, "The irony is that they start participating in the same racial construct that was denigrating them." So part of the reason Brigham Young made so many comments that we now understand as racist is that he really did believe that, but part of the reason also could have definitely been that he was operating in a society that hated the Church because of its supposed un-Americanness.

Why African Americans couldn't hold the priesthood for so long

In the Church's inception, Joseph Smith actually had no problem with blacks being ordained to the priesthood, and even personally ordained at least one black man, Elijah Able, to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Elijah Able also was able to attend the temple and did baptisms for the dead there. And as we saw in Smith's bid for presidency, he was against slavery. In 1847 Brigham Young called a black man, Q. Walker Lewis, "one of the best Elders" of the Church in a private meeting. So in response to your point about God's church being pure from the start, it was. It was only after more than twenty years of acceptance toward African Americans that it changed its policy to exclude blacks.

In 1852 Brigham Young made the official statement that men of "black African descent" could not be ordained to the priesthood, though they could still be baptized and ordained members of the Church. (Subsequent prophets extended this ban to the temple, as well.) However, at the same time as Young revoked the right of black men to be ordained to the priesthood, he also said that they would eventually "have [all] the privilege and more” given to other members. Clearly the priesthood ban was never meant to be a permanent thing.

So, why did the Church change its stance? Why did it start excluding blacks? Well, for one thing, remember what I said about how racist America was at the time, and how the Church faced a lot of problems for not being racist enough to fit in? I think that definitely applies here. At the time, blacks were widely regarded in America as property, not people deserving of rights and respect. While there were a few outspoken abolitionists, the vast majority of Northerners were pretty apathetic with regards to slavery, as long as it wasn't happening in their state, and most of those who did oppose slavery still didn't believe that blacks should receive the same rights as whites. Meanwhile in the South, many prominent leaders were making the argument that slavery was a positive good that was actively benefiting all parties involved. It was in this climate that Charles Sumner, a Northern abolitionist senator, was caned almost to death on the House floor during a session of Congress by a representative from South Carolina, simply because Sumner had given a speech opposing slavery. The representative who caned him was met with a parade in his home town. It was also in this climate that the Supreme Court case Dred Scott v Sandford codified racism into national law with its decision that blacks had "no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Although the caning of Charles Sumner and the Dred Scott decision happened in the years following Brigham Young's statement about blacks and the priesthood, they're pretty indicative of the rising tensions about African Americans at the time, and how deeply unpopular it was to advocate for, or even openly support, black rights. That was bad news for a Church that allowed for total integration of blacks with whites, and whose leaders advocated for black rights.

Now we've got the political climate set up, enter Brigham Young. In 1850, Utah was made an official territory of the United States. This meant that although they had none of the rights of statehood, they did have the obligation to follow the Constitution and were subject to jurisdiction from Congress. This was basically the worst of both worlds for the Mormons, who had purposely relocated in what was currently Mexico in order to escape the United States (remember all their issues with the government?) However, as a territory they had none of the freedom they had hoped for as a small colony in Mexico, yet none of the rights of states. This caused them to be pretty highly motivated to try to become a state, not because they particularly loved the US, but because they wanted more autonomy. As governor of the Utah territory, Brigham Young's decision to instate the priesthood ban could well have been influenced by some political motivations to get in with the federal government and help to Utah become a state. I don't know, because obviously I'm not Brigham Young and I didn't make that decision, but from the context at the time, that could make sense.

Once the ban was in place, people, including Church leaders, came up with all sorts of rationales trying to justify it, such as adopting the popular idea of the time that black people were inferior because of the "curse of Cain," or because they were supposedly less faithful in the war in heaven. These ideas were NOT doctrine; they were weird ideas supported with scanty evidence pulled from a few misinterpreted verses of scripture. However, they gained a lot of momentum, probably because people were eager to find a reason for the ban, so they took any idea they could get and ran with it. Unfortunately, a lot of these ideas were taught as doctrine at the time by Church leaders, and that's tragic. With the benefit of hindsight we can look back and say that they definitely weren't doctrine, but in the thick of it there were a lot of people who said they were. What does that mean about those Church leaders? Well, for one thing it means they were people. People are fallible, and they try to come up with reasons and justifications for bad things, and sometimes those justifications aren't great. Church leaders were fallible, too, and they demonstrated that with some of the racist rhetoric we see from this time period. However, if it gives you any hope to know this, at the same time there were Church leaders who actively opposed the racist ideas supporting the priesthood ban and fought against them, so it wasn't a Church-wide thing, just individual fallacies. The fact that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve never officially stated that the reason for the priesthood ban was because of the "curse of Cain" or "blacks were less faithful in the premortal life" also means that those ideas were never accepted by the Church as doctrine, and any attempt to pass them off as such was merely individual conjecture.

The problem is, once an idea catches hold it's hard to get rid of. The simple force of momentum can keep a lot of things going, and in my non-expert opinion, I think that's what happened with the priesthood ban. It was getting harder and harder to believe any of the rationales about why those of African descent couldn't hold the priesthood or go to the temple, especially in view of the sacrifices and faith of Church members of African descent across the globe, but with the weight of years of that practice behind them, it was hard to change course suddenly. Think of a yacht: you're not going to get a ship of that magnitude to turn 180 degrees all at once. An organization like the Church is like a giant yacht, where big changes don't just happen (for example, the missionary age change from a couple years ago only took place after months of meetings and pondering, and the missionary age is something that hasn't been as deeply defended as was the priesthood ban). 

Why would God allow His Church to instate a racist policy? Well, first of all let me just remind us all of what I said earlier, about how we all have agency, and even if we do dumb things with that, God isn't going to stop us. Going along with that, He's not going to force answers down someone's throat, even if that someone is a prophet. Until a prophet could escape the weight of history and the racist context/rhetoric of his own day, the ban was going to hold. Second of all, I have no idea how things with Utah territory and the Church would have panned out had the Church continued to promote full integration of blacks. It's possible that that plus polygamy would have been too much for the US government, or even just common Americans, to handle, and things with the Church could have turned out much differently than they did. This is murkier water here, because it's impossible to quantify, and I don't want to say that the individual suffering of black members of the Church can be quantified and justified in relation to the overall well-being of the Church, because we have absolutely no idea what would have happened without the priesthood ban, but this may have been a contributing factor.

For a lot of my information in this section, see here. But just to be clear, this is the section where I had to make the most inferences, and everything I said about why the Church might have instated the priesthood ban is my own personal thought, backed up by official Church sources as well as historical research. So I didn't just pull this stuff out of nowhere, and I feel that what I said is pretty well backed up, but I do want it to be clear that the Church hasn't given an official reason for the ban.

Why the Church continued to cling to polygamy for so long

First of all, from your question it seems like you have a mistaken idea of why the Church practiced polygamy in the first place. I may be reading this wrong, but your question makes it seem like you think they practiced polygamy because there was a shortage of men due to the Mexican American War, so in order to temporally take care of all the women in the Church they decided to start practicing polygamy so every woman would have a provider. That's a popular defense of polygamy that I've heard from all sorts of people, including missionaries at Temple Square, because it's an easy explanation that at least somewhat makes sense to us and is harder to attack from a moral point of view. The thing is, though, it's wrong. The Church had been practicing polygamy for a long time before the Mexican American War, and as you pointed out, they continued to practice it for a long time afterward. There might be some sort of argument in there about helping provide for women because there were fewer LDS men than women at the time (I don't know if that's true or not), but the revelation instructing Joseph Smith to practice polygamy says nothing about that. The reason the Saints practiced polygamy is that God told them to do it. It was hard, and I honestly don't know why He told them to, but from their point of view, despite how difficult it was, they were doing it for the logical reason of obeying God's commandments.

One of the most commonly accepted reasons for polygamy in the early Church (and the one we have the most evidence for) was to "raise up seed unto [the Lord]." Jacob 2:30 in the Book of Mormon uses that phrase, and it's when Jacob is actually telling off the men of the Church at that time for taking more than one wife. He says that they were justifying it because Solomon and David did it in the Bible, but he also says that God has said that polygamy absolutely shall not be practiced just because someone feels like it, or thinks it's the right thing to do. Jacob quotes the Lord and says, 

Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. For if I will...raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things. (Jacob 2:27-30, emphases mine).

So, here we have God saying that polygamy is unacceptable, unless He specifically commands otherwise in order to raise up seed unto Him, or in more modern terms, in order to have more children born in the bounds of the Church. God does reserve the right to command polygamy, but for the reason of having more children be born in the covenant. In the early days of the Church there were incredibly few members, and although growth was relatively fast, there still weren't a ton of Mormons in the world. Polygamy did lead to the birth of a lot of children in the Church, and greatly helped its membership. Those children went on to do amazing things and help the Church and the world in a lot of ways, and if you look at a lot of members of the Church today, they come from a polygamous heritage. I personally only exist because of polygamy, so my selfish reason for being glad it happened is being grateful that I'm alive.

Another possible reason I've heard for why the early Saints practiced polygamy is because the Restoration of the Church was a restoration of ALL things (as Elder James E. Faust called it). Well, if we're going to restore everything that ever happened in any of the previous dispensations, one of the things we restored had to be polygamy, because we do have evidence of it being practiced anciently in the Church. According to those verses in Jacob, they only practiced it anciently in order to build the righteous membership of the Church, which is also why it was practiced modernly, but the thing is, if we're restoring everything, polygamy is on that list. So it had to be practiced at least briefly in this dispensation, but was later discontinued. This isn't doctrine, no Church leaders have come out and said that we practiced polygamy in the 1800s because it was practiced anciently and we had to restore everything, but it's an idea that sits well with me. You can take it or leave it, it's just an idea I heard that personally made sense.

Okay, so now that we sort of know why the early Saints practiced polygamy, lets look at why they defended it so vigorously. There are firsthand accounts of both men and women detailing just how difficult and heart-wrenching it was for them, so why would they continue to live it? Why would they defend it, and even call it a good thing? For one thing, at the start they had an incomplete understanding of sealings, because not a lot of information about temple sealings and eternal families had been revealed yet. They knew that it was necessary to be sealed to get to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom, and that in heaven everyone was going to be one big family, meaning that everyone was going to somehow be sealed to each other. However, the practice of vicarious sealings for the dead hadn't happened yet, so if you had parents or grandparents who died without the gospel, they thought there was no hope of being sealed to them. Without being able to create a ladder of sealings going up through the generations, they thought they had to do a web of sealings, going out horizontally to everyone who lived concurrently with them rather than going up vertically to past generations. One way to do that was polygamy. So one reason they approved of polygamy was because they saw it a a way of creating an eternal family, and despite the hardship involved they thought that was worth it and necessary. (I don't have time to look up the source for this right now, but if you either email me or submit another question I can get find the source for you).

Going along with that, another reason the early Saints continued to uphold polygamy despite their own personal feelings about it is that they saw it as the most surefire way to gain eternal salvation, and their focus was the eternities, not the here and now. They thought it was necessary to deal with hardship in this life for celestial rewards in the world to come. Annie Clark Tanner was a polygamous wife in Utah, and in her autobiography A Mormon Mother she talks about how the Church, and the individuals within it, tended to emphasize the hardness of the gospel, and the strictness and condemnation of God. Polygamy, along with all its trials, fit very easily into that framework of the prevailing culture, something that might not have happened if they had emphasized the joy of the gospel, and the love and mercy of God like we do now. But because they sort of expected life to be hard and God to ask them near impossible things, they were more ready to accept polygamy. The Church also made it fairly easy for women to get divorces, to have an escape valve from the pressures of polygamous life

Finally, another thing that I've noticed in a lot of personal accounts of people who lived through polygamy is that they saw it as a way of unifying the Church and binding them together. We're called a "peculiar people," and the peculiar practice of polygamy certainly cemented that. The internal suffering and outside persecution they faced as a result really created bonds of unity in the Church, because common suffering is one way to bond with someone fast (just think of Harry, Ron, and Hermione becoming friends after being attacked by a troll). With that positive effect of polygamy in mind, along with the hope of eternal rewards and satisfaction, mixed with the idea that they were creating a huge eternal family through polygamous sealings, the Saints overall were fairly supportive of the practice, despite any personal hardship they had with it.

Due to the huge support polygamy had in the Church, and the immense faith of the early members who were willing to do anything God asked them to, polygamy had a lot of momentum and force behind it, meaning that they weren't going to give it up for almost anything. When they did stop practicing it, it had to be as a result of an official declaration from the prophet, because they were so faithful they wanted to be sure the command to stop was coming from God.

Why would God suddenly change His stance on polygamy? I don't think He did "suddenly change," He just went back to the norm. The Saints had pretty successfully raised a lot of children in the Church, so there was no longer any need to keep practicing polygamy. They had enough members that the Church could be self-sufficient and self-sustaining without having to rely on polygamy to replenish the ranks, and God has been pretty clear in the scriptural record throughout all of history that polygamy is not the norm, it's only a rare exception. The conditions necessitating that exception had come to an end, so they returned to the normal state of affairs (aka monogamy). Second of all, things were looking pretty dire for the Church's continued existence within the political climate. First there was a Supreme Court case that specifically banned the practice of polygamy for religious reasons, and then there was a succession of national laws that outlined specific punishments for polygamy, and that threatened the Church's ability to continue to function as a religious institution. Faced with the choice to either keep practicing polygamy and lose the right to even have a church, or discontinue the practice of polygamy, Wilford Woodruff turned to prayer to find out what he should do, and then issued the Official Declaration 1 of the Church, officially discontinuing polygamy. It might seem a little weird for a revelation to come about as a result of a political situation, because we think of the Church as separate from politics, but personally, I don't think it's wrong for revelation to be preceded by a sincere question, like this one was, or for that question to be motivated by the current world situation, like this one was. It simply shows that President Woodruff did not live in a bubble and was aware of the consequences of the Church's actions.


Look, I know that you're truly wondering and trying to find out the truth. And I know that there are some real, hard questions about the Church and about Church history, so I'm in no way blaming or condemning you for having these feelings. When I first found out from first-hand accounts about a lot of the terrible things that have happened in the Church, and the toll they took on real people, I was shocked. I realized how fallible people are, even leaders of the Church, and for a while that really shook my faith in the Church. It was hard for me, and I had to grapple with a lot of questions that we don't have answers to. However, eventually I realized that I couldn't deny what I did know and what I have felt based simply on the realization that there are still lots of things I don't know. My questions about a lot of these topics didn't change the fact that I know I've felt God's love for me. They didn't change the fact that I know I've prayed about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and had it confirmed to me. They didn't change the testimony I had of Christ's reality, and the saving power of His atonement. That doesn't mean that my questions and doubts weren't legitimate, or that yours aren't, either, just that all my other feelings were also legitimate. I still don't have all the answers, and there are still things that I don't understand. But I chose not to let those questions overshadow everything else. I decided to keep believing in the Church, despite my questions about certain things, because I feel good when I read the scriptures and pray and go to the temple. I believe that there are answers to these questions, just that we don't have them right now, and that's a part of life, so for now I'm just going to shelf those questions and wait for the day when I can talk face to face with God about all of them.

Obviously you're in charge of your own life, and you can make whatever decision you choose, but my suggestion is to not just look for the bad in the Church, but also remember the good. Why did you want to serve a mission? Why were you a faithful member? Don't ignore the bad things you've found out, but don't focus on them to the exclusion of the good things you've seen and felt. Try to find answers to your questions, and know that a lot of them really do have answers, but some of them don't have answers that we can explain right now. If you run into that problem, be patient and see if any more light or understanding comes with time. Remember that everything has a bias, and don't take all information you see at face value. Your final decision about what to do is in your hands, and your worth as a person will not diminish no matter what you choose. I'm sorry that this has been so hard for you, and I hope that something I've said here has helped answer at least a few of your questions.


P.S. I'm so incredibly sorry for keeping this question so long over-hours. Hopefully it's still relevant to you.