onlacienega (onlacienega) wrote in little_details,

Alternate universe and different trajectory of scientific development

I'm trying to work out the details of a story set in an alternate universe that is much like ours, with some subtle and not-so-subtle differences. I'd love to get opinions (and explanations from more tech-savvy folk than I) on whether it would be plausible for humanity to have developed computers (or at least WWII-era technology, since this was the era in which both the earliest computers and nukes were developed) but NOT nuclear weapons.

I've searched for the existence of other stories with similar worlds, with keywords like "alternate universe no nuclear weapons" "parallel world without nukes", etc., etc. Predictably, this led to lots of anti-nuclear propaganda. I've also read about the history of the development of nuclear weapons, but I don't know enough about the times, and how the discovery of the atom was treated, to know whether it would be possible that nuclear weaponry was just never developed.

Here are my questions, increasingly far-reaching:
1) Would it be plausible to have WWII-era technology without nuclear weapons?
2) Would it be plausible to have advanced computer and video technology, on the level of today and beyond, without nuclear weapons?
3) Would it be plausible to have advanced biotechnology, with the ability to clone humans and animals, without humanity having discovered or developed nuclear weaponry?
4) What if the bomb had been developed under the Manhattan Project, but never used, and then the knowledge and plans had been destroyed? Would humanity inevitably come up with more nuclear technology and apply this to weaponry?

Thank you so much in advance!

**EDIT** Another question I thought to add -- what if this society were rebuilding from the ashes of previous nuclear destruction, but had only a vague idea of what had caused the destruction, as it had been a very long time ago (think Canticle for Leibowitz)? Would it be plausible that this society might reach WWII or even higher levels of technology (particularly biotechnology) without inventing nukes as well, either because of fear that it would happen again or because things happened in such a way that no one thought to use nuclear power for weaponry (e.g. if there had been no war or fear of war to precipitate the development of the atomic bomb)? I'd love to explore the idea of biotechnology gone wrong being this new society's mistake, instead of nukes.
Tags: ~science: physics, ~technology (misc), ~weapons (misc), ~worldbuilding

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