For Discussion: Time Travel Myths

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Agema:
Old guns like muskets exploded usually because of overloading with gunpowder (sometimes caused by build-up of unburnt residue from previous firing) and the relatively poor quality of materials. Modern guns should (theoretically) have higher quality metal to be more robust and as the gunpowder amount is controlled by cartridge, overloading is less likely.

It's possible to put too much powder in a cartridge, though, if a mistake is made. OTOH, modern powder is rather more powerful than what they had a few centuries back, so you'd have the opposite problem.

You'd want your "modern handgun" to be a derringer or revolver because you'd have all sorts of problems getting it to cycle with wimpy ammunition. Losing the handgun and taking a pump action shotgun would be a good idea, they can be very forgiving of all sorts of weird ammunition.

Satinavian:

Dalisclock:

I'd be worried the other way too. Coming back to the present and possibly carrying strains of diseases we don't really have anymore. There's the chance of causing a pandemic without even realizing it because you got bitten by a plague flea(or something like that) and didn't realize it until you got back.

Not to mention there's also the problem with lack of basic sanitation, at least in major cities. Just drinking the water is libel to make you sick because water quality wasn't really a big thing in a lot of places and Sewer systems kinda disappeared in Europe from the end of the roman era till the enlightenment swung around(can't speak for the rest of the world). The chance of picking up some kind of nasty bateria is pretty high because even if you are taking precautions, the people around you probably aren't.

Most horrible deseases of the past can lie dormant somewhere and come back anytime. That would not change too much. Also many of those would not be as problematic nowadays because of other cicumstances.

Taking your example of the the Great Plague, that one is caused by Yersinia Pestis, a bacterium, if taken from the past, which would be susceptible to basically every antibioticum ever discovered. And it is not that easily transmissible from person to person, because it relies on intermediate hosts that are far less common in modern society.

The Plague still exists, it is not an extinct deseases. There are even modern antibiotic resistant strains that still produce a high mortality rate. But the two biggest outbreaks in the 20th century did cost around 1000 lifes in the twenties and less than 200 in the nineties, where a big outbreak in the 19th centuries meant tens of millions dead. It is simply not the same kind of threat anymore.

Past deseases are a problem for the time traveller. But bringing them back would not be a problem for modern society. However bringing modern deseases into the past could be quite dangerous for the past.

I wasn't aware of that. Appreciate the education.

Agema:
Don't see why not. Disassemble the car, put some kind of patch on, reassemble, done.

Both gas and electric welding existed at that point, as well.

Agema:
What I'm less sure about is the primer: I don't know if they had the knowledge of chemicals for a suitable one at the time. Even if they could make it, I'd expect a significant risk of misfires.

Primer wasn't available until the 19th century. It's possible a person with knowledge of modern chemistry could make mercury fulminate from ingredients available in the 18th century, but in practice this wasn't done until 1800.

All 18th century guns used gunpowder as an igniter as well as propellant.

I think about stuff like this a fair bit. When I'm doing something like trying to study I'll just start thinking about what I might be able to do if I was suddenly transported back 1000 years with only the knowledge I currently possess, what modern technology I could recreate, if I know enough to get instated as the kings magician or inventor or whatever. Almost makes me want to go and look things up so I'll know how to do them, just in case... before I remember that I should stop procrastinating and keep studying.

Drathnoxis:
I think about stuff like this a fair bit. When I'm doing something like trying to study I'll just start thinking about what I might be able to do if I was suddenly transported back 1000 years with only the knowledge I currently possess, what modern technology I could recreate, if I know enough to get instated as the kings magician or inventor or whatever. Almost makes me want to go and look things up so I'll know how to do them, just in case... before I remember that I should stop procrastinating and keep studying.

Yup, done this thought experiment too.

The thing is, going back 1000 years it kind of doesn't matter. At that point, noone is going to be able to understand your modern English. You'd just be a weird vagrant babbling nonsense, and society of that time was not kind to vagrants and the insane. Early modern people might be able to understand you sometimes, but you'd probably miss a lot of meaning.

As mentioned, you'd also be a walking biohazard to anyone in these time periods, so you'd want to avoid contaminating people with any modern diseases. Basically you'd have to quarantine yourself for a while after arriving to ensure you didn't pass anything on.

Weirdly, one thing a modern person in the past could potentially be pretty good at is medicine. Even if you have no practical medical skills, as long as you passed high school biology your understanding of the theory will be light years ahead of most European doctors until the 18th century at least, and much of the practice is going to be common sense. Whether you could actually establish yourself as a medical authority would be quite another matter though, and largely dependent on resolving the language barrier.

evilthecat:

Drathnoxis:
I think about stuff like this a fair bit. When I'm doing something like trying to study I'll just start thinking about what I might be able to do if I was suddenly transported back 1000 years with only the knowledge I currently possess, what modern technology I could recreate, if I know enough to get instated as the kings magician or inventor or whatever. Almost makes me want to go and look things up so I'll know how to do them, just in case... before I remember that I should stop procrastinating and keep studying.

Yup, done this thought experiment too.

The thing is, going back 1000 years it kind of doesn't matter. At that point, noone is going to be able to understand your modern English. You'd just be a weird vagrant babbling nonsense, and society of that time was not kind to vagrants and the insane. Early modern people might be able to understand you sometimes, but you'd probably miss a lot of meaning.

As mentioned, you'd also be a walking biohazard to anyone in these time periods, so you'd want to avoid contaminating people with any modern diseases. Basically you'd have to quarantine yourself for a while after arriving to ensure you didn't pass anything on.

Weirdly, one thing a modern person in the past could potentially be pretty good at is medicine. Even if you have no practical medical skills, as long as you passed high school biology your understanding of the theory will be light years ahead of most European doctors until the 18th century at least, and much of the practice is going to be common sense. Whether you could actually establish yourself as a medical authority would be quite another matter though, and largely dependent on resolving the language barrier.

Cracked hit a bunch of these a while back.

Other things they also pointed out.

-Guess what. You have no money, unless you brought some gold or silver with no identifying markings to sell and know who to sell it to in order to get some local currency(assuming they have any and it's not a barter economy). Even if you go back a couple decades, that fiver with the 2012 print date is going to mark you as a counterfeiter the moment someone notices the bills don't look right.

There's also the problem of if you start throwing gold and silver around, best be really careful nobody notices and starts wondering where you're getting it from(or more importantly, where your stash is).

-Your clothes probably look ridiculous unless you planned ahead and got clothing that at least looks period/culturally appropriate. Not to mention you need to think long and hard about just want you want to pass as, because if you want to pass as anything but a peasant, you need clothes to fit the class you want to hang around with(and even then you need a way to actually support yourself).

-You want to have some useful skills for the period, because otherwise you're gonna be stuck working menial, low paying jobs with little chance of working your way up. Even then, being able to move out of the class you were in was rare.

-If you're a woman or a minority, chances are your ability to do much of anything is going to very limited, depending on where you end up. Being a woman would probably be the worst of these, since generally women were generally considered property of their husband or father, while a minority would probably vary depending on the general level of racism/xenophobia in the time/place.

Yeah, it's the classic, "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," that's been remade several times. Knowledge of science and history would make you a god, but knowledge of history would get you only so far, on a day-to-day basis. Trouble would be getting other people to along with your radical ideas of "hand-washing" and so-forth. "Outlander" is my mom's show, so I don't know how "realistic" the time-travel that is.

The fantastic show "Timeless" tackled a lot of issues that few timetravel media tackles, having both a woman and a minority traveling back to the past. In rare situations, the two black men who end up time traveling are able to make use of their race - (In one ep, they travel to the Civil War era, as they are declared as "staff" they go virtually invisible.) It all depends where you are and what you aim to do.

Doc Brown, it is later revealed, somehow has cash denominations seemingly going back a hundred years during each decade - where he got that, who knows, and it's likely best unasked. Doc also got a handy job as a blacksmith.

Timeless (at first) had an exorbitant wardrobe for time-traveling purposes. That said, as long as you don't go more than a few decades back, other than looking out of fashion, you probably wouldn't turn too many heads.

If you were using gold and silver, I don't think funny marks on it would make much difference. Hopefully you are careful about how you end up using it. Even if you did use cash from the future - who checks the dates on these things? Even if the bills are eventually discovered in circulation, as long you don't get caught, there shouldn't be that much trouble to the timeline.

Timeless also tackles the ethics of meddling in the timeline, one's ability to remain uninvolved in great historical events as they happen.

Personally, I always imagine myself as a sci-fi writer if I end up in the past...

In "Timeless" a 1754 forward thinking clock-maker gets hold of a modern firearm and claims to be able to reverse engineer it and change the future.

evilthecat:

The thing is, going back 1000 years it kind of doesn't matter. At that point, noone is going to be able to understand your modern English. You'd just be a weird vagrant babbling nonsense, and society of that time was not kind to vagrants and the insane. Early modern people might be able to understand you sometimes, but you'd probably miss a lot of meaning.

Just use Latin. You are going to use it anyway if you were to enter a career as any kind of scholar. And sure, you have to learn new languages, but 1000 years ago there were far more languages and dialects around and people were pretty used to interact with others ove a language barrier. Having knowledge of a couple of modern European languages would be a solid basis for learning older European ones.
It will be harder if you are one of those people who never learned another language before.

Weirdly, one thing a modern person in the past could potentially be pretty good at is medicine. Even if you have no practical medical skills, as long as you passed high school biology your understanding of the theory will be light years ahead of most European doctors until the 18th century at least, and much of the practice is going to be common sense. Whether you could actually establish yourself as a medical authority would be quite another matter though, and largely dependent on resolving the language barrier.

While true that your medical knowledge will be impressive compared to what exists, there is also the problem of wha most of those discoveries came so late : You basically need human experimentation on a great scale (double-blind) to actually prove anything. There are far more fields where you have an easier time to convince the locals that you actually know things.

While we are talking about language, if you go back in time could you please get English to use the Indo-European grammar structure and otherwise not be different from most European languages? Would really help speakers of English learn European languages and vice versa.

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