A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Yet another thing I doubt the average person knows offhand.
    Is a time traveler going into the past specifically to mess up the timeline by giving them technologies they don't possess likely to be an average person, though?

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Yet another thing I doubt the average person knows offhand.

    Like, y'all coming up with the Bessemer process and the advantages of scythes over sickles but if you stopped a random person on the street and asked them to describe those things, I highly doubt you'd be getting good answers on anywhere neelar a consistent basis.
    Well, I consider myself to be a pretty average person. I am not a scientist or engineer. I am a bit of a shade tree mechanic but only with basic car repairs and small engines like lawnmowers. I have never had any mechanical formal training other than shop class in high school.

    There is nothing all that complex about a still. You are just boiling a liquid, collecting the vapors, and then cooling them back into a liquid. It's just the knowledge that doing it to crude oil get's you kerosene. I know that just because I read a biography of Rockefeller (Titan by Ron Chernow). That book was a bestseller so the information is out there.

    I think you might be surprised what the average person on the street knows.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    Is a time traveler going into the past specifically to mess up the timeline by giving them technologies they don't possess likely to be an average person, though?
    ....yes? That was literally the first stipulation in the OP.
    Quote Originally Posted by -Sentinel- View Post
    Consider the following limitations:

    • You (the time traveller) are not an engineer, mechanic or scientist. So if the average person in 2021 could not adequately explain how to build a specific item of technology from scratch (e.g. a radio or an internal combustion engine), then this technology is ineligible for this thought experiment.
    Last edited by Peelee; 2021-06-24 at 11:12 AM.
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  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Hmm.... I think part of the problem is that were nerds who think about this sort of stuff. So we research them.

    I don't think we fit the average.

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Yet another thing I doubt the average person knows offhand.

    Like, y'all coming up with the Bessemer process and the advantages of scythes over sickles but if you stopped a random person on the street and asked them to describe those things, I highly doubt you'd be getting good answers on anywhere neelar a consistent basis.
    Pretty sure an average person came up with most of this stuff in the first place. Also, average how? I'm pretty average, I can do a lot of this stuff.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Pretty sure an average person came up with most of this stuff in the first place.
    I am pressing X to doubt.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearl jam View Post
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    Seconded.

  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Pretty sure an average person came up with most of this stuff in the first place. Also, average how? I'm pretty average, I can do a lot of this stuff.
    Urn.... No. These guys weren't average. Besides a hell of a lot of things were discovered by accident, required vast fortunes to develop, or needed decades to be perfected.

    You're just one guy.

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Urn.... No. These guys weren't average. Besides a hell of a lot of things were discovered by accident, required vast fortunes to develop, or needed decades to be perfected.

    You're just one guy.
    With crude oil, it was an average guy who noticed that waste oil from his salt well caught fire really easy. He experimented a bit and discovered you could make a lamp oil out of it much cheaper than that from whale blubber. He wasn't smart enough to patent it. The technology rapidly spread across the globe but he didn't make a dime.

    Now if I went back in time, found a different guy with a salt well maybe a hundred years earlier, what would have happened?
    "Sure, Philosophers can say 'But how do we know the sun will rise tomorrow?' to which the correct response is 'Shut up nerd! Stop playing 3D chess against your own brain and find something real to worry about'."

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Urn.... No. These guys weren't average. Besides a hell of a lot of things were discovered by accident, required vast fortunes to develop, or needed decades to be perfected.

    You're just one guy.
    Yeah, I know. Tech development is a monkey on type writer effect, a ton of people making incremental jumps solving local problems. Average includes the central half of the population, who are in fact the tradesfolk doing a lot of that. It doesn't require genius to invent pretzels, or attach a vacuum to someone's face, or point a fan at a conveyer belt so empty boxes fall off of them.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Trafalgar View Post
    Some parts of the world have relatively easy access to oil. Oil production started in Pennsylvania in the mid 19th century and spread pretty quickly to places like the Black Sea region where you didn't have to dig too deep. I don't think those early wells had any great piece of technology that older civilizations didn't have except for the steam engine, but I bet that could be replaced by manual labor.
    Interestingly, it also independently started at the same time in Central Europe thanks to a person named Łukasiewicz. What is even funnier, the refined oil was also used for lamps first including street lamps. Many people forget about that as oil reserves around that area were far smaller, so the industry did not last as long as in USA.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Yeah, I know. Tech development is a monkey on type writer effect, a ton of people making incremental jumps solving local problems. Average includes the central half of the population, who are in fact the tradesfolk doing a lot of that. It doesn't require genius to invent pretzels, or attach a vacuum to someone's face, or point a fan at a conveyer belt so empty boxes fall off of them.
    In your moment of painful statistician pedantry for the day, the average does not include the the central half of the population. That's the interval between the 25th, and 75th, quantiles. The average is center of mass of the population, and does not have to even be in the central 50%. Or anywhere else for that matter, since not all distributions have an average.
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  12. - Top - End - #72
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    In your moment of painful statistician pedantry for the day, the average does not include the the central half of the population. That's the interval between the 25th, and 75th, quantiles. The average is center of mass of the population, and does not have to even be in the central 50%. Or anywhere else for that matter, since not all distributions have an average.
    Fair enough. Average is probably a term we need to agree on a thread definition for.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

  13. - Top - End - #73
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Yeah, I know. Tech development is a monkey on type writer effect, a ton of people making incremental jumps solving local problems. Average includes the central half of the population, who are in fact the tradesfolk doing a lot of that. It doesn't require genius to invent pretzels, or attach a vacuum to someone's face, or point a fan at a conveyer belt so empty boxes fall off of them.
    And yet nobody mentioned pretzels. Tell ya what, let's take one of the earliest responses. Post #4. Let's see what you, a self-described average person, can do with these.

    1.) Penicillin. Please, without looking anything up, tell me how to make penicillin. Not just "let cheese get moldy", mind you you. Separate the penicillin from the penicillium. Get actual factual penicillin.

    2.) Porcelain. I would love to learn to make porcelain. Just off the top of your head, walk me through it. The whole process. Don't skip anything.

    3.) Lenses. Super easy just curved glass! Tell me how to curve the glass to create a lens. Telescope, spectacles, take your pick. Don't forget that you need to be able to put it in some sort of frame, so the rim needs to be set somehow. Feel free to also go the mirror route if you want with telescopes, of course. Far be it from me to gatekeep the average person's telescope-making process.

    4.) Concrete. You know the recipe memorized like any old average person, yes?

    5.) Aerofoil. Specifically triangular sail. Boat mechanics are pretty simple and generalized, yes? Can just hop on a boat with some fabric and call it a day. Or is there something else to it? Please do enlighten me if there's more to it.


    6.) Gunpowder. It's been around for millennia! Shouldn't be a problem. Walk me through the manufacturing process.

    6.) Batteries and an electric motor. Super common. Always wanted to make one myself. Walk me through it. If you want to bring any acids into the mix, don't forget to tell me where to get them from. After all, we're no chemists here, we can't just go out and synthesize some. Or maybe the average person can, I'd love to hear how.

    7.) A freaking CO2 laser. Who among us regular Joes hasn't built one on their garage on a free weekend?! Why, it's such a staple there are sitcom subplots about dads just putting them together! Even so, pretend for the moment I don't know how to do it, and explain how.

    If someone had offered pretzels as an answer, I wouldn't be harping on the idea that it's ludicrous to expect an average person to have the knowledge. But once someone pulls out, for example, a spinning wheel, I'm going to call shenanigans. You're not going to just go to the workshop in the shed out back and build a spinning wheel solely based off knowong it exists. Even crop rotation is going to be hefty, since knowing how something can be done is different from knowing how to do something right. And you're going to have a dokzu of a time convincing me that the Random person pulled off the street is going to know how to make a tungsten light bulb right off the bat.
    Last edited by Peelee; 2021-06-24 at 02:02 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearl jam View Post
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    Seconded.

  14. - Top - End - #74
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    And yet nobody mentioned pretzels. Tell ya what, let's take one of the earliest responses. Post #4. Let's see what you, a self-described average person, can do with these.

    1.) Penicillin. Please, without looking anything up, tell me how to make penicillin. Not just "let cheese get moldy", mind you you. Separate the penicillin from the penicillium. Get actual factual penicillin.

    2.) Porcelain. I would love to learn to make porcelain. Just off the top of your head, walk me through it. The whole process. Don't skip anything.

    3.) Lenses. Super easy just curved glass! Tell me how to curve the glass to create a lens. Telescope, spectacles, take your pick. Don't forget that you need to be able to put it in some sort of frame, so the rim needs to be set somehow. Feel free to also go the mirror route if you want with telescopes, of course. Far be it from me to gatekeep the average person's telescope-making process.

    4.) Concrete. You know the recipe memorized like any old average person, yes?

    5.) Aerofoil. Specifically triangular sail. Boat mechanics are pretty simple and generalized, yes? Can just hop on a boat with some fabric and call it a day. Or is there something else to it? Please do enlighten me if there's more to it.


    6.) Gunpowder. It's been around for millennia! Shouldn't be a problem. Walk me through the manufacturing process.

    6.) Batteries and an electric motor. Super common. Always wanted to make one myself. Walk me through it. If you want to bring any acids into the mix, don't forget to tell me where to get them from. After all, we're no chemists here, we can't just go out and synthesize some. Or maybe the average person can, I'd love to hear how.

    7.) A freaking CO2 laser. Who among us regular Joes hasn't built one on their garage on a free weekend?! Why, it's such a staple there are sitcoms about dads just putting them together! Even so, pretend for the moment I don't know how to do it, and explain how.

    If someone had offered pretzels as an answer, I wouldn't be harping on the idea that it's ludicrous to expect an average person to have the knowledge. But once someone pulls out, for example, a spinning wheel, I'm going to call shenanigans. You're not going to just go to the workshop in the shed out back and build a spinning wheel solely based off knowong it exists. Even crop rotation is going to be hefty, since knowing how something can be done is different from knowing how to do something right. And you're going to have a dokzu of a time convincing me that the Random person pulled off the street is going to know how to make a tungsten light bulb right off the bat.
    Peelee, are you asking this to help the conversation or because you like to win? I'm more than happy to have a conversation about the best way to memorize this stuff in a short time, as "You are allowed only a few hours of research and reading before you are sent to the past." If the point of your comments is instead just because you are playing gotcha, I'm not playing.

    Blackpowder is charcoal, salt pewter and sulfur. You make it by burning cedar to get charcoal (15%), bat guano (75%) and sulfur (10%) (from volcanic rock or sulfurous dirt.) Battery acid is made of the bat guano and sulfur. I'm absolutely certain the rules don't allow us to discuss the making of any of these substances, so I'm not going to.

    I will say, if you decide to go the gunpowder+battery+probably concrete route, you want Italy. It's one of the few places where you get everything you need in one place. Don't use France, at one point they ran out of sulfur from Italy and made it a law that you had to allow wall scrapers to scrape the sulfur from candles off of the inside of your house to get enough for the army.
    Last edited by Tvtyrant; 2021-06-24 at 02:35 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Peelee, are you asking this to help the conversation or because you like to win? I'm more than happy to have a conversation about the best way to memorize this stuff in a short time, as "You are allowed only a few hours of research and reading before you are sent to the past." If the point of your comments is instead just because you are playing gotcha, I'm not playing.
    I'm asking this because I'm legitimately interested in things the average person knows how to make/do that would be able to make a significant difference if they traveled back in time, and I am frustrated because people keep offering answers like "oh just make a Bessemer converter". A lot of things we take for granted are significantly more complex than we realize (eg bicycles), and are not easily replicated by the average person. I am trying to steer the conversation towards things that any given person can be reasonably expected to know how to manufacture, and when resistance to that is put up I will go into very deep detail on why exactly I am making this distinction. I'm not trying to win; if you can demonstrate that the exact recipe for gunpowder is, in fact incredibly common knowledge and I and simply an odd one out for not knowing it, then I'll totally cop to being wrong. But please forgive me if, when I see a question about what the average person can make with if they go back in time, I bristle when I read a tungsten light bulb as an answer, because I sincerely doubt anyone non-specialized will be able to recognize tungsten ore, mine and refine it, work the metal into a wire, form a glass bulb, place the appropriate electrical connections and framework in the bulb, manage to create a vacuum in the bulb while sealing it, and power it all. I'm sure in 1985, plutonium tungsten is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1755, it's a little hard to come by. Or maybe not, I welcome being proved wrong.

    ETA: I'll totally cop to the few hours research for things like gunpowder, you're totally right in that. I stand by things like the carbon dioxide laser, though.
    Last edited by Peelee; 2021-06-24 at 02:44 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pearl jam View Post
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    Seconded.

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    I'm asking this because I'm legitimately interested in things the average person knows how to make/do that would be able to make a significant difference if they traveled back in time, and I am frustrated because people keep offering answers like "oh just make a Bessemer converter". A lot of things we take for granted are significantly more complex than we realize (eg bicycles), and are not easily replicated by the average person. I am trying to steer the conversation towards things that any given person can be reasonably expected to know how to manufacture, and when resistance to that is put up I will go into very deep detail on why exactly I am making this distinction. I'm not trying to win; if you can demonstrate that the exact recipe for gunpowder is, in fact incredibly common knowledge and I and simply an odd one out for not knowing it, then I'll totally cop to being wrong. But please forgive me if, when I see a question about what the average person can make with if they go back in time, I bristle when I read a tungsten light bulb as an answer, because I sincerely doubt anyone non-specialized will be able to recognize tungsten ore, mine and refine it, work the metal into a wire, form a glass bulb, place the appropriate electrical connections and framework in the bulb, manage to create a vacuum in the bulb while sealing it, and power it all. I'm sure in 1985, plutonium tungsten is available in every corner drugstore, but in 1755, it's a little harder to come by. Or maybe not, I welcome being proved wrong.
    Yeah lightbulbs aren't happening, at all. You need a very expensive expert glass blower, a noble gas (good luck...) and the battery/power supply. You might be able to make them like 20 years earlier, but I doubt history is getting altered there short of you conquering a country first.

    Shoes is a good one. You have the advantage of having worn not bad footwear, and traditional footwear is truly awful. Making a cork bottom shoe with a cotton top would make you an instant millionaire.
    Last edited by Tvtyrant; 2021-06-24 at 02:58 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    6.) Gunpowder. It's been around for millennia! Shouldn't be a problem. Walk me through the manufacturing process.
    I was under the impression that you just mix the three ingredients together and mill them down finely, and the only trick was getting the optimum ratio between them and not setting your mill on fire

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    I was under the impression that you just mix the three ingredients together and mill them down finely, and the only trick was getting the optimum ratio between them and not setting your mill on fire
    You have to process each ingredient though, they aren't raw. It's not that complicated to do, but it is time and labor intensive. I think it would take one person a little over a year to get any substantial amount of powder, and then you can show it off and get money to get people to do it for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    To be fair about the Penicillium, mouldy bread can and has been used as an antiobiotic too.

    But yeah, I tried to keep it simple. Three-field rotation is totally teachable and not even all that complicated. I can probably do a bit more if I get time to look into my books beforehand, but I'm an ecologist. I mean, I know how to farm benefician insects from catching them wild to breeding the eggs to rearing the larvae. But that's not average knowledge.

    Distillation, too. I mean, the average person would need some experimentation to get the pipes and cooling to work, but we first distilled wine in school in, like, 7th, 8th grade? Most people have done that at some point in their lives, I'd guess.
    Last edited by Eldan; 2021-06-24 at 03:34 PM.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    I did mention that a spinning wheel was definitely a reach in terms of common knowledge. If you're given a very short time to study the design though, I suspect most people would be able to remember enough to be able to recreate (with caveats see below) a functional spinning wheel. Not a really good modern wheel, but one that worked, and could then be refined by others into better, more advanced forms.

    The caveat here is that actually creating a functional spinning wheel requires substantial and specialized woodworking skills. I'm definitely above the average woodworking ability for modern people (in that I have any ability and training at all) and at best it would be extremely difficult for me to pull off. Doing so with pre-modern tools is going to be much, much harder.

    But that's really more of a general caveat to all of this. We might know a lot in the sense that we've read about it on Wikipedia or as a reference in one book somewhere at some point, but doing is much, much harder, and modern people - self included - are going to be catastrophically useless at actually doing anything in a pre-modern setting.

    A big issue is that most modern people are not good with their hands. We have soft, uncalloused hands, absolutely lamentable grip strength, and lack the coordinated strength to effectively use tools. We type good, but typing good is not controlling a hammer, axe, scythe, drop spindle, spinning wheel or anything beyond a kitchen knife. And honestly I've seen plenty of people who struggle to chop an onion. Bottom line, unless you think the average person regularly uses whatever tools and materials are necessary to make the invention in question, they cannot effectively use that tool to work that material.

    We're also used to things like readily available information, cheap raw materials, plenty of high quality and low weevil food, nice written instructions, good lighting, not being beaten when we mess up, socks, shoes*, and a bucket of other pleasant modern things. Absent these, none of us is going to be doing our intellectual best. The modern people who are gonna do best at this challenge are probably homeless people, migrant farm workers, some construction workers, and people with the sort of military background comes with a giant heap of survival training. The typical knowledge worker is just gonna be worm food.


    *If we rigorously enforce the whole arrive naked thing, a whole lotta people are gonna die of gangrene after their uncalloused feet get shredded by thorns and stones, and they step in horse crap.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    I was under the impression that you just mix the three ingredients together and mill them down finely, and the only trick was getting the optimum ratio between them and not setting your mill on fire
    Oh, definitely. There's a reason that one has been the one around for millennia. While I was making an earnest argument, there was certainly no small percent of "this is actually pretty doable but knowing stuff like the ratio is damned important and that might be the catch", or similar. I was hyper-focusing on the exact methods so as to make my point better at the expense of reasonably being able to approximate close enough, or just have the knowledge and capability to experiment with the exact mechanism.
    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    To be me experimentation to get the pipes and cooling to work, but we first distilled wine in school in, like, 7th, 8th grade? Most people have done that at some point in their lives, I'd guess.
    Your schools are way cooler than ours.
    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    I did mention that a spinning wheel was definitely a reach in terms of common knowledge.
    Totally fair. Also, see above.

    I went to Colonial Williamsburg a couple years ago with a friend in VA, when we got to the people with the spinning wheel and loom I asked a bunch of questions about how exactly they work, because it seemed like magic to me that you can take some tufts of wool or cotton and make a long, solid, unbroken thread (and then take a bunch of threads and make a solid sheet). They explained it in depth. Even knowing how it works, it still seems like magic, honestly. A lot of ancient tech is super cool and I can't even fathom what it took to come up with that and design a machine to do it efficiently. Giants that we have stood on the shoulders of for eons, names long forgotten to history. But humanity has absolutely been full of full-on wizards who conceived and created unbelievably cool things that we don't think even about these days. Like the spinning wheel. That is just awesome.
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  22. - Top - End - #82
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GnomePirate

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    With a layman's understanding of microbes, you could:

    -Teach people to boil water before drinking it.
    -Wash hands with soap after using the bathroom.
    -Have doctors wash their hands with soap.
    -Have doctors sterilize instruments before poking around in open wounds. (Check out the death of President McKinley in 1901)
    "Sure, Philosophers can say 'But how do we know the sun will rise tomorrow?' to which the correct response is 'Shut up nerd! Stop playing 3D chess against your own brain and find something real to worry about'."

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  23. - Top - End - #83
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Peelee View Post
    Yet another thing I doubt the average person knows offhand.

    Like, y'all coming up with the Bessemer process and the advantages of scythes over sickles but if you stopped a random person on the street and asked them to describe those things, I highly doubt you'd be getting good answers on anywhere neelar a consistent basis.
    The OP mentioned "A few hours reading", so I wasn't going with things people know offhand (and yes, I would need to look up the exact recipe for porcelain. The rest I do know). I was going with a kidnap a random off the street, give them a "dummies guide to x" to cram for a few hours, and then send them back for lolz scenario*. They don't have to understand it before, or even after, just be able to learn enough in a few hours to explain it well enough to get some positive results. Maybe I have optimistic ideas about what an average person could do though.

    If you sent an average person back with no preparation... yeah, I don't think history would notice. I don't think anyone is disputing that. An average person with some preparation could do better. That same person with guidance on what to prepare could do considerably better.

    *It's not like the scenario makes a whole heap of sense. I was just running with it.

  24. - Top - End - #84
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    The early forms of spinning wheel are mechanically very simple, just a large wheel using a belt to drive a small spindle, and this is still an advantage over a drop spindle. You don't even have to be able to construct a real curved wheel to make one -- one traditional form from India is made up of straight bits of wood and string. (Think depictions of Gandhi.)
    The kind with a bobbin and flyer is more complicated, but the complication is more in understanding how it works than how to construct it.

  25. - Top - End - #85
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidSh View Post
    The early forms of spinning wheel are mechanically very simple, just a large wheel using a belt to drive a small spindle, and this is still an advantage over a drop spindle. You don't even have to be able to construct a real curved wheel to make one -- one traditional form from India is made up of straight bits of wood and string. (Think depictions of Gandhi.)
    The kind with a bobbin and flyer is more complicated, but the complication is more in understanding how it works than how to construct it.
    I rather suspect that the average person from a time period where spinning wheels were common would have a fairly reasonable understanding on how a spinning wheel is put together and would also be far more likely to have the basic carpentry skills to at least make a crude model of one.

    And this principle applies generally as well. The average person, from the 21st Century USA or Europe is simply separated from the technologies of the distant past by too many steps. A person sent back in time from an earlier period would actually be in a position to do better. For example, the average 18th century person is a farmer, one who makes/maintains many of their own tools and has intimate knowledge of the advanced farming techniques of their time. So, if you took a random person from, for example, England in 1800 and shoved them back in time 1000 years they'd be far better positioned to translate their knowledge into concrete improvements than a random person in England in 2021.
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  26. - Top - End - #86
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Glass:
    I believe crude lenses can be made by pressing molten glass into a curved mould (which I think can be made of clay or similar).
    So what the average person can do is explain that the curved glass has optical effects which a glass-maker of the day can test and demonstrate - and that point the glass-making technology of the era determines how useful the knowledge it. I suspect it's probably already quite well known to the limits of the glass-making technique of the day so you've actually added nothing.
    What knowledge of lenses needs is the application of the scientific principle to the investigation and documentation of the effects.

    Floating liquid glass on mercury to make flat sheets is something that can be explained very easily, but I have no idea how easy it will be to get hold of mercury in sufficient quantities.

    Mentioning that clearer glass can be (possibly) made by adding a small quantity of lead might encourage glassmakers to try (and possibly succeed) but I think that is the limit of most people's knowledge.

    Porcelain:
    I agree with Peelee here - my mother knew how to make porcelain (I think) - but then she used to be a potter, I don't know, and more to the point I wouldn't know how to identify the needed clays even if I did.

    Gunpowder:
    From what I have read the method of mixing is actually very important to the quality of the end result. However, yes as everyone (or nearly everyone) knows one can extract saltpetre from bat guano - but who knows how? I think it takes the form of colourless crystals, but one needs to know more than that. Probably more useful knowledge (as bat guano is only available in quantity in a few places) is that there will also be lots in old middens etc., but I suspect most people would fail to make anything useful here unless they have already practiced making in this world.

    Penicillin etc.:
    Unless you know a lot more than a common person all you get back to here is mouldy bread poultices.
    More useful on the medical front is the use of cowpox for smallpox vaccination.
    I know the basic principle behind extracting vaccines from blood - but who has any idea which part of the blood is needed once separated? (Or how much?)

    Construction:
    Now we might be getting somewhere. The "Roman Arch" (semi-circular) was used for centuries before people realised that gothic (pointed) arches would also bear loads quite well. I may not have the maths to describe how, but by demonstrating that they work I could enable the architects of the day to work out the maths and have a lot more flexibility in building construction.
    No - I have no idea how to make concrete, other than to ask ancient Roman engineers who did know how.

  27. - Top - End - #87
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Khedrac View Post
    Glass:
    I believe crude lenses can be made by pressing molten glass into a curved mould (which I think can be made of clay or similar).
    So what the average person can do is explain that the curved glass has optical effects which a glass-maker of the day can test and demonstrate - and that point the glass-making technology of the era determines how useful the knowledge it. I suspect it's probably already quite well known to the limits of the glass-making technique of the day so you've actually added nothing.
    What knowledge of lenses needs is the application of the scientific principle to the investigation and documentation of the effects.

    Floating liquid glass on mercury to make flat sheets is something that can be explained very easily, but I have no idea how easy it will be to get hold of mercury in sufficient quantities.

    Mentioning that clearer glass can be (possibly) made by adding a small quantity of lead might encourage glassmakers to try (and possibly succeed) but I think that is the limit of most people's knowledge.

    Porcelain:
    I agree with Peelee here - my mother knew how to make porcelain (I think) - but then she used to be a potter, I don't know, and more to the point I wouldn't know how to identify the needed clays even if I did.

    Gunpowder:
    From what I have read the method of mixing is actually very important to the quality of the end result. However, yes as everyone (or nearly everyone) knows one can extract saltpetre from bat guano - but who knows how? I think it takes the form of colourless crystals, but one needs to know more than that. Probably more useful knowledge (as bat guano is only available in quantity in a few places) is that there will also be lots in old middens etc., but I suspect most people would fail to make anything useful here unless they have already practiced making in this world.

    Penicillin etc.:
    Unless you know a lot more than a common person all you get back to here is mouldy bread poultices.
    More useful on the medical front is the use of cowpox for smallpox vaccination.
    I know the basic principle behind extracting vaccines from blood - but who has any idea which part of the blood is needed once separated? (Or how much?)
    A piece of advice, my friend. Any kind of liquid that can withstand molten glass will do. That means you don't need mercury. Something like sand or even molten lead/ tin can act as a perfectly flat surface for your float glass.

    Also, there's no ****ing way you can extract penicillin or the damned antibodies from the blood. The only thing you can do is hopefully invent blood transfusion and basic sterilization.

    The concept of using moulds for glass blowing might be the thing that really cinches it. Along with microscopes. Demonstrating that you do know stuff you really shouldn't might give you credentials.

  28. - Top - End - #88
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    The concept of using moulds for glass blowing might be the thing that really cinches it. Along with microscopes. Demonstrating that you do know stuff you really shouldn't might give you credentials.
    Or get you burned as a witch.

    Before the Renaissance, there was a definite strain of suspicions of any kind of new ideas, especially if they went against the wisdom handed down from the ancients. People in those days really believed the way people learned new things was because supernatural beings had taught them. Demonstrating any kind of 'uncanny' knowledge or abilities was a good way to make people suspicious at best or be invited to a BBQ as the guest of honor at worst. Far better to seek out a rich patron who can put you up in a workshop and benefit from your inventions rather than simply trying to give them out in the town square. Rich patrons are a lot less fussy about dealing with devils, especially when there's money involved. That's the plot of the manga/anime Ascendance of a Bookworm , in which a Japanese librarian trainee tries to introduce mass printed books to a medieval world.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
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  29. - Top - End - #89
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by pendell View Post
    Or get you burned as a witch.

    Before the Renaissance, there was a definite strain of suspicions of any kind of new ideas, especially if they went against the wisdom handed down from the ancients. People in those days really believed the way people learned new things was because supernatural beings had taught them. Demonstrating any kind of 'uncanny' knowledge or abilities was a good way to make people suspicious at best or be invited to a BBQ as the guest of honor at worst. Far better to seek out a rich patron who can put you up in a workshop and benefit from your inventions rather than simply trying to give them out in the town square. Rich patrons are a lot less fussy about dealing with devils, especially when there's money involved. That's the plot of the manga/anime Ascendance of a Bookworm , in which a Japanese librarian trainee tries to introduce mass printed books to a medieval world.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    To a degree, yes. However, the technological progress during the Middle Ages is quite significant. I do agree that finding a wealthy patron is a far better plan than trying to show off your idea to random people, since statistically they would not be as inclined to adopt any novelties. Besides, even the great inventors of their era like Leonardo da Vinci needed significant financial backing to get anything done.
    In a war it doesn't matter who's right, only who's left.

  30. - Top - End - #90
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by pendell View Post
    Or get you burned as a witch.

    Before the Renaissance, there was a definite strain of suspicions of any kind of new ideas, especially if they went against the wisdom handed down from the ancients. People in those days really believed the way people learned new things was because supernatural beings had taught them. Demonstrating any kind of 'uncanny' knowledge or abilities was a good way to make people suspicious at best or be invited to a BBQ as the guest of honor at worst. Far better to seek out a rich patron who can put you up in a workshop and benefit from your inventions rather than simply trying to give them out in the town square. Rich patrons are a lot less fussy about dealing with devils, especially when there's money involved. That's the plot of the manga/anime Ascendance of a Bookworm , in which a Japanese librarian trainee tries to introduce mass printed books to a medieval world.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.
    The problem is multiple:

    1. Do we know the language?
    2. Where exactly are we in the past? The 'burning people thing' was most definitely not from the catholic church, more like protestant reformation.
    3. The concept of mass printing books includes in problems like copyright, patents, and the desire for people to keep their knowledge exclusive.
    4. How the devil do we find a great patron?

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