A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #121
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Any method of charging it would usually just be put directly to the work you would use the system to do and save the expense. Energy storage is useful if you're tapping a form of energy that you couldn't easily use otherwise (such as a low-voltage source that can be useful if accumulated), or if energy is generated now no matter what you do but you might need it later (as with a solar plant that doesn't work at night). If all of your power sources are either continuous for practically nothing (water mills) or rely on human/animal power, there's no utility in storage.

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

    Depending on how much control over location and time of arrival the traveler has and the specific goal they have in mind, a comparatively easy shortcut to influence is possible. It's relatively easy to find a list of gold rich areas/mines on the internet during your few hours of allotted research time beforehand. Go back near/at one of the locations, then 'discover' it. This should give you the standing/resources to get whatever more interesting technology you wanted implemented.

    This glosses over the difficulty of navigating, convincing people to initial back your search, etc. But it's hard to accurately estimate those without more input from the OP.

    For a technology I haven't seen mentioned yet: Springs. Simple springs are pretty ancient, but coiled metal ones were disgustingly recent. While clock-making is definitely beyond the average person, I think most people could figure out how to make cushioned furniture. Particularly, if they worked with a period carpenter to handle the actual woodworking part. From there, you start selling luxury furniture to other rich people. While you won't be inventing clocks yourself, you'll speed up their development. This will speed up navigation and exploration. The maths for latitude/longitude are ancient dating back to 500 BC, the problem was in accurate time measurements for much of history.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Any method of charging it would usually just be put directly to the work you would use the system to do and save the expense. Energy storage is useful if you're tapping a form of energy that you couldn't easily use otherwise (such as a low-voltage source that can be useful if accumulated), or if energy is generated now no matter what you do but you might need it later (as with a solar plant that doesn't work at night). If all of your power sources are either continuous for practically nothing (water mills) or rely on human/animal power, there's no utility in storage.
    This is a good point.

    Another issue with fly-wheels is that you need really good bearings to not lose all your energy to friction. Precision bearings means precision manufacturing and good material stock.
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  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    https://acoup.blog/ has some good deep dives on how fabric and iron were made in ancient times, including technological advances.

    I have this bookmarked but haven't gotten around to downloading it:
    https://lifehacker.com/cd3wd-archive...ld-soc-5765617

    I think it would be best to try to categorize concepts by field, and probably focus on 1 to 3 specialties. Here's a non-exhaustive list. Maybe copy/paste this into your own post and add items/categories? There is a lot of overlap.

    Biology
    -Sterilization & germ theory
    -How the body works: Nutrition, supporting injured joints, setting and splinting bones, bleeding control, etc.
    -Plague reduction: Sanitation, removal of rats/fleas, etc.

    Agriculture & Food
    -Primitive genetics (Mendelev square) and animal/crop breeding
    -Crop rotation, nitrogen fixing, regenerative grazing, tree farming
    -Pest control (clay sprays for trees; encouraging beneficial predators; removal of fly/larva sources)
    -POSSIBLY enhanced food storage. I think this was all pretty well figured out until you get to refrigeration or 1800s-era jars/canning options. Regional variations may differ with ferments, salt, ice, etc etc.
    -Mushroom cultivation?

    Chemistry
    -Acids, bases, cleaners, and electricity: A conceptual framework to support further exploration.
    -Sterilization
    -Gunpowder, rockets, fuse-based grenades, and bombs (do not require intensive metallurgy).

    Fabric & Clothing
    -Better dye options.
    -Spinning wheel, cotton gin, etc.
    -Possibly upgraded looms, depending on current tech level.

    Information
    -Military tactics, weapon design
    -Locations of resources?
    -Conceptual upgrades: Staff officer training; select for strategic prowess, not noble rank; professional NCOs to stiffen conscript armies; logistical planning.
    -Semaphore/etc. signaling.
    -Theory of industrial production
    -General outlines of math, algebra, trig, calculus; lay the groundwork so the really smart folks can figure it out sooner.

    Metallurgy & tools
    -Upgraded woodworking tools (hand-powered saw & lathes are possible w/ mechanical advantage and leather belts)
    -How to make better iron & steel
    -Casting/molding improvements for mass production?
    -Improved pumps (necessary for moving water for mining)
    -Water wheel & windmill design improvements for power

    Transportation
    -Springs. Knowledge of rubber.
    -Ship design improvements
    -Horse collar; horse teams to pull boats in some rivers a la Erie Canal
    -Stirrups
    -Hot air balloons (given enough fabric): Valuable for recon in battle
    -Given metallurgy, primitive steam engines for waterborne transport. Note, probably requires coal as making charcoal is too labor-intensive.

    Technology, Other
    -Superior bows: Enhanced bow & crossbow designs, possibly Joerg Sprave's "Instant Legolas" repeating bow concept.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Cardew View Post

    For a technology I haven't seen mentioned yet: Springs. Simple springs are pretty ancient, but coiled metal ones were disgustingly recent. While clock-making is definitely beyond the average person, I think most people could figure out how to make cushioned furniture. Particularly, if they worked with a period carpenter to handle the actual woodworking part. From there, you start selling luxury furniture to other rich people. While you won't be inventing clocks yourself, you'll speed up their development. This will speed up navigation and exploration. The maths for latitude/longitude are ancient dating back to 500 BC, the problem was in accurate time measurements for much of history.
    I suspect powerful and reliable coil springs are going to remain out of reach until quite recently because the metallurgy wasn't there yet. Actually making good high tensile steel, particularly in industrial quantities at high reliability, is really hard.
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  6. - Top - End - #126
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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
    I suspect powerful and reliable coil springs are going to remain out of reach until quite recently because the metallurgy wasn't there yet. Actually making good high tensile steel, particularly in industrial quantities at high reliability, is really hard.
    I think you're overestimating the required strength. Furniture, clocks, and locks all have relatively low power requirements. Copper had a Young's modulus of 110 GPa and tensile yield strength of ~70 MPa. A 100 kg man sitting on a 10x10 cm seat is only 0.01 MPa. Steel is definitely better, and cheaper now, but you'd get by just fine using available metals for most applications.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Cardew View Post
    I think you're overestimating the required strength. Furniture, clocks, and locks all have relatively low power requirements. Copper had a Young's modulus of 110 GPa and tensile yield strength of ~70 MPa. A 100 kg man sitting on a 10x10 cm seat is only 0.01 MPa. Steel is definitely better, and cheaper now, but you'd get by just fine using available metals for most applications.
    I think your math is off. A 100 kg man weighs 980.7 Newtons (at the surface of the Earth). A 10 cm square is 0.01 m2. 1 Pascal = 1 N/m2

    980.7 N / 0.01 m2 = 98,070 N/m2 = 98.07 kPa = 0.098 MPa ~ 0.1 MPa. Off by an order of magnitude.

    (Also, a 10 cm x 10 cm 'chair' would be really uncomfortable - that's about 4 in x 4 in)
    Last edited by Lord Torath; 2021-06-29 at 07:32 AM.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Ah yeah, dropped a zero somewhere. Probably only entered 100 N on top. Point doesn't change, everything is still well inside the required strength values. And I choose a 10x10 seat to underestimate while making the math easier. Anything larger reduces the pressure by spreading it out over a larger area. Doubling the sides to 20x20 would drop it to 25%. 50x50 would drop it to about 4kPa.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Cardew View Post
    Ah yeah, dropped a zero somewhere. Probably only entered 100 N on top. Point doesn't change, everything is still well inside the required strength values. And I choose a 10x10 seat to underestimate while making the math easier. Anything larger reduces the pressure by spreading it out over a larger area. Doubling the sides to 20x20 would drop it to 25%. 50x50 would drop it to about 4kPa.
    You have to remember though, that the surface of the chair is not the same as the cross-section of the coils holding the cushion, so the stress in those coils would be much higher. Also, maximum yield strength is not the same as for example resistance to plastic deformations due to prolonged strain or ability to withstand many repeated strain/no strain cycles.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    I would introduce the deep fat fryer to the ancient world.
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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
    I would introduce the deep fat fryer to the ancient world.
    Congrats on killing half the human race.

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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
    Congrats on killing half the human race.
    Truly a worthy cause.
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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
    Congrats on killing half the human race.
    Perhaps this would aid in evolving the human race so that people could live entirely off of deep fried foods with out developing heart disease or diabetes. Think about how better off we would be today!
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    So, maybe I'm missing something, but is there something in a modern frier that could not be replicated with just a cauldron of boiling oil?

    Surely deep frying is not a modern invention.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    So, maybe I'm missing something, but is there something in a modern frier that could not be replicated with just a cauldron of boiling oil?

    Surely deep frying is not a modern invention.
    I think the only stop for proliferating deep fried food was the price of oil and how the process wastes large quantities of it for relatively little gain. No further than 100 years ago people commonly used even the water in which they cooked dumplings or vegetables to make some other dish as it still had some nutrients in it. Using up a highly caloric food just to deep fry something seems highly inefficient.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    We have recipes from the middle ages for fritters fried in oil, butter, or grease, but they don't specify the depth of the fat. And it needn't be wasteful -- if the oil becomes no longer re-usable for cooking, it can always be strained, and then used in lamps. Just like these days we have bio-diesel.

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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
    We have recipes from the middle ages for fritters fried in oil, butter, or grease, but they don't specify the depth of the fat. And it needn't be wasteful -- if the oil becomes no longer re-usable for cooking, it can always be strained, and then used in lamps. Just like these days we have bio-diesel.
    But did they know to dip chicken in buttermilk, cover with flour and spices, and fry until crispy?
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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
    But did they know to dip chicken in buttermilk, cover with flour and spices, and fry until crispy?
    Ya know, I was going to go to wienerschnitzel since that is the food of my people, but then I discovered that that, along with similar foods such as escalope, tonkatsu, kotlet schabowy, the milanesa, chuleta valluna, and chicken fried steak pretty much all appeared around or after the mid 1850s.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Radar View Post
    I think the only stop for proliferating deep fried food was the price of oil and how the process wastes large quantities of it for relatively little gain. No further than 100 years ago people commonly used even the water in which they cooked dumplings or vegetables to make some other dish as it still had some nutrients in it. Using up a highly caloric food just to deep fry something seems highly inefficient.
    While vegetable-derived oils and cooking with said oils are a very old technology, I suspect using literally gallons of it as a cooking medium for full immersion frying is something that requires modern levels of both agricultural production and processing techniques in order to make it cheap enough to be justifiable. The stuff is just too useful and valuable for other things to devote so much of it to that usage otherwise, especially when shallow frying can do like 90% of what deep frying can do with the small cost of needing somebody to pay more attention to flipping it over in the pan at appropriate intervals.

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

    I know the rule is no engineering, but Electromagnetism and how to use it is pretty streightforward. So, you could craft batteries, and even DC engines (and practical aplications of them, such as a horsless cart or an electric fan) with stuff you learned in highschool.

    Gunpowder is also a simple enough recipy, effectivelly making you the most powerful man alive in a pre-powder era.

    You also probably know how powerful the black stuff we call oil is and how to turn it into gas, cyrosine etc. , and how to use it, theoretically making possible to create a power plant. Since nobody else knows it's uses it's price will be an all time low, and people might even be trading land with it for a quorter of the price of a field fit for agriculture.

    You probably know how a steam engine functions, and could recreate it for industrial purposes and for travel.

    The telegraph if not the telephone is easy enough to recreate, and so is the phonograph, given you know it's principles, and how to create vinil from crude oil and salt.

    In short, I believe the average individual who has finished highschool could recreate most if not all of the 19th-early 20th centuary technology, provided they were at least average students. I know it sounds crazy, and I'm probably giving the average person too much credit. That said, I enjoyed this little thought experiment a lot, and I think this scenario entirelly possible.
    Last edited by Asmotherion; 2021-06-30 at 01:22 PM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    While vegetable-derived oils and cooking with said oils are a very old technology, I suspect using literally gallons of it as a cooking medium for full immersion frying is something that requires modern levels of both agricultural production and processing techniques in order to make it cheap enough to be justifiable. The stuff is just too useful and valuable for other things to devote so much of it to that usage otherwise, especially when shallow frying can do like 90% of what deep frying can do with the small cost of needing somebody to pay more attention to flipping it over in the pan at appropriate intervals.
    You can reuse any oil if you strain it. You can also use beef tallow or pork lard if vegetable oil is too healthy for you.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Asmotherion View Post
    I know the rule is no engineering, but Electromagnetism and how to use it is pretty streightforward. So, you could craft batteries, and even DC engines (and practical aplications of them, such as a horsless cart or an electric fan) with stuff you learned in highschool.
    Nope. Electricity is a simple concept, and building a battery from scratch is a neat science project - with modern chemical and material availability, and a handy step-by-step guide. Making one from scratch in a world where most of the necessary materials don't exist is much, much harder. The fabled "Baghdad Batteries" were almost certainly nothing of the sort - attempts to build batteries to their design have all failed, and almost-identical vessels have been found storing scrolls.

    Creating a motor? Laughable. This isn't as simple as just winding a laquered copper wire around a stick. The shaping and arrangement of the coils is complicated, and there's additional components to worry about. A motor large enough to drive a cart or fan? Not happening. On the plus side, if you somehow managed to luck into it, you'd have a generator.

    Gunpowder is also a simple enough recipy, effectivelly making you the most powerful man alive in a pre-powder era.
    Possibly the least wrong thing here. The basic components of black powder are simple and easy to obtain (in at least small quantities), and it wouldn't take long to work out proportions that work. So, you've got a few barrels of black powder. What do you do with it?

    Make a gun? Sure. All you have to do is obtain bronze castings of the proper purity, clean up the bore to a reasonable level of smoothness, punch a hole in the side for a fuse, and you're set! Shoot one guy, and his buddies walk over and chop you to bits while you try to reload the clumsy thing. Assuming, that is, it doesn't burst due to a metal failure you were too ignorant to notice, and you managed to hit him in the first place.

    A cannon for knocking down walls? Great - all the same problems, but it is even more likely to explode, and you probably don't even manage to shoot the one guy before all his buddies roll up and chop you to pieces.

    Grenades? By far the easiest, and you'd probably get to throw more than one. Unless you messed up the fast-match (you did remember that you have to invent matchcord, right?) and it blows up as soon as you light.

    Most importantly, black powder is fairly easy to make from relatively common materials. Demonstrate it once, and it will be a matter of weeks before people figure out what you're buying to make it with and reverse-engineer it.


    You also probably know how powerful the black stuff we call oil is and how to turn it into gas, cyrosine etc. , and how to use it, theoretically making possible to create a power plant. Since nobody else knows it's uses it's price will be an all time low, and people might even be trading land with it for a quorter of the price of a field fit for agriculture.
    Nonsense. Refining crude oil into something you can use for more than just waterproofing and a crude incendiary is not a simple process. You'd need a university degree in chemistry before you could design the process, and multiple degrees in metallurgy to design the materials needed to provide storage - many petroleum byproducts react strongly, or are only distilled out under significant pressure, and all require installation.

    Oh, and surface deposits of oil are quite rare, so you'd need a degree in geology to find the stuff, and another degree in engineering to design the drilling and pumping equipment to extract it.

    So, you manage to do all this, and you've got some gasoline. What do you do with it? Can't use it to drive an engine, because engines don't exist. You could set it on fire and watch the pretty colors, I suppose.

    You can use a simple distillation method to make crude oil somewhat more useful for heating - the Chinese started doing this around AD 100 and had a more complex setup in place in the 500s.



    You probably know how a steam engine functions, and could recreate it for industrial purposes and for travel.
    Absolutely not. Ignoring that the design is far more complex than the simplified sort you see in high school textbooks, steam engines simply don't function at low pressures. Materials capable of withstanding the pressures involved don't exist until the 19th century. A piston-driven steam engine built with earlier materials will explode and kill the fool trying to operate it. Even the lower-pressure, cruder versions used in the 17th and 18th century to run pumps often exploded, and they were too weak to do most of what you'd want a steam engine for. The so-called "greek steam engine" or Aeolipile, was nothing but a toy - it could spin itself, but trying to use it to run anything else is physically impossible because the design is fundamentally incapable of producing usable amounts of torque.



    The telegraph if not the telephone is easy enough to recreate, and so is the phonograph, given you know it's principles, and how to create vinil from crude oil and salt.
    Not even close. A simple telegraph needs extremely well-insulated cables (very difficult before the introduction of rubber), a supply of electricity (much more difficult to produce than you thing, see above) and very tiny but powerful relay coils (again, not simple to design or build). A telephone is at least one order of magnitude more complex to build, and requires materials that were effectively unknown for much of human history.

    In short, I believe the average individual who has finished highschool could recreate most if not all of the 19th-early 20th centuary technology, provided they were at least average students. I know it sounds crazy, and I'm probably giving the average person too much credit. That said, I enjoyed this little thought experiment a lot, and I think this scenario entirelly possible.
    You believe wrongly. All of these tasks are orders of magnitude more difficult than you think.

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

    My biggest hesitation with deep frying is that for most of history, most people are gonna be doing most of their cooking on an open fire. The combination of poor temperature control and naked fire next to your oil sounds like an out of control grease fire waiting to happen. In your wooden house. Makes deep frying a turkey over a blowtorch in the garage for Thanksgiving look positively sensible.
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    A telephone is at least one order of magnitude more complex to build, and requires materials that were effectively unknown for much of human history.
    Maybe if we tie a string between two cups and call that a telephone...
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    How about water-cooled condensers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Nope. Electricity is a simple concept, and building a battery from scratch is a neat science project - with modern chemical and material availability, and a handy step-by-step guide. Making one from scratch in a world where most of the necessary materials don't exist is much, much harder.
    Making electricity is easy and only requires zinc, copper, and a lemon (or a magnet and a piece of wire). The hard part is making enough of it to actually be usable for anything more energy intensive than lignting a single xmas tree light sized LED.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2021-07-01 at 12:37 AM.

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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
    How about water-cooled condensers?



    Making electricity is easy and only requires zinc, copper, and a lemon (or a magnet and a piece of wire). The hard part is making enough of it to actually be usable for anything more energy intensive than lignting a single xmas tree light sized LED.
    *shrugs*

    All I know is a highschool equivalent of chemistry and knowing that it's basically electrons moving from one group of atoms to another. I think I can jury rig up sulfuric acid and lead, and a few gels, if you give me some time for experimentation and access to the local alchemist, if I'm lucky.

    Of course I have near zero theoretical knowledge of how the thing works, and that probably would be the end of it.

    I think a problem here is:

    How much money and connections would we get for things like experimentation?

  27. - Top - End - #147
    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 Accelerator View Post
    *shrugs*

    All I know is a highschool equivalent of chemistry and knowing that it's basically electrons moving from one group of atoms to another. I think I can jury rig up sulfuric acid and lead, and a few gels, if you give me some time for experimentation and access to the local alchemist, if I'm lucky.

    Of course I have near zero theoretical knowledge of how the thing works, and that probably would be the end of it.

    I think a problem here is:

    How much money and connections would we get for things like experimentation?
    You can make sulfuric acid?
    Isn't that really dangerous?

  28. - Top - End - #148
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    You can make sulfuric acid?
    Isn't that really dangerous?
    OH yes! In fact, sulfuric acid was known for a long time as 'oil of vitriol'. Oh sure, they were derived from iron (II) sulfate, and obtained via roasting the minerals, but hey, still sulfates.

    You can make sulfuric acid either the old way, or by basically burning sulfur. Sulfur + oxygen = sulfur oxide. Sulfur oxide + oxygen = sulfuric oxide. Sulfuric oxide + water = sulfuric acid. Basically just burn some sulfur in an oven with some bellows pumping in extra air, and then making sure to mix the mixture well with air and water.

    It's also how acid rain is formed. Sulfur from fossil fuels and industrial processes mix with the air to form acid, which rains onto the planet. Horrifying, really.

  29. - Top - End - #149
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post
    Absolutely not. Ignoring that the design is far more complex than the simplified sort you see in high school textbooks, steam engines simply don't function at low pressures. Materials capable of withstanding the pressures involved don't exist until the 19th century. A piston-driven steam engine built with earlier materials will explode and kill the fool trying to operate it.
    Which suggests a likely answer to the question "what would happen to this hypothetical chrononaut?": "Assuming they didn't die of disease or starvation or a critical failure at diplomacy, they'd probably contract terminal Dunning-Kruger syndrome while trying to work out the details of their attempted innovation."

    Thus, possibly, inventing the Darwin Award.
    Last edited by veti; 2021-07-01 at 03:36 AM.

  30. - Top - End - #150
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    Default Re: What are technologies that a time traveler could easily introduce to ancient time

    Quote Originally Posted by Gnoman View Post

    Not even close. A simple telegraph needs extremely well-insulated cables (very difficult before the introduction of rubber), a supply of electricity (much more difficult to produce than you thing, see above) and very tiny but powerful relay coils (again, not simple to design or build). A telephone is at least one order of magnitude more complex to build, and requires materials that were effectively unknown for much of human history.
    Don't forget wire. In the middle ages, wire was still made by hammering metal rods through progressively smaller holes. No way are you getting miles of wire.
    "In dark times, should the stars also go out?"

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