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Time travel thought experiment game

  1. Dec 21, 2014 #1
    My SO showed me this on reddit and we had fun with it. If you were sent back to the early 19th century naked and alone how would you convince someone that you were from the future and not crazy? No tricks allowed (meaning you can't pull a raygun from your colon). Let's hear it.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 21, 2014 #2

    jedishrfu

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    Are you suggesting implementing the Grandfather paradox and then disappear?
     
  4. Dec 22, 2014 #3
    Unless you found someone extremely credulous, it would be impossible in the short term. You would have to wait until time nears on some dates where you can make some predictions based on your knowledge of early 19th century history.
     
  5. Dec 22, 2014 #4

    Ryan_m_b

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    Interesting question. I'm struggling to think of an answer. Assuming the time travel didn't involve any geographical travel I'd appear on the streets of Victorian London. If I tried to convince people I was from the future is probably end up in a sanitarium (terrible as they were that might be the lucky option versus being sent to a workhouse). I suppose I'd might be able to get out of the situation if I could introduce some future technology, that might be hard though without pre-existing tools. Antibiotics are about the only thing I can think of I'd have a chance of making.
     
  6. Dec 22, 2014 #5

    Jonathan Scott

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    I might well be able to work out how to make a little DC electric motor with resources available at the time, which might well look like magic from the future. As a party trick I could predict the themes of new works by famous composers.
     
  7. Dec 22, 2014 #6
    Haha, not bad. Also, simple Hertz-like experiments with radio waves comes to mind. Before Maxwell, before telegraph...
     
  8. Dec 23, 2014 #7
    The DC motor with commutator was invented in 1832. You would only seem like a gifted engineer to produce it before that. A telephone or Marconi type radio would be more convincing.
     
  9. Dec 23, 2014 #8

    Jonathan Scott

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    The date is quite important. I was assuming around 1800, and the connection between electricity and magnetism wasn't discovered until around Oersted's experiments around 1819. And I know I can make a demonstration DC motor because I made one for a "show and tell" at school around 1970, based on instructions in the "Ladybird Junior Science" book "Magnets, Bulbs and Batteries". In that case I had easy access to insulated thin wire, batteries and a horseshoe magnet. Bare copper or silver wire can be insulated of course with coats of shellac or similar. A voltaic pile can be created with a chain of cups using zinc, copper and brine or similar. They had magnets in 1800 (not very strong), and if one wasn't available in the right shape one could either get one made of wrought iron or use pieces of iron to extend a lodestone or bar magnet. If the armature is carefully balanced, it takes very little power to operate it.

    Of course, if one is going to get that hypothetical, demonstrating that would clearly disrupt the timeline of scientific discovery!
     
  10. Dec 23, 2014 #9
    I don't need to prove to anyone I came from the future. I don't want to be a wacky scientist, I'd choose to live with them, be a member among them and the smartest among them :DD.
     
  11. Dec 23, 2014 #10

    Jonathan Scott

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    Wouldn't you miss Physics Forums?
     
  12. Dec 23, 2014 #11

    Jonathan Scott

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    That's a point; I'm not keen on the idea of being in a time which didn't understand the importance of clean drinking water, let alone have antiseptics or antibiotics!
     
  13. Dec 23, 2014 #12
    Definitely not.
    Maybe because we have different views about science, religion, life and ignorance. :D
    I like songs whose melodies sooth my mood, not the lyrics they may sound . To me it's always hard to make one good melody but words to rhyme with it are plentiful. :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
  14. Dec 23, 2014 #13

    Ryan_m_b

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    Looking at that point in broader terms would anyone want to live in their respective nations 200 years ago? From a modern perspective they resemble some of the worst, extreme nations of today. Most people here are from the US, if you were sent back to christmas 1814 you'd be arriving in a nation that still had a sizable slave trade and upheld manifest destiny. For English posters like myself we'd arrive in pre-victorian England, a place of extreme wealth inequality, rigid social class, workhouses and votes only for upper class male landowners.

    The past is a foreign country, and to me it's as enticing a holiday destination as North Korea.
     
  15. Dec 23, 2014 #14

    Jonathan Scott

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    Ok, the Physics Forum bit was a joke. And I mostly prefer instrumental music to singing. But if I was in 1800 and had access to a violin or piano I could certainly play some interesting music.
     
  16. Dec 23, 2014 #15

    Jonathan Scott

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    ... but I think I'd have more problems with the "not crazy" requirement. I have difficulty persuading my management at work that I'm not crazy. It takes me years to get through to each manager, but as soon as I get close, they give me a new one.
     
  17. Dec 23, 2014 #16
    Greensleevs 4u then. Some melodies are "ethernal" regardless of century they are composed in
     
  18. Dec 23, 2014 #17
    screw trying to convince people. id just let them think im a prophet/wizard
     
  19. Dec 23, 2014 #18

    collinsmark

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  20. Dec 23, 2014 #19
    So you have time to actually go places and do stuff? I thought it was sort of the Terminator scenario. You show up naked from the future, and the first people you see, you have to explain to them, while still being naked, that you are from the future, and somehow prove it right then and there.
     
  21. Dec 23, 2014 #20

    OmCheeto

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    I took it quite seriously. I suppose the problem would be as to how much of a "Renaissance Man" you were, and how much of your scientific history you could remember. You could create transistors from scratch, build a couple of rudimentary computers, get the local blacksmith to make some copper wire, set the two computers across the street from each other, teach the new IT techs ASCII code, have one send a simple physics question across the street, and have the other one answer the question.

    You'd have not only invented the internet, you'd have invented Physics Forums!

    The question would be, who can remember how to make a transistor, from scratch, with materials available 200 years ago?

    So, I can imagine some hurdles:
    Setting: December 23, 1814, Bosham England
    ChronOm; "I need a semi-conductor material! STAT!"
    Blacksmith; "What"?
    ChronOm; "You know, a kind of metal stuff. Silicon or Germanium will do".
    Blacksmith; "What is Silicon"?
    ChronOm; "Silicon is an element that makes up sand".
    Blacksmith; "Sand is made of sand. Have you been to the pub? And why are you naked? You have been to the pub. Fanny, run and get the constable."
    ChronOm; runs away.....​

    Wait a minute. This story reminds me of something Mark Twain wrote, about (google google google) 125 years ago.
    This thread is a cliché.

    ps. Never read the book. Sounds like a fun read though.
     
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