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Time Travel

  1. Nov 12, 2011 #1
    If you went back in time and brought with you modern day devices, could you teach the people of that day (to a certain extent) how to create and use these devices?

    What impact would this have the modern day? Would we be more evolved?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 12, 2011 #2
    hmm no replies i wonder why?
     
  4. Nov 12, 2011 #3
    Because we are secretly from the future and running an experiment here at PF to see how we can influence the scientific and intellectual growth of the species.
     
  5. Nov 12, 2011 #4
    haha i see
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    but i guess you already know that?
     
  6. Nov 12, 2011 #5

    phinds

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    Probably 'cause this is a serious science forum that focuses on ACTUAL science, not SciFic.

    [and Statutory, dammit, you're not supposed to TELL them !]
     
  7. Nov 12, 2011 #6
    No i posted it in the General Discussion area and if youve looked there its all random stuff
     
  8. Nov 12, 2011 #7
    You might enjoy A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark Twain.
     
  9. Nov 12, 2011 #8

    phinds

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    Fair enough.
     
  10. Nov 12, 2011 #9

    Ryan_m_b

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    Depends on the device and the time (and the assumption that people would listen to you). For the most part I would say no. Consider something like a laptop; it requires a high tech factory which requires educated workers, mines for the materials, factories to make the materials into components, electricity to power all of it etc etc etc

    In other words to build a modern day product requires a huge investment in infrastructure. Everything you need requires things that don't exist which in turn require things that don't exist.

    Of course it all depends on what you take back and to when. If you were to go back to meet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Babbage#").
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  11. Nov 12, 2011 #10

    BobG

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    It couldn't be any device that required a modern infrastructure to create, so you'd have to choose your device very carefully. It would have to be a very simple device capable of changing a line of thought.

    Or you could simply change the motivation of people to move in a certain direction and just encourage technology to move faster down a desired path. For example, if you waited for there to exist a economical need that could be satisfied by travel to the Moon, you could be waiting for hundreds of years even if the technology to do so existed. Doing something to create the impression that being the first to land on the Moon for other reasons (psychological, propoganda, political, etc) could be advantageous would advance space travel by decades, at least, and perhaps by a century or two.

    The same could be said of nuclear power. Given the technology at the end of World War II, improving coal plant technology would have seemed to have a lot more immediate advantages than developing nuclear power. The perceived need to show that the country had developed a technology that could improve lives instead of just to blow up cities changed the balance of government funding between coal technology and nuclear technology and brought us nuclear power plants much earlier than simple economic need would have. Plus, research into nuclear technology usually advances both its military and its civilian uses, which does create some economic advantages to nuclear power, but only because you had to stay ahead of competitors for national security reasons even if you had no intention of using it for civilian purposes.

    Obviously, those are things that really happened, but they didn't have to happen as soon as they did. They just provide an example of how events changing people's motivation levels can push technology much faster than simple economics.

    The same priniciple would be a more productive strategy than simply taking a really useful device into the past. You'd want to take an idea back into the past rather than a physical device.
     
  12. Nov 12, 2011 #11

    Astronuc

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    Not to mention - especially prior to TCP/IP - no internet!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet#History

    I suppose one would have to travel with extra batteries. :biggrin:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  13. Nov 12, 2011 #12
    If you ignore the manufacturing requirements and consider only whether people in the past could learn to use your modern products, a company like BIC might be a good choice. Everything they make could be readily used by people hundreds of years ago -- disposable lighters, pens and razors. The end user requires no special skills or training. You could clean up, financially.
     
  14. Nov 12, 2011 #13

    Evo

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    Pockets in clothing, why did it take them so long to figure out making pockets instead of tying bags to themselves?

    Anyway, intelligence wise, yes, people going back thousands of years had the same brain as ours and could be taught to use technology, it's just that the technology couldn't be built.
     
  15. Nov 12, 2011 #14
    Some technology or discoveries that existed years and years ago were not expanded upon as they could have been, but were considered quaint, toyish, and entertaining. i can't think of a really good example just yet, but soemthing along the lines of put-put boats, gunpowder before it was gunpowder. I don't think you can go too far back before the inquiring scientific mind was developed to really make a difference. Maybe someone like Leonardo da Vinci would be susceptive to some modern day technology, but most of the rest of the world would ask what's it good for. The automobile, for example, was just too fast and loud for most of the early population and derided for just those reasons. So some ideas would have to sink in for a time to become acceptable. We are so used to change in our day and age that the next new thing is not met with so much awe and wonder - except for those i-pad, pod, phone worshippers. Years ago change was something that happened when the king died.
     
  16. Nov 14, 2011 #15
    I'd take Babbage's calculating machine back in time. Question is, to when? I think about 100 years before he made it would be good.
     
  17. Nov 14, 2011 #16

    phinds

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    Why? HE never got it to work. What makes you think that it could be made to work 100 years earlier?
     
  18. Nov 14, 2011 #17

    Ryan_m_b

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    IIRC the reason Babbage never got it to work was because he wasn't a nice guy socially and drove off all his investors. Though that doesn't mean that anyone 100 years earlier would have done a better job.
     
  19. Nov 14, 2011 #18

    phinds

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    OK, could be, but what I remember reading was that it just wasn't workable. It was CONCEPTUALLY solid but physically impractical in his day and age so I figured 100 years earlier would not likely be better.
     
  20. Nov 14, 2011 #19

    Ryan_m_b

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    I'm not sure where I got that from (I think a book I read a long time ago) so I could be wrong. But to look at it another way, the Science Museum is spending millions of pounds to build a working model. That doesn't imply to me that it would have been easy for Victorians.
     
  21. Nov 14, 2011 #20

    phinds

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    Correct. You'll note that I did not say it was physically impossible, I said it was physically IMPRACTICAL in his day and age. He had the right idea even if he was a nutcase on the subject of organ grinders but he couldn't get enough physical precision and low friction.
     
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