What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

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KrO2
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What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby KrO2 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:58 am UTC

I'm sure you've all wondered this before. You have been suddenly (and probably inexplicably) moved to some time period. What skills do you have that could match the best of the world in that time?
I'd like a chance to do that thing where you get a job as a janitor in a university, then solve an unsolved problem. I've always wanted to do that, or something like it. This would only work for values of X where people actually care about mathematics but aren't more advanced than the stuff I know.
Alternately, I might be able to use chess skills that didn't exist before about 1850. I'm a nobody today, but before they invented what we call "the basics" I might be able to make something of it.
For technology, remember you're limited to whatever you can find or make. Hank Morgan, the Connecticut Yankee, could declare himself a wizard and blow up a tower, but he knew how to make gunpowder from scratch.

So pick a time period and post how you handle it! I want to see what you all can do.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Zohar » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:15 am UTC

If I had some knowledge of it happening I would probably try to grab some information relevant to the period. It seems I can't, though. I studied physics and math in uni, so I have some pretty good knowledge of the subjects until we reach the 20th century. I could turn that into a career. I know English very well, and Hebrew (and written Hebrew, which is more important), French and some Japanese. Perhaps I could act as a Japanese translator of sorts, if I get to 15th-17th century (though Japanese was different then).

Do I know which century I get to? Because there's a big difference between 10th century BC and 5th century AD in terms of where I'd go, but not such a big difference in technological advances at the time.

In general, though, I think I would try to profit from my knowledge by making advanced machines, as much as possible.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby RAKtheUndead » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:14 am UTC

To be perfectly honest, I'd probably die of smallpox before I could inoculate myself. I suppose if I survived long enough to do so, there's something I could do, although with medical knowledge how it was in any stage before inoculation became commonplace, I'd be considered a crank and a nutcase.

Unfortunately, my skill set runs deeper in the theoretical side of things than the practical side of things. I could probably make a stab at developing gunpowder, although I'd have to learn how to make more potent explosives, such as trinitrotoluene and cordite. I suppose some common-sense medical knowledge would come in handy, if people would even listen to it, along with crop rotation in the medieval period. If I could learn how to make a basic steam engine or simple machine tools, that would be very handy indeed in any stage prior to the seventeenth century. Even more useful would be some sort of gas turbine, and distillation of oil would be very useful as well.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Felstaff » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:23 am UTC

I'd go back 5,999 years with nothing but a party hat and a cake with a single candle, and celebrate the first birthday of the earth.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Thesh » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:29 am UTC

I would go back to 1300 AD, construct a mechanical hand, and fight off the deadites.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:07 pm UTC

Find some tulip bulbs?
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby cba » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

go back to when the rubik's cube was first invented and blow everyones mind by doing it in under a minute!
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Promicin » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:07 pm UTC

Go back to 12th century Italy and remind people how to build things that don't lean.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby tastelikecoke » Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:31 pm UTC

to be fair, It's the ground's fault that Pisa leaned. They don't have fancy geology stuff back then. the design that was flawed from the beginning.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby OBrien » Fri Nov 05, 2010 2:54 pm UTC

If I woke up one century ago I'd have a stab at becoming a politician. If all goes to plan in four years time I'll have an excuse to keep out the army and stay the fuck away from Somme and Paschendale, but in 8 years I'd hopefully be influential enough to convince people that working together with central Germany to re-build Europe instead of this silly Treaty of Versailles nonsense. The only drawbacks would be that technology wouldn't advance as fast (which I could live with), no nuclear power (which I could really live with, seeing as it would stop a-bombs in the first place) and Alsation wine would be German rather than French (my hear would bleed but I'd get over it).
And I'd hope like fuck that this new world wouldn't end up in some Red Alert type scenario.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby scienceroboticspunk » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:02 pm UTC

Whatever time period I end up in I would either be a wizard or and inventor or a combination of the two. If its a time when wizards were apointed as advisors to the king I would do that and create advanced destructiveness to watever country I choose to help. If not I would just be an inventor and invent things that I know currently exist ad how they work. Exploring new areas would also be cool, instead of columbus getting to the new world it would be me.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Fri Nov 05, 2010 3:57 pm UTC

Depends on the century. In 1600 or later I could probably do fairly well as a physicist--depending on the time frame I could help with mechanics, electricity and magnetism, or if i get dropped off after Michelson-Morley, I could beat Einstein to the punch. Before then I'm not sure my contributions would help much there, although I could try to replicate Newton--it's almost too much of a paradigm shift for me to confidently say I could replicate. (From what I've seen, Newton used a lot of geometrical arguments that I'm not really up to speed on.) That said, I might be able to introduce basic calculus.

Other scientific knowledge that could be pretty broadly applied might be some basic chemistry, although honestly all my chemistry has been so theoretical I'm not sure how I'd apply it. Medicine is more useful--I don't know much about biology but I know waaaaay more than those guys did, and if I could get the germ theory properly kicked off that would save a lot of lives. I doubt I'd be able to accomplish that kind of change either, since germ theory took a long time to get accepted when it was suggested in real life. Just because you're right doesn't mean people listen to you.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby KrO2 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 6:38 pm UTC

About all I would be able to do with medicine would probably be to tell people it's probably a good idea to use basic hygiene and maybe get rid of some of the sillier "medical" practices. It'd save a lot of lives but wouldn't get me elected god emperor of the universe. It couldn't hurt.
Economics might also come in handy. I don't know too much about it, but I imagine I wouldn't need to. Getting rich can always help.
I suppose burying a large amount of gold for myself to find on the off chance I end up going back is not quite in the spirit of my original question, but I might do it anyway.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby SBD » Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:55 am UTC

I'd go back a couple of thousand years and become the Messiah.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Arolandforan » Sat Nov 06, 2010 4:53 am UTC

I've thought about this a lot, but I always end up depressed because I realise that if it did ever happen to me, I'd have better than even odds of destroying most of the world by giving everyone the flu. And probably a whole bunch of other stuff that I didn't even know I'd been exposed to. Ignoring that possibility, though...

Step one: Get to the Indus Valley, unless it's late in the day and the colonial era has happened. Those guys have had civilisation up and running for aaaages, they're your best bet of finding an infrastructure to build on. The other option is Egypt, but I don't fancy the desert and furthermore I want an elephant. Screw Europe, those guys didn't get their shit together until really recently. Besides, I don't want to have to deal with the dark ages. I guess I'll have to spend six months or so learning the language and local customs.

Step two: Impress the ruling class. There is a place called Golconda. At that place there are diamonds. If it's any time before the 6th century, they haven't been discovered yet. It's not hard to find, it's between two rivers. My advice is to memorise a map now. If it's after the 6th century, you've gotta find something flashy. My advice is refrigeration. Seriously, the reaction you get from icecubes is going to blow your mind.

Step 3: Paper and the printing press. Refrigeration and sanitation. Blast furnacing and iron mining. Steam engines and everything. Gunpowder and colonialism.

Step 4: profit.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Sat Nov 06, 2010 5:19 am UTC

If it was an era where English or Spanish was not close enough to it's modern usage for easy communication, I'd be screwed (odd-speaking foreigners without a powerful country backing them were either killed or enslaved. The past is not pretty). However, with enough fore-planning learning a language from a much earlier time would definitely give me a leg up, but this scenario involves a surprise.

Probably anything after oh, say 1500 I'd be ok in, and with my grasp of science fundamentals I would be able to impress the heck out of the ruling class of one country or another, and lead in all sorts of advancements. I'd probably wind up taking a shot at the crown myself and trying for world domination (learning from past dictators' mistakes helps), using my historical knowledge to avoid many of the pitfalls that other countries and leaders experienced.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Virtual_Aardvark » Sat Nov 06, 2010 9:10 pm UTC

I see myself getting burned as a witch fairly soon after arriving. Or ending up as a murdered prostitute. Or landing in an insane asylum. The past isn't a good place for unusual women.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:04 am UTC

If it's before the printing press, then I do that. It's a relatively simple invention that pretty rapidly improved life for almost everyone.

A lot of industrial revolution era technologies are also pretty simple by today's standards, if you understand the principles behind a reciprocating engine, you could launch the industrial revolution early with water/wind power (steam requires quite a bit of metallurgical prowess, I can't recall the proper processes for making decent boilers off the top of my head, though if I had a little bit of lead time I could refresh my memory).
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Jahoclave » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:17 am UTC

Felstaff wrote:I'd go back 5,999 years with nothing but a party hat and a cake with a single candle, and celebrate the first birthday of the earth.

Well, you'd try, but you'd be a little over a decade late. Actually, you'd get to meet Earth as she enters her rebellious teenage years.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby KrO2 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:03 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
Felstaff wrote:I'd go back 5,999 years with nothing but a party hat and a cake with a single candle, and celebrate the first birthday of the earth.

Well, you'd try, but you'd be a little over a decade late. Actually, you'd get to meet Earth as she enters her rebellious teenage years.

But those numbers are obtained in the first place by counting back in the genealogies. So unless each person is supposed to have had a son exactly on his (the father's) birthday (I dunno, did Usher believe that?) we have a margin of error of roughly one year per generation. So you might be too late, or the earth might not have been made yet. That'd be a great show to watch, though.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:55 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
Felstaff wrote:I'd go back 5,999 years with nothing but a party hat and a cake with a single candle, and celebrate the first birthday of the earth.

Well, you'd try, but you'd be a little over a decade late. Actually, you'd get to meet Earth as she enters her rebellious teenage years.


Pimples, rebellion, mass extinctions...
glasnt wrote:"As she raised her rifle against the creature, her hair fluttered beneath the red florescent lighting of the locked down building.

I knew from that moment that she was something special"


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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Vieto » Mon Nov 08, 2010 3:35 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:
Felstaff wrote:I'd go back 5,999 years with nothing but a party hat and a cake with a single candle, and celebrate the first birthday of the earth.

Well, you'd try, but you'd be a little over a decade late. Actually, you'd get to meet Earth as she enters her rebellious teenage years.


Pimples, rebellion, mass extinctions...

That would have been 100 years later, and even then, the only other human who is not related to Noah getting on that boat would be T-pain.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby samk » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:14 am UTC

What would happen to someone who only spoke an odd dialect of swedish with no money claiming to know how to build antigravity machines today?

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby KrO2 » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:37 am UTC

Is their knowledge of antigravity the only thing they brought with them from The FutureTM? Hopefully, there's some knowledge or skills they would consider common knowledge, or at least not especially unusual, that could be useful today.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Jahoclave » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:42 am UTC

samk wrote:What would happen to someone who only spoke an odd dialect of swedish with no money claiming to know how to build antigravity machines today?

I'd speak English loudly and slowly at them for their failure to learn that we speak English loudly and slowly at people who don't speak English. Seriously, did they not watch any movies from the time period?

Then I'd use their anti-gravity machine to take over the world and institute a benevolent dictatorship. Then I would defeat the cylons.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Giant Speck » Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:11 am UTC

I'd party like it's 1X99.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby TimelordSimone » Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:19 am UTC

I reckon I would get cholera and die.
Or something.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Kimmo » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:02 am UTC

Arolandforan wrote:I've thought about this a lot

Evidently... awesome plan : D

I reckon a single century would do me... I'm not so ambitious. I'd probably try to find a well-placed engineer to convince of my special status, and fast-track the evolution of the pushbike, cause it's my favourite invention. Materials science could probably use a couple of hints in the right direction... then there's the basic concept of transistors and ICs... stuff like that. Not sure I'd be much help when it comes to actually developing anything but mechanical engineering though.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby OBrien » Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:11 pm UTC

TimelordSimone wrote:I reckon I would get cholera and die.
Or something.

Yeah, I'd make sure to distil, or at least boil then let cool, my water before I'd drink it.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Jahoclave » Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:18 pm UTC

TimelordSimone wrote:I reckon I would get cholera and die.
Or something.

Learn to Play Oregon Trail, noob.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby BiancaBlack » Tue Nov 09, 2010 9:17 am UTC

Promicin wrote:Go back to 12th century Italy and remind people how to build things that don't lean.


Heh, funny you mentioned Italy, cause the first thing this thread made em think of was this Italian movie "Non ci resta che piangere" (Nothing left to do but cry) where these two goofballs (played by Roberto Begnini and Massimo Troisi - INGENIOUS!) wake up in the late 1400s and they set out to stop Christopher Columbus from discovering America, and in the meantime have run ins with Leonardo DaVinci et al. Hilarity ensues (well, if you're into awesome slapstick humor anyways).
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Midnight » Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:02 am UTC

SBD wrote:I'd go back a couple of thousand years and become the Messiah.

or maybe you already did.
uhhhh fuck.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby SBD » Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:44 pm UTC

Midnight wrote:
SBD wrote:I'd go back a couple of thousand years and become the Messiah.

or maybe you already did.

:wink:
Physics fits your face better.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby the_bandersnatch » Thu Nov 11, 2010 4:23 pm UTC

If I woke up in ancient Greece I'd probablSPARTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Cloud Walker » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:01 pm UTC

Just give me a couple centuries back and I'd go live in the wild. Tarzan is my hero.
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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:58 am UTC

Vieto wrote:
SummerGlauFan wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:
Felstaff wrote:I'd go back 5,999 years with nothing but a party hat and a cake with a single candle, and celebrate the first birthday of the earth.

Well, you'd try, but you'd be a little over a decade late. Actually, you'd get to meet Earth as she enters her rebellious teenage years.


Pimples, rebellion, mass extinctions...

That would have been 100 years later, and even then, the only other human who is not related to Noah getting on that boat would be T-pain.


Ah, knowing Felstaff I should have realized there was a hidden joke in there. I was assuming he meant the dawn of human civilization as the last big Ice Age wrapped up, rather than Noah's flood*.

*Typing that made me think of the Flood from Halo, which made me chuckle with the mental image of Noah constructing an interstellar arkship to escape them. Then I realized this was pretty much the backstory for the Forerunners from Halo.
glasnt wrote:"As she raised her rifle against the creature, her hair fluttered beneath the red florescent lighting of the locked down building.

I knew from that moment that she was something special"


Outbreak, a tale of love and zombies.

In stores now.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:25 pm UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:
Vieto wrote:
SummerGlauFan wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:
Felstaff wrote:I'd go back 5,999 years with nothing but a party hat and a cake with a single candle, and celebrate the first birthday of the earth.

Well, you'd try, but you'd be a little over a decade late. Actually, you'd get to meet Earth as she enters her rebellious teenage years.


Pimples, rebellion, mass extinctions...

That would have been 100 years later, and even then, the only other human who is not related to Noah getting on that boat would be T-pain.


Ah, knowing Felstaff I should have realized there was a hidden joke in there. I was assuming he meant the dawn of human civilization as the last big Ice Age wrapped up, rather than Noah's flood*.

*Typing that made me think of the Flood from Halo, which made me chuckle with the mental image of Noah constructing an interstellar arkship to escape them. Then I realized this was pretty much the backstory for the Forerunners from Halo.

Religion, it suddenly got more badass. Except this would technically be the Chinese version of the story, because they kicked God's flood's ass.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby PaulNefets » Fri Nov 12, 2010 6:53 pm UTC

I'd probably rewrite a few books/ideas from memory:
<> Pasteur
<> Kant
<> Freud
<> Tesla

....but as my own :D

Intellectually, people had it easier those days, there was still lots of "captain obvious" to be "discovered". Now you have to be into something REALLY obscure to get anything new!

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby zallen » Mon Nov 15, 2010 12:43 am UTC

I'd reach for my glasses and... CRAP. Then I'd stumble over a cliff and die. I have *really* bad vision.

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Re: What do you do if you wake up X centuries ago?

Postby Josephine » Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:59 am UTC

PaulNefets wrote:<> Freud

Kill this guy's parents.
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