The Context:

Imagine every current man made problem in the world got worse. Dystopia arrives. Then a time travel device is invented. However, just as soon as the research is completed, a prototype is stolen by a team of disrupters.

These disrupters see themselves as heroes. The corporations want to keep the research, and the government wants to clamp down on paradoxes and keep history the same. The disrupters on the other hand, have a mission. Change everything.

The Problem:

What I have a problem with is isolating which events in the history of invention they might select. As I understand it, the history of invention is not a series of Eureka moments, rather a chain of events over disparate time periods. One person does research in one location, and another does the same. They read a paper or see a missing piece of a puzzle, and over time the knowledge slowly accumulates to make a breakthrough. However, this world depends on cherry picking certain moments of discovery.

If you were a enlisted in an organization bent on overturning human historical accomplishment, how would you plot your navigation in terms of destination points? Let us say you had a unibomber type manifesto, and believed that by undoing certain actions you could prevent human kind from arriving at certain technology related predicaments, what events might you undo?

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    $\begingroup$ You are asking us to write your story for you. This is not what we do here. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jan 13 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ if i wanted to save the world by undoing inventions, i'd make sure the world never heard of the GargleBlorp-Device, and the alchemical refinement of Unobtanium from old horseshoes. $\endgroup$ Jan 13 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ VTC as fundamentally opinion-based: as @L.Dutch said, you are asking for a story, not for a world. (And why on Earth would they target technological achievements as such instead of choosing the very much easier path of targeting events which set up the conditions which led to the technological inventions being possible in the first place? For example kill Miltiades and make sure the Persians win at Marathon? Greece becomes part of the Persian Empire: there is no western civilization; problem solved.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 13 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ @FranzGleichmann, what do you mean you never discovered slood? $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Jan 13 at 13:12
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    $\begingroup$ The easiest answer to this question is to blow up the meteor that wiped out the dinosaur or hunt our ancestral species to extinction. Humanity is gone, crab rave. On a serious note now: to stop the plane from existing at the time it did, you'd need to stop both Santos Dumont in Brazil and the Wright Brothers in the USA and then destroy their entire research, for stopping only one wouldn't keep the plane from appearing. You'd then need to go to any would be new inventor of the plane in the new timeline for there to be no planes. You can't ensure humans don't invents if humans still exist. $\endgroup$ Jan 13 at 14:20

I'd play whack-a-mole. Go back and prevent the known origination of an idea, but while you are there, figure out what inspired it, and then try to stop THAT.

Although many inventions are the result of accumulating knowledge passing some tipping point, not all of them are. Einstein invented Relativity out of whole cloth. Perhaps he would not have, if he'd been given a different job, a lucrative job instead of going to school for physics. Or, he went to learn to teach physics, not become a physicist. What if he'd been given a job teaching something besides physics?

All ideas begin in one head, somewhere. Destroy that head, or divert that head onto a different path, and you change the future. That is the whole point of time travel, isn't it?

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    $\begingroup$ (1) There is a difference between a discovery and an invention. (2) Einsteinian relativity is one kind of relativity. Galilean relativity is another, and that kind of relativity had been known for three centuries. (3) If it wasn't Einstein it would have been somebody else. It had become painfully obvious that Galilean relativity did not work for electromagnetism, and many physicists were looking for solutions. Hendrik Lorentz and Henri Poincaré come to mind. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 13 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ Einstein did not invent relativity out of while cloth. His theories explained results from a series of experiments which tried to measure the speed of the aether (the predecessor theory to relativity) which instead found that the speed of light must be constant. Michelson–Morley is the most famous one, but there are others. $\endgroup$
    – 10ebbor10
    Jan 13 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ @10ebbor10 Yes, Einstein was thinking about that, but a constant speed of light is not "Special Relativity" or "General Relativity". Einstein DID invent those out ofwhole cloth, he was the only person on Earth we know of that figured out the implications of a constant speed of light, the contraction of time and increase of matter; Einstein invented the Space-Time Continuum, single-handed. $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Jan 13 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP You don't know it would be "somebody else", nobody else on earth was talking about a Space-Time Continuum, nobody else on Earth proved E=MC^2, or was talking about time dilation with speed or mass increase with speed. If it hadn't been Einstein, no telling how long it would have taken. Further, Relativity is fundamentally at odds with Quantum Physics, and nearly all physicists think Relativity is at fault. They cannot be reconciled, and at quantum distances Relativity makes no sense. If Quantum was invented first, General Relativity may well be dismissed as an obvious non-starter. $\endgroup$
    – Amadeus
    Jan 13 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Amadeus: Nobody? So Hendrik Lorentz is a fictional character? The basic coordinate transformations in Einsteinian relativity are to this day called Lorentz transformations. And the stuff which is in contradiction with QM is Einstein's general relativity, which is fundamentally a theory of gravitation. Nobody has anything against special relativity, which is the actual description of coordinate transformation. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jan 13 at 15:40

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