Questions tagged [alternate-history]

For questions that ask what might have happened if history had taken a different path.

5
votes
1answer
86 views

Preserving the mammoth steppe

During much of the Late Pleistocene stage, the world's most widespread biome was the so-called "mammoth steppe" - a cold, dry grassland which spanned eastward all the way from Spain to Canada. It was ...
6
votes
1answer
83 views

Could a split cycle intercooled flamelicker have been a viable power source?

Flame lickers work by sucking hot air into a cylinder and then relying on the cooling of the air by the cylinder wall to create a partial vacuum to pull the piston back. see video In an alternate ...
3
votes
2answers
113 views

Handmade metallic cartridges [closed]

Could a group of survivors resupply metallic cartridges with hand-operated tools to be used on small arms in their shelter? What would those tools be and how usable are these handmade cartridges? ...
8
votes
2answers
126 views

Could Xenarthrans Be Ferried Outside South America?

Right from the beginning, the xenarthrans--armadillos, sloths and anteaters--have been at a disadvantage. For the longest time, their home was an island continent, which made them extremely ...
-6
votes
1answer
108 views

Bolt-action rifle in the 15th-17th century [duplicate]

Lets say a nation around this timeline was making research and advancements in firearms. Other than a flintlock or breech-loader, is it possible for them to produce a repeating bolt-action rifle? ...
0
votes
0answers
47 views

Could a steamship be built somewhere during the 14th-17th century? [duplicate]

Could an earlier and simple variation of the steamship be built around the 14th-17th century? If not, are there alternatives to having a ship not powered by sails?
-1
votes
2answers
93 views

Would a medieval-type castle still arise in an alternate history? [closed]

So, to set the background a bit. I'm writing a story that is an alternate history basically diverging midway through the 1st century BC: the roman empire falls. Here I am looking at a Germanic people ...
2
votes
0answers
110 views

Is it possible for industrial revolution to happen without colonialism? [closed]

As we all know, with Christopher Columbus re-"discovering" America in 1492, the wondrous Age of Discovery began - and with it new dreams of conquest and wealth, that became realized in the way of ...
0
votes
2answers
126 views

What are the logistics of wiping out the current world to the point a “new” generation of humans would not be able to find it? [closed]

Backstory I have a race of biologically advanced aliens that develop by fighting, adapting, and growing immune to the current highest standards of technology a species has to offer. By doing this they'...
2
votes
1answer
123 views

Last name earning system [closed]

I just had an idea for a story based on Islamic Spain and Barbary pirates. But after doing some research I found some kind of chaos and randomness in last names. The people's last names are either: ...
8
votes
1answer
137 views

Minimum tech level to invent core memory

Magnetic core memory was a critical innovation in the development of computers. Per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic-core_memory it was the most advanced form of memory from about the mid-...
4
votes
2answers
149 views

Atmospheric pressure engine train in the 15th-16th century

With the knowledge and tools required, could an atmospheric pressure engine train be built in the 15th-16th century? If so how effective would it be and what change would it bring to the world in that ...
3
votes
5answers
287 views

Missile strike detection (but it's not actually a missile)

I'm writing a story to be set around the late 1980s or early 1990s. The story opens with a spaceship crashing to Earth, hitting and destroying a large part of central London. The idea is that, before ...
39
votes
12answers
16k views

What steps are necessary to read a Modern SSD in Medieval Europe?

So the main team of characters is traveling back in time from "modern day" to medieval Europe, arriving around the 1300s. Assumptions: They Know they are going, they have space and time to prepare, ...
7
votes
4answers
300 views

A Permanent Norse Presence in America, Part II: How Would Europe React to This?

Previously, I had asked a question on what point of departure I would need to make the Norse's presence in North America permanent. Perhaps the best answer I got was summarized right here: If one ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

A Permanent Norse Presence in America

Since the discovery of L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland in 1960, the picture began to emerge that the Norse (I hesitate to say "viking" because that is a verb, not a noun) beat Christopher Columbus ...
-2
votes
1answer
136 views

Steam-Assisted Victorian Engineers - Why the secrecy? [closed]

Background Isambard Kingdom Brunel FRS 9 April 1806 – 15 September 1859, was an English mechanical and civil engineer who is considered "one of the most ingenious and prolific figures in ...
2
votes
2answers
251 views

Bayonets in a world without the city of Bayonne [closed]

Supposedly, the bladed or spiked weapon which fits on the end of a firearm derives its name from the French city of Bayonne. In a world (described in modern English) with no link or knowledge of the ...
6
votes
5answers
426 views

What is the earliest time a pulsejet could be built?

Let's assume that some wealthy characters somehow find the plans for a valveless pulsejet. How is not important. Maybe there was a time travel incident, or some Atlantean book was unearthed, or ...
5
votes
1answer
132 views

How can I ensure that Roman state religion dominates christianity? [duplicate]

I am Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, emperor of Rome and the last of my line in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. History remembers me as one of the greatest leaders of the ancient world, far ...
19
votes
8answers
4k views

Aliens englobed the Solar System: will we notice?

Around 100 million years ago, the Solar System was instantaneously encased in a massless, magical sphere centered about the Sun. The boundary is about 10,000 AU (.158 ly) in radius and behaves ...
31
votes
12answers
10k views

In the late 1940’s to early 1950’s what technology was available that could melt a LOT of ice?

In my story I’ve devised lore where Greenland becomes a US territory, and they begin populating the region. It initially just served as the hub for numerous military bases and airbases, but eventually ...
5
votes
3answers
766 views

Gaining more land by draining wetlands

I’m building a country located in today’s Argentina. It is as developed as Canada or Australia, and has several times bigger population than today’s Argentina. Which brings us to the problem: ...
13
votes
9answers
625 views

Alternate timeline nomenclature [closed]

Let's say through some unexplained (and largely irrelevant) phenomena, an alternate timeline has suddenly "collided" with ours. The specifics don't really matter besides the idea that the two ...
-1
votes
2answers
169 views

Alternate aircraft configurations - would any of them be valid substitutes for conventional tailplanes?

So I'm incubating a few alternate histories in my head. Many of them will butterfly away the Wright Brothers and many other familiar parts of history, and at least one has aircraft development as a ...
-4
votes
4answers
180 views

Anal Retentiveness in a tribal nomadic society - why would it be advantageous?

Please note: This has no relation to any real persons on this site or elsewhere and should not be taken to be such. In my world there is a human nomadic desert tribe. They have a long-standing custom ...
-3
votes
1answer
185 views

Steam engine in the 14-15th century

If the world then already had the knowledge required, could an earlier variation of the steam engine be made during this timeline? If it could, how effective would it be for use in early locomotive?
3
votes
2answers
470 views

Possibility of an alliance between Rome and China

For plot reasons, I need there to be global-ish peace by the 1700's. Obviously, the easiest and best way to do this, is union under the system of Pax Romana. However, at this particular time (about ...
5
votes
4answers
363 views

Feasibility of this Alternate History scenario (WWII France)

I was wondering about the feasibility of France maintaining a total war against the nazis in WWII following its disastrous military defeats in June 1940. Would it be possible for the bulk of the ...
7
votes
5answers
210 views

Can-and-String Telecommunications Network - Repeaters and Amplifiers

Background We know about the can-and-string telephone. There are various claims about the maximum distance over which this is effective. Let's say 100 feet is possible without too much loss and ...
1
vote
5answers
311 views

how can I replace the center of power in Christendom from Rome to Constantinople?

I, Emperor Lucifer the 1st, am the undisputed ruler of the Byzantine Empire, better known as the True Roman Empire. To secure my dominance, I plan to cement myself as the ruler of all Christendom in ...
8
votes
1answer
387 views

What kind of engine could the 14-15th century world create?

If someone in the 14-15th century world had the knowledge required to build an engine for use in locomotives and ships, what kind of engine could be made using technology that already existed back ...
1
vote
3answers
215 views

Self selective breeding humans [closed]

Many dogs, as well as other animals, were bred to the point of becoming nothing but mere tools or toys. For example, wolves certainly were already strong, fast, or intelligent creatures but some ...
0
votes
5answers
373 views

How could the founding fathers have tackled slavery as an institution while keeping the union together?

America has just recently fought its first major war with the superpower of its day, and was struggling to keep itself together. Many of the colonies, united in their hatred of Britain, now have to ...
1
vote
1answer
142 views

Counteracting Perverse Incentive effects in 1902 Hanoi rat population

A perverse incentive is a reward system that has the opposite effect to the one intended. In Hanoi, under French colonial rule, a program paying people a bounty for each rat tail handed in was ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Is a Selective Breeding Program to Create Enhanced Humans Plausible?

The idea is that the concepts of DNA, inheritance, and micro-organisms were discovered significantly earlier in history. Roughly 50 years after the founding of Alexandria as a city state in 332 B.C., ...
2
votes
2answers
170 views

How Would a Filter-Feeding Marine Turtle Feed?

Back home, many large planktivores have ingenious ways to trap food and not water. For sharks like the basking and the megamouth, that is no problem, as they have modified their gills into rakers to ...
21
votes
10answers
3k views

First innovation for time traveler to low-tech society [closed]

A time traveler goes back in time (one-way trip, and he does not get to choose the exact destination) to a low-tech society, similar to medieval Europe. His objective is to kickstart an industrial ...
-1
votes
2answers
472 views

What could have prevented the decline of the Western Roman Empire, and its fall in AD 476? [closed]

By "decline" I am referring specifically to the loss of political control over territory (shrinking empire). I'm writing a story, and I wonder what are some examples of things that the Roman Empire ...
14
votes
7answers
1k views

How can I prevent the Christian schism of 1054 in order to create a more unified church?

Schism of 1054, also called East-West Schism, event that precipitated the final separation between the Eastern Christian churches, led by the patriarch of Constantinople, and the Western church. ...
4
votes
1answer
75 views

Steam-powered dirigibles in the late 17th to early 18th century

I want steam powered dirigibles in my world around the year 1700. As this is an alternate world, a new gas with the same essential properties as Hydrogen, apart from the whole exploding aspect seems ...
5
votes
3answers
215 views

Could Multicellular Life Evolve Sans Cryogenian?

Prior to the Cambrian, there have been three separate ice ages--the Huronian, from 2.4 to 2.1 billion years ago; and the two Cryogenian ice ages, from 720 to 635 million years ago, split in such by a ...
8
votes
1answer
266 views

Is this a plausible timeline if the United States legalized prior restraint following the Pentagon Papers?

In actual history, the Supreme Court ruled in 1971 in New York Times v. US that prior restraint is illegal, upholding its earlier decision in 1931 in Near v. Minnesota. In my alternate history, the ...
2
votes
3answers
211 views

Could organised crime gangs have ever usurped government in the United States of America?

The place: The United States of America. The time: Whenever organised crime bosses think that they could have a chance of succeeding, between the English recognition of the US as an independent ...
4
votes
5answers
263 views

How could the Ming Dynasty's armada have made China a colonial superpower?

The Ming Dynasty was the ruling dynasty in China from 1368 - 1644. Early in this period, the emperor commissioned a naval fleet numbering some 317 ships. This armada conducted a number of ocean ...
1
vote
4answers
135 views

Kingdom Takeover [closed]

There is an army that destroys and massacres most kingdoms (not all). It’s not for power, money, resources (including land) or slavery. Why would they do this?
7
votes
3answers
260 views

How can the church secure its authority over the papal states up to the 20th century?

The Papal States were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the Pope, from the 8th century until 1870. At their zenith, the Papal States covered most of ...
6
votes
7answers
316 views

How can the church stop Mass media from spreading throughout medieval Europe?

The Protestant Reformation in the 15th century was devastating for the catholic church because it broke its exclusive hold over Christendom and ended up leading to the diverse branches of today. Due ...
3
votes
2answers
196 views

How would ships develop in a world without Gunpowder/Cannons

So i was thinking about the world i set my story in: Set in an age equivalent to the 17th century Magic exists, but is not very powerful though very versatile Gunpowder was never discovered naval ...
2
votes
0answers
109 views

Implications of phlogiston theory? [closed]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlogiston_theory Assuming experiments in the 1770s had proven phlogiston theory correct instead of invalidating it, what would the implications be for the development ...