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Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

11
votes
5answers
962 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
117 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
230 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
213 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
95 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
3k 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
650 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
599 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
161 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
166 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
106 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
307 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
294 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
198 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
215 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
371 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
142 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
314 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
137 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
832 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
119 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
336 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
70 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
147 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
212 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
189 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
213 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 ...
0
votes
4answers
124 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
182 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
247 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
162 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
107 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
72 views

Our home is lost, are we too? [closed]

A girl had a vision,she's a close friend of my wife and she told everyone that the village will be destroyed. The lands will open and people will fall into the abyss, those surviving will be burned ...
1
vote
1answer
133 views

Tanks in medieval age [closed]

If people of the medieval age or 14th century had knowledge over steam engines and decided to make tanks out of it, how would it work and how effective would it be? Since they would be big and heavy, ...
7
votes
13answers
4k views

Could machine guns be produced in the 14th century? [duplicate]

Could light machine guns such as the Madsen be made during the 14th century? And since materials may be scarce only a few would be produced for use by a single soldier in a unit. Lets say their ...
34
votes
24answers
11k views

What is the most reasonable way for non-binary computers to have become standard?

Let us assume planet Earth, with a history similar to ours. Except, the result of the computer revolution is not a computer system based on binary (i.e. 0 and 1), but some other system. This system ...
3
votes
2answers
102 views

Could the gatling gun of the civil war be made smaller for individual use?

Could the gatling gun used during the civil war which was heavy and large be made into a smaller variant with perhaps 3 barrels for individual use? What challenges would be faced and how can they be ...
42
votes
14answers
8k views

Can the Aztec Empire learn and reuse Conquistador technology?

In this alternate history, Christopher Columbus makes landfall in Central America, after passing south of Florida and sailing through the Gulf of Mexico, arriving right on the doorstep of the Aztec ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

Could people of the 14th century create an inline engine for use in aircraft and vehicles?

If an expert of some kind travels back in time to the 14th or 15th century with modern tools and machines that don't require power to work and if he were to past on the knowledge of modern technology ...
3
votes
5answers
233 views

Would it be possible to use chlorine trifluoride as the payload of an artillery shell?

Let's assume that a country with technology at about the same level as Germany in the early 1930s wants to weaponize ClF3. Would they be able to use them it as the payload of artillery shells? What ...
7
votes
6answers
794 views

Time Travellers And The Roman Empire, Part 1: Transport and Control

I am a time traveller from the not so distant future. I have gone into the past to the Roman Empire (specifically the Nerva-Antonine period) and via -handwaving magical mumbo-technobabble- have become ...
7
votes
2answers
233 views

How long could kings reasonably stay itinerant?

While the person of the king may go on trips or lead armies in battle, it is another thing to have an itinerant government. In the earliest feudal kingdoms of Europe, the entire apparatus of ...
-10
votes
1answer
132 views

What happens if all peoples are converted to German? [closed]

What happens if all peoples are converted to German race? Explain Why!?
6
votes
4answers
238 views

How to break down consciousness/soul from an alchemical perspective

I am trying to describe consciousness from a magic elementalist perspective. I've dug through a ridiculous amount of pages of occult alchemical lore without success. My goal is to learn if students ...
1
vote
1answer
179 views

What would be possible reasons for Russia splitting into East and West? [closed]

I'm designing an alternate history that centers around an event known as the 'Russian Separation War', where Russia splits into two halves, East and West. EDIT: This is based in modern times (i.e. ...
5
votes
3answers
263 views

Making a Plague Worse?

Starting in 541–542 AD, the Plague of Justinian and a series of subsequent outbreaks killed between 13-26% of the world's population. The plagues were caused by Yersinia pestis, the same microorganism ...
3
votes
1answer
153 views

History without resource driven wars

Usually when a population overgrows it expands in search of new land and if the fields are virgin and empty they become farmland and cities, but if the fields are already occupied and the resources ...