Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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9
votes
4answers
198 views

what could be used for flexible piping in the 1780s

How and out of what could flexible, thin air-tight tubes be made of at around 1780? These tubes need to be around a centimeter wide, with a 7.5 mm tube going through it. It must also be heat resistant ...
5
votes
2answers
226 views

Will the Dinosaur Empire Still Stand Strong If Chicxulub Hit Earth at the End of the Jurassic?

66 million years ago, the dinosaur empire was in its death throes when its final nail in the coffin came hurtling down from the sky. A clump of rock the size of Mount Everest smashed into the Gulf of ...
11
votes
12answers
880 views

What are the most important factors in determining how fast technology progresses?

What are the most important factors in determining how fast technology progresses? And roughly how fast might that be under optimal circumstances? Innovations have to be dreamed up, but there must ...
2
votes
0answers
90 views

What if the partition of India were bottom-up [closed]

In 1947 suppose that, instead of attempting to draw a fair line between Muslims and non-Muslims, British India has a referendum asking each village, “With which of your neighbors (including native ...
-1
votes
1answer
229 views

Medieval/renaissance superweapon [closed]

Using the technology available at the time, what kind of superweapon could the medieval or renaissance age produce?
7
votes
5answers
348 views

How NOT to Turn Volkshalle Into a Rain Factory

This is a model of Volkshalle, the People's Dome, part of a vision of "Germania" by Adolf Hitler. But the tides of war had washed Germania away, yet this and other architectural plans by Albert Speer ...
7
votes
3answers
227 views

Maintaining a Moon Suit

The Apollo-era A7L Extravehicular Mobility Units were used for less than eight hours at a time, within a few days, with a maximum of three moonwalks per mission. Assume a fictional moonbase with ...
4
votes
2answers
322 views

Demon Empire annexs North America. How would the world react in 1972? [closed]

I had an urge to make an alternate history, which is an alien space bats scenario. Here some worldbuilding that I made. In another dimension, a planet is divided by 4 space filling empires. Theis ...
1
vote
1answer
133 views

Alternate history where Italy finds oil [closed]

One of the most important resources in the world in the modern era has been oil, but arguably at no time more than during WW2 where many of the Axis' plans revolved around the procurement of a steady ...
-1
votes
8answers
412 views

Aborting Abrahamism [closed]

Let's imagine that some powerful evil eldritch abomination decided to hijack Roman Republic 45 BC, saving Caesar in the last moment and fashion itself as Mercurius (Hermes), who was sent by Olympus as ...
2
votes
4answers
299 views

Helping the Roman Empire with chemistry and metallurgy [closed]

You are a modern chemist and metallurgist and unexpectedly get sent back in time to the era of Caesar Octavius Augustus. After spending a couple years learning ancient Latin, what changes or ...
1
vote
1answer
144 views

The Industrialization of Earth and the Effect on Magic [closed]

I am currently writing a story that takes place after what we would call World War Three, in a post-war setting. In this setting, magic exists along with creatures created by radiation from WW3 and ...
3
votes
6answers
653 views

Steampunk helicopter [closed]

In an alternate reality scenario that takes place during the renaissance, how can the world create a helicopter? Aside from the obvious need for machines, factories, and aviation knowledge, what other ...
14
votes
4answers
470 views

Moving the US capital to the Midwest before 1900?

A few years ago, an old map started circulating around the internet from 1850 with a proposed Western District of Columbia located in western Kentucky, across from the real Illinois town, named in a ...
2
votes
1answer
124 views

Could a large enough semi isolated population keep up with Eurasia in technology? [closed]

Could a semi-isolated country island about 3,000,000 square miles and 1000 miles south of India avoid becoming a colony and develop into a rich and strong modern state today? They have about the ...
1
vote
4answers
139 views

Technological Turning Points [closed]

OK so in my roleplaying game (inspired by AAW’s Future’s Past but using Savage Worlds in my homebrew universe) the big bad is a time travelling AI which the party will be chasing back in time. The AI ...
7
votes
3answers
174 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
117 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
148 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? ...
9
votes
2answers
144 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
136 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
50 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
123 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
141 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
139 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
141 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: ...
9
votes
1answer
159 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
162 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
314 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 ...
40
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, ...
8
votes
4answers
343 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 ...
15
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
145 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
261 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
456 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
172 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
775 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
648 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
184 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
192 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
200 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
569 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
439 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
225 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
364 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
401 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
299 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
421 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 ...