Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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1answer
146 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
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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
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2answers
183 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
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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
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2answers
597 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
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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
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1answer
79 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
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3answers
234 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
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1answer
297 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 ...
3
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3answers
329 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
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5answers
289 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
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4answers
140 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
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3answers
275 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
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7answers
372 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
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2answers
216 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
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0answers
117 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
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0answers
77 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
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1answer
180 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
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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
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24answers
12k 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
129 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 ...
43
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14answers
9k 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
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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
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5answers
256 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
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6answers
839 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
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2answers
265 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 ...
-11
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1answer
225 views

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

What happens if all peoples are converted to German race? Explain Why!?
6
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4answers
381 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
206 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
298 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
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1answer
158 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 ...
24
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7answers
7k views

How much alteration would be needed for the Cuban Missile Crisis to go nuclear? [closed]

My story takes place centuries in the future, in the year 2567. Over 600 years ago, during 1962, an all out nuclear war broke out. Most modern day historians believe it to have occurred in autumn, but ...
1
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3answers
211 views

Ice Age Cavalry

The history of horse domestication, according to recent research, starts somewhere on the plains of eastern Europe 6,000 years ago. Since then, cavalry had become a major turning point in Old World ...
-1
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1answer
122 views

Switch men and women' social position? [closed]

In my world, women always covered powerful roles since the beginning of the human species. They were warriors, politicians, leaders, and the head of a family. How should my world differ from ours to ...
2
votes
2answers
194 views

Living on an Island - Minimal Population for Free Choice of Partnership

Ok, I'm working on an creating a fantasy island. It plays in a similar time like the 17th to 18th century. Everyone on the island has one job, so he/she can focus on it. I estimated ~35 Jobs so far ...
9
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2answers
231 views

Can a star with a large habitable zone have two planets revolving each other as they revolve around their star,?

Just an idea that had me doing a lot of navel gazing. Both planets are habitable to carbon based life forms, but intelligent life on each planet evolves very differently. Eventually, the two life ...
21
votes
4answers
4k views

Finding real world historic examples of cultures/organizations/tribes to represent Orcs

I plan to make this a series of questions to avoid being overly broad. Each question will address a particular fantasy species ("race" in RPG terms). The traits will be based on the content included ...
214
votes
13answers
31k views

Is there a single historic event which could be changed to cause the USA to use SI units?

I am time traveller with aim to make world better. Last time I went to the past, all I heard was: "Kill Hitler!" So I went to the past and I must tell you, April 1945 was pretty loud in Berlin! ...
6
votes
10answers
829 views

What unexplained historical events or disasters could a kaiju have been responsible for?

I am currently exploring the idea of writing an SF / alternate history series that inserts kaijus into historical events. Specifically, I'm looking for unexplained or strange historical events that ...
11
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9answers
1k views

Finding real world historic examples of cultures/organizations/tribes to represent Elves

I plan to make this a series of questions to avoid being overly broad. Each question will address a particular fantasy species ("race" in RPG terms). The "racial" traits will be based on the content ...
-1
votes
2answers
124 views

How could a modern company-state form? [closed]

In today's society, with most if not all of the surface land masses claimed by existing nations, and nations' authority being supported by virtue of recognition of other states, how would a company be ...
6
votes
2answers
258 views

What would a medieval steam locomotive look like?

My question is pretty simple, if the steam locomotive were invented during the middle to late medieval period, what would it look like? We are just going to ignore how it was invented. My guess is ...
5
votes
9answers
749 views

Was it possible to keep the nuclear mechanism of the atom bomb a secret?

After the bombing of Hiroshima, US President Harry Truman issued a speech talking about the use of an "atomic bomb". But was it possible to keep this mechanism a secret? Perhaps by pretending it was a ...
29
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5answers
4k views

How could the Mafia retain its power in New York into the new century?

A mutant who sees multiple futures has predicted that the world will be invaded by aliens. Every future ends disastrously for the human race with us being wiped out. The only one in which we survive ...
-3
votes
4answers
177 views

Could the Romans have Invented Graphene? [closed]

This scenario is inspired by this article. Long ago, it was thought that this super-cool, extra strong material called carbon nanotubes is a recent invention. After all, what ancient culture could ...
13
votes
4answers
717 views

Can the Mongols conquer France?

Background In the mid 13th century, France was without a doubt the richest land of the West. Inside its modern borders there were perhaps 18 million people, and maybe more, at that time perhaps 1/5 ...
7
votes
3answers
672 views

How does Maximilian establish a lasting Mexican Empire?

On 20 October 1861, while in Paris, Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph Maria von Hapsburg, brother of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, received a letter from Jose Maria Gutierrez de Estrada, a Mexican ...
11
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16answers
3k views

Radio technology: Receiving without the ability to transmit

Scenario: In my alternate-Earth scenario, Europeans did not colonize the Americas. They use navigation only to circumnavigate Africa and go to India. Maybe they know there is something to the West, ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Could the Library of Alexandria have survived until today?

The Royal Library of Alexandria was one of the greatest library of the ancient world. However it was destroyed during the 3rd century after years of decline. Was such a library doomed to ...
0
votes
1answer
206 views

How big can my tank be? [duplicate]

In an alternate 1950s cold war, the Soviet Union and the United States (and their NATO and Warsaw pact allies) are locked in an arms race not unlike our own. What's the difference you ask? Instead of ...