Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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2
votes
7answers
486 views

JFK has clones, is he still safe?

Premise Human cloning tends to discombobulate our moral compasses; the potential for scientific gain and the potential for abuse are vast. Now, contrast this moral dilemma with the public sentiment ...
14
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15answers
5k views

How might a Professor of Mathematics Change History?

A professor of mathematics is sent back in time to a post-Neolithic farming village. They accept him as their wise man, and he spends 30 years teaching them all he knows about mathematics until he ...
8
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6answers
914 views

Survival strategy for a time traveller in the Roman empire [closed]

I would like to know what would be the best strategy to survive and prosper in the roman empire for a time traveller? Let's say that the time traveller is a 30-year-old Italian from the XXI century ...
19
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5answers
5k views

AIDS vs Great Plague in medieval period

The Great Plague is known as one of the worst pandemics in human history as it killed between 75 and 200 million people from 1347 to 1351 (according to wikipedia). I would like to know if AIDS had ...
7
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7answers
3k views

How would racial perceptions be different if the atlantic slave trade had been outlawed from the beginning?

We all know about the horrific history of the slave triangle which transported people from Africa to the Caribbean and America in exchange for sugar and other plantation produce. I'm trying to ...
43
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4answers
9k views

Is it possible to create a Gas Mask using only Medieval Technology?

This question was inspired by this one, which brought up the concept that a lot of the issues with a sword that created toxic fumes would also kill the user (that question also has one of the best ...
1
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2answers
361 views

Population of Europe if the bubonic plague never hit?

I'm writing a story about an alternate timeline wherein the bubonic plague never appeared. I was trying to figure out what the population of Europe (the area of the world most affected by the plague) ...
6
votes
3answers
543 views

Cost and efficiency of naval vs railway transport in mid-19th century

I'm creating a developed country in South America with its development similar to that of Canada or Australia (little behind the US). See the map below - the white line surrounds fertile and populated ...
-2
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3answers
453 views

How could fascist Italy have survived into the modern world?

In this alternate timeline, Hitler was killed during the first great war. This prevented the Nazis from becoming a true force in Germany. The real threat came from communism in Russia under a man ...
4
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3answers
176 views

In an age of flying sailing ships, would airfoils be invented earlier or later, and what uses might they serve?

In the question What would an age of sail flying ship look like?, I wrote an answer which defines the type of flying sailing ships that I am considering for this question. To clarify matters, keel ...
22
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3answers
6k views

How advanced can a civilization get without zero?

More or less exactly what it says on the tin. Start with a group of cavemen on prehistoric earth, discovering fire, language, wheels, etc, and walk them along the path to civilization, but with one ...
7
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2answers
746 views

Would an earlier HIV pandemic be a realistic, plausible historical apocalypse scenario?

The most recent common ancestor of the HIV-1 M group, responsible for the HIV pandemic, dates back to the Belgian Congo city of Léopoldville (modern Kinshasa), circa 1910. And the genetic history of ...
2
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5answers
444 views

Could a powerful Roman Empire exist alongside the British Empire? [closed]

I hope this question isn't too big and broad. In my post-apocalyptic series set in the years 2050-2200 in New Zealand after a nuclear war. (this question pertains to pre-war history) This version of ...
29
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16answers
10k views

Would evolution happen the same exact way if Earth restarted?

If Earth instantaneously reverted back to when the only organisms were small microscopic creatures in the sea, would evolution happen the same exact way creating the same animals and species? Was ...
17
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3answers
673 views

Reality check: Buddhist Aztecs

Idea Is the following alternate history setup conceivable: Central Mexico has been converted to Buddhism by missionaries arriving from East Asia or South-East Asia hundreds of years before European ...
15
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4answers
2k views

Could Catholicism have survived as the dominant religion in England if it had allowed aristocratic polygamy?

The proximate cause of the Anglican Church's split from the Roman Catholic Church, which retained more vestiges of Roman Catholicism than other major early Protestant Church denominations, was the ...
0
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2answers
116 views

What would the consequences of a longer glacial period be for modern Earth? [closed]

How would a generally colder climate effect the growth of horse-nomad cultures out of the Eurasian Steppe? Could similar cultures have simply developed further south, or would it have put a hold on ...
13
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7answers
871 views

What change in history would cause the Dutch to speak German?

What single change(s) in history would cause the Dutch people to be speaking German instead of Dutch? I understand that German and Dutch are both Germanic languages and share a common ancestry, as ...
0
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1answer
73 views

Is there a way to force Reagan to stay in Beirut after 1983 bombing? [closed]

Is there any possibility for Reagan to stay entangled in the Lebanese civil war after the suicide attack on the barracks in 1983? Maybe a missile attack that sinks one of the carriers would force ...
4
votes
1answer
278 views

Time travel to the mid-1980's - how do you sneak into society and make a ton of money as fast as possible? [closed]

The scenario: You are from the distant future, and are trapped in a parallel universe in the mid-1980's. You cannot expose your true identity and your only resource is a hidden laboratory where you ...
-1
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2answers
252 views

Russia and France: Could they be allies?

So, my alternate timeline, I decided to have it start during the War of 1812. But in order for my alternate timeline to work as planned, I need Russia to become allies with France under certain ...
0
votes
1answer
188 views

Texas expansion: Military

Alternate Timeline So let's say that there is a dragged out War of 1812 that splits the north and south. Southerners moving west will be moving into Texas. There is thus more manpower in Texas and so ...
4
votes
1answer
455 views

What if Great Britain never took over the Dutch Cape Colony in 1806?

The Dutch Cape Colony was a strategic location for European powers that traded and conquered Asia. During the Napoleonic Wars Great Britain sought to take over strategic locations, such as the Cape ...
14
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3answers
4k views

Is it possible for a wooden medieval era ship to carry a ballista inside that fires from the ship s prow?

I'm writing a fantasy novel and in it I'm designing a huge wooden ship moved by sail and man powered wheel paddle, and I wonder if it would be possible for the ship to carry a ballista inside that ...
18
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4answers
3k views

Ancient Light Trigger Mechanism

In the first scene of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, we see a booby trap where a series of spikes are thrusted out of a wall, and are triggered by "walking into the light". I think in ...
1
vote
7answers
1k views

U.S.A. with 51 states? [closed]

In a slightly different timeline, the flag is seen to have 51 stars. What are plausible (and interesting) candidates for another state? I could just pick a territory※ and imply that it became a ...
3
votes
2answers
180 views

If the Milky Way contained a Quasar

If the central Milky Way contained a highly active, accreting quasar, with a steady luminosity of 100 trillion solar that is 27,000 lightyears away and became active 27,000 years ago (the emissions ...
3
votes
2answers
139 views

Vigenère cipher with a regularly-changing key

There's a plot point in my current piece that involves some encrypted radio messages to/from a hidden lab and corporate headquarters, some time in the 1910s. In-universe, the corporation's board of ...
-5
votes
3answers
268 views

Future People on Earth [closed]

I watch the TV show The Last Man on Earth and there is only a handful of women and men living. In the show the few are trying to conceive. They haven't covered how eventually they will have to inbreed ...
0
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7answers
206 views

Farm-Raised Venison Before the Common Era [closed]

According to The Modern Farmer, people have been farming deer since the 1970s. The link provided also explains the benefits deer farming has over conventional livestock farming. The one fundamental ...
14
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6answers
5k views

Julius Caesar with a one-time pad

Julius Caesar used a substitution cipher (now called a Caesar cipher) for sensitive private and military correspondence. The cipher involves shifting all of the letters in a message in one direction a ...
0
votes
2answers
327 views

What would the world be like today if a nuclear winter started in the 60's?

Obviously, any technological advancements that would have happened between the 60's and now would probably not have occurred, but I was wondering what the other possible consequences could be. ...
17
votes
7answers
5k views

How to split South Africa on racial lines? [closed]

I want to have a setting where South Africa instead of ending the apartheid peacefully it splits across the racial lines. Whites form a separate state in the Western Cape or any other province as long ...
5
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6answers
379 views

Armor increasing strength

Many games have various side bonuses on their armors other than just defense. These bonuses can often be active things like having a ghost thrall to protect you when wearing a special armor or more ...
1
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3answers
286 views

If a species of dolphins were developed with a few tentacles, what type of society would they build? [closed]

One of the most special things about humans compared to other animals is our industriousness. We have intelligence and we are able to make use of it. I was wondering if Dolphins, widely considered to ...
5
votes
1answer
799 views

Alternate History: A European Empire in the Middle Ages - Feasibility

Summary What is the most feasible change that could be made to European History to allow the creation of a United European Empire during the Middle Ages, before the Third Crusade? Background My ...
-1
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3answers
234 views

Can death create a loophole for two exact duplicate people existing in the same universe? [closed]

Here'a another one of my weird questions... So there's two universes, two of many in a many worlds/multiverse scenario. We'll call one Universe A and the other Universe B for sanity's sake. And there ...
0
votes
5answers
2k views

Could the Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte changed the outcome of WWII?

So, This is a VERY VERY BIG TANK. So big it crushes everything in its path (even the path itself). Assuming I lead Nazi Germany, I WILL deploy/create this tank. The issues of this tank are: (taken ...
8
votes
5answers
461 views

How can a pre-modern culture survive a sustained invasion accompanied by epidemics?

Assume the following situation: A pre-modern culture A exists on continent/island X with no previous contact with culture B (the invaders). Culture B discovers and invades X and the lands of A intend ...
2
votes
3answers
187 views

What if the Alliance went to war with the Soviet Union? [closed]

End of the Second World War, battle dust was still flying in the air, when Winston Churchill commands the launching of Operation Unthinkable. Without chance to celebrate victory, soldiers go to the ...
15
votes
7answers
3k views

Could the IJA have mounted an invasion through Alaska in this alternate timeline?

In an alternate timeline, the 1867 Alaska Purchase does not happen (the British do not fight in the Crimean War and instead aid Russia financially). Russia still controls Alaska in 1904 when war ...
36
votes
10answers
13k views

How would the indigenous peoples of North America have developed in the absense of the Europeans?

In some alternate history, Europeans never discovered the Americas for one reason or another. Maybe the initial motivations just weren't there, or maybe the visionaries of the day fell ill and died ...
7
votes
6answers
373 views

Is it reasonable for electric generators to come before steam engines?

Let us develop an industrial electric motor from first principles. Alessandro Volta developed a battery whose ingredients were copper, zinc, seawater, and imagination. These ingredients have been ...
2
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2answers
261 views

Wind-powered Industrial Revolution?

Would it be possible for a society to start an industrial revolution based around electric engines and windmills?
66
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22answers
12k views

What single change would have given the best chance for the Allies to win the Battle of France in early WWII

The obvious WWII alternate history question is how could the Axis have won. Let's try something different this time. The Battle of France was a big gamble for the Third Reich. They sent more or less ...
5
votes
9answers
2k views

How advanced could someone make a firearm with Medieval Technology

Assume I have someone who doesn't age, and has a lot of time to learn any skill or experiment with things, but who was born and raised (prior to becoming ageless) in a medieval farming village. He is ...
4
votes
0answers
221 views

Alternate History: What would an Inuit Empire look like? [closed]

Brunt of the question in the title. Given that some Inuit decide to settle in one place, ideally Iceland or Kamchatka, the Arctic is still a terrible place to develop technology. If they had ...
25
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7answers
6k views

Why can't a Tercio use crossbows and pikes?

The Spanish tercio was the premier infantry unit of the late 15th and 16th century, as exemplified at their one-sided demolition of the French army at Pavia in 1525. The tercio was a mixed unit of ...
0
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1answer
154 views

What weapons and technology can be used in alternate history set in late 1980s? [closed]

The plot is as follows: in 1986, after the Chernobyl disaster, the KGB staged a coup against Gorbachev and deposed him. This lead to a civil war in the USSR with some external actors involved. In ...
24
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6answers
5k views

Is it bad Worldbuilding to use the real world and history as a template for your own setting? [closed]

I love history and I love alternative history. But when I want to write alternative history myself, I quickly feel restricted. Now, I like mythologies and fantasy too. Now I came across an old map. ...