Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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10
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2answers
452 views

Romans in the air

We know that the Romans invented or used simple machinery like waterwheels, crank mechanisms and even simple steam and atmospheric engines, as well as what we would recognize today as clockwork, but ...
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3answers
525 views

Alternate History: How much area do I need for viable dinosaurs to be found thriving in Antarctica

To narrow this down, I'm looking only for climactic specifications. Not cultural responses, etc. During Ernest Shackleton's expedition to the Antarctic continent, he found a huge canyon/crevasse ...
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11answers
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Could a Time Traveller prevent the Civil War in the United States?

A sequel to Could a Time Traveller Prevent the Black Plague? Todd the time traveler's a cool dude and has decided to use his powers for good, more specifically he wants to stop the American Civil War ...
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9answers
2k views

Leg powered propeller for boat in Punic war time

Galley was a widely used type of ship in the Mediterranean sea. It was propelled by rowers and sails. Supposing the ship builders at the time of the Punic wars got the right "inspiration" (how they ...
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6answers
2k views

Fantasy and the germ theory

When developing a medival fantasy realm, especially one with no known healing and restoration magic, one may need to develop the people's understanding of science and medicine. A unique example of ...
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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 ...
9
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3answers
869 views

How would a drug cartel claim legitimacy as a government entity?

Scenario America's issues with the Mid East are less pronounced due to a series of events, allowing it to focus on domestic issues. The Setting 1982 - Ronald Reagan declares his own intensification of ...
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8answers
966 views

How to defeat the two-party system?

This would happen post-WW2 (probably late 50's-early 60's). An activist thinks things in the USA have to change but knows (or is firmly convinced) that as long as only the Republican or Democratic ...
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4answers
565 views

How to bring Vikings to South Africa?

I want to explain large Viking kingdom that keeps the worship of the Norse Gods (Odin, Thor, Loki) not the Christian nonsense of the Normans. So I was thinking of bringing a Viking fleet to South ...
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6answers
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What events could keep Zeppelins in the air today?

The Hindenburg was a massive failure in blimps, it practically banished them from the skies, it didn't matter that events such as the Hindenburg disaster were not as common as plane crashes today or ...
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4answers
220 views

Why would China and UK peacefully agree Hong Kong to be returned to UK?

At mid-night 1 July 1997, UK returned HK to China. Call my imaginary China's handover to UK "Patriation" - it must happen after 1 July 1997. As we know from real world 2019 protests, some ...
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5answers
2k views

If America could not annex Hawaii, what nation (if any) most likely would?

The primary reason that Hawaii was annexed as a territory of America is that they believed (and rightfully so) that if they didn't annex it, some other nation would, but which nation? There are a ...
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6answers
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What would a Christian calendar look like?

After the adoption of Christianity as the one official religion in late Ancient Rome, the new role of pope inherited some duties of previous leaders, among them he’s responsible for the calendar. The ...
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4answers
233 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 ...
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4answers
882 views

What if the asteroid never hit? [closed]

Science fiction and fantasy stories are full of alternate worlds populated by races of beings that look mostly human but kind of different. But is that at all realistic? When the dominant life forms ...
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4answers
896 views

Could a 19th century setting support purely mechanical orbital satellite and manned orbital launches?

In my setting, military innovation spurred by the American Civil War (1861-1865) prompts the design and construction of counterweight-driven skyhooks for the delivery of suborbital long-range ...
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11answers
1k views

What should a modern human-turned-king do to accelerate medieval society and science to modern standards?

Bob is a thirty year old atheist man from our modern times. One day, he is irreversibly thrown back into medieval France around 1300 C.E. His education consists of a Bachelor's degree in mathematics, ...
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2answers
1k views

What would the impact of a global and unchallenged empire be on world history?

I'm currently doing some research for my first book which involves a planet with an empire that has had its roots in Antiquity. It's basically a country that formed about 2200 years ago and has ...
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4answers
9k views

If the gravity on earth were different, how would the human body change?

If the gravity on earth was different, how would our bodies change? For this question, assume that gravity was five time stronger (5G) from the beginning of the Earth. Would a human-like body still ...
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4answers
2k views

What American animals would have been domesticated had they not gone extinct?

Here are some lists of North American and South American megafauna that went extinct during the Quaternary. In Eurasia, many species of large mammal were domesticated, most particularly the 'big 4' ...
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2answers
1k views

What is the smallest change I can make to history to allow the French Empire not to fall?

Below is an image of the French Empire in 1812: Circled in red are France and its allies before Napoleon's doomed-to-fail campaign on Russia. Outlined in blue is the Confederation of the Rhine. In ...
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4answers
447 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 ...
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4answers
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What would happen if I showed the Vikings advanced technology? [closed]

Today, I answered a question in an essay which related to time travel and what I would do if I could go back to a historical period. This got me thinking, and I came up with a hypothetical scenario in ...
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5answers
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How does social and cultural change relate to scientific progress?

I'm writing a novel based on an alternative version of Earth, but because of a large change in human history, as well as a more focused transfer of knowledge and the presence of materials unknown to ...
9
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3answers
277 views

What would be valuable and useable as currency for people traveling between multiple dimensions?

I have a cosmos where FTL travel is via an alternate dimension. The problem is when you return to our universe, you find yourself at the right destination, but a completely different parallel world ...
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1answer
185 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-...
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2answers
175 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 ...
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2answers
247 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 ...
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7answers
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Humans, except they always find the right solution to the wrong predicament [closed]

Two mothers say a baby is theirs, simple solution, split the baby in two so they bot get half! Lost your family? Find a new one! Your husband cheats on you with your friend? Cheat on him too with your ...
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6answers
884 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 ...
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7answers
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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., ...
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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 ...
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5answers
348 views

Uniting The Wild Peoples Of Eow [closed]

Background Story Steve Gwa, a native American serving in U.S. special forces, one day wakes up to find himself in a very unlikely place. He is laying on the ground, near a village that appears to ...
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6answers
1k 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 ...
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5answers
991 views

Can sanitation spark an industrial revolution

In an Alternate Earth timeline, round about 1200 AD, we have the Great Alchemist and Philosopher Bob. Bob, being from a wealthy family has a handful of older brothers, so he's not likely to be an ...
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4answers
655 views

The Catholic Caribbean Viking Kingdom?

Could Viking settlers have established a catholic kingdom in the Caribbean by 1450? What challenges would they face, and be unique to their colonising this region by this time? And if they had, ...
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5answers
498 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 ...
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4answers
2k views

Capital of British Empire without Britain

It's around 1895 and the British Isles have fallen to a communist uprising. Or sunk underwater. Or invaded by Germany or covered in ice or something. So the government, the Royal Family and a large ...
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3answers
2k views

Impact of a modern man with a graphing calculator being dropped into WW2?

A question blatantly inspired by my old question here: What would be the impact of a modern programmer and laptop being dropped into World War II, possibly breaking Enigma? I had so much fun with the ...
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4answers
136 views

Minimum tech for agricultural desalination

I'm trying to figure out a realistic setting that depends heavily on desalinating sea water for desert agriculture. Specifically, I'm trying to figure out exactly how early in the tech tree, this can ...
8
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1answer
458 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 ...
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2answers
1k views

Ninjas of the ancient Roman Empire

The emperor needs a way to quickly and decisively kill his enemies (Romans and non-Romans). So he devised an assassin squad to carry on his devious intentions. Kill or hijack enemy VIP personnel and ...
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7answers
519 views

How to prevent the creation of the Atomic Bomb?

The invention of the Atomic Bomb changed major conflicts basically turning them into a nuclear arms race. what I want to know is what single change would have prevent the creation of the Atomic Bomb? ...
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3answers
258 views

Can we have a world where bacteriophages are the main treatment of bacterial infection?

In Georgia (Soviet Union) bacteriophages are used to to cure bacterial infection. In this video one can see how they are produced. So it might be possible in an alternate timeline, that Paul Ehrlich ...
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2answers
456 views

Manhattan Project goes really, really wrong

This is for a project where the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from early US atomic bomb tests is somehow much more magnified than the destructive blast- so much so that it destroys electrical devices ...
8
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1answer
144 views

How CAN a Wyvern be a Scansoriopterygid Dinosaur?

It's become a popular speculative evolution trope for the likeliest candidate of the mythological "wyvern" to be a Cenozoic family--if not superfamily--of scansoriopterygid dinosaur. Now the first ...
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5answers
568 views

How could state borders equal major watersheds?

How can I explain, in a believable way of course, that country borders closely resemble drainage divides? They don’t always match mountain ridges, which are natural borders – as are the rivers ...
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2answers
2k views

Point of Divergence to replace Humans with humanoid Bears

I have got a fictional universe, where a humanoid lifeform evolved on earth not from apes, but from bears. The humanoid bears are like humans; they walk on their legs only, wear clothing, have various ...
8
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1answer
341 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 ...
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4answers
2k views

What would the British have done in Argentina and the surrounding area if they had been victorious in Buenos Aires in 1807?

If the British, under the command of John Whitelocke, had been able to capture Buenos Aires in July 1807 (after a much smaller British force was defeated the year before, following an initial victory ...

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