Questions tagged [alternate-history]

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

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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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9 votes
2 answers
258 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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8 votes
13 answers
5k 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 ...
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8 votes
7 answers
2k views

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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8 votes
8 answers
4k views

Why might modern demigods be unable to use guns? [closed]

In Percy Jackson and the Titan’s Curse, Annabeth’s dad, Dr. Chase comes in at the end of his book and uses a machine gun on his Sopwith Camel, along with some celestial bronze bullets he created in ...
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8 votes
6 answers
921 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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8 votes
4 answers
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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8 votes
14 answers
2k views

What point of departure would incite the medieval peoples to develop The Industrial Revolution at an earlier date than back home?

In our timeline, the Industrial Revolution spanned from 1760 to 1820...or 1840, depending on which source we're talking about. Bottom line is, this period in modern history was a pretty big deal, ...
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8 votes
3 answers
2k views

How would the Anglo-French empire arise?

After I asked what language the Anglo-French Empire would use, I got a few comments that made me realise that I haven't really thought about how this would arise in the first place. For starters, as ...
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8 votes
5 answers
358 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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8 votes
6 answers
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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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8 votes
5 answers
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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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8 votes
2 answers
692 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 ...
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8 votes
4 answers
768 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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8 votes
4 answers
270 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 ...
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8 votes
5 answers
666 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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8 votes
4 answers
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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8 votes
3 answers
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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8 votes
4 answers
3k views

What if Germany had atomic bombs in WWII

What if Germany had been first to create atomic bombs in WWII? Assume they had additional scientists and resources so that none of their other research/projects was slowed down, yet they were still ...
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  • 242
8 votes
6 answers
1k views

Computers before cars?

Eric Schmidt famously declared that it should be considered "a bug" that cars were invented before computers. He was talking about the ability of self-driving cars to remove driver error--the ...
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8 votes
3 answers
268 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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8 votes
5 answers
2k views

What single change would have given the best chance for Iraq to win the Iraq War?

Inspired by the similar questions about The Cold War and World War 2, As worldbuilders the most common question asked is; What if? These what if question usually focus on factors leading up to, ...
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8 votes
2 answers
2k 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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8 votes
7 answers
599 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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8 votes
4 answers
958 views

How can Takeda Katsuyoui win the Battle of Nagashino?

In OTL, Takeda Katsuyoui, son of Takeda Shingen leads his clan to battle against Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu over the objections of his father's "24 Generals" (high ranking military advisors and ...
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8 votes
2 answers
488 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 ...
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8 votes
1 answer
391 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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8 votes
2 answers
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 ...
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8 votes
1 answer
382 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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8 votes
4 answers
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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8 votes
2 answers
415 views

How to Build the Fictional Continents Using Our Real Continents

Presented here is a map of Earth with the fictional continents resurfaced, by the Redditor "Stagman1111": Source From left to right, the presented additional continents are Mu, Atlantis and ...
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8 votes
1 answer
878 views

What if the Islamic religion was never founded? [closed]

Before Mohammed founded the Islam religion, the weak and religiously divided Arabian tribes fought each other on the Arabian Peninsula in the shadow of the powerful Byzantine Empire. Without Islam ...
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7 votes
10 answers
2k views

What single change would have given the best chance for the Central Powers to win World War 1?

A common topic in alternate history fiction works is what would have happened if a major war had been won by the other side. These usually focus on the events after the war, and the change itself is ...
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7 votes
7 answers
3k views

Would the successful creation of nuclear powered bombers in the 1950s have had any meaningful impact on the Cold War?

As far as I am aware nuclear powered bombers were the first attempt by the USSR and USA (either unintentional or not) at enhanced nuclear deterrence. Intending to place a nuclear reactor in a plane ...
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7 votes
7 answers
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 ...
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7 votes
9 answers
2k views

Stunting Technological Growth After World War II

Alternate Earth. Using our own Earth as a baseline, this question opens up altering details of our history or societies to accomplish the intended outcome. The goal, quite simply, is to stagnate ...
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7 votes
8 answers
851 views

Earliest possible colony in the Americas?

The first Europeans to land in the Americas were Viking explorers who arrived in the 1000s. Viking colonisation didn't last, and sustained European colonisation began after the late 1400s when ...
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7 votes
10 answers
2k views

Could Nazi Germany, Surviving WWII, Survive the Cold War?

In our theoretical alternate universe Nazi Germany--thanks to its scientists that in real history were split and used by the US and USSR--managed to reach the level of nuclear warheads and ICBM ...
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7 votes
4 answers
1k views

What if the Trinity test had ignited the atmosphere? Could we survive?

In the early days of the Manhattan project, there was a brief scare, based on some calculations by Edward Teller, that an atomic bomb would ignite the atmosphere. They later redid the calculations and ...
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  • 3,453
7 votes
5 answers
619 views

Allowing rural, isolated societies to maintain certain industrial capabilities?

My society/area is set in a isolated wasteland where the primary income of people is ranching. However, I want my people to be able to at least be able to maintain technology at a 1916 level (the ...
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  • 2,210
7 votes
4 answers
828 views

What if large pterosaurs like Quetzalcoatlus had survived as isolates in New Zealand and ended up domesticated by the Maori?

The question. Let's say a pterosaur like Q. Northropi survived as an isolate and thrived as apex predator in New Zealand for millions of years. Without much evolutionary pressure its species remained ...
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  • 777
7 votes
6 answers
456 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 ...
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  • 84.2k
7 votes
5 answers
297 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 ...
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7 votes
3 answers
270 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 ...
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7 votes
3 answers
737 views

How to make Napoleon attack Ottoman empire instead of Russia?

I want to have alternate history where Napoleon fights Ottomans backed by the British. I need British as enemies no alliance with them whatsoever. How to make Napoleon invade Ottoman empire instead ...
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  • 73
7 votes
5 answers
1k views

Latest Nazi Germany could reach peace agreement; maintain largest empire

In an alternative universe I'm wanting Nazi Germany to maintain as much of its war-achieved empire as possible, via reaching a peace agreement (and not more successful efforts on the war front, or ...
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  • 17.2k
7 votes
4 answers
1k views

Could Bamboos Evolve Into Trees In the Past?

This question is based on a scenario on DeviantArt. The presented image is here: The description is as follows: By the start of the Cryocene, bamboo has become one of Serina's most successful ...
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  • 14.4k
7 votes
4 answers
1k views

Ancient divers of Rome

Ancient divers: Vitruvius connected a long tube of cloth, impregnated with special waxes, with bronze rings every 10 cm to hold the tube open, to a pair of bellows connected to crude cheek valves. ...
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  • 5,736
7 votes
5 answers
357 views

Technological complexity in a tribal setting?

Situation It is 2000 BCE. Seven late bronze age clans descended from the Fatyanovo-Balanova Culture which have been warring for control of the Moskva after the disappearance of their culture have ...
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7 votes
5 answers
624 views

How can I account for the curvature of Earth for my straight line (10th Century)?

It is the 10th Century and the hero, Ibn Muadhe has discovered trigonometry about six centuries before Cartes, and has received a wonderful gift. A very spiritual Avicenna had rushed by camel and ...
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