Hot answers tagged

101

Why struggling for gold, which any king and even merchant of the medieval world has, when you can go for Aluminum, which no king yet has? Aluminum is shiny, like gold. Aluminum is malleable in thin foils, like gold. Aluminum, once passivated (i.e. covered by a thin layer of oxide), stops further oxidation. Gold is not oxidized at all, but no one will notice ...


100

Gold is one of the densest metals in existence. Only few metals and alloys are heavier, but they are not much easier to obtain, like iridium, osmium, neptunium and plutonium (!). If you use any lighter metal and try to make it look like gold you will be discovered and beheaded - the method of finding out density of alloys pretending to be gold was discovered ...


86

Knowledge is also experience. So the art of war, running a business, politics, law, medicine, many artistic skills, acting, etc. Even if a specific tidbit of historical data isn't really relevant, the accumulated experience of lifetimes, combined with a young body, can be a powerful combination. Folks will probably start to specialize to a high degree, ...


84

You say to avoid political factors but realistically it is ALL about politics. Specifically Orcs cannot sustain political authority or more precisely loyalty. Orcs are loyal to the most charismatic (or simply powerful) leader present. If the leader is not present they will not follow the leader. This might be due to high level of aggression, short ...


80

Take Berlin Hostage. This wouldn't win the war, but it's a more interesting answer than "nowhere", and in line with Hitler's belief that he was fighting the Götterdämmerung. 1 April 1945: Germany Has Already Lost. The German situation on April 1st, 1945 was unsalvagable. Their army was in ruins. Their capacity to make up for losses done. All the men and ...


77

While distilling leaves you with absolutely clean water, it is very costly. The constant need of burning material is a real problem if a bigger amount of water is required. But fortunately, there is another method that is way cheaper. Filtering: Every citizen can build his own water filter, with gravel, sand, charcoal and some cloth: This filter clears ...


73

The existence and history of Scientology would seem to suggest that there's no upper bound on when a new god might be created and accepted. While Scientology does not per se include a deity, consider that it was created in the modern era (1954), contains scientifically falsifiable claims (76 trillion year age of the universe, among others), direct ...


72

Honestly, I think that a modern Main Battle Tank could have been a game changer in World War II, despite your concerns. Generally, the German Tiger Heavy Tank is regarded as the toughest tank from that era. However, comparing the Tiger to a Challenger II is, to quote a blogger, 'like comparing a Model-T to a Porsche for a race.' Tank technology was still ...


67

From about 1933 onwards, a dragon on your side is no longer a win button as that year saw the deployment of the Flak 18 by German army. It first saw action in the Spanish Civil War a few years later. The Flak 18 would later improve into the Flak 36 and 37 used in WW2. This weapon was built on the requirements demonstrated in WW1 to be able to apply rapid ...


67

Yes You're in luck, the first steam engine was actually invented in the 1st Century AD a good 1000 years ahead of gunpowder. The Aeolipile is technically a steam engine, what's required is for the people of the time to see its potential rather than dismiss it as a toy. Heron (c. 10–70 AD) takes a more practical approach, in that he gives instructions ...


67

The printing press is not what Gutenberg invented. The printing press itself was known in Europe since the High Middle Ages at least, and in China even earlier. He did not invent movable type, which was also known. As for the "mechanization skills" needed -- printing was the last of the basic industries to be mechanized. Printing remained extremely labor-...


66

The best starting point would be knowing about Turing Machines. Alan Turing thought these up in 1936, so your human-vampire hybrid could have learned about these shortly before entering hybernation. In case you are not aware, a Turing machine is basically an abstract version of a computer. It's a theoretical device that can compute anything that can be ...


66

Vikings! If the Vikings had to row, everyone on the longship took their turn at an oar (though they sailed any time they could, because who wouldn't?) -- and when they went ashore to fight, everyone in the crew had a shield and weapon and armor comparable to what everyone else was wearing at the time -- helmet and hauberk, at a minimum. Seems to have ...


63

This almost seems silly. Quick look at the Challenger II's weapons: Main cannon This is of lesser use as it's ultimately an anti-tank weapon and we're taking it to times where anti-tank isn't really a requirement. This would have some pretty impressive effects when targeting castle walls. The range on this puts any form of ancient artillery to shame and ...


62

Artificial satellites orbiting around Earth are pretty easy to spot, since they appear as bright fast moving objects across the night sky. This even in a light polluted environment like a modern city. I remember I spotted satellites moving in the sky as a kid looking up at the sky with no knowledge of astronomy. Spotting them was even more exciting than ...


57

There's a reason we use archaeology to reconstruct what happened in the past. Written records are powerful when they exist, but they're also fragile. It takes relatively little damage for a document written on paper to become illegible; stone lasts longer, depending on the environment, but it's so laborious to carve that you'd only keep your most important ...


52

It's hard to come with a single method that both works when you have 5 minutes in a dense forest, and 5 days in a city. But here are some ideas: Find out who the current pope is. Locate a graveyard (or a church with in-church burial), search for the most recent date on a tomb stone. Search through church records (weddings, burials, baptism) for the most ...


52

You could emulate Volta's pile if you could find some zinc and copper metal, and some acid, however the purity of such items might be pretty questionable. Which means you might get more voltage than you expected and damage the phone, with no possibility of repair. The cells Volta made produced about 1.1V so 5 of them would be about right (perhaps a bit high)....


51

Math. It's the basis for computer languages and would give a good starting place to learning modern languages. The first low level programming languages where created in the 40's, and high level languages in the 50's. So the vampire would not have had any experience or knowledge of computers in the 30's. Knowledge of math would at least give a background ...


48

It's possible, but it requires a trip through illiterate barbarity lasting centuries. This means that they cannot forget only about Earth: they need to forget everything, writing, math, engineering, science. For all practical purposes they will be an independent civilization, having to re-invent almost everything from scratch. The ancient Egyptians wrote ...


46

I'd like to suggest a really strange answer to this question: the best thing a time traveler could do is keep their mouth shut. Consider: what was the single most effective reason for Presidents to not launch weapons in the cold war? Everyone has seen what nuclear war is. Everyone knows what happened at Hiroshima. Everyone knows what happened at Nagasaki....


45

If you want to charge your laptop off of mains power, Edison Illuminating Company will be happy to provide you with 110-volt DC power in 1882, provided you're willing to do your work in Manhattan. If a private power source is acceptable, you can pick up a dynamo in the late 1860s, or look for a factory that will let you tap into theirs. If any commercial ...


44

This depends on how hard the government works to hide things. If the only thing the government does is say "this was not a crime" then no. Books and literature and histories and historians will remember the events because humanity doesn't really 'forget' about anything. Unless the government explicitly bans discussing it the knowledge of the event will ...


43

Yes...probably What was really important to our development of technology was not oil, but coal. Access to large deposits of high-quality coal largely fueled the industrial revolution, and it was the industrial revolution that really got us on the first rungs of the technological ladder. Oil is a fantastic fuel for an advanced civilisation, but it's not ...


42

Air power superiority would probably make the biggest difference in any past war. A B-2 Spirit would be able to fly over Germany without being seen on radar, pinpoint bomb all kinds of strategic targets, and be gone leaving nothing but destruction and confusion. Plus the recon ability would be huge. An A-10 Warthog would make short work of cavalry, ...


42

Dinosaur fossils are dug up all of the time. Including things like fossilized teeth. I wonder what researchers would say to a gold nugget embedded in a tooth. Things like clothing, watches, ... might leave impressions in the stone, just as there are fossils with skin or feather impressions (wikimedia link to Archaeopteryx). What happens to ceramics in ...


41

My great-grandfather headed an Electrical Engineering department from 1946-1956, just as the important transitions into electronic processing were being made and WWII computing technology became unclassified. During his tenure as chair, he purchased the university's first computer, REAC 100, and hired some professors to develop on it. His background was in ...


40

Russia has one of the most liberal immigration policies in the world (a measure Putin's government implemented to counteract its plummeting population due to demographics), but a half-million people in a short period of time is a bit excessive. Still, somewhat theoretically possible. There are two problems you're going to have to deal with. Russia has one ...


39

As many other comments have suggested, orbit altitude is a key parameter in determining how visible the recon satellite would be. However, orbital altitude also determines how long the object will stay in orbit—specifically the perigee (lowest-point) altitude. Let's say the recon satellite was in a roughly-circular¹ orbit of 400km, which is approximately ...


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