Technology vs Magic (A Challange)

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by orthogonal, Jun 14, 2002.

  1. Clockwood You Forgot Poland Registered Senior Member

    Show any hint of technology in the wrong era and you would be burned at the stake.
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  3. SoLiDUS OMGWTFBBQ Registered Senior Member

    Notwithstanding a proper explanation ?

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  5. ted_roe Registered Senior Member

    Copper is a common metal, even in medieval times. It seems that one could devise a simple means of making wire.... from that point electical generators and basic circuitry are simple could then build an electric chair and impress the hell out of the Inquisition, and add an entire new chapter to the art of medieval torture......
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  7. Conor Registered Member

    that would require magnets to generate the electricity. natural magnets are weak, and were held as magical with little hope of convincing even the smartest of scholors for circutry, you would have to have detailed knowledge of the inner workings of resisters, compacitors...ect...
  8. m0rl0ck Consume! Conform! Obey! Registered Senior Member

    The interesting part might be the impact of the ideas you took back with you.
    Sophisticated technology might be tough to do without a supporting infrastructure, but it would be interesting to give them cheeseburgers, politics (as separate from religion)
    advertising etc.
    I wonder how "we shall overcome" would go over in the 14th century

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  9. Gifted World Wanderer Registered Senior Member

    Take "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" to the thirties.

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  10. captainkynan Registered Member

    I only just found this..

    Occasionally I play this mind game; I imagine that I've returned to Europe in the Middle Ages wearing only my "birthday suit." My task is to single-handedly introduce my ancestors to modern technology using only the information I carry in my head.

    I've been thinking about this kind of thing and reckon it would make a great reality program... Some kind of 'civilisation' game show to see how far you could advance in a period of time.
  11. vslayer Registered Senior Member

    given carbon, vinegar, copper i could make a loudspeaker
  12. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    I wouldn't think that will ever be possible for that would upset the time lines for everyone and everything.
  13. Igor Trip Registered Senior Member

    Personally I would invent paper and the printing press followed by a new number system to replace roman numerals. But I would base it around Dozens instead of tens! It’s got to be better.

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    I might also use magic tricks to fool people into thinking I’m a prophet and then invent my own religion. That’s where the money is!

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    Of course I could build an electric generator and demonstrate lightning, but they would probably burn me as a witch

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  14. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    A whole year late but for what its worth- WONDERFUL thread.

    Let us see...what would Gendanken do?

    Given only the environment and my bare hands, walk up to the first cedar tree and strip off some bark. What I need know is gum, sugar and potassium chlorate. Gum I can easily milk off that tree, sugar Im sure some village idiot can fetch, but the potassium chlorate. Where? I'm no chemist, but seeing how this is a simple chemical I'm sure there's some way I could find some from natural resources (disclaimer: gendanken is allowed a crash course in chemistry the night before she's zipped back in time.)

    All I need now is a bottle (glass blowing is an ancient art, so the villagers have glass bottles). Enter sulfuric acid- found in any dark cave with standing water.
    Taking the gum, sugar, and potassium chlorate mixture I coat the piece of cedar with it and then dip the stick in the bottle. I take it out and its contact with air (oxygen) goes VOILA- fire. My cedar stick has burst into flames.

  15. BigBlueHead Great Tealnoggin! Registered Senior Member

    Can-and-string telephone - not too hard with a pair of drums - make relatively long-distance communication.

    Optics - Galileo's discoveries could have been made centuries earlier, if everybody already had glass.

    Bulletproof Vests - layered silk would stop bullet penetration just as well in medieval times as it does now

    Telegraph - large quantities of refined metal like copper were hard to get, but in those days instantaneous communication would have been priceless. Naturally-occurring magnets might not have been strong enough. Also, possibly too weird for the locals.

    Smokeless powder - the alchemists knew how to make nitric acid (it was an ingredient in Aqua Regia), and nitric acid and cellulose (like linen) combine to make guncotton - superior to gunpowder in energy potential, and also relatively smokeless so your gunners can see better.

    Most highly pressurized technologies like steam engines and ICE's were not possible with the very poor metallurgy of the time.

    Alloying of nickel and iron makes stainless steel, but the temperatures required would probably be higher than were possible with the resources available.

    Coke - coal with the coal gas driven out of it - would fire at a higher temperature and thus be useful. Coal gas would also be useful but dangerous and difficult to store.

    The movable type printing press is not as easy to "reinvent" as it appears - the technology involved was actually fairly complicated for the time... making movable type that will print without squashing the letters was a bit of a trick.

    An understanding of Mendelian inheritance and transmission genetics would probably aid greatly in animal and plant breeding.

    Cowpox inoculations could have eradicated smallpox. (Before the Spanish went to Central America... the world would be a very different place.)
  16. vslayer Registered Senior Member

    a bullet proof wouldnt work that well against a crossbow, i know for a fact that you can stab through a vest, the only reason it stops bullets is beacuse they are so tiny.

    what would be really easy is the missile, and while im at it why not a plane
  17. Dreamwalker Whatever Valued Senior Member

    If you would travel back in time, you could help to work up a bit of the time the church has so lavishly wasted.

    I think I would build a car. It´s not that hard, alas I would need to equipp it with a steam engine at the beginning...
    And I would build me a rifle to keep those nutters who want to burn me away.

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    A tank would also be neat...

    And the I would just further their technological development after I have convinced them that I am no magician.
  18. c_david_neely Registered Member

    Greetings and Felicitations,

    It depends on when I was dropped off. The Middle Ages covers a pretty good time frame. However:

    Build myself a still and introduce the local warlord the the most potent Grog I could make. Fractional distillation was easy to do with common equipment. Once I was in his good graces as Court Alchemist (which was perfectly ok) I would proceed. Introduce local blacksmith to folding metal. Introduce local warlord to gunpowder and breech-loaded weapons. Introduce local warlord to using pure alchohol to fight infection and for use as a weapon. Teach them to boil water to kill infection (appropriately disguised as getting all the devils out). Ah, the list proceeds. Considering I would know how to keep myself healthy better than anyone else I wait until the warlord gets old (about 30 or so) kill him off and take over the world.

    Sincerely Yours,
    C. David Neely
  19. Roman Banned Banned

    I don't know enough about metallurgy, chemisty or mechanics to build anything. What is interesting, however, is that many claim it would be "easy" to build a car, steam engine, etc.

    However, it'd be near impossible. If you're in the middle ages, then your materials suck. Try making nuts and bolts and screws out of iron. Since your screws would be made out of the same stuff your boiler tank is, your steam engine would tear apart at the seams.

    Distillation (assuming this is pre-alchemy) and preventing infection would be the best I could do. And possibly building hot air ballons, and optics.

    For anyone who has actually worked with their hands on something, they'd know how hard it is to build something. You'd have to know how to use medieval tools. This is the age before synthetic glue and duct tape....

    I think our best bet would be to apprentice with an alchemist, blacksmith or chemist, to learn how to use medieval tools. Then we could try "standing on the shoulders of giants." Otherwise, I think we'd all end up growing stuff as a serf.
  20. alain du hast mich Registered Senior Member

    maybe with a medical degree you could do something
  21. Insanely Elite Questions reality. Registered Senior Member

    Hey Orthoganal,
    I've played this game myself once or twice.
    Could you qualify the year and place.
    There is an important 500 years involved and Europe is a big place.
    Also, No one has mentioned the enormous language barrier.
    Anyone still speak or write latin? or whatever the local language you would find yourself in. Customs? Etc..
    Conceeding that somehow I could communicate with anyone and didn't piss off/scare the local population, how could I get an audience with someone in power?

    I suppose I would have to steal some clothes from a yokel straight away.
    Then steal enough equipment and supplies to survive, and leave the district,for a large city. I would acquire charcoal,salt peter,and sulpher from an apothacary and mix a bit up a bit of gunpowder and build alot of frag grenades.
    This should endear me to the local power structure, then I would improve their armies drill and weaponary(everybody gets a crossbow!,building them if early middle age) Become a great general(using superior strategy and tactics)and unify that nation by force of arms and become their King. I would improve the agriculture methods to feed my new nation and would make sure to be buddies with the pope(to influence his positions on my upcoming renaissance). Then create Universities and promote literacy. I would introduce the factory, assembly line, and unify a code of law(promoting human rights).

    I could take over the world at this point(I know its round and quite alot of the geopolitics of the era) but i don't. Instead, I would control world trade. I would contact africa,austrailia,and america,and warn them of future european evils.(probably saying something like kill all white folk.) and give them gunpowder and advanced blacksmithing knowledge, as well as a ton of european diseases so they will have immunities in the upcoming generations.

    If I didn't become very powerful fast,I would be killed and could not implement an early renaissance. Rember in this age only the powerful could do anything, the rest did what the powerful said.

    I might change my mind and unify christendom, then make them more tolerant, and send these tolerant missionaries to the east getting a foothold on asian hearts and minds 100's of years ahead o schedule.
  22. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Well well well, where to begin. Have i mentioned I do medieval reenacting and am at home with sword or bill? (i can even shoot arrows in a straight line.)

    Firstly, with a few years work i could get together stuff that would be pretty party pieces. Eg electric shock machine, fireworks, a glider etc.
    Anyone know what material the Montgolfier fils used for their ballon fabric? I think an observation balloon would be a treat.
    They did have coal then, but to use it youd have to rememebr decent mining techniques. From the coal you could get coal gas, which would be useful for high temp work. Bellows and charcoal get you up to 100 no real problems, except that of fuel.
    How about amber and cat fur for static electricity? I am sure i could knock up a van der graff generator somehow. Batteris would be a piece of cake, rememebr they used lead on roofs then, and alchemists could prepare sulphuric acid, although identifying it as such would be trickier. Copper was also around then, so with some careful winding work, and a few lodestones, i think you could perhaps get some sort of generator going.
    Certainly, as regards the industry thing, introducing the jaquard loom 200 years earlier would give you a corner on the cloth inndustry. Add that to water powered forging hammer, which use a cunning but very simple mechanism to beat out steal, along with research encouraged along the lines towards better steel production, such as the pre bessemer techniques in making crucible steel etc.
    And merely folding metal isnt enough, it has to be the right metal. We dont need to do the old katana stuff nowadays, (the vikings and saxons were doing it before the japanese) because it was done in order to 1) distriibute and hammer out the muck in the poor quality materials, and 2) to marry the qualities of two different types of steel, ie the brittle and the malleable. A katanas edge is hardened by plunging it into water or suchlike, from something like 800 degrees C. The back is protected by clay, preventing it from being so treated, and thus retaining its malleability. Hence you sometimes see samuria blocking each other with the backs of their blades.

    Optics- there is convincing evidence that the "ancients" ie greeks and Egyptians knew about optics. But it was eitehr sacred or a useful power mongering tool, so kept secret. All you need are some lumps of good rock crystal and lots of time, and hey presto, a telescope.

    insanely elite, your plan is somewhat optimistic. there were reasons not everyone in the armies had crossbows, such as cost, fear of peasant uprising, given a crossbow armed person can kill an armoured knight. Then frag grenades are not very good either, most people on the battlefield would be wearing armour and you'd have to get past the archers fire first. And the Chinese had crossbows over 1,000 years ago.
    Gendanken, glass blowing isnt that anceint an art, they didnt really have glass bottles in europe much until the 13/ 14th century. Glass was fragile and expensive. It took a lot of wood to keep a glass furnace going, and they hadnt developed most of the necessary techniques back then. It was more the 16th century things really took off. So you would be most likely to find glass bottles in a few noblemans places.

    The way to get potassium nitrate for gunpowder is to get lots of horse dung, in a barrell, get lots of men to piss into it, mix it all up, work it, and then you drain things off and dry some of it, I forget the exact details. Suffice it to say its not an exact science.

    Big blue head- the mongols had silk padded jackets. They were very good for pulling arrows out of injuries, the silk going in with the arrow but also pulling out with it.

    I second also the loudspeaker thing. I dont know how good the paper technology was for the cone though.

    HHmm, capacitors? Sheets of mica as dielectric? I cant remember all my physics.

    The main problem with everyones schemes is that they assume nearly unlimited money and lots of spare time and willing helpers. Technology is also dependent upon the time it is in. The bicycle was about for a while before it was capable of being utilised properly. One of the greeks demonstrated some sort of sphere that turned by water inside being heated and turned to steam and escaping through two vents, but it took 2,000 years to get steam engines. Its the same problem with impriving the metallurgy, not only do you need vast anounts of consumables such as coke, you also need the pick of iron. Sheffield when it was huge back in the 19th century was actually importing most of its iron ore from sweden. So transporting said ore costs money, especially in the medieval period. Distilling things requires a good potter and a good glassblower, both rare creatures. Making the required acids actually requries several different starting materials, a fire, and various vessels, and a knowledge of what hte starting materials look like and how to use them.
    Ultimately, if i was put back to teh 14th century europe, assuming i managed not to incur anyones wrath, I think i could lay the foundations for the rennaisance and industrial revolution 200 years earlier. But i wouldnt actually accomplish much science or magic, it would more involve introducing as much as i could remember, in order to increase production and concentrate enough money to be able to get a university or two going, and fund research of various kinds. The main thing is to reorient peoples minds, which lets face it is too large a task for one person.
  23. vslayer Registered Senior Member

    i just found a loophole: you said we arent wearing anything so that means we can still shove stuff up our asses

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