Question of the day…

Here’s a hypothetical situation; you’re sucked into a worm hole and transported back to the year 1300 A.D. in Medieval Europe.  You didn’t bring back your cell phone, or laptop, or any “more recent” invention.  What advantages would you have over society at that time?  Would you be able to survive, and would you be able to influence the course of history?

More importantly, could you build anything [from scratch] that  hadn’t been invented at the time?

I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that there’s very little I’d be able to do.  I’m pretty sure, given enough time, I could generate electricity using magnetite or lodestone as magnets, and a coil of copper wire made from copper ore.  This would be something that hadn’t been seen before, but perhaps wouldn’t be useful unless I could harness it for something, perhaps light or heat.  Making a light bulb might be possible given enough time, though it took Thomas Edison quite a while to make one that lasted.  I’m not sure if I could do it.

How about a steam engine?  It’s a simple concept, but manufacturing the parts might take quite a bit of effort.  Provided you got the electrical current thing going, creating an electric motor might be the next logical step since it’s basically the opposite of an electric generator.  However, for this to be useful to anyone you’d want a way to store energy when you can’t generate it directly.  Creating a “wet cell” battery might be fairly easy.  What could you build to harness large amounts of current, such as a windmill or water turbine?

What else would be practical?

Any ideas?

Mike – Web Dev Guy/Modern Technology Specialist

Comments (9)

  1. Ken says:

    You could probably help knock out the plague a lot faster, become a hero, and then you wouldn’t need to do anything else.

  2. <off-topic. if you’re looking for intelligent commentary on technological issues of the day, you’re…

  3. Richard says:

    The printing press wasn’t invented until 1436. I’m sure it would be possible to build a simple printing press, which would help the scholars of the day communicate with each other and speed up other discoveries.

  4. Joe says:

    Hmm.  Probably weapons of war.  Crossbow?  Trebuchet?  Military tactics?

    How about a giant steam-powered spider?

    But it’s too bad I can’t have my cell phone.  That would be soooo useful 🙂

  5. Joe says:

    One more item – my modern knowledge of geography could be quite useful in those times.  

    You could basically re-name all of North and South America after yourself by sending people to the right locations and drawing accurate maps.  

    Do you know how to prove the world is round (without getting burned alive)?

    You could also publish texts which predict more recent events, and then send a big warning about really bad things, like World War 2.  You would have to balance specific information with vagueness.

  6. MSDN Archive says:

    Heh – we all know the giant steam-powered spider wasn’t invented until the late 1800’s by Dr. Arliss Loveless.  Pssh.


  7. Matthew Tisdel says:

    It seems that many of the "great" technological advances were dependent evolutionary development of individual technologies. Methods of metal mining, purifying, and production seemed to have been necessary for so many inventions.

    However, think of what a great legacy you would leave for your family if they were able to one day pull out the "long lost" deed to all of Manhattan. 🙂


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