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Old 20th September 2021, 08:09 AM   #41
TragicMonkey
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
For example, if I were teleported back 1000 years (and could actually communicate... given how much languages change over time, that would actually be a HUGE hurdle)... I could talk about "the universe is made of atoms.... germs cause disease... the solar system is heliocentric... etc." All things part of a basic 20th century education.
Pedantry: they did know two of those three things in the eleventh century. Not everyone, but the educated did.
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Old 20th September 2021, 08:28 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Pedantry: they did know two of those three things in the eleventh century. Not everyone, but the educated did.
Not even pedantic and quite relevant: giving an appropriate scientist of the time the insights of a reasonably well educated modern person would likely lead to extraordinary breakthroughs well earlier than occurred in the original timeline. I would love a story about that.
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:06 AM   #43
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I'm pretty sure if you sat me down in front of Newton or Liebniz, and I told them what we've achieved and gave them my rudimentary high school education of the underlying science, they'd figure out a bunch of the smartphone's necessary precursor techs pretty damn quick.

Just knowing in advance what was even possible (and what wasn't possible) would be a huge advantage.
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:09 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by gnome View Post
Not even pedantic and quite relevant: giving an appropriate scientist of the time the insights of a reasonably well educated modern person would likely lead to extraordinary breakthroughs well earlier than occurred in the original timeline. I would love a story about that.
For me the most plausible story would probably be one about how -

- nuclear power, not fossil fuels, became the de facto basis for the power grid

- the power grid emerged much earlier in history

- The Great War was an atomic war

- The Great War really was a war to end all wars

- the resulting World Government strictly regulates nuclear power infrastructure and uranium enrichment.
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:25 AM   #45
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One of my favourite versions of this was Spiderman & His Amazing Friends episode "Spidey Meets the Girl from Tomorrow". My memory probably makes a far superior piece of animation than it was, but the upshot was that people coming from the far future didn't have the immune system to deal with todays germs, so one of the fell ill, and Spidey couldn't go to the future as he carried germs of today with him.

How would we cope with water etc. if we went back 1000 years? Would our immune system cope with such an environment?
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:37 AM   #46
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Well we have to hit the "Okay just role with it button" and assume that time travel is both possible and functional.

Yes the "Real" answer is "I went a million years in the past and appeared floating in the endless void of space because the Earth, Solar System, Galaxy, and indeed Universe itself had moved" but that's not really in the spirit of the question.

Fun fact. Tyrannosaurs Rex flesh was probably highly toxic. Cadmium was way more common in the late Cretaceous and since Rexy was (probably don't @ me) an Apex predator he probably had enough Cadmium in his body to poison you if you ate a lot of T-rex meat.

If we're accepting time travel we can accept really good antibiotics and a really good translator app.
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:42 AM   #47
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Well, not wanting to change the future might apply to time travel scenarios, but isekai scenarios are more like, you get transported to another world which is currently at a medieval and magic tech level. It's not in the past. In fact, it's anywhere between days and several years later than last time you saw Earth. (E.g., in "My Next Life As A Villainess", it's AT LEAST six years AFTER she got run over by a truck on Earth, but there are reasons to believe it's actually a lot later.) So it's not in the past, and the future that you could change is in the future. Just that world never invented anything more complex than a crossbow, or not even that.

The other consideration may or may not apply, depending on the series, but it most definitely doesn't apply to series like "In Another World With My Smartphone", since his smartphone can connect to the Internet on Earth. Just it's hard-filtered that he can't post anything. But otherwise, if you can find something on Wiki or Arxiv or whatever, he can find it too. Yet, as I was saying, the only recipe he googles is an ice-cream recipe. He doesn't even bother searching on how to make a refrigerator so those guys can keep making it, he just has the party mage cast frost on the pot.

Or the slime I mentioned before, can literally just copy any Earth book from memory, yet even when he has to teach at a school, he doesn't at least copy his old school manuals. Nope, he just copies a decade worth of comics.

Seems to me like it's not even a case of lack of access to that information, but rather just not giving enough of a <bleep> to bother with it.
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:44 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Well we have to hit the "Okay just role with it button" and assume that time travel is both possible and functional.

Yes the "Real" answer is "I went a million years in the past and appeared floating in the endless void of space because the Earth, Solar System, Galaxy, and indeed Universe itself had moved" but that's not really in the spirit of the question.

Fun fact. Tyrannosaurs Rex flesh was probably highly toxic. Cadmium was way more common in the late Cretaceous and since Rexy was (probably don't @ me) an Apex predator he probably had enough Cadmium in his body to poison you if you ate a lot of T-rex meat.

If we're accepting time travel we can accept really good antibiotics and a really good translator app.
I love those Cadmium T. Rexes that come out around Easter time. So much creamy, gooey center!
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:45 AM   #49
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That said, let's address the other recurring objections, starting with "but they didn't have telescopes." Well, then flippin' make one.

Leonardo da Vinci managed to even make a machine for automatically grinding a telescope reflector. But even without that, you literally only need a grindstone, and some way to turn it or the block of material you're grinding relative to it. Leonardo's design really doesn't do more than put cogs between the two, so turning just one crank rotates both.

Sure, it'll be spherical rather than parabolic, so it won't have great image quality, but for low enough magnification it will still be a LOT better than nothing.

But anyway, if they have the technology to make a mirror, a potter's wheel, and a grindstone, that's literally all you need.
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:50 AM   #50
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
That said, let's address the other recurring objections, starting with "but they didn't have telescopes." Well, then flippin' make one.

Leonardo da Vinci managed to even make a machine for automatically grinding a telescope reflector. But even without that, you literally only need a grindstone, and some way to turn it or the block of material you're grinding relative to it. Leonardo's design really doesn't do more than put cogs between the two, so turning just one crank rotates both.

Sure, it'll be spherical rather than parabolic, so it won't have great image quality, but for low enough magnification it will still be a LOT better than nothing.

But anyway, if they have the technology to make a mirror, a potter's wheel, and a grindstone, that's literally all you need.
You do, of course, need glass, which is not particularly easy.
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:52 AM   #51
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You're not trying to jump right to the goddamn Hubble. You're trying to prove the concept is viable.

If you have a basic, learned person from basically the bronze age up and showed them a telescope and showed him the very basic concepts and functionality of it he'd "get it" and if you told him "Okay now imagine a bigger, better version of this" he'd, again, on at least a basic level "get it."
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:53 AM   #52
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Now for steam engines. Carrier explains it in more detail, but here's my simplified summary:

No, it wasn't a matter of needing better materials, it was a matter of economics to get the whole thing started.

An early steam engine could be made with ancient tech (as Joe already pointed out), but it had VERY low torque and power. Whatever you could do with one, it would be more expensive than just using slaves or oxen to move stuff.

And it wouldn't become economical until the following two events happened along the line:

1. England started using coal instead of charcoal for metal working, because it needed the wood for its vast fleet. And

2. Digging for coal got under the water line. So now to dig more coal, you needed to SOMEHOW pump the water out.

Suddenly it made economic sense even with an underpowered engine, because basically you were digging coal anyway. You just used a little of it to keep the pumps going, and sold the rest.

Which sounds like it would be an equal hurdle in a medieval world, where even the first condition hasn't been met yet. And it is, really. Unless you remember that boiler and engine technology improved A LOT afterwards (in fact, the latest form of the boiler is as late as WW2), and that it only needed a fraction of that improvement to become useful for a lot more stuff than pumping water out of a mine.

Basically my take is that if you have future knowledge and start directly with a more advanced boiler and a triple expansion engine, you can start directly at a point where it's economically viable.
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Old 20th September 2021, 09:55 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
You do, of course, need glass, which is not particularly easy.
Or bronze. If you can grind one out of, say, stone, or even better, wax, you can make a mold, and then cast a bronze reflector. Silver-plate and polish it, and there you go.
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Old 20th September 2021, 01:54 PM   #54
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Re: Time Traveler making a telescope for people in the past...
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Or bronze. If you can grind one out of, say, stone, or even better, wax, you can make a mold, and then cast a bronze reflector. Silver-plate and polish it, and there you go.
All of this would of course require that the time traveler have the expertise to actually do the metalwork/casting/etc. Or would be able to explain it to the people of the time with enough detail to actually get it to work.
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Old 20th September 2021, 01:57 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Point is, if you were zapped to the 12th century today, how would you make a steam engine? No chance to swot up on it first.
Good question! And I'll note that we have no evidence of metal-working lathes from the time, so he'll have to invent that, too.
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Old 20th September 2021, 02:01 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Look at it this way.

Imagine if someone from the year 3021 came back to our time, and literally all had was a list of... let's say the top 100 technologies that were are currently at some level of "working on." Everything from stuff we can build but just not get right to purely hypothetical stuff.

And all the list is the tech in question and the word "possible" or "impossible."

No details, no schematics, no instructions, no information at all beyond the simple yes or no answer to "Is this possible." Just (and we'll assume an honest agent) clarification on whether or not a functional version of what could honestly be called the technology in question existed at his time.

Imagine how far ahead that would put us it if we knew what not to waste time on and what to throw resources at? Cold Fusion, FTL Travel, True Thinking Machine Supercomputing, large scale planetary terraforming, a diet cola that doesn't let you down in the taste department like so many before... imagine if we could know now which ones of those were going to be wasting our time?
The problem with that is that even some of the 'dead end' technologies might have spin-offs that impact technology that does work.

If the time traveler says "People gave up on the idea of diet cola", it might keep people from wasting time trying to invent one, but it might mean we lose a replacement for an effective pesticide.

Your time traveler would truly have to be an expert in technology from the past to make sure by killing one branch of technology they don't impact another branch.
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Old 20th September 2021, 02:02 PM   #57
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Bearing in mind the first practical steam engines were actually working on the principle of condensing the low pressure steam in the cylinder to form a vacuum that pulled the piston.
They were part of the building that housed them.
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Old 20th September 2021, 02:12 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Real talk.

I think because at some point people started to (rightfully to some degree) sour on the whole "Person from our time goes in the past, wows them with their knowledge and everyday tech which he uses to save the day" trope but they still really like making time travel stories (because obvious, they are cool) but thought of exactly what to replace the original cliche with.

There's a short story where some scientists build a time travel device and pull someone from the future to learn of fantastic technology. They yank someone from a campus to maximize chance of knowledge, and get...a professor!

...who relates amazements, but no more knows how to build any wonders than some yokel today would a color TV.
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Old 20th September 2021, 02:57 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Point is, if you were zapped to the 12th century today, how would you make a steam engine? No chance to swot up on it first.
Do you need schematics, or what?

Even going with the easiest to explain basics, build a metal tank with lots of hollow tubes going through it, run the hot air from the flames through it. For bonus points, if you remember the notion of "induced", "forced" or even better "balanced" draft, you can actually use a fan (or hell, even bellows) to force/pull/both the air through the burning part and into the tubes. Which also gives you more power, because more air --> fuel burns faster and hotter. Now if you want to go even more advanced, you can go mixed fuel, i.e., spray oil into the burner to raise temperature even more.

That's just from knowing anything about naval history, and puts you about 150 years or so ahead of Watt's design even without the mixed fuel, so it's waahaahaay past the point where it's economical for any industrial application.

For the actual engine, even just knowing about the reciprocating double-action engine is enough to double the power compared to Watt's design. (Short version: just make the steam push the piston in both directions.) Multiple expansion is extra.

Again, you just need to have had any interest in naval history for that. You'll do fine with just that even if you slept in physics class.


So basically, yes, I'd know how to make a pretty good one.

Actually, I'm confident I'd manage just about any engine up to a turbojet. Well, I might need a few tries for the turbojet, because I'm a bit rusty, and that one would probably not last long without modern materials, but it's still elementary stuff if you haven't slept in physics class. Hell, worst case scenario you can make it a thermojet even if you did sleep in physics class.

So I still wish people would stop projecting. I get it that some people would be as useless as a pet rock, but that doesn't mean everyone else also is.
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Old 20th September 2021, 03:04 PM   #60
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Where will you get the tubes in the 12th century?
Stephenson developed the first fire tube boilers using musket barrel blanks as the tubes.
What pressure do you think you can use with the materials of the 12th century?
There is a reason that early engines were 'atmospheric' and relied on condensing steam rather than pressure to push a piston.
How will you build the cylinder?
What about the piston and rod?
What valve gear will you use on the actual engine to make it work?
Watt improved existing designs with a condenser but by his time boilers were holding a bit of pressure.

It's a matter of materials and processes. You can't build a steam engine without the technology behind it.

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Old 20th September 2021, 03:07 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by Galaxie View Post
Good question! And I'll note that we have no evidence of metal-working lathes from the time, so he'll have to invent that, too.
It's not exactly rocket surgery. But you don't even really need that. You can just make the cylinders the way they made cannon later, which is to say, well, there's a reason it's called a barrel. And for anything else you don't really need precision work. If the tubes running through the boilers are a bit uneven or anything, well, who cares?
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Old 20th September 2021, 03:25 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Where will you get the tubes in the 15th century?
Are you just in contrarian mode at this point, or what? Because I can't believe that anyone who's posted in the history forum actually needs to ask THAT. I mean, you know the first arquebus is from 1411, right? You know, steel tube made with 15'th century technology? Like, LITERALLY 15'th century?

And the Chinese fire lances -- basically a lance with a hollow metal tube that you can shoot as a gun right before hitting the enemy formation -- are early 12'th century.

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
What pressure do you think you can use with the materials of the 12th century?
Any you wish, if it's thick enough.

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
There is a reason that early engines were 'atmospheric' and relied on condensing steam rather than pressure to push a piston.
Yes, the reason being that they were early designs, and people hadn't invented better ones yet. But if you come from the future -- and again, if you haven't slept in class -- you don't need to start from the same point.

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
How will you build the cylinder?
The same way they built cannon, for example?

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
What about the piston and rod?
You know that the first known metal cylinder and piston device dates to 350 BCE, right?

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
What valve gear will you use on the actual engine to make it work?
Even the most basic eccentric valve gear will do just fine for industrial applications. As it historically did. You don't need the complicated stuff on a train engine, if you don't need to vary speed and reverse.

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
Watt improved existing designs with a condenser but by his time boilers were holding a bit of pressure.
The condenser only saves you a bit of water, but even if you absolutely want to make one, that's not exactly rocket surgery.
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Old 20th September 2021, 03:31 PM   #63
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12th century not 15h I corrected it.
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Old 20th September 2021, 03:35 PM   #64
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You realize that the Aeolipile was already mentioned by Joe, and it used metal tubes for steam in ancient times, right? I mean, Heron of Alexandria? Yeah, if we're talking 12th century, that's more than a millennium too late to worry about how to make a metal tube. Seriously, out of all the stuff in a steam engine, a metal tube running through the boiler is the least of problems.
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Old 20th September 2021, 03:38 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Look at it this way.

Imagine if someone from the year 3021 came back to our time, and literally all had was a list of... let's say the top 100 technologies that were are currently at some level of "working on." Everything from stuff we can build but just not get right to purely hypothetical stuff.

And all the list is the tech in question and the word "possible" or "impossible."

No details, no schematics, no instructions, no information at all beyond the simple yes or no answer to "Is this possible." Just (and we'll assume an honest agent) clarification on whether or not a functional version of what could honestly be called the technology in question existed at his time.

Imagine how far ahead that would put us it if we knew what not to waste time on and what to throw resources at? Cold Fusion, FTL Travel, True Thinking Machine Supercomputing, large scale planetary terraforming, a diet cola that doesn't let you down in the taste department like so many before... imagine if we could know now which ones of those were going to be wasting our time?

Now just apply that backwards to someone from 1021 AD.
"Perpetual motion? Dead end. Spooky action at a distance? You have no idea."
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Old 20th September 2021, 03:41 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Your time traveler would truly have to be an expert in technology from the past to make sure by killing one branch of technology they don't impact another branch.
I'm a time traveler, I've already made my peace with all that butterfly effect stuff. I do what I want, and let the chips fall where they may.
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Old 20th September 2021, 03:48 PM   #67
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For the time traveler to the present issue, I'm referring specifically to cases where the time traveler has no problem in changing the timeline.

Usually said character is a full fledged assassin or something that has no problem what so ever with killing people without caring of the consequence of that. Think Bruce Willis in Looper (though he is only from +-20 years ahead) or the Terminators or any of dozens of alternate future villains that show up in Marvel stories.

You can even replace "time traveler" with "alien" in so many cases.


To give some analogy to what was said above, imagine just if someone could tell us: "Oh yeah, I don't remember exactly how they proved it, but everyone knows that P=NP"

Just imagine how many people would stop wasting time in the wrong direction.


Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
This discussion reminded me of another time travel-related pet peeve.
A character from the past, who has spent their entire life interacting with wagons, carts, and carriages, travels to the present. They see a box with wheels, traveling on a road, with people inside it, and their immediate conclusion is demon, dragon, or monster. They apparently completely lose the ability to understand the concept of a vehicle.
Even worse - Said time traveler will be fully functional in modern era technology by the start of the next episode.
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Old 20th September 2021, 03:52 PM   #68
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A condenser is not just to 'save a bit of water'

That you think so shows you lack of knowledge.

Your simplistic notions of how engineering works would let you down.

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Old 20th September 2021, 04:52 PM   #69
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If you find yourself trapped in the past and want to change the history of technology in a meaningful way, you could do worse than telling Charles Babbage three words: "compute in binary." You could go a lot earlier than Babbage instead. Attempts at mechanical computing in base ten required elements with ten different states (e.g. ten distinct positions of a rotating shaft) which required high precision that was too expensive. You can make the components for binary mechanical computation out of wood.
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Old 20th September 2021, 07:04 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Or bronze. If you can grind one out of, say, stone, or even better, wax, you can make a mold, and then cast a bronze reflector. Silver-plate and polish it, and there you go.
You still need a lens to magnify the image. A mirror alone does not a telescope make. I believe Lippershey's and Galileo's telescopes were refracting. Reflecting telescopes were not invented until Newton, 60 years later.
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Old 20th September 2021, 08:23 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
It's not exactly rocket surgery.
For the 18th century it was, and you're talking 12th century.
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
But you don't even really need that. You can just make the cylinders the way they made cannon later, which is to say, well, there's a reason it's called a barrel.
The first cannon boring machines were found to be unsuitable for large steam engines. They were producing cylinders over 1/4" out of round. That wasn't a problem with cannon balls, but is for a piston. You'll have to create a suitable boring machine.
Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
And for anything else you don't really need precision work. If the tubes running through the boilers are a bit uneven or anything, well, who cares?
I don't know, Hans, I think you're hand-waving away a lot of manufacturing problems.

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Old 20th September 2021, 09:29 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Pedantry: they did know two of those three things in the eleventh century. Not everyone, but the educated did.
Which two?

"The universe is made of atoms" wasn't fully accepted until the early 20th century with Einstein's work on Brownian motion.

The germ theory of disease, as far as I understand, became accepted some time in the 19th century.

The heliocentric model was first (re) developed by Copernicus, but only really accepted considerably after his death.

All of these seem to be much later than the eleventh century.

Am I misunderstanding my history here?
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Old 20th September 2021, 10:02 PM   #73
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What we need as a movie is a drug dealer and his expansive stach of Designer product being transported through time and getting famous historic people higher than they thought was possible.
Might mesh smoothly with certain passages in well-known religious texts.
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Old 20th September 2021, 10:46 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
You still need a lens to magnify the image. A mirror alone does not a telescope make. I believe Lippershey's and Galileo's telescopes were refracting. Reflecting telescopes were not invented until Newton, 60 years later.
The first reference to a lens is from from 424 BC.

That said, technically speaking, no, you don't absolutely need a lens. Purely reflective telescopes do exist. Shouldn't even be a surprise if you sit and think of the optics for a moment. You don't absolutely need a lens, you need a second SOMETHING that changes the path of the light. A second curved mirror works too. It's easier to do it with a lens, but a second mirror works too.
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Old 20th September 2021, 10:52 PM   #75
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
The first reference to a lens is from from 424 BC.
This may be true, but the methods for manufacturing high-quality lenses weren't developed until the late 13th Century, for use in spectacles, and they still weren't of sufficient quality to be used in microscopes and telescopes until grinding and polishing techniques were improved in the 15th and 16th centuries.
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Old 20th September 2021, 11:09 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
A condenser is not just to 'save a bit of water'
I'm pretty sure that's their primary use in a modern steam engine. Sorry to rain on your unfounded delusions of competence.

Reason being that when you're talking pressures of 200+ PSI, which was actually pretty standard for locomotives (high pressure ones started at 350 PSI and went all the way to 1500 PSI), lowering the pressure on one side by a couple of PSI like Watt did has negligible effect. We're talking pressures of about 7 PSI for the steam in Watt's engine and thereabouts, so yeah, for that one adding one or two PSI difference by cooling the other side makes a difference. But when you have 200+ PSI on one side, doing anything about the pressure on the other side is not even worth the increased metal stresses and friction.

So again, I don't know what gives you the idea that everyone must retrace the exact historical baby steps, but the whole point is that you don't.

Originally Posted by Captain_Swoop View Post
That you think so shows you lack of knowledge.

Your simplistic notions of how engineering works would let you down.
Thinking of all the nonsense you've posted so far on the topic, all I can say AGAIN is: stop projecting
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Old 20th September 2021, 11:17 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Quote:
Pedantry: they did know two of those three things in the eleventh century. Not everyone, but the educated did.
Which two?
I'm not the original poster, but all 3 actually had fairly old 'roots'....
Quote:
"The universe is made of atoms" wasn't fully accepted until the early 20th century with Einstein's work on Brownian motion.
There was an ancient greek philospher Democritus who first came up with the idea of atoms, around ~400BCE.

Of course, I don't think his particular theory was universally held (even among the scholars) during the middle ages, and his model certainly didn't involve details like protons or neutrons.

Quote:
The germ theory of disease, as far as I understand, became accepted some time in the 19th century.
From: Wikipedia
Greek historian Thucydides (c. 460 – c. 400 BC) was the first person to write...that diseases could spread from an infected person to others. One theory of the spread of contagious diseases that were not spread by direct contact was that they were spread by spore-like "seeds" ...In his poem, De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things, c. 56 BC), the Roman poet Lucretius (c. 99 BC – c. 55 BC) stated that the world contained various "seeds", some of which could sicken a person...The Roman statesman Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 BC) wrote..."Precautions must also be taken in the neighborhood of swamps […] because there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases."


So the idea of "germs" had been around for a while. But, much like the ancient concept of the atom, their theory was not well developed, and certainly not universally held among scholars.
Quote:
The heliocentric model was first (re) developed by Copernicus, but only really accepted considerably after his death.
From: Wikipedia
The notion that the Earth revolves around the Sun had been proposed as early as the third century BC by Aristarchus of Samos

So the idea had been around a while. But, like the atom and germ theory, doesn't seem to be widely accepted.

So if we went back and tried to tell people in the year 1000 "The sun is at the center", they would have no reason to believe us, unless we had the mathematical ability to actually develop a proper model.
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Old 20th September 2021, 11:20 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Like I said just the number of times in history that someone invented calculus and didn't do anything with it alone are almost hilarious.
This is interesting to me. I know Archimedes came close. What are the other examples?
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Old 20th September 2021, 11:34 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
This may be true, but the methods for manufacturing high-quality lenses weren't developed until the late 13th Century, for use in spectacles, and they still weren't of sufficient quality to be used in microscopes and telescopes until grinding and polishing techniques were improved in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Even if that were a problem, again, you can just go Paul-Baker on its ass, and just use three reflectors instead.

Then again, you can just tell them to use cloth, pitch and fine powder, which is all it boiled down to. But you probably wouldn't need to tell them more than "hey, can you make this really nice and polished?", because they were already polishing gems to a clear uniform shiny surface. Just look at any jewellery from the middle ages (i.e., before faceting gems started to be used). They had no problems producing some very shiny curved surfaces even in the dark ages.

Probably most of what you'd need to explain is that you need a parabola as the outline, if you need a good lens, but even that shouldn't have been an impossible thing to understand for a good jeweler.

Most of the problem with lenses for glasses was getting the exact focal length you need. That's a bit less of a problem when you can alter your design a bit to fit whatever you've got for a lens. E.g., just change the curvature of the reflector accordingly. You can't do that for a human eye, hence the problems with making a lens for one.

Really, it's not a case of people back then being as ignorant as many people seem to assume. It's more like a case that you needed the use case and the economics for them to start working on the problem. Which meant stuff like first having enough literacy to be worth making eye glasses (they weren't going to appear in Charlemagne's time, when even the emperor was illiterate,) and a market with disposable income to spend on that. Then you had the lenses and you could figure out they can also be used to make a refractor telescope.

But as I keep saying, there is no reason to assume you'd have to recreate the exact historical setup and baby steps involved, if the whole point is to change history in the first place.
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Old 20th September 2021, 11:38 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
I'm not the original poster, but all 3 actually had fairly old 'roots'....
Sure, the ideas existed. TM said that educated people "knew" these things, which is an entirely different claim. All three ideas were non-mainstream ideas that had few if any adherents in the 11th century.

But you're right that a time traveller couldn't just show up and start telling people "the world is made of atoms!", you'd have to have some way of demonstrating the accuracy of your knowledge. Hans' approach of actually building the technology would probably work: if you could make practical technology people would be more willing to listen to your claims to know a great deal about the nature of the world. Of course you only have to get over their initial skepticism because when they start exploring your ideas they'll find out that they are correct for themselves.

Your suggestion of a better model of the solar system also works: if you can start predicting eclipses, or just the motions of the planets, with greater accuracy than anyone at the time, then again people might start to listen.
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