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Old 23rd September 2021, 09:36 AM   #121
bruto
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The mention of gunpowder reminds me of a side note. Russell Hoban's novel Riddley Walker concerns a long post-nuclear world that has reverted more or less to the middle ages, with a corrupted language and a mostly illiterate populace relying on oral tradition. A lot goes on here, but a main part of the plot involves the discovery of some guild members that their oral tradition gives the formula for gunpowder. Highly recommended.
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Old 23rd September 2021, 10:17 AM   #122
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All I remember about the medieval recipe for gunpowder was that an abbot's piss was the best kind of piss. I naively assumed it was superstition, but turns out it was probably diet-based.
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Old 23rd September 2021, 12:01 PM   #123
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Ah yes... the good old days when taking the piss was an actual profession
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Old 25th September 2021, 06:33 PM   #124
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By the way, speaking (well, sort of) about movies and gunpowder, why in hell has nobody managed to make a movie of Riddley Walker?
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Old 25th September 2021, 09:36 PM   #125
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
The show I plug every chance I get covers this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-WHAISI02w

Michael's answer is the best.

Michael: "I'd go to back to medieval times or the Wild West. Sell cures for diseases."
Katie: "What makes you think you could cure a disease."
Michael: "I didn't say cure a disease. I said sell cures for diseases. You know mix a bunch of random (crap) in a bottle and hock it?"
Soren: "Oh you'd be a snake oil salesman?"
Michael: "Oh well sure, if they had had snakes back then."
(Reactions from the group)
Michael: "My point is I'm privy to 200 years of scams. All these rubes are green to it."
Dan: "So what happens when none of your cures work? They would kill you."
Michael: "Would they though? Did you know there was a doctor in the early 1900s who claimed he could cure impotency by surgically implanting goat testicles into your body? Not connecting them to veins, not even putting them where testicles should go..."
(Offside to Katie) "The scrotum" to which Katie mouths "I KNOW!"
".. but just like... shove them in there, wherever they would fit. I mean this dude got rich because everyone was either too embarrassed or dead to complain."

This is a really bizarre exchange. If someone could go back hundreds of years, why wouldn't you take real medications? A satchel of standard antibiotics and a few tools every EMT carries would make you a true wizard holding the power of life and death. Imagine actually curing illnesses that would otherwise be deadly. You'd be their God.
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Old 26th September 2021, 12:13 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
This is a really bizarre exchange. If someone could go back hundreds of years, why wouldn't you take real medications? A satchel of standard antibiotics and a few tools every EMT carries would make you a true wizard holding the power of life and death. Imagine actually curing illnesses that would otherwise be deadly. You'd be their God.

According to Fantasy Island, you'd be burned as a witch for lowering a kid's fever with an aspirin.
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The government should nationalize it! Socialized, single-payer video game development and sales now! More, cheaper, better games, right? Right?

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Old 26th September 2021, 12:23 AM   #127
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I said it in another thread.

Maps.

Detailed maps, topological, of the world are easy to get, can be copied with old technology and would be extremely useful.
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Old 26th September 2021, 06:24 AM   #128
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
This is a really bizarre exchange. If someone could go back hundreds of years, why wouldn't you take real medications? A satchel of standard antibiotics and a few tools every EMT carries would make you a true wizard holding the power of life and death. Imagine actually curing illnesses that would otherwise be deadly. You'd be their God.
"Boil your water"
"Wash your hands"
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Old 26th September 2021, 06:54 AM   #129
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
"Boil your water"
"Wash your hands"
That certainly sounds like a plan, but don't forget what happened to Ignaz Semmelweis - and that was in the mid-19th century!
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Old 26th September 2021, 07:50 AM   #130
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Speaking of which, lightning rod anyone? I'm pretty sure all the needed technology to make one was there since before writing.
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Old 26th September 2021, 08:30 AM   #131
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
"Emperor Caligula, lemme tell ya about this place. It's called 'Florida', and what happens there makes this place look like a goddamn Quaker meeting. You'll love it."
I did an archaeology course one of our lecturers was a famous tv archaeologists (also keen on coast lines), he taught on iron age archaeology, I asked him something about the Romans as technically they fall within the iron age period. His response was that the romans were modern europeans transported back into the iron age, with bureaucracy, accounting, concrete and laws. So perhaps it already happened.

If we assume time travel, as opposed to a parallel world (viz Chales Stross Merchant Princes), then I assume any attempt to introduce technology that changes the future results in the time traveller ceasing to exist, so your only safe option as a time traveller in the past is to do nothing. Connie Willis's novel Doomsday deals with this scenario.

Stirrups appear to be an important technological innovation. Advances in navigation with a sextant, clocks and compass seem more important than advances in ship building.

In medicine, anatomy, antisepsis, and anaesthesia were probably more important than drugs.
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Old 26th September 2021, 10:57 AM   #132
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
.....
If we assume time travel, as opposed to a parallel world (viz Chales Stross Merchant Princes), then I assume any attempt to introduce technology that changes the future results in the time traveller ceasing to exist, so your only safe option as a time traveller in the past is to do nothing. Connie Willis's novel Doomsday deals with this scenario.
.....
Isn't the "butterfly effect" the basic problem with all time travel fantasies? To be safe, you couldn't travel farther back than your own birth. And even then, you couldn't be sure that whatever you did wouldn't result in your younger you getting hit by a bus or something.
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Old 26th September 2021, 10:59 AM   #133
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
.....
In medicine, anatomy, antisepsis, and anaesthesia were probably more important than drugs.
More than antibiotics and vaccines? Really?
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Old 26th September 2021, 11:35 AM   #134
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Speaking of which, lightning rod anyone? I'm pretty sure all the needed technology to make one was there since before writing.
Against God! If you get hit by lightning obviously god wanted you to get it. Who are you to try and circumvent gods will?
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Old 26th September 2021, 11:37 AM   #135
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
More than antibiotics and vaccines? Really?
Here' let me just get this saw and take your foot off. Bite on this stick and get ready for a little bit of a sting.

Well dip it in hot tar afterwards.
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Old 26th September 2021, 01:36 PM   #136
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
More than antibiotics and vaccines? Really?
If all you had was knowledge, then yes.

A non-contaminated water supply would drop the death rates by a huge figure, probably the biggest decrease from a “simple” change you could implement.
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Old 26th September 2021, 01:41 PM   #137
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
Isn't the "butterfly effect" the basic problem with all time travel fantasies? To be safe, you couldn't travel farther back than your own birth. And even then, you couldn't be sure that whatever you did wouldn't result in your younger you getting hit by a bus or something.
I always liked Larry Niven’s take on time travel. He recognised that to avoid paradoxes it had to be fantasy, so he has a character from the far future (very high tech) who goes back in time to collect extinct animals for the pleasure of the ruler.. He is sent to get a whale and ends up bringing back Moby Dick, he goes back for a bed and ends up with a Roc, goes back for a horse and ends up with a unicorn.
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Old 26th September 2021, 01:55 PM   #138
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Longitudinal navigation is an interesting case study. They knew it would be valuable. They knew it could be done in principle. They knew what precursor technologies needed development. So they got to work making it happen.
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Old 26th September 2021, 08:30 PM   #139
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Speaking of which, lightning rod anyone? I'm pretty sure all the needed technology to make one was there since before writing.
I think there are probably a lot of simple technologies that could be implemented in prior ages relatively simply with impressive results. The problem might be getting people to actually do it, but not with knowing what to do.

Crop rotation seems like a pretty good example.

How about introducing zero and using arabic numerals instead of less useful systems like Roman numerals. A pretty simple change but a pretty useful one I think.
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Old 26th September 2021, 08:36 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I think there are probably a lot of simple technologies that could be implemented in prior ages relatively simply with impressive results. The problem might be getting people to actually do it, but not with knowing what to do.

Crop rotation seems like a pretty good example.

How about introducing zero and using arabic numerals instead of less useful systems like Roman numerals. A pretty simple change but a pretty useful one I think.
I think crop rotation, at least in some form, has a longer history than you'd expect.

But I agree (as I think I mentioned above) that some of the problem is not in knowing what to do, but in getting people to do it. The reliance on prior opinion rather than current experience has been a difficult thing to overcome.
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Old 26th September 2021, 08:39 PM   #141
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
If all you had was knowledge, then yes.

A non-contaminated water supply would drop the death rates by a huge figure, probably the biggest decrease from a “simple” change you could implement.
I think public health though, for instance, ensuring clean water supplies, actually had the largest impact on death due to infectious disease, of all the technologies we've so far brought to bear.

This is a pretty good summary: https://rootsofprogress.org/draining-the-swamp

Quote:
The bottom line is that sanitation—pest control, water filtration and chlorination, safe sewage disposal, milk pasteurization and other food safety, and public education about general hygiene—probably did more than anything else to reduce mortality rates, if only because these techniques were available decades, and in some cases centuries, before anything else. Antibiotics were dramatically effective when they were finally introduced, but by this point a lot of the work had already been done. Vaccines too were extremely effective, but merely delivered the coup de grace for many diseases. Other techniques, while very important in limited spheres, simply addressed problems that were too small to show up on any of the top lists.
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Old 1st October 2021, 10:55 AM   #142
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Okay this is getting absurd.

It's not like physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics magically worked differently in ancient times, it was just know-how they were lacking.

A steam engine isn't a magical devices that the very possibility of poofed into existence.

Modern Engineers are not magical superhero beings that can bend reality to their will.

If you took a Cessna back to ancient Greece it wouldn't fail to fly because the Wright Brothers hadn't been born yet.
True. But you'd have great difficulty producing usable fuel and more duplicating a worn or damaged part.
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Old 1st October 2021, 10:56 AM   #143
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
Yep, memorizing the date, time and track of every total solar eclipse for the past 2000 years in all known historical calendars is pretty much engineering 101.
There's an app for that....

Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
Time travelers always carry almanacs. There was an episode of "Darkwing Duck" in which he and Launchpad traveled back to the Middle Ages pursuing a villain who had used his own time machine. The heroes were condemned as witches and tied to a stake to be burned. Launchpad pulled out an almanac that he just happened to be carrying.
"Gee DW, according to this, if we had lived another two minutes, we would have gotten to see a total eclipse of the Sun."
Darkwing did the whole "Release me or I will blot out the Sun trick", but nothing happened. He grabbed the almanac from Launchpad and started reading the page.
"The eclipse is tomorrow!!"
He then spent the next 24 hours chanting random phrases nonstop until the eclipse actually happened.
Now we have phones and tablets that fit into a pocket and can store millions of books.
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Old 1st October 2021, 11:00 AM   #144
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Yes. And the first wheeled luggage was in 1970.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/10/04...ary/index.html
Bollocks. I have a luggage catalogue from the 1920s and they were available then. There are references to them in period fiction also.
Uncommon, luxury items with brass fittings and little castors but they existed.
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Old 1st October 2021, 11:08 AM   #145
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
The mention of gunpowder reminds me of a side note. Russell Hoban's novel Riddley Walker concerns a long post-nuclear world that has reverted more or less to the middle ages, with a corrupted language and a mostly illiterate populace relying on oral tradition. A lot goes on here, but a main part of the plot involves the discovery of some guild members that their oral tradition gives the formula for gunpowder. Highly recommended.
Hopefully it's more reliable than Leslie Fish's song...
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Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Ah yes... the good old days when taking the piss was an actual profession
Ah yes, the Petermen.
And let's not forget Lavoisier without whom the rebellious colonials would have had their little insurrection put down.

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
"Boil your water"
"Wash your hands"
"This device is called the horse collar. It will change your world".

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I always liked Larry Niven’s take on time travel. He recognised that to avoid paradoxes it had to be fantasy, so he has a character from the far future (very high tech) who goes back in time to collect extinct animals for the pleasure of the ruler.. He is sent to get a whale and ends up bringing back Moby Dick, he goes back for a bed and ends up with a Roc, goes back for a horse and ends up with a unicorn.
Svetz, in The Flight of the Horse.
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Old 1st October 2021, 11:21 AM   #146
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Originally Posted by catsmate View Post
Svetz, in The Flight of the Horse.

Even then, in the story in which he collects a unicorn, it's suggested that his environmental suit influenced the medieval depiction of angels and the technology he gave to a peasant girl contributed to the myths of witches.
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Old 1st October 2021, 12:05 PM   #147
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
Even then, in the story in which he collects a unicorn, it's suggested that his environmental suit influenced the medieval depiction of angels and the technology he gave to a peasant girl contributed to the myths of witches.
Exactly, it's a mash-up of numerous tropes, mixing fantasy into a nominally sci-fi setting.
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As human right is always something given, it always in reality reduces to the right which men give, "concede," to each other. If the right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take it, or give it to themselves.
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Old 1st October 2021, 04:33 PM   #148
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Originally Posted by Bob001 View Post
More than antibiotics and vaccines? Really?
Vaccination of course is 'ancient technology'. The problem with drugs is significant infrastructure is required for their manufacture. There are a few basic drugs that can be extracted from plants, opium, digitalis, quinine, aspirin, but standardising doses is difficult.

Deaths from infectious diseases fell dramatically before antibiotics, because of hygiene and public health (sanitation). So yes these things are more important than drugs. Injuries requiring surgery would be more common then than now, effective surgery and antisepsis would be more effective than drugs. Surgery remains an important tool in controlling infection.
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Old 2nd October 2021, 06:58 AM   #149
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
All I remember about the medieval recipe for gunpowder was that an abbot's piss was the best kind of piss. I naively assumed it was superstition, but turns out it was probably diet-based.
REvsiting this, I'm reminded that one of the traditional ingredients of black powder is saltpetre, and it makes one wonder if the old wives' tale that it's put in food to decrease sex drive is being jokingly referred to here. There could be an implication that an abbot, above all, needs a lot of it.
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Old 2nd October 2021, 11:41 PM   #150
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
Vaccination of course is 'ancient technology'.
Is it? I know variolation to prevent severe cases of smallpox was practiced in India and China for a long time before the practice was picked up in the west, but:

A) there's generally a differentiation made between variolation and vaccination.
B) I'm forgetting the details, but even in china I think that the practice is centuries rather than millennia old. I may be wrong here.
C) I don't know if was practiced with any disease other than smallpox

Is there something I'm missing here, or maybe I just failed to understand your reference?
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Old 3rd October 2021, 07:14 AM   #151
bruto
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Is it? I know variolation to prevent severe cases of smallpox was practiced in India and China for a long time before the practice was picked up in the west, but:

A) there's generally a differentiation made between variolation and vaccination.
B) I'm forgetting the details, but even in china I think that the practice is centuries rather than millennia old. I may be wrong here.
C) I don't know if was practiced with any disease other than smallpox

Is there something I'm missing here, or maybe I just failed to understand your reference?
It might depend a little on how you define "ancient." If paddlewheel steamships are ancient, then so is vaccination.
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Old 3rd October 2021, 11:36 AM   #152
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Is it? I know variolation to prevent severe cases of smallpox was practiced in India and China for a long time before the practice was picked up in the west, but:

A) there's generally a differentiation made between variolation and vaccination.
B) I'm forgetting the details, but even in china I think that the practice is centuries rather than millennia old. I may be wrong here.
C) I don't know if was practiced with any disease other than smallpox

Is there something I'm missing here, or maybe I just failed to understand your reference?
Variolation is inoculating using a lancet with the pus from a smallpox lesion (variola), vaccination is inoculating with he pus from a cowpox (vaccinia) lesion. The technology needed is minimal, it could be done using a flint blade. You would need to be at least neolithic to have the cattle for the cowpox lessons. The pus can be dried and transported. So the technology required is ancient. The difference between vaccination and variolation is the source. Variolation carries a significant risk of death vaccination minimal.

The only other infection similar technology might be effective for is TB, using bovine TB lesions as a source, but again with significant risk of death. Other forms of immunisation probably are not deliverable before eighteenth century technology.
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Old 3rd October 2021, 05:57 PM   #153
Roboramma
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
Variolation is inoculating using a lancet with the pus from a smallpox lesion (variola), vaccination is inoculating with he pus from a cowpox (vaccinia) lesion. The technology needed is minimal, it could be done using a flint blade. You would need to be at least neolithic to have the cattle for the cowpox lessons. The pus can be dried and transported. So the technology required is ancient. The difference between vaccination and variolation is the source. Variolation carries a significant risk of death vaccination minimal.

The only other infection similar technology might be effective for is TB, using bovine TB lesions as a source, but again with significant risk of death. Other forms of immunisation probably are not deliverable before eighteenth century technology.
As I guessed I misunderstood your point, which is a good one. The technology necessary for vaccination is ancient. I thought you were saying vaccination as a technology has been implemented since ancient times, and was a little confused. Please ignore.
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