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Thoughts on time travel ⏳

Esther Strom Community Leader Jun 10, 2021

Hi, all! Another Friday already...

So I've been looking forward to Loki on Disney+, and watched the first episode last night. It got me thinking about alternate timelines, and turning points in my own life, and history I wish I'd witnessed.

So, for this Friday, a (hopefully!) thought-provoking question: If you could go back to any place and time in history, where and when would you go? Would you still do it if you knew you would be stuck there?


If I knew I could easily get back home, I think I'd go back to ancient Egypt, specifically during the reign of Akhenaten. I've always been fascinated by his attempt to convert the culture from polytheism to monotheism, and how he was basically erased from history by his successors. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't do it if I knew it would be a one-way trip, though - I like my modern conveniences 😀

(Yes, I am fully aware that I'm a geek in more ways than technology!)

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Ancien Egypt would be great I think, learning how to really built them!

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John Funk Community Leader Jun 10, 2021

Would love to see Ancient Egypt! Just visited the Giza Great Pyramids a little over a year ago. 

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Esther Strom Community Leader Jun 10, 2021

I'm very jealous, @John Funk

Jack Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

Take a good medical pack with you.

Dave Liao Community Leader Jun 10, 2021

If I get to travel back in time and get sent back AND there are no time changes, I'd love to check out the 1970s. 😂

Otherwise I'll pass haha

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Esther Strom Community Leader Jun 10, 2021

Hmmm... I actually remember the 70's, although it might be cool to see them as an adult.

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Jack Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

😳 I remember the 60’s

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Dave Liao Community Leader Jun 11, 2021


This is what I'd do too, but if I couldn't come back, I'd head to the late 60's and work for some famous computer companies.

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Esther Strom Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

It would certainly be the time to get in on the ground floor at places like IBM, @rbeha !

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Three day week because we were short of electricity, hideous "fashion", generalised bogotry and being "the sick man of europe" - we in the UK will be able to experience the 70s again soon, thanks to Brexit. 

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John Funk Community Leader Jun 10, 2021

I would like to see what it was really like in the first century AD in the Middle East and the Roman Empire. 

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Jack Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. ~ Julius Caesar

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Total nerd/consultant clarification question before I start to write an essay.  Causality?

May I assume that if I travel back in time, then anything I choose to do is already part of my history before I went back, or at least trivial? 

The traditional over-simplified user-story - travel back to the 1930's and "accidentally" try to kill Hitler before he becomes a problem.  Do I consistently fail because it's part of (my) history, or do things change?

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Esther Strom Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

@Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ I deliberately didn't provide any rules, because they vary so much depending on who you ask or what author you're reading 😁. Do you go with, "even being there is going to cause changes", or the time-stream theory that says the universe knows what's supposed to happen and will find a way to correct for anything you do? Do you ignore the grandfather paradox? Are you able to interact with the past, or are you just an observer?

It's up to you, dude! Pick your favorite strictures and write away.

Good call :-). So two answers from me:

If there's no way to change things: There's so many things I'd like to see, I'm not sure I could pick one specific event, but to give you an idea of the sort of thing I'd like to do - I'd spend time with Da Vinci, just to see how he thought.  Or talk programming with Ada Lovelace.  Or go stargazing with Caroline Herschel.  Or talk to Lise Meitner about her new-fangled "nuclear fission".  Or whomever gave the inspiration for the "Hymn to Ninkasi".  Or write songs with Tom Lehrer (ok, that one doesn't yet need time travel, technically, but he only really wrote in the 50s and 60s).  Or genetics with Rosalind Franklin.  Or pyramids with Hor-Adjib.  Or cookery with whomever it was that first mashed some chickpeas up with oil and garlic.  I would say "have a chat with pTerry Pratchett" as well, but <smug and name-dropping modes engaged> I already did that and have fond memories.

If I could go back and change things, again, there's just so much.  I used the "kill Hitler" example already, but I don't really think it would make a huge difference, some other evil person would have stepped into the role, and that goes for most of the people that the world would be a better place for losing (and I wouldn't kill either, I'd just go back a bit further and somehow get people like Klara Hitler, Stanley Johnson, Barbara Farage, Mary Anne MacLeod and so on to adopt much better contraception). 

Maybe the little things that would improve the world while having no way for history to just write another name in.  Fixing the handbrake on Anton Yelchin's car.  Hiding Kurt Cobain's shotgun shells.  A long chat with George Lucas about Howard the Duck and Jar Jar Binks.  Everything Deadpool did in the post-credits scene of his second film.

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Oh, and correcting mistakes in my own life.  Yep, I'd do that.  But not in public.

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Liam Green Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

Ok - so I have two schools of thought on this.  One is that I'd like to go back to various points in my own life to either clarify things, or just to remember them (I've either forgotten through alcohol, or because I was a small child at the time!), or to pivotal moments in my family history (e.g. my grandparents meeting).

My other thought is that I'd like to go back and see massively important historical moments (such as the Battle of Hastings, or the Act of Union).

I won't be going anywhere if I can't get back though!

Esther Strom Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

Interesting that you mention going back in your own life. When I signed up for the Friday Funday, I started an Evernote doc with ideas. This was my original draft for this question:

If you could go back and relive a specific turning-point event in your own life, knowing that you could make the opposite choice and change your current life, would you do it?


  • You retain all of your current knowledge
  • You are not allowed to tell anyone what's going on
  • You have to live all the intervening years back to now; no fast-forwarding

As to your second option, I don't know if you enjoy fiction, but there's a fun series of books about a team of researchers who do exactly that - travel back to various points in time to witness history.

Hmm, tough one. You don't have to go back far and there would be no geek toys. So, if there were no geek toys, and no way back, Id go full on cave man.

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Jack Community Leader Jun 11, 2021 • edited

Two dates…

  • November 21, 1963 - warn President Kennedy
  • May 15, 1997 - Amazon IPO

edited to include Third date…

April 3, 2021 - do not cut down the tree 😣

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Flavien Gache Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

Two possible answers :

- Family centered : Go back to meet again some relatives at other moments of their lives (I'm very curious about how, for example, my parents were like when they were younger).


- Folklore and supernatural centered : go meet some druids in 1200 BC, magical priests in ancient egypt or Volkhv in the slavic period. I am curious about what were the functions of their rituals, what their representations of fear or power were like. 

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Like Flavien and some others, my first though was to meet family members in the past. Historically speaking, I would love to go back to pre-Columbian times to observe and learn more about Tainos. What little we know about them is fascinating to me, a few highlights:

  • They were peaceful.
  • They played a ball game called batey, it is believed to have been used as a means for conflict resolution. Can you imagine, instead of fighting, my tribe and your tribe are going to play a game.
  • Males or Females could be caciques (chieftains) and in the case of no clear heir, they followed matrilineal descent to determine next of kin.
  • Also very cool, they gave us the hammock.
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Flavien Gache Community Leader Jun 11, 2021

So you mean they never fought, played cards to channel anger, were in a matriarcal society and created one of the best piece of technology ever existed ?

 I found where to go. I finally found my people.

À défaut de pouvoir voyager dans l&#39;espace, devrions-nous voyager dans le  temps ?

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I will go back to my high school years, slap some sense into my own head and make smarter decisions.  Then I will go back another 20 years or so, and figure out how to drive a wedge between my ex-wife's parents, that'll save me some grief, causality be damned.  Also, I'll pick up shares of Google, Facebook, Tesla, Pfizer, etc while I'm moving along, bet on a few Superbowls and World Cups, and using that money, travel the world to see the Galapagos, dive on reefs and see the polar ice caps before they are all gone!

Such a great approach! It looks like a great plot for some cool game. I will add it to

Hana Kučerová Community Leader Jun 12, 2021

Oh, great topic @Esther Strom . First I need to watch all three Back to the future movies for inspiration.


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And we are STILL deficient hoverboards!!!

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Well, i would return to 2004 to invent Facebook instead of its original developers. Moreover, I could also create svereal cool websites and services to develop them further without returning back to 2021. Just imagine. I could remember or even write down results of different sports game to earn some money on betting. 

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