What would you do if time travel was real?

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What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Aradae » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:05 am UTC

Aside from changing a few choice events in your life I think most of us would just want to fuck around with the course of history for laughs.

A couple things on my list would include forcing Mozart to listen to Slayer and one-upping Newton.

A more elaborate scenario I pictured in my mind was going back to the time when the bubonic plage just started with a 5x5x5 rubik's cube. I'd then scramble it and proclaim that the world will suffer death and disease until someone solves it.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Reckless » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:14 am UTC

I'd see every concert worth seeing. Hendrix, The Who, Joplin...absolutely everything.

Then I'd stick myself in the Golden Age of aviation and do crazy things like barnstorming.

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Edit0r » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:17 am UTC

What an excellent thread! Bwahahaha!

I'd either:

1) Go back and meet my Indian grandparents
2) Find Jesus and give him a high five, then maybe a punch in the face
3) Show Da Vinci an iPhone
4) Bitchslap Hitler
5) Go back in time by an hour and have sex with myself

Also, reminds me of that thing from Robot Chicken where the time traveller stops Harry Potter from being written.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby bluebambue » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:19 am UTC

I would destroy the time space continuum :twisted:

I would also go solve some historical mysteries (such as why Heisenberg visited Bohr in 1941)

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Belial » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:23 am UTC

I would just watch things.

Maybe leave caches of modern technology in various places.

Go back and hang out with myself and tell me about my life in the future.

That sort of thing.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Antimatter Spork » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:28 am UTC

I'm going to assume for the purposes of avoiding a post full of "I'd correct every wrong ever and make history perfect" stuff that I can't alter the course of history in any significant way (meeting people is fine, but I'm not going to be able to stop the Bubonic Plague or the Third Reich)

I'd probably go on a premiere tour of time. I'm not going to list all the stuff I'd go see here, because that would take forever, but you can be sure that Beethoven's 9th and all of Brahms' symphonies would be on it. (And also Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time, just for the awesome factor)

Then I'd go meet Jesus, and possibly bring him back to now to tell off his followers. Same with most other major religious figures.

I'd actually like to see how a lot of historical figures would react/adapt to modern society.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby photosinensis » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:46 am UTC

I'd slip Archimedes a copy of Newton's Principia Mathematica and Einstein's works on relativity. Then, I'd work with him on implementing the MMIX machine out of The Art of Computer Programming (that would be the new one), then implement a few high level languages on it. I'd also slip Aristotle a copy of Darwin's The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, possibly along with Linus Pauling's chemistry work, Watson and Crick's report on the structure of DNA, and Mendel's study on inheritance in pea plants. Lastly, I'd show Hippocrates how to isolate penicillin from the mold, in addition to slipping him some biomedical textbooks.

Lastly, I'd slip a copy of the GNU manifesto to damn near every philosopher of antiquity, just for good measure.

Oh, and I'd also do everything I can to sabotage any religion from getting any kind of dominance outside one local area. Sure, one man with a time machine and a knowledge of Latin, Koine Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic should be able to pull that one off.

I would so fuck with history. The ancients would have know idea whose bitch they were.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby pollywog » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:55 am UTC

I'd get myself a sniper rifle (can we go forward in time? If so, I would get an invisibility cloak, if one had been invented) and go through history, killing all the bad guys. People like Pol Pot, Stalin Mao, obligatory Hitler, Caligula, various Mongol Khans, the Grand Inquisitors, Evil Pope, Mark Chapman, Kennedy, Aztec Priests, you get the point. Also in this slaughter, I would include anybody who started or is the focal point for a religion: Buddha, Jesus, Abraham, Mohammed, That Mormonism Guy, polytheistic religion-starters (I figure that by trial and error I could find out where and when most religions started), the rest.

--OR--

I'd get myself a sniper rifle, and kill all the good people. People such as Queen Elizabeth, Gandhi, Shakespeare, Simon Bolivar, Abraham Lincoln, Newton, Rutherford, Einstein, ((A healthy percentage of the other great scientists)), and some other world leaders thrown in.

The purpose of this would be to see how different the world would be with the removal of certain people. I want to know if a few individuals really can change the world, and whether it would be better or worse. I like to think that if I did kill off a certain person, another person would come along and do what the first person would have done.

Also, I would like to meet Jack Kerouac.

Edit, basically I have the same idea as photosinensis, to change (fuck with) history, except that mine is a lot more violent, and probably easier.

I think maybe I'll start with Kennedy.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby DurAlvar » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:00 am UTC

Antimatter Spork wrote:I'd actually like to see how a lot of historical figures would react/adapt to modern society.


This question has actually already been examined and depicted in great detail by the documentry "Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure".
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Aleril » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:02 am UTC

Do my mom.

Become my own father.

Ya know, what any respectable time traveler would do.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Berengal » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:06 am UTC

pollywog wrote:I think maybe I'll start with Kennedy.

Maybe you already did?

Funny thing is this last week I've become obsessed with timetravel again, mostly from playing Medieval 2. I'd definately go back to the medieval ages and teach the vikings the wonders of gunpowder and solar power. I'd maybe go into the future as well (one year at a time. Don't want to end up dead up in a post apocalyptic desert with no apple juice (my time machine runs on apple juice)) to find a cure for aging and a machine that makes me sexier.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby pollywog » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:12 am UTC

Berengal wrote:
pollywog wrote:I think maybe I'll start with Kennedy.

Maybe you already did?

Yeah, I've just done Kennedy. It was bloody easy, all I had to do was set myself up on this grassy knoll somewhere. I think next I'll do Abraham Lincoln. Should I get him when he's by himself (taking a walk, or something) or with lots of people, like a a play or other social event?
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Edit0r » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:32 am UTC

If so, I would get an invisibility cloak, if one had been invented


Technically, already been invented: http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2006/10/cloakdemo.html

I went to a lecture about this. It's awesome, but they can only do it for a low frequency bandwidth.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Stief » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:50 am UTC

I'd go to 400ad, team up with a warrior who had been magically turned into an anthropomorphic frog, then forward to Very far in the future...30,000ad I think it is[?] and gain a robot companion etc.

I'd probably go back to the beginnings of the internet, or at least 2000-ish, and create a webcomic named 'XKCD'
"Stief talking @ google, on youtube last friday"

I'd probably also print off transcripts of every major influential film ever made, and take them back to a year or so before the 'original' came out, give Hollywood the script, and become a quadrillionaire.

Go back every possible second, and pick up the 'me' of that time frame....soon I'll have an army of me's!
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Shadow Tyrant » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:28 am UTC

Nothing. Even just going back to any point holds the risk of fucking everything up in the future. World War I and II may have been bad, but what would the world be without it? Certainly not where we are now.And I'm willing to bet most of you would never have been born. Me included.
And besides, what are you going to say when they ask you why you killed whoever you did? "He was about to cause genocide of an entire race of people"? Yeah, right. Most people didn't even believe it was happening when it was happening. Let alone before. And you can't exactly just let the fact that you're from the future out in the open. They'd never believe you, and if you showed them proof, they'd just kill you and steal the technology and use it to fight wars and other stuff.

Any way you go about it, the whole thing is just a bad idea.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby reishka » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:42 am UTC

I would go back in time and keep my parents from getting together, thusly wiping out me and my younger brother.

The reasoning for this is that my family suffered some horrible abuse at the hands of my father, and I'd really rather spare everyone the trouble of having to be with him, even if it means my own non-existence.

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Verysillyman » Fri Dec 14, 2007 5:52 am UTC

INCESTUBATION!

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Hit3k » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:03 am UTC

I'd go back in time and unintentionally change the future. Because lets be real here. If you go back in time to change something on purpose then you wouldn't have to go back in time to change it anyway. Unless there was a bad-ass paradox corrector then I'd just go absolutely nuts.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby pollywog » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:13 am UTC

Shadow Tyrant wrote:Nothing. Even just going back to any point holds the risk of fucking everything up in the future. World War I and II may have been bad, but what would the world be without it? Certainly not where we are now.And I'm willing to bet most of you would never have been born. Me included.
And besides, what are you going to say when they ask you why you killed whoever you did? "He was about to cause genocide of an entire race of people"? Yeah, right. Most people didn't even believe it was happening when it was happening. Let alone before. And you can't exactly just let the fact that you're from the future out in the open. They'd never believe you, and if you showed them proof, they'd just kill you and steal the technology and use it to fight wars and other stuff.

Any way you go about it, the whole thing is just a bad idea.


So you have a chance to go back, and change everything, and you wouldn't do it? You could make yourself a god, a king, a famous inventor. You could be a benevolent ruler, or a cruel tyrant. You could save untold millions of lives, or destroy humanity at its infancy. Hell, go back far enough, and you could prevent complex life from ever existing on this planet. You could take electricity to stone age tribes, and have aeroplanes invented before Pontius Pilate lived. You could do anything, and you would leave it as it is?

The way I see it, it would be the biggest adventure ever. I would jump at the opportunity, even if it was to do all those horrible things I mentioned above. Why worry about the future?
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Hit3k » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:28 am UTC

pollywog wrote:The way I see it, it would be the biggest adventure ever. I would jump at the opportunity, even if it was to do all those horrible things I mentioned above. Why worry about the future?


Because if the future fucks up and as ShadowTyrant said some of us are never born. Him included. Wouldn't that make him not exist in the past?
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby pollywog » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:32 am UTC

Hit3k wrote:
pollywog wrote:The way I see it, it would be the biggest adventure ever. I would jump at the opportunity, even if it was to do all those horrible things I mentioned above. Why worry about the future?


Because if the future fucks up and as ShadowTyrant said some of us are never born. Him included. Wouldn't that make him not exist in the past?


But he would exist now. And he has a time machine. Of course he would exist. Even if he went back an hour, and shot himself in the face, he would exist.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Berengal » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:34 am UTC

Hit3k wrote:
pollywog wrote:The way I see it, it would be the biggest adventure ever. I would jump at the opportunity, even if it was to do all those horrible things I mentioned above. Why worry about the future?


Because if the future fucks up and as ShadowTyrant said some of us are never born. Him included. Wouldn't that make him not exist in the past?

Yes, but in that case he couldn't fuck up the future.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Felgraf » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:39 am UTC

I think Pratchett has summed up at least some of the history-changing ideas pretty damn well.

"There are indeed such things as parallel universes.. .... and they branch. But, and this is important, not all the time. The universe doesn't much care of you tread on a butterfly. There are plenty more butterflies. Gods might note the fall of a sparrow, but they don't make any effort to catch them.
Shoot the dictator and prevent the war? But the dictator is merely the tip of the whole festering boil of social pus from which dictators emerge; shoot one, and there'll be another one along in a minute. Shoot him too? Why not shoot everyone and invade Poland? In fifty years', thirty years', ten years' time, the world will be very nearly back on its old course. History always has a great weight of inertia.
Almost always..."

Basically, my views on time travel are: A lot of stuff wouldn't change the modern world significantly. Different people may be alive or dead, but a lot of *Basic* things would be the same if you merely, say, accidentally went back and shot a bird, or killed a butterfly, or shot Hitler.

But...

I also do think that there are 'lynchpin' moments, where small changes *would* have great effects. But finding these moments would be almost *impossible*.

Now, *large, intentional* changes, like.. giving an atomic bomb to the greeks, or giving them more knowledge... that could work.

What would I do? If I was afraid of changing history, but still wanted to adventure...

I'd travel back to the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and save as many books (By bringing them to the future) as I could. That knowledge would still be lost: 'destroyed' until the point I travelled back to. History wouldn't really change because of that, I don't think.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Hit3k » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:42 am UTC

Berengal wrote:
Hit3k wrote:
pollywog wrote:The way I see it, it would be the biggest adventure ever. I would jump at the opportunity, even if it was to do all those horrible things I mentioned above. Why worry about the future?


Because if the future fucks up and as ShadowTyrant said some of us are never born. Him included. Wouldn't that make him not exist in the past?

Yes, but in that case he couldn't fuck up the future.
A CONUNDRUM!


Thats what I was trying to imply. If shit like that happens... then it never happened.

Anyway. How do we know people from the past making all these discoveries aren't really time travelers from the distant future? Or even some of us?
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Number3Pencils » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:43 am UTC

The problem with going back "every possible second" and creating an army of yous is: You have to experience what each of those yous experiences. For every you in your army, you will have to do your army conquest thing that many times. Without a break.

Plus, if even one of you gets killed, you all die when time catches up to you. Depending on how you look at it.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Xeio » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:50 am UTC

Why the hell does everyone want to go to the past? The future is where its at! That, and you wouldn't end up in some parallel universe where you don't exist.

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Gadren » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:12 am UTC

I see a few people, particularly photosinensis, have a similar idea to mine.

For several years, I've toyed with the idea of what I call an accelerated technology feedback loop, where I would go back in time to, say, ancient Greece, and begin to introduce as much modern technology and philosophy and concepts of human rights as possible. Then, I would go to the present, seeing the amazing futuristic society that had grown thanks to the jump I had provided. Then, I would take that "modern" technology, and feed it back into ancient Greece, maybe a few decades later.

I would keep on doing this as much as possible, in hopes that by the Third Punic War in our history, Sol is surrounded by a Dyson sphere, and when I return to the present, we've expanded throughout the entire galaxy (hey, if we're time traveling, I'm assuming that FTL travel will eventually be possible).

The one problem with this is initiative. What would keep the people in the time of Pericles even doing the technological work I would need, instead of just sitting around for a few decades, expecting that by the time of Alexander the Great, I will have handed them their technology at least ten times?

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Hit3k » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:18 am UTC

Gadren wrote:The one problem with this is initiative. What would keep the people in the time of Pericles even doing the technological work


Human nature would keep them curious. They would most likely want to figure out how such and such works and then see if they can improve on it of course, unless you leave a manual it would really just be trial and error for them the first few times.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby thoughtfully » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:43 am UTC

I would have to check out some of the neato geologic events. The eruption of some of the bigger volcanos, such as Mount Mazama, that formed Crater Lake. The Great Flood, and what the hell is up with that Permian extinction event, anyway? I'd so be all over those Siberian Traps. If I could get a view from space, I'd watch the continents dance and sea levels bob up and down.

I wouldn't worry about changing history. The universe is self-consistent, and admits no paradoxes. Paradoxes are a feature of incomplete models. There are three possibilities, as I see it.

  • The history of the universe splits, leaving the time line of the traveler unmolested.
  • Whatever the time traveler does, it's already happened, duh. Always been that way. This introduces casuality loops, which aren't exactly appealing, but the jury was out the last I checked as to whether they are actually inconsistent.
  • Time travel into the past just isn't possible. Tough break, kid.
It's impossible to limit yourself to "sufficiently small changes". The universe doesn't give any preference to the sorts of things that humans think are important. Futhermore, that invertebrate you just squashed could still be the ancestor of some sentient life form, hundreds of millions of years hence. You really can't predict what the consequences of any given action could be. Even something small and innocuous could have grave consequences that nobody could foresee. That tidal pool you just waded through, for instance, might have been (or will now become) the crucible in which self-organizing chemicals first get started. Not to mention all the bacteria and dead skin you will be shedding everywhere. Ick!

I'd expect the urge to save the Library at Alexandria would be impossible to resist, however.

EDIT:
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Oh yeah, definitely. A secret fantasy of mine, and it actually has a name. You so made my day. :)
My other secret fantasy is to follow up saving the Library by saving Hypatia, and then.. well, you know.

Now to combine these, can you say foursome? Bwahahahaha!
Last edited by thoughtfully on Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:32 am UTC, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Gadren » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:50 am UTC

Quick question: how many of us who wanted to save the Library of Alexandria got that desire from watching Carl Sagan's Cosmos? :)

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby scowdich » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:50 am UTC

With all of the neat ideas in here (and I do like that accelerated feedback loop...thing), I feel almost ashamed to admit that I'd pretty much only use a time machine for cheap tricks. I'd mess around with ordinary people. I'd go back in time and make historical figures look ridiculous at their critical moment. I'd be a dick...with a time machine.

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby pollywog » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:01 am UTC

scowdich wrote:I'd be a time machine ...with a dick.


That's actually a recurring fantasy I have.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby tiny » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:32 am UTC

Edit0r wrote:What an excellent thread! Bwahahaha!(...)
2) Find Jesus and give him a high five, then maybe a punch in the face(...)
4) Bitchslap Hitler(...)
I agree. Though:
1) I'd learn Aramaeic and do an interview with Jesus, filmed, of course. I'd ask him about the essence of his teachings and what he thinks about women and some of the things the church has done/will do in his name. If I still think he's a cool guy after that, I'd do subtitles, show it to a variety of people throughout history (starting with today's pope) and shout 'In ya face, sucker!' whenever their interpretations of the retelling of this guys life and teaching are proven wrong by the man himself.
If Jesus was really an ass I'd eat the camera.
2) I'd totally kill Hitler. I'd pop up in the middle of one of his early filmed speeches, dressed in white, with cheesy wings, halo and stuff, chop off his head with a huuuge sword and shout into the micro (in German): "You're all brainfucked idiots! And for the protocol: God only cares about your love, not about your made-up religions! Really, your hybris is disgusting. Oh, and before I forget it: She likes castrato singers. But only good ones." before I'd vanish again to lol a bit to myself.
3) I'd go film some dinosaurs. But only if the time machine is really strudy and safe and stuff.

4) I'd keep A.L.Webber from casting Michael Crawford as The Phantom and see to it that Sarah Brightman can't sing the first few times. Plus I'd bitchslap him into giving the characters some depth.
5) I'd go and force Susan Kay to do some more research on drugs and kick the stupid idea af Christine looking like Erik's mom. Really, that's so unnecessary.
"I write what I see, the endless procession to the guillotine." ~ de Sade

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Birdman
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Birdman » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:45 am UTC

I'd go forward in time. At a rate of one second/second. Oh wow! Look! I'm doing it, I'm doing it!

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Zohar
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Zohar » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:09 am UTC

tl;dr.

I would stop using Wikipedia, for one thing. If the time machine is simple enough to operate, I would just go where I needed to find out stuff.

I would probably not change things, it seems too dangerous.

I would get myself a stock book or find some way to get rich over the next several years (I realize this means I will change things for the future's past but meh).
Mighty Jalapeno: "See, Zohar agrees, and he's nice to people."
SecondTalon: "Still better looking than Jesus."

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby tiny » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:13 am UTC

pollywog wrote:(...)Also in this slaughter, I would include anybody who started or is the focal point for a religion: Buddha, Jesus, Abraham, Mohammed(...)
But Buddhists never killed anyone :( They're peaceful and don't have missionaries. They appreciate other religions.
And Jesus didn't start Christendom, that was Paul, formerly known as Saul. Before he came into the play, 'Christians' were just Jews who ate a special meal to remember Jesus once a week. So kill Paul.
Don't kill Abraham, kill Moses or Ezra. Moses brought the first explicit rules to Judaism, and Ezra collected scripts (plus most likely wrote the 5th book of Mose) to form the Thora; this book kept the Jewish community together after the Temple was destroyed again. Perhaps Judaism would just have dissolved without the Thora. (Plus: Moses is the focal figure of Judaism, the father figure.)

I very much agree with your plan of killing Mohamad, though. He was the founder of Islam and still is it's focal figure.
"I write what I see, the endless procession to the guillotine." ~ de Sade

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Nullcline » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:49 am UTC

Mark Twain pretty much spelled out what I would do if I had a time machine. Except I would show up prepared.
The accelerated feedback loop sounds awesome, too.

Maybe these ideas could be combined into a real-life Civ game. Millennia of fun. I'd have to set ground rules for the technologies I could bring back, however, so it doesn't become too easy.
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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Aradae » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:50 am UTC

Jesus facts, like Bruce Schneier jokes but with Jesus.

I'd develop a couple pages of them, go back in time and slip them to someone, then I'd go forward in time to see if they made it into the new testament.
Guys guys guys! I found Russel's teapot! . . . nevermind, it was just Jesus flying to Mars again.

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Aradae » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:53 am UTC

I think that accelerated feedback loop would be kinda hard to do. I mean you have to spend time teaching them the principles behind the technology, then you'd have to spend time in the future learning the newest principles behind that newest technologies adequately enough to teach them to the greeks.
Guys guys guys! I found Russel's teapot! . . . nevermind, it was just Jesus flying to Mars again.

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Re: What would you do if time travel was real?

Postby Berengal » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:57 am UTC

tiny wrote:
pollywog wrote:Don't kill Abraham, kill Moses or Ezra.

But by killing Abraham, you rid the world of all jews ever!
Thus preventing their millenia-long prosecution, including the russian progroms and the second world war.
~Screw Ye, Tiny Texted Twit.

As for you people not wanting to change anything in the past, that's impossible. Consider you went back to the age of the dinosaurs. The second you arrived, the new gravitational pull you generated was just what was needed to pull an electron in an atom in a raptor's brain out a layer (when combined with other forces that alone wouldn't do this), producing a photon as it jumps back that has just the energy needed to activate a nerve synapse (again coupled with other forces) that was just what was needed for the raptor to impulsively snap at a passing fly, consuming it. The fly contained a poisonous chemical that somehow found it's way to the raptor's reproductive organ (I'm not sure if it's a male or female raptor), changing a dna such as to induce a wholely new evolutionary branch. They became intelligent, avoided extinction, and in the year 2007 A.R.D (Anno Raptor-Domini) invent a time machine. Suddenly you're a raptor, and (to steal from Pratchett) you had been a raptor your entire life, except that a moment ago you hadn't been a raptor your entire life.

Unlikely, but not impossible. Considering you interact with the entire universe from the moment you arrive (some effects won't be visible at once. Speed of light and all that) until the moment you leave something's bound to happen which wouldn't otherwise.
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