What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

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What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby SirDice » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:34 pm

It's a little mind game I like to play from time to time. Suppose you were instantly zapped back and you found yourself there, naked (you can't bring any "modern" stuff). How would a 21st century, educated engineering, man (or woman) cope in the Dark Ages (lets say around the 10th century)?

I already concluded I probably have to get as far away from civilisation as humanly possible because it's very likely I'll be burned at the stake for being a heretic. Not just for actually being an atheist (that really wouldn't help my cause) but simply for having a completely different view of the world. The earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around for example. At the very least I should try to keep my mouth shut and not talk to anyone.

But maybe I should go look for an alchemist. The alchemist hopefully has access to some chemicals and together we should be able to create black powder to blow stuff up. Black powder wasn't introduced in Europe until about the 11th and 12th century. Maybe even with some acids I could create a rudimentary battery and have electricity. With that I may be able to create a magnet and with the magnet a dynamo. More electricity to generate. If possible helped by a waterwheel. How about a combustion engine? We now have engines running on diesel or even vegetable oil. I'm sure you can get vegetable oil and a blacksmith may be able to cast iron. A one cylinder engine block running on vegetable oil. Why not?
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby dinowuff » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:11 pm

I don't think I would be able to communicate with anyone - right off the bat. Personally I think I would die from exposure as I have no tools to hunt with, and it will be a few thousand years before I can break into the local mall and steal a pair of pants, shirt, shoes, mochaccino... you know the essentials.
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby SirDice » Fri Apr 04, 2014 5:51 pm

Hmm, I hadn't thought about language. Even if I would get zapped to Dark Age Holland I probably wouldn't be able to understand a single word. Maybe I should brush up on my Latin so I could at least talk to a priest or monk and ask for clothes :)

But barring that, I think I've seen enough Bear Grylls and Ray Mears to survive from some time :rolf6:
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby dinowuff » Sun Apr 06, 2014 12:26 am

In Vino Veritas
Carpe Diem
Utile Dulci
Semper Fidelis
Caveat Emptor
Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc
Per Angusta Ad Augusta
Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice
Aere Perennius

We have Google. And if you were as unfortunate as I, you also spent four years learning Latin. However, you must agree that even if we knew the words - or had a translator, we would still be unable to communicate. "Darmok and Jalad on the Ocean"

Certainly we could construct almost anything - but how would we come about gathering the raw materials?
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby Aspman » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:22 pm

Unless you know latin you'd be fooked.

You'd probably starve to death before you go to show your intellect to the local apes, black powder and steam power are probably the big easy developments you could bring. If in doubt do as Ash (Bruce Campbel) does and keep your car stocked with reference books like "Steam plant management" and a BOOM STICK.
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby SirDice » Tue Apr 08, 2014 9:10 am

Yeah, I think Latin is pretty much the only language we'd be able to speak. English, Dutch, German and probably a few others were quite different compared to the language now.

Raw materials should be plentiful. In Holland I'd be able to get coal and perhaps salt. I don't think we have interesting minerals or chemicals. For that I probably have to walk all the way to Italy as that's the closest volcano I know.
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby Aspman » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:19 pm

You can make nitre from stale piss and Sulphur was widely traded.

So you would probably be able to make up black powder from piss, charcoal and brimstone.

Casting a cannon would be a bit harder.
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby SirDice » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:13 pm

Piss is a good resource, I got plenty of that :mrgreen:

Iron is available. But it might not be strong enough though. I saw a documentary recently that said they made steel just by adding poo, leather and some charcoal powder to the iron and heating it. The iron absorbs the carbon which creates steel. So we should be able to cast a steel cannon.

Thinking a bit more about a steam or combustion engine and I think we can get almost all components. But there's no rubber so getting the seal tight enough is probably going to take some ingenuity.
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby DaFoxx » Wed Apr 09, 2014 5:42 pm

SirDice wrote: But there's no rubber so getting the seal tight enough is probably going to take some ingenuity.

horse hair is still used in pipe fitting to seal threads ?

but if you could get iron / steel created, you would need to cast it as machining it will be beyond us for a few 00's of years :)
may be better if you KNEW you were going back and knew WHERE so you could do a geology crash course before you went, hopefully finding the Welsh gold main or just pointing people to the coal / iron ore of Lancashire / South Wales / Yorkshire or anything useful, and get a reputation as the mad bastard who knows where to find stuff ? maybe come up with clockwork mechanism / magnetic north compass anything that was discovered EARLY so it isn't too complex for the time

and I would SO go and lay claim to Chelsea / Kensington et al :mrgreen:

anyone watch Hot Tub Time Machine ?
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby rapier57 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:13 am

Don't know about you guys, but I grew up Roman Catholic. I was an (unabused) altar boy. I learned Latin. While I don't speak it, I can still sing the liturgy (in fine voice, too). I would be able to get along fine in that regard. Still, a priority would be to get the basics, food, clothing, shelter.

Avoiding cuts or scrapes would also be high on the list, since you are showing up naked. A simple infection from the tenth century would probably kill someone from our time very quickly. Even without getting cut or scraped, you'll have to survive your first contact with virus or other disease we have no resistance to.

After surviving the first few weeks, getting the lay of the land and having appropriate clothing, I'd commence taking over the world with my advanced brain and knowledge.
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby dinowuff » Sat Apr 12, 2014 5:30 pm

rapier57 wrote:Don't know about you guys, but I grew up Roman Catholic. I was an (unabused) altar boy. I learned Latin. While I don't speak it, I can still sing the liturgy (in fine voice, too). I would be able to get along fine in that regard. Still, a priority would be to get the basics, food, clothing, shelter.

Avoiding cuts or scrapes would also be high on the list, since you are showing up naked. A simple infection from the tenth century would probably kill someone from our time very quickly. Even without getting cut or scraped, you'll have to survive your first contact with virus or other disease we have no resistance to.

After surviving the first few weeks, getting the lay of the land and having appropriate clothing, I'd commence taking over the world with my advanced brain and knowledge.


4 years - college prep - all boys school. Yea I know Latin. But unlike rapier, I am forbidden from singing anything by the Catholic Church and 27 individual states. As for the remaining 23 states, they strongly request that I don't sing there either.

So to my response. Rapier, I think you are mistaken. Or backwards. Having served in the Military, I have been vaccinated against current and past "things" - like polio, measles, scarlet fever... etc. I (we) have a much stronger immune system because of evolution and medical intervention. So my point is, if you would take someone from the Dark Ages and put them, say on Hollywood and Vine. The Smog would kill them almost instantly. Not to mention the genetically altered food this person would have to eat.
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby rapier57 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:16 pm

Good points, Dino. I'm a vet, too, with all the vaccinations. So, you may be correct on that account.
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Re: What if you were zapped to the Dark Ages?

Postby Egaladeist » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:54 pm

Well....hummmmmmmm...I would probably use my extensive knowledge of future events to purchase prime land that I know would provide a financial legacy. Because I would assume that going back in time might alter future events, so some things cant be relied upon, but it wouldn't/shouldn't alter the location of oil, gold, uranium, or other natural deposits.

The Smog would kill them almost instantly. Not to mention the genetically altered food this person would have to eat.


Yep, I've said that before too...even the water would be toxic to them.
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