For Discussion: Time Travel Myths

Kinda just want to see discussion of this topic.

Big Mythbuster fan, some things I've always wanted to see tested - Survival skills for the wary time traveler.

Can you really make a train engine push a delorean up to 90 mph and build a refrigerator capable of making ice cubes in 1885? Can you repair a delorean with a leaking fuel tank in 1885?

Can you make a capacitor using materials found in a fort in the French and Indian war? If you left a modern handgun in 1754, could someone with gun knowledge of the time safely create bullets for it - or would it just explode, potentially killing the wielder?

)From Back to the Future and Timeless

Any other scientifically provable time-related stunts you can think of? Thoughts on mine?

Thanks for your insights

pinky75910:
Kinda just want to see discussion of this topic.

Big Mythbuster fan, some things I've always wanted to see tested - Survival skills for the wary time traveler.

Can you really make a train engine push a delorean up to 90 mph and build a refrigerator capable of making ice cubes in 1885? Can you repair a delorean with a leaking fuel tank in 1885?

Can you make a capacitor using materials found in a fort in the French and Indian war? If you left a modern handgun in 1754, could someone with gun knowledge of the time safely create bullets for it - or would it just explode, potentially killing the wielder?

)From Back to the Future and Timeless

Any other scientifically provable time-related stunts you can think of? Thoughts on mine?

Thanks for your insights

Gun knowledge of 1754 and replicate a modern bullet... probably not, but maybe there would be someone who could reverse engineer it. Most probably someone who figured out how to fire it... would do so. And then wouldn't be able to replicate the primer. By the time someone could figure it out, well you wouldn't be beating the actual invention of cartridges by that much. But if someone disassembled it without firing it and then properly was able to replicate the primer...

It wouldn't be practical just yet. Each bullet would have to be made by hand, and would have to fit within specific tolerances or it wouldn't work, or it could damage the gun. Paper cartridges and muskets would actually still be more practical, useful, and reliable.

So probably not, but maybe. But it wouldn't change much or be particularly impactful if it happened beyond the initial ammo running out.

Yeah, handgun wouldn't work. You'd not get the primer right, you'd need to get identical cases which wouldn't be practical, and the propellant of the times wasn't the same.

(As an aside, that thing where you run a line of powder across the ground to act as a fuse? That might work with some modern propellants, not for blackpowder)

Well good to know that - I wonder how far back you could go before it would no longer be safe that people would be able to figure out a modern gun.

For the bullets, no. Percussion caps weren't made till about mid 1800s and without this basic you can't even come close to making a working bullet. Even if you had an expert of the time examining existing bullets, highly doubt anyone could reverse engineer the impact explosive of the cap from such little material to work with. The gun powder would also be an issue, although less so, as modern GP is significantly different from that period, although the issue here is mostly fouling from what I know so you might be good for a few shots. Finally, getting the exacting standards of the bullet's construction right with period methods would be unlikely to end well.

I have no idea on the train. They did destroy that train after all (I'm not talking the from the drop, I'm talking from super charging the boiler) so maybe.

Ice cubes... refrigeration apparently dates back to 1755 (wow, didn't expect that) so I'm going to guess yes. I'm not sure his setup would work, but think the tech would be advanced enough but 1885 so at least in theory you could do it.

Capacitor... don't know on this one. I doubt it, but I could easily be wrong.

pinky75910:
Well good to know that - I wonder how far back you could go before it would no longer be safe that people would be able to figure out a modern gun.

Safe for who?

Since a capacitor is basically a battery[1],you could make "a" capacitor. But a specific one? Unlikely. What would you even use it for?

[1] for which you need a container, some copper, aluminium and some acid (any kind - even a lemon will do)

Derekloffin:
The gun powder would also be an issue, although less so, as modern GP is significantly different from that period, although the issue here is mostly fouling from what I know so you might be good for a few shots.

Fouling would be a real problem, but you'd also not get the right pressure. You'd have problems getting a semi-auto to cycle...though you could rack the slide between shots.

You are also likely to get squibs or hangfires.

For those that don't know, a hangfire is when the weapon doesn't fire immediately. Here's some vids of the problem, and what not to do:

Other problem with hangfires is that the cartridge can go off after you've ejected it from the weapon, making a (tiny) bomb that sprays bits of case everywhere. Wear eye protection. Getting bits of brass anywhere else wouldn't be much fun either.

A squib is when the round fires, but without the power it's supposed to have, and it can get stuck somewhere down the barrel. If you don't notice that happening and try to fire another round with the barrel blocked, you are likely to have the weapon explode in your hand.

Major_Tom:
Since a capacitor is basically a battery[1],you could make "a" capacitor. But a specific one? Unlikely. What would you even use it for?

In episode 7 of "Timeless" appropriately titled "Stranded," our heroes are stranded in the French and Indian war September 1754, 20 miles near Fort Dusquene. The bad guys (time travelers) find our heroes time machine and lay several C4 "all around" and on it. The bad guys are able to step back a safe distance and *arm* the C4 by remote when our heroes counter from behind. One of the bad guys fires a hand gun, detonating one of the C4 explosives, making a manhole sized hole in the side of the machine and "damaging some circuits."

The heroes' pilot, who also invented the time machine, says he's able to cannibalize the navigation system for circuits and wiring but needs iron to repair the hole and replace "a couple" of capacitors. To do this, his shopping list includes: "salt, glass jars, copper or tin, and a forge... and to learn blacksmithing."

Our heroes infiltrate the nearby fort. The pilot secures a couple wine bottles, an iron plate, a couple copper canteens and something that looks like a candle wrapped up in a burlap sack, but it could very well be a citrus or something for the acid. He is then able to use the forge to pound the metal into the shapes he needs.

The unknown is how powerful a capacitor is needed.

[1] for which you need a container, some copper, aluminium and some acid (any kind - even a lemon will do)

pinky75910:

Major_Tom:
Since a capacitor is basically a battery[1],you could make "a" capacitor. But a specific one? Unlikely. What would you even use it for?

In episode 7 of "Timeless" appropriately titled "Stranded," our heroes are stranded in the French and Indian war September 1754, 20 miles near Fort Dusquene. The bad guys (time travelers) find our heroes time machine and lay several C4 "all around" and on it. The bad guys are able to step back a safe distance and *arm* the C4 by remote when our heroes counter from behind. One of the bad guys fires a hand gun, detonating one of the C4 explosives, making a manhole sized hole in the side of the machine and "damaging some circuits."

The heroes' pilot, who also invented the time machine, says he's able to cannibalize the navigation system for circuits and wiring but needs iron to repair the hole and replace "a couple" of capacitors. To do this, his shopping list includes: "salt, glass jars, copper or tin, and a forge... and to learn blacksmithing."

Our heroes infiltrate the nearby fort. The pilot secures a couple wine bottles, an iron plate, a couple copper canteens and something that looks like a candle wrapped up in a burlap sack, but it could very well be a citrus or something for the acid. He is then able to use the forge to pound the metal into the shapes he needs.

The unknown is how powerful a capacitor is needed.

Does he have a multi-meter or a similar way of judging the tolerance of the capacitor he's forging? If so it could be possible to rig something that could work (although wiring something that had to be forged in place of something that was likely very miniaturized would be a complete pain in its own right.) But if he had to make a replacement and then just install it and see if it was powerful enough... no. It either won't work or would fry itself and potentially damage anything nearby.

[1] for which you need a container, some copper, aluminium and some acid (any kind - even a lemon will do)

Using a train to push a Delorean in Back to the Future 3 is implausible primarily because a Delorian's wheels are much wider apart than the train track. To look like it does in the movie, Doc Brown would have to take most of the body work apart, shorten the axles, than reattach everything so that it looks as though he didn't do anything. Also, it's not really clear how the machine works at 88 miles an hour; does just the whole car have to be going 88, or does it have to be "driving" that fast? If it's the former, you don't even need to put the car on the tracks at all

A more obvious solution to Doc Brown's problem would have been to not destroy the car's engine with high proof alcohol, and instead make basic gasoline by fractionally distilling crude oil. Heck, there might even already be free gasoline lying around if anyone locally makes lamp oil. It wouldn't be good for the engine, but he doesn't have a lot of time. The next problem would be to find a flat enough road in the 1880s to drive 90 miles an hour on. They existed, but presumably not anywhere nearby, so they'd have to go on a road trip to find something. Basically, Doc and Marty should have got the hell out of town, which would have solved all their problems immediately.

As other people have pointed out though, the most obvious solution is the secret second Delorean that everyone forgot about, even though the Doc only hid it in the mine a couple of months earlier.

Kyrian007:
[quote="pinky75910" post="18.1034709.24188150"][quote="Major_Tom" post="18.1034709.24188039"]Does he have a multi-meter or a similar way of judging the tolerance of the capacitor he's forging? If so it could be possible to rig something that could work (although wiring something that had to be forged in place of something that was likely very miniaturized would be a complete pain in its own right.) But if he had to make a replacement and then just install it and see if it was powerful enough... no. It either won't work or would fry itself and potentially damage anything nearby.

A multimeter is not shown, but it's not unreasonable to suggest there might be one stored aboard.

There's also a bit of a time crunch, as the local fort blames them (rightly) for killing one of their men, and they have only til they're discovered.

A modern semi-automatic handgun would be a problem for the reasons mentioned above, but I'm wondering if a modern revolver could be bodged to allow for paper and black powder cartridges? According to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, it turns out all you need is an old engineering almanac and you can make a full functional revolver!

maninahat:

A more obvious solution to Doc Brown's problem would have been to not destroy the car's engine with high proof alcohol, and instead make basic gasoline by fractionally distilling crude oil. Heck, there might even already be free gasoline lying around if anyone locally makes lamp oil. It wouldn't be good for the engine, but he doesn't have a lot of time. The next problem would be to find a flat enough road in the 1880s to drive 90 miles an hour on. They existed, but presumably not anywhere nearby, so they'd have to go on a road trip to find something. Basically, Doc and Marty should have got the hell out of town, which would have solved all their problems immediately.

Heh, This. I always thought this woulda solved the problem a lot better. Would alcohol really do that much damage?

I always wondered if a time traveler wouldn't spread a super contagious disease by being there, or vice versa, contracting a deadly disease thought to be eliminated. Also if food in the past centuries being actually eatable without destroying your stomach.

pinky75910:

maninahat:

A more obvious solution to Doc Brown's problem would have been to not destroy the car's engine with high proof alcohol, and instead make basic gasoline by fractionally distilling crude oil. Heck, there might even already be free gasoline lying around if anyone locally makes lamp oil. It wouldn't be good for the engine, but he doesn't have a lot of time. The next problem would be to find a flat enough road in the 1880s to drive 90 miles an hour on. They existed, but presumably not anywhere nearby, so they'd have to go on a road trip to find something. Basically, Doc and Marty should have got the hell out of town, which would have solved all their problems immediately.

Heh, This. I always thought this woulda solved the problem a lot better. Would alcohol really do that much damage?

It wouldn't explode. Whilst everyone knows what happens when you put diesel fuel in a gasoline car by mistake, high proof alcohol is actually a thing people use to run cars, and if you put it in a petrol engine by mistake you might get away with it for some time. Your car won't like it, but as long as there is some petroleum in there it can kind of cope with the mixture. If you do it repeatedly you can expect engine problems.

inu-kun:
I always wondered if a time traveler wouldn't spread a super contagious disease by being there, or vice versa, contracting a deadly disease thought to be eliminated. Also if food in the past centuries being actually eatable without destroying your stomach.

Good point - it would depend on how long you're there and where you visit and what you do there - how well prepared you are and what you are able to vaccinate against.

maninahat:
[quote="pinky75910" post="18.1034709.24188219"][quote="maninahat" post="18.1034709.24188200"]
It wouldn't explode. Whilst everyone knows what happens when you put diesel fuel in a gasoline car by mistake, high proof alcohol is actually a thing people use to run cars, and if you put it in a petrol engine by mistake you might get away with it for some time. Your car won't like it, but as long as there is some petroleum in there it can kind of cope with the mixture. If you do it repeatedly you can expect engine problems.

Now that I think about it - I think Mythbusters attempted to run various cars on Moonshine - the most modern "smart" cars had the greatest success.

pinky75910:

A multimeter is not shown, but it's not unreasonable to suggest there might be one stored aboard.

There's also a bit of a time crunch, as the local fort blames them (rightly) for killing one of their men, and they have only til they're discovered.

The time crunch could kill the whole thing. Even if you had a multimeter you would still have to forge a capacitor, test it, then make another increasing or decreasing capacitance... dialing it in would take time it seems they don't really have. Possible, but you would have to get fairly lucky on one of your first couple of tries... otherwise no.

maninahat:
Using a train to push a Delorean in Back to the Future 3 is implausible primarily because a Delorian's wheels are much wider apart than the train track. To look like it does in the movie, Doc Brown would have to take most of the body work apart, shorten the axles, than reattach everything so that it looks as though he didn't do anything. Also, it's not really clear how the machine works at 88 miles an hour; does just the whole car have to be going 88, or does it have to be "driving" that fast? If it's the former, you don't even need to put the car on the tracks at all

Terminal velocity of a falling Delorian is probably over 88, and there was a fairly big gorge nearby. If it's the former just push it off the cliff. At nearly 10 m per second/per second it should reach 88mph fairly quickly.

Here's an edit, it just occurred to me that the Delorean in the movie conserves momentum through the time "portal" (however you would want to say it.) I guess at that point braking does have to be considered. You would have to really re work the "off a cliff" solution I guess.

maninahat:
A modern semi-automatic handgun would be a problem for the reasons mentioned above, but I'm wondering if a modern revolver could be bodged to allow for paper and black powder cartridges? According to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, it turns out all you need is an old engineering almanac and you can make a full functional revolver!

Still need the primers to work, though.

inu-kun:
I always wondered if a time traveler wouldn't spread a super contagious disease by being there, or vice versa, contracting a deadly disease thought to be eliminated. Also if food in the past centuries being actually eatable without destroying your stomach.

Food wouldn't be a problem, you can try out recipes from centuries or millenia ago, there are re-enactors into period cooking. I don't think disease would be such a problem, most of the potentially nasty contagious diseases you are unlikely to be carrying when you go back in time. Most things you want to avoid are things that'd likely be killing the locals and making it obvious you want to avoid.

Thaluikhain:

inu-kun:
I always wondered if a time traveler wouldn't spread a super contagious disease by being there, or vice versa, contracting a deadly disease thought to be eliminated. Also if food in the past centuries being actually eatable without destroying your stomach.

Food wouldn't be a problem, you can try out recipes from centuries or millenia ago, there are re-enactors into period cooking. I don't think disease would be such a problem, most of the potentially nasty contagious diseases you are unlikely to be carrying when you go back in time. Most things you want to avoid are things that'd likely be killing the locals and making it obvious you want to avoid.

I don't think that's true. I catch all kinds of horrible things time each I go to India/Pakistan, just from eating ordinary food. Basically food in developing countries isn't completely sanitary, and that is only going to be worse way back when, where people didn't do basic things like pasteurise milk. On top of that, we'd probably dislike the taste of most food available; wealthy Medieval people, as they could afford it, overspiced everything. Meanwhile peasants had their pottage, which is apparently pretty gross.

Diseases would be a problem. If you've been vaccinated, you'd probably be safe from a lot of the big killers like measles or rubella, but you are almost certainly going to bring a lot of strains of modern mutations of old diseases back to the past, which would in the long run make things even worse when you consider these peasant losers haven't even had chance to discover germ theory or anti-biotics yet, and a lot of the things we're bringing back are already becoming anti-biotic proof. Basically you're going to have to do all the leg work to stop these guys dying around you.

maninahat:
I don't think that's true. I catch all kinds of horrible things time each I go to India/Pakistan, just from eating ordinary food. Basically food in developing countries isn't completely sanitary, and that is only going to be worse way back when, where people didn't do basic things like pasteurise milk. On top of that, we'd probably dislike the taste of most food available; wealthy Medieval people, as they could afford it, overspiced everything. Meanwhile peasants had their pottage, which is apparently pretty gross.

Certainly, but that's not the food per se, that's the lack of hygiene. Whether or not we'd actually like the food is another issue, yeah. Though, I suggest looking at https://www.youtube.com/user/jastownsendandson/videos loads of videos about 18th century cooking (amongst other things).

maninahat:
you are almost certainly going to bring a lot of strains of modern mutations of old diseases back to the past

Why? If you went back to the past right now, what diseases are you currently carrying?

Maybe you might have a nasty flu or something, but flu outbreaks were something they'd get every so often anyway. You'd not be helping introducing another flu strain, sure, but I don't see why it'd be worse than usual.

pinky75910:
The heroes' pilot, who also invented the time machine, says he's able to cannibalize the navigation system for circuits and wiring but needs iron to repair the hole and replace "a couple" of capacitors. To do this, his shopping list includes: "salt, glass jars, copper or tin, and a forge... and to learn blacksmithing."

Our heroes infiltrate the nearby fort. The pilot secures a couple wine bottles, an iron plate, a couple copper canteens and something that looks like a candle wrapped up in a burlap sack, but it could very well be a citrus or something for the acid. He is then able to use the forge to pound the metal into the shapes he needs.

The unknown is how powerful a capacitor is needed.

That actually checks out, saltwater can be used instead. In fact, original capacitors (called Leyden jars) were invented 9 years prior, in 1745. They are easy to make and can withstand very high voltages. Unfortunately for our heroes, they have very low capacitance which measures in pico or nanofarads, while your average modern capacitor measures in microfarads. That means they would need to build thousands of those jars just to replace a single capacitor.

Kyrian007:

pinky75910:

A multimeter is not shown, but it's not unreasonable to suggest there might be one stored aboard.

There's also a bit of a time crunch, as the local fort blames them (rightly) for killing one of their men, and they have only til they're discovered.

The time crunch could kill the whole thing. Even if you had a multimeter you would still have to forge a capacitor, test it, then make another increasing or decreasing capacitance... dialing it in would take time it seems they don't really have. Possible, but you would have to get fairly lucky on one of your first couple of tries... otherwise no.

It's assumed they are in the fort foraging and manufacturing supplies for a handful of hours (one time traveler wonders what is taking the pilot so long) until someone arrives at the fort looking for them - the pilot gets back with his team saying he has what he needs, just as a french soldier arrives at the gate looking for them. Our heroes see this and jump the wall out while the soldiers search the fort. (One of the time travelers said it's only a matter of time before their footprints are found.) The time travelers return to the time machine on foot and have enough time to fix the hole and complete the capacitors and within a few minutes the soldiers arrive on horseback. Doesn't look like they have enough time to do much if any testing.

(Unless the testing occurred in an edit and it is just now being completed at the same time someone else is just finishing repairing the hole. Time is funny in edits. Either way, still not a lot of time.) We don't even see him installing the capacitors.

I'm just as impressed they were able to bang the plate onto the hole which is on the side of a sphere. Either he had the curvature calculations memorized and was able to match the curve in the fort, or was somehow able to bang it into shape with little supplies at the site.

Major_Tom:

That actually checks out, saltwater can be used instead. In fact, original capacitors (called Leyden jars) were invented 9 years prior, in 1745. They are easy to make and can withstand very high voltages. Unfortunately for our heroes, they have very low capacitance which measures in pico or nanofarads, while your average modern capacitor measures in microfarads. That means they would need to build thousands of those jars just to replace a single capacitor.

I remember Mythbusters did an episode on ancient batteries - they weren't effective at powering modern devices, but could deliver quite a shock to a human.

It's hard to say whether the capacitor is meant to jumpstart the time machine, power the whole thing, or just power a circuit board.

maninahat:
Using a train to push a Delorean in Back to the Future 3 is implausible primarily because a Delorian's wheels are much wider apart than the train track. To look like it does in the movie, Doc Brown would have to take most of the body work apart, shorten the axles, than reattach everything so that it looks as though he didn't do anything. Also, it's not really clear how the machine works at 88 miles an hour; does just the whole car have to be going 88, or does it have to be "driving" that fast? If it's the former, you don't even need to put the car on the tracks at all

Terminal velocity of a falling Delorian is probably over 88, and there was a fairly big gorge nearby. If it's the former just push it off the cliff. At nearly 10 m per second/per second it should reach 88mph fairly quickly.

Here's an edit, it just occurred to me that the Delorean in the movie conserves momentum through the time "portal" (however you would want to say it.) I guess at that point braking does have to be considered. You would have to really re work the "off a cliff" solution I guess.

Couple problems with the jump off a cliff theory - as it does not travel through space, (technically) you would arrive at the same speed and location in the future, still falling. Even if "driving" down the cliff, there's still a high chance it would "off-road" flipping or crashing on the way down, slowing and killing you before ever reaching top speed.

 

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