The accidental time traveller

From the department of abandoned ideas

For a long time I’ve had an entirely irrational fear of being sucked into a freak time warp and being deposited back in, say, the 12th century. It’s the kind of worry that, as a child, makes you carry around things like a swiss army knife, a magnifying glass, and a small quantity of string at all times.

Over time the fear has mellowed into a moderate worry. Now, when I think about falling into a temporal manhole, I worry that I don’t know enough sports scores off by heart to make a killing with (in case I get deposited in the mid-20th century), or that I have forgotten too many basic mechanical inventions to patent (in case I find myself in pre-industruial-revolution Britain), or that I don’t know how to locate a safe, natural source of caffeine. That’s a biggie.

Last year I had been thinking about setting up a web site specifically for the accidental time traveller: a kind of knowledge base full of things you could usefully memorize to make your stay in a far-flung age more bearable. Lists of sports scores, election results, how to manufacture simple chemicals, simple yet profitable inventions, self-defence techniques, techniques for figuring out exactly when and where you are (in the absence of nearby settlements), etc. In the end, though, it seemed more effort than it was worth. So the domain name is still available, if anyone wants to adopt the idea.

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  • Knowing how to make explosives is probably a good start.

2 Replies to “The accidental time traveller”

  1. My first thoughts are:
    – what does penicillin look like? If I leave a bunch of bread out to get mouldy, can I tell if any of that mould will make me better?
    – how can I identify and catch a case of cowpox?

  2. I used to be that way all the time!!
    And reading your blog just brought it all back to me. I remember the summer I first needed to wear a bra (badly,) I went to the beach and got an awful sunburn, and didn’t wear the bra when I went walking in the woods around my house that evening.
    And thought, “great. this is it. This is the time when I am going to be sucked back 600 years, and I won’t be able to do anything because these *things* are in the way.”

    (I was a ten year old tomboy who developed way too much too soon….)

    Nice to meet you, though.

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