What would you want to resolve?

Esther Inglis-Arkell has an article about what could be resolved by time travel.

Leading to this: what would you want to resolve through time travel?

Time travel has long been used, in fiction, as a method of correcting past wrongs or stealing past riches. This usually leads to trouble. But what if all time travelers recovered from the past was scientific knowledge? Here are some science mysteries from the past that could be solved in the present.

Although there are plenty of past wrongs that I would love to see righted, the sad fact is that they generally happened to people other than me. The even sadder fact is that I, myself, might suffer if they were to be corrected. On the other side, there are plenty of problems that died out in the past, and so can’t be studied in the present. This does affect me, and a time traveler going back into the past and bringing the key to the puzzles back to the present could only make me better. Therefore, while I am skeptical about the kind of time travel that rights injustices, I can immediately think of quite a few problems that I would be all for a modern time traveler answering….

The sweating sickness, the Donner party, the Voynich manuscript author, Stonehenge, and Ranorongo, Jack the Ripper…

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  • Hmm… Good question. All I keep thinking is that if justice issues (eradication of Native Americans, etc.) are not options, I would really, REALLY, want to see some dinosaurs. : )

  • I’d probably want to see how the Mayans vanished (no, I’m not morbid), or possibly the construction of the pyramids

  • Greg D

    I would go to a tree in some garden located between two rivers near modern day Iraq with my Army utility knife in hand. The first thing that I spot that slithers through the branches I would with one Sith-like move decapitate the head from it’s body. Then, I would sneak a quick peak at Eve (since sin hadn’t entered into our minds) and then vanish. All of today’s problems would be forever resolved: disease, famine, catastrophe, Republicans and Democrats, and evil.

  • Nate: I wonder how far back you would have to dial the time machne to actually see a dinosaur 😉

    if there was time travel I guess we could answer a ton of questions regarding Adam, evolution, age of the earth etc.

    I suppose going back to 50 AD or so and talknig to Paul could answer a lot of questions too, but I would need a Koine Greek to English translator…

  • Larry Barber

    Nobody would want to witness the resurrection? You could even make a video tape and then watch certain skeptics move their goal posts.

  • AndyM

    were the days of creation 24 hour days as we’d understand them to be?
    did adam have a belly button?
    what did solomon’s temple look like?
    did the apostles baptise babies?
    was paul speaking universally and authoritatively re the ordination of women?

    probably the biggest thing i’d wonder is: if i was in the crowd listening to jesus, would i have been someoen who followed him, or one of the pharisees who were dubious about him?

  • AndyM

    after peter had the vision of the animals coming down from heaven, did he ever have a ham sandwich?

    this is kinda outside the scope of the thought experiment as it would interfere with what historical parties did, but if you showed an apostle the collected news about a certain church or church movement for a year or so, what sort of letter would they write in response to what they heard? would it be a pat on the back with minor corrections or a literary slap to the back of the head “what on earth are you thinking doing/ thinking _____??”

    if we showed the works of (choose author of choice

  • Andrew

    Did the Exodus really happen? Put a more nuanced way, what are the kernels of historical factual truth in that narrative? And if, assuming that we find that millions of Israelites really did live in Egypt for so many generations as slaves, what was it about them that enabled them to maintain their language virtually free of Egyptian borrowings for so long?

  • Tim

    I’m tempted to say I would liked to have found a way to intervene in the NFL Replacement Referee mess but that’s probably not what you mean 😉

    I would have really liked have chatted with Paul and offer him advice without ruining the space-time continuum or inspiration.

    Outside the Christian faith, so many good ones have already been mentioned. I do wonder what would have happened if the industrial revolution could have begun with environmental considerations already in place or if issues like colonial slavery could have been avoided by influencing the right people and so forth.

    Interesting question, always a fun and worthy exercise.

  • Nobody wants to kill Hitler?

  • AndyM

    @Andrew: why not distil down your question to asking Jesus whether we can rely on any of the bits of the bible that are written as historical narrative to tell accurately what actually happened. And if it can’t be relied upon completely, how do we tell which bits are reliable.

    @Steve of Winnepeg: those of us who watch doctor who saw how it worked out when they tried to use time travel to kill hitler a few seasons ago 🙂

  • Ava

    I would settle once and for all exactly how the JFK assassination happened.