Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Anchronistic Innovation Competition

Small innovation, huge impact
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The greatest ideas are often, when analysed, very simple- simple enough to be memorized by an average person.

This leads to the possibility of an amusing "counterfactual alternative history" contest, alongside some experimental archaeology.

The contest is in two parts. Firstly, authors must describe in simple terms the concept underlying morse code, or the verge escapement, or the screw propeller.

Secondly, a contestant must memorize the information, and then "time-travel" back 2000 years and, using available technology and materials, construct a functioning exemplar.

A smooth metal bowl coated with silver is the basis of a reflecting telescope; what if the Romans had constructed an optical semaphore to send morse code? Calcium carbide is fairly simple to produce, and would have yielded acetylene lamps. A galley with a screw propeller would have easily outmanouvered one driven by oars.

Ths could be the basis for an educational TV show.

8th of 7, Jun 28 2016

Connecticut Yankee Steam Engine Challenge Connecticut_20Yanke...0Engine_20Challenge
I got yer screw propeller right _here_! [bungston, Jun 29 2016]

[link]






       Science fiction authors already write about such things, in a genre called "alternate history", often involving a time traveler. The classic work in the field is "Lest Darkness Fall", by L. Sprague deCamp, written in 1939.   

       These days a fair number of authors are writing alternate history stories. It's a popular genre.   

       So this Idea might possibly be considered well baked....
Vernon, Jun 29 2016
  

       What if we’d invented the tablet computer first, and the pencil and paper much later?
Ian Tindale, Jun 29 2016
  

       If a past civilisation had found a way to “switch” static electrical discharge, in some controllable or conditional manner, we may never have needed to develop continuous current. It may prove that this is what is holding us back.
Ian Tindale, Jun 29 2016
  
      
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