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Take The Credit
April 11, 2009 3:24 AM   Subscribe

Hang this in your time machine.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (65 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
On-then time-travelerer died then-again of-when scurvy?
posted by loquacious at 3:32 AM on April 11, 2009


I have one word for our cheat sheet: plastics.
posted by maxwelton at 3:44 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Pendulums tend to take the same time to swing regardless of how high you start them off..."

SMALL AMPLITUDE FAIL.
posted by fatllama at 3:58 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can apparently buy a print for $19.

The "Take the credit" line made me LOL.
posted by knave at 4:06 AM on April 11, 2009


That is also a fantastic syllabus for a grade school science class.
posted by nax at 4:21 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


"YOU'VE INVENTED THE COMPASS. ARE YOU TAKING THE CREDIT?"

I can't help but hearing that in my head being spoken by Vince (the Shamwow guy).
posted by Godbert at 4:41 AM on April 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


'Chemistry' is pretty disappointing. Then again, it always was.
posted by chrismear at 5:11 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always meant to write one of those, but never got around to it. Unless, maybe I did in the future and some time traveler is taking credit for the idea.
posted by RavinDave at 5:16 AM on April 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


I love the captions on the wing: "HEAVIER THAN AIR FLIGHT" -- "WOO" Granted, nearly every piece of information therein is far too simple to work right without quite a bit of experimentation, but it's still more science than most Americans have stored in their heads right now.
posted by AzraelBrown at 5:26 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I was a kid I was an avid reader of science fiction, and at some point I got stuck on this series of books by Leo Frankowski about a Polish engineer that gets sent back in time to just before the Mongol invasion of Poland. He sets out to successfully defend Poland using exactly this sort of cheat sheet knowledge, because he's an engineer. Man, I loved those books. Anyway, one of the single hardest things for him to do was to re-invent the meter so he could make use of all the constants and conversions he's got stored in his head. He doesn't think of the pendulum idea, and instead he does something implausible using his own height. I gotta say, that kept me up nights as a kid, and the pendulum thing is an elegant hack... assuming you have a watch.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:38 AM on April 11, 2009


Leave this in the glove compartment of your time machine.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:49 AM on April 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


Even here in the future we can't produce jpegs at a readable resolution.
posted by zardoz at 5:55 AM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


A meter measures three foot three... it's longer than a yard, you see.

Also take a copy of Deathworld 2 by Harry Harrison which is basically a blue-print for bootstrapping a pseudo-medieval society straight into approx twentieth century technology
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:46 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


The man you need as a co-pilot for your time machine is James Burke. By far the best man to take back in time to get the innovations you need with the materials at hand.
posted by chambers at 7:10 AM on April 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


A proposition:

Seeing as that list mentioned little about physics which would probably be the most important part of time travel, I'd bring along a physicist. So if I brought along Dr. Steven Hawking, if we went to time before he was diagnosed with ALS, would he be able to revert himself back to pre-ALS status? Or are the travelers locked in their "original" statuses?
posted by seandq at 7:21 AM on April 11, 2009


A meter measures three foot three... it's longer than a yard, you see.

And how long is a foot? Medieval measurements were a hodgepodge of local lord's cubits and the distance from so-and-so nose to the tip of his finger. Not much for standardization, you know?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:24 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Taking credit for too much stuff seems a good way to get yourself burned as a witch.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:40 AM on April 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


After watching Rough Science, my suggestion would be to learn chemistry more than anything else. If you want to make electricity you're going to have to find or make a lot of copper wire and magnets, but with chemistry you can make a lot of useful stuff with only random chemicals that were already around and low-tech equipment like ovens. Also, chemistry would be helpful in making high quality alcohol, which would probably win over the local populace more effectively than making a tesla coil or something.

And how long is a foot?

If you know how tall you are down the the inch or centimeter like most people, you could probably get a pretty accurate measurement of a foot from that.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:41 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fuck that, I'm taking a crossbow.
posted by Artw at 7:56 AM on April 11, 2009


This is going in my time machine cubicle.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:57 AM on April 11, 2009


I want to go to then.
posted by The Whelk at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


Taking credit for too much stuff seems a good way to get yourself burned as a witch.

You have to be careful with regards to how far back in time you travel, of course. Don't bring your iPod to 10th century Gaul; do bring the recipe for penicillin to 18th century France. This is like Time Travel 101.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:18 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would be an awful person If I didn't think to the excellent, Rock The Middle Ages thread.

It inspired a song!
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2009


The butterfly effect will screw up your best laid plans. There may be short term personal benefits, but say you bring penicillin to 18th century France--you'll change everything, including all the wars in history. There goes the English language, along with England.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:29 AM on April 11, 2009


Hang this in your time machine

I did that centuries ago.
posted by educatedslacker at 8:29 AM on April 11, 2009


The butterfly effect will screw up your best laid plans.

In which case you travel back to a few minutes before your time machine's arrival, wait for yourself, and then warn yourself when you arrive not to introduce the penicillin. Easy peasy!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:43 AM on April 11, 2009


How about when you print the thing out to hang in your time machine, you size it to be a meter across? Easy fix.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:46 AM on April 11, 2009 [11 favorites]


The butterfly effect will screw up your best laid plans. There may be short term personal benefits, but say you bring penicillin to 18th century France--you'll change everything, including all the wars in history. There goes the English language, along with England.

You say that as if it would be a bad thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 AM on April 11, 2009


Don't bring your iPod to 10th century Gaul

You can bring it - as long as you don't forget your steam-powered iPod charger.
posted by panboi at 8:52 AM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Don't bring your iPod to 10th century Gaul

And you modern day clothing, and your tooth fillings...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:01 AM on April 11, 2009


You can bring it - as long as you don't forget your steam-powered iPod charger.

That is pretty nifty, but you have to think about 10th century Gaul for a moment here. These are people who believed the sun went around the earth, who were mystified lightning, and considered Mediterranean Europe to be all that consisted of the world. You show them an iPod, and they see you have the Pussycat Doll's "Beep", and you think you went be drowned in a bog for herasy? Think again. The Gauls were strictly an R&B people, and hated that crossover stuff.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:07 AM on April 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


mystified by lightning ... won't be drowned ...
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:09 AM on April 11, 2009


What I would really need is a notarized card from The Future (tm) reading "LISTEN TO THIS HUMAN: recent discoveries have established that her brain is the functional equivalent of a man's." Otherwise, it would be pretty much for naught. I would also be in serious trouble if I lost my glasses; it would be like an anthropologist's version of "Time Enough at Last."
posted by Countess Elena at 9:33 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Someone went to the effort of creating that amusing time travel poster. Instead we get a link to Gizmodo where we can read the full thing, and then at the bottom a small link to the jpeg of the poster on Topatoco's website. Not even a link to the store item or a browsable version of the Topatoco website. Honestly, that's pretty shitty of Gizmodo to do, and pretty shitty of this post's author to do.

To counteract, I highly recommend the amazing products at Topatoco, and the various other homes of Jeffrey Rowland such as Wigu and Overcompensating.
posted by kcalder at 9:38 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


After more research, while Jeffrey Rowland is still awesome, I have discovered that Ryan North of Qwantz (the home of the greatest Dinosaur Comics ever) is responsible for the poster/t-shirt.
posted by kcalder at 9:41 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


And yes, I get the irony of "Take the Credit" being the meme-ish phrase coming out of this, and the string of websites that all seem to be unwilling to "Give the Credit" to the original author.
posted by kcalder at 9:44 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'll let other people sit around and try to teach the natives chemistry. My entire plan consists of:

1) Grab as many valuable "antiques" I can get my hands on and take digital photos and audio samples of how the natives speak.
2) Fix Time Machine and get back to the present.

Actually, scratch #2. Make that: Fix Time Machine and go back to 1990, sell everything and buy up Microsoft stock.
posted by vacapinta at 9:45 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


thanks. i've been looking for a scan of this!
posted by es_de_bah at 9:51 AM on April 11, 2009


As I travel back in time I will give all I meet a fanny pack.
posted by pianomover at 9:54 AM on April 11, 2009


1) Grab as many valuable "antiques" I can get my hands on...

Depending upon how their age was checked, they might just look like really good forgeries. I think carbon dating, for example, would "reveal" your antiques as recently made trinkets if you took them back with you in the time machine.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:58 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If the meter is so important why didn't the poster have a small metric ruler on one side? An accurate 10mm and you're all set. Also a list of comparable weights, for example a volume of water 100mm by 100mm by 100mm weighs X grams. I think you'd do better with a copy of the Rule of Thumbs
posted by Gungho at 10:00 AM on April 11, 2009


Remember the end of - I think this was it - the first Austin Powers movie? Where he gives this little smirk as he realizes the swinging implication of his time machine?

Am I the only person who thought he was going to travel back one day in time to have a three way with himself and his girlfriend? And that this was a good idea?
posted by Xoebe at 10:05 AM on April 11, 2009


I'd be Shakespeare.

Only, you know, not rubbish.
posted by Eideteker at 10:08 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Pendulums tend to take the same time to swing regardless of how high you start them off..."
SMALL AMPLITUDE FAIL.
posted by fatllama


Actually that link has the formula:
for angles much less than 1, T=2*pi*sqrt(l/g)

an angle of 1 radian is 54 degrees, so the original statement is correct for all but extreme starting angles.
posted by eye of newt at 10:18 AM on April 11, 2009


Even here in the future we can't produce jpegs at a readable resolution.

In the Future we use Macs.
posted by cmoj at 10:24 AM on April 11, 2009


So Ryan North is a great writer, but the typography of this poster is crap. That's way too fucking much all caps Helvetica to be easy to read, a problem compounded by the tiny line spacing. And then the random zig-zags and shit in the column gutter? And the awful word spacing you get from fully justifying everything instead of left justifying? A- for content, C- for design.
posted by Caduceus at 10:36 AM on April 11, 2009


That's way too fucking much all caps Helvetica to be easy to read

Freeway signs in the US used to be all caps long ago, but were changed when they realized that they could be read more quickly and easily if they were not all caps, not surprising considering nothing else we read, books, magazines, etc, is in all caps. In Japan, where they learn capital letters first when learning English, they would probably find this easier to read than the rest of us. In just about every other case, ALL CAPS=FAIL.
posted by eye of newt at 10:55 AM on April 11, 2009


Bear in mind: you likely aren't alone in the timestream.
posted by SPrintF at 10:57 AM on April 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Come on folks, as kcalder said, it's MeFi's own Wigu whose stuff is being DiggBarred by Gizmodo. Where's your righteous indignation now?
posted by ooga_booga at 11:26 AM on April 11, 2009


If we're going to nitpick, it should be mentioned that the position of Polaris is used to discover North and to discern latitude. So this is useful only for a Time machine that can go back no more than a few thousand years.
posted by vacapinta at 11:33 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Depending upon how their age was checked, they might just look like really good forgeries. I think carbon dating, for example, would "reveal" your antiques as recently made trinkets if you took them back with you in the time machine.

What you would do then is bury it somewhere that you're pretty certain would remain untouched until you returned. If you're not going too far beyond several hundred years, I wonder if it's possible to set up an account and a safe deposit box at one of the oldest banks in the world, leave your trinkets with them, and then come back for it later?
posted by lou at 11:34 AM on April 11, 2009


And if we're really going to nitpick, it should be mentioned that a time machine could only be able to go as far back as the invention of the first time machine. But c'mon - who doesn't see the words "time machine" and think, "Alright you primitive screwheads, listen up. See this? This is my BOOM STICK!"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:39 AM on April 11, 2009



So Ryan North is a great writer, but the typography of this poster is crap.


please don't so that in my presence. I have work to do this weekend. I can't spend it re-designing the poster for fun. Please don't temp me, it takes so little to tempt me.

a time machine could only be able to go as far back as the invention of the first time machine.

Thankfully, that was right before the destruction of Atlantis, so we're good.
posted by The Whelk at 12:04 PM on April 11, 2009


I'd be Shakespeare.

Only, you know, not rubbish.


Pistols at dawn.

At dawn,I say.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:08 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you just want to make a profit, take back and trade aluminum for gold.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:11 PM on April 11, 2009


Surely you mean sonnets at moonrise?
posted by The Whelk at 12:11 PM on April 11, 2009


Honestly. I've tried this, and to tell you the truth, it doesn't work. I've attempted to explain simple bits of technology-- the transmatterbloviator, the squencher, the linedriveexceptionachine-- to all sorts of people since I've arrived, and all I get are blank looks. "You have to have a degree in Engineering", they tell me. As if I'd bother! "You have to apply for grants to develop that, and you need some standing at a reputable University." Ha! So here I am, stuck with all the tools to develop a good-sized Boogalator in my basement, and the neighbours just give me funny looks. I'll be happy when my rotation is over and I get to head home. If I don't get arrested first.
posted by jokeefe at 12:14 PM on April 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


Well, we all know who to consult on these matters.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:23 PM on April 11, 2009


My question, in an effort to make the world a better place by changing something in the past: do I take the revolver away from Vincent?
posted by maxwelton at 12:48 PM on April 11, 2009


POLARIS (THE NORTH STAR) IS JUST ABOUT THE BRIGHTEST ONE IN THE SKY

Sigh. Not even close (number 48 on this list).
posted by oats at 2:32 PM on April 11, 2009


The germ theory of disease for the win.

My wife's OB (who is the world's greatest OB, because she talks about things like this) once told us that if she were trying to prove to people in the past that she was a time traveler from the future, she would simply tell the midwives to start washing their hands. She said the infant mortality rate would drop so radically and so rapidly that she would have been either hailed as a savior or burned as a witch.
posted by The Bellman at 4:14 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


>infant mortality rate would drop so radically and so rapidly that she would have been either hailed as a savior or burned as a witch.

Mysterious woman speaking and dressing strangely comes out of nowhere and seemingly magically cures diseases? I'm going to bet on the latter.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:26 PM on April 11, 2009


I thought about the "bring back the sports book so you can bet on all the games" thing mentioned earlier, but one of my more frequent reveries is the one about traveling back in time to be a rock star.

The idea would be that, if I could or did go back in time, I would try to remember some great songs fom my own time, and learn to play (or find other people who could play) whatever instruments are required well enough to play and record them before they were "written" by the real artists. That way, I would reap all the benefits of the fame and fortune of being a rock star, and I would theoretically have an unending supply of hit songs to crank out as my own material, assuming I could remember enough songs that I knew were big hits from the time I came from.

On thinking the idea through, though, some drawbacks started to come up. All my hit songs would be strangely disconnected from each other, with no connecting theme or genre; even though they all sound a little bit alike. My prowess with the instrumentation and the singing would be rudimentary at best; however, the basic songs themselves would be so catchy that the listeners would think they were good even though they weren't technically that well done. That would lead to some cognitive dissonance in my listeners, especially when they tried to reconcile the notion that the songs they were hearing me perform sounded like they should be great hits, but they couldn't quite say why. Finally, I would (undoubtedly) sometimes forget words of the lyrics, or parts of songs, and have to make up filler parts or nonsense words and phrases to fill in the stuff I couldn't remember from the better, more perfect songs of the future.

This is why I think that Steve Miller is a time traveler.
posted by yhbc at 9:51 PM on April 11, 2009 [46 favorites]


One problem with bringing back penicillin is the fact that you're likely infested with penicillin-resistant bacteria already. It wouldn't last long.
posted by Malor at 5:24 AM on April 12, 2009


First, the poster seems to assume you're not traveling any further back in time than the early Middle Ages. Without safe, reliable transportation and a handy empire that could use it, you don't have any need for a Prime Meridian; it's an abstraction created for the convenience of physical measure at a scale that's barely comprehensible to empires whose only relevant unit of distance is the number of days it takes to get there.

So, you've gone back to the first Roman Empire. Without a London handy, you're not going to establish The Prime Meridian and stealing George Airy's thunder. Sure, you could fake the real Prime Meridian by establishing it in Lutetia and be close enough for government work, but that only buys you about a century. And it risks losing your credit to Jean Picard.

And that drives you right to the second, bigger problem: Making a reliable chronograph. The poster's clever enough to handwave the challenge of precision mechanical engineering and send you straight to electronics, but you aren't going to have any copper wire to wrap around lodestones until you invent copper wire extrusion. Otherwise that first electromagnet is going to be awfully, awfully precious.

And that leads to the third problem: If you've got the drive and salesmanship to drop yourself into a remote location full of people who don't speak your language and succeed at manipulating them into dedicating dozens of their best metalworkers to hammering copper wire all day, why are you going through all this effort to pre-empt somebody else's credit by planting a Prime Meridian somewhere nobody goes, to steal the credit for something that doesn't exist which nobody needs? Go ahead and establish the Prime Meridian in Constantinople, Rome, or Alexandria. You've got the power, so abuse it. Nobody's going to mind for about eighteen hundred years.
posted by ardgedee at 5:59 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


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