Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Time Travel Question

First off, I haven't posted for a while because I was on vacation for a week in Bryce Canyon (very pretty) and Las Vegas (lots of fun activities), and then when I came back I didn't have anything I felt like writing about.

Second, a time travel question. Say you have a time machine and wish to go back to sometime in the past. Now let's say you don't want to arouse suspicion by bringing back some kind of futuristic object. Not even current-day money, since the design will be different and the dates would be a giveaway. What should you bring with you that would enable you to make the most money in the past?

One approach would be the Back to the Future Part II trick of bringing along a sports almanac and placing bets on sure winners. But you'd need to have some cash to start with. I would think some kind of precious stone or precious metal would be the way to go. I wonder which one would net you the most profit. You'd lose a lot trying, for example, to sell 21st-century lobsters in colonial Massachusetts. But diamonds, for example, as expensive as they are today, were exceedingly rare in Europe before the age of exploration. Gold has been used for millennia, but it, too, is expensive today. I wonder what the most profitable item to bring back to different time periods would be. What would be cheap today but recognizable and valuable in the past? Salt? Exotic animals? Out-of-season fresh fruits and vegetables?


At Wednesday, December 20, 2006 at 9:31:00 AM PST, Anonymous clynne said...

The other thing is that you'd want it to be something you could easily and quickly sell without attracting a lot of notice. So, precious metals or gems in raw form are pretty much out.

I figure, yeah, some reference book to gamble or hit the stock market with, and then stuff you could pawn for quick cash to get your started and keep you fed while you wait for the gambling/stocks to pay off.

Oh, I know. Jewelery to pawn (probably at a loss), and a used car to sell? Although I don't know if the wear on the car would be a problem.

At Thursday, December 21, 2006 at 9:15:00 AM PST, Anonymous Erich said...

Use your time machine more than once. Figure out what you need in the past to buy or acquire some land that will one day become valuable. Buy it, then jump forward in time, and sell. Like, get title to a bunch of land in the Bay Area after the 1906 earthquake, then sell it during the dot-com era.

There's a good series of time-travel books by author Kage Baker in which a secretive organization in the 24th century develops both time travel and an immortality process that only works on young children. So they go back in time and turn selected children who would've died in wars, etc. into their immortal cyborg servants, and have them go around and secret away works of art etc. that were "known" to have been lost or destroyed, and then have them "miraculously" turn up in the 24th century to great profit. (This is not the main thrust of the stories, just a background detail.)

At Thursday, December 21, 2006 at 10:47:00 AM PST, Blogger Erik Gregersen said...

Spices seem a good bet.

At Thursday, December 21, 2006 at 5:51:00 PM PST, Anonymous clynne said...

So weird. I totally posted suggesting spices, and it never went up.


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