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If you could travel back in time to any year in history... only once

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PTR 444

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We all have times when we wish we could be experiencing the good old days as they were, and with Covid now wreaking havoc on us for almost a year, it’s no wonder the desire to relive the past is stronger than ever.

So let’s say some sort of time machine exists today which lets you go back to any period of history, but with a catch: You can only ever use it once. This means that if you’re for example 11 years old now and choose to travel back to the year 1966, you will have to wait 55 years before the course of time brings you back to 2021, by which you will be 66 years old and approaching retirement. You will be able to experience all subsequent events in history but will also have to contribute to society from the point you travelled back to, so for example if you’re a child or teenager, you will have to attend school as it was back then.

Another point: the time machine is only big enough for one person, with no room for belongings apart from the clothes you’re wearing and whatever is in the pockets, so you can rule out bringing an Apple Mac into the 1960s etc. With these points in mind, what year would you travel back to?
 
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Trackman

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To save a family member from dying unnecessarily through no fault of their own.
Might also make note of the Euromillions draw details too before going back.
 

PeterC

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The problem with taking the long way back is all the paperwork that you will need unless you go far enough to miss out on good hygiene, antibiotics,and decent dentistry.
 

birchesgreen

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We all have times when we wish we could be experiencing the good old days as they were, and with Covid now wreaking havoc on us for almost a year, it’s no wonder the desire to relive the past is stronger than ever.

So let’s say some sort of time machine exists today which lets you go back to any period of history, but with a catch: You can only ever use it once. This means that if you’re for example 11 years old now and choose to travel back to the year 1966, you will have to wait 55 years before the course of time brings you back to 2021, by which you will be 66 years old and approaching retirement. You will be able to experience all subsequent events in history but will also have to contribute to society from the point you travelled back to, so for example if you’re a child or teenager, you will have to attend school as it was back then.

Another point: the time machine is only big enough for one person, with no room for belongings apart from the clothes you’re wearing and whatever is in the pockets, so you can rule out bringing an Apple Mac into the 1960s etc. With these points in mind, what year would you travel back to?
So i can't come back, that would rule out a lot of dates then as there many periods in history i'd like to visit but i wouldn't want to stay there!

I think about 1988 then, i can experience the indie scene 88-92 again, then use my knowledge of web design and e-commerce to beat Jeff Bezos to it!
 

DynamicSpirit

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We all have times when we wish we could be experiencing the good old days as they were, and with Covid now wreaking havoc on us for almost a year, it’s no wonder the desire to relive the past is stronger than ever.

So let’s say some sort of time machine exists today which lets you go back to any period of history, but with a catch: You can only ever use it once. This means that if you’re for example 11 years old now and choose to travel back to the year 1966, you will have to wait 55 years before the course of time brings you back to 2021, by which you will be 66 years old and approaching retirement. You will be able to experience all subsequent events in history but will also have to contribute to society from the point you travelled back to, so for example if you’re a child or teenager, you will have to attend school as it was back then.

Another point: the time machine is only big enough for one person, with no room for belongings apart from the clothes you’re wearing and whatever is in the pockets, so you can rule out bringing an Apple Mac into the 1960s etc. With these points in mind, what year would you travel back to?

Are you allowed to bring your knowledge of events up to 2021 back with you? (If so you could make a fortune betting on the stock markets etc.). Sorry, I'm being facetious, I know.

Tricky question with those restrictions. There are many bits of the past that I'd love to experience. There are also many bits where I'd love to have the chance to nudge history a bit in a different direction (Do a bit of campaigning against rail closures in the 1960s for example). But on the other hand if I have to live through everything as it was back then, then it's problematic. In some ways I'd love to experience the 1950s and 1960s as a time when it seems to me the country was more united and there was more of a sense of working together. Or the music scene in the early 1980s. Or going a bit further back, I'd love to be working as a scientist in the 19th and early 20th centuries when so many amazing discoveries were being made. Imagine being one of the first people to appreciate the implications of relativity theory for example, or evolution!

But on the other hand I'd hate to be in an environment where most people smoked and air pollution was considered perfectly normal, and health care was so much less advanced and having sex even once carried the strong likelihood of babies to look after.

And then there's the curiosity. If I could go back to the stone age, or to the era when Neanderthal man was just becoming extinct, just so I could find out what actually happened! But I guess there'd be quite a few lifestyle disadvantages of living at that time!

On balance, unless I'm allowed a bit of freedom to change history, or to live for several thousand years to watch the changes, or to return to 2021 afterwards, I'm not sure the sacrifices of travelling back in time would be worth it :(
 

Cowley

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I think 1963 for me: Most of the railway network still open, diesel and steam available, rock and roll, old cars and lorries etc.
I’d love to have experienced that.
 

306024

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2012 for the buzz of the Olympics. Would be great to experience that again, so many people just enjoying life, a far cry from where we are just now.
 

AlterEgo

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I think 1963 for me: Most of the railway network still open, diesel and steam available, rock and roll, old cars and lorries etc.
I’d love to have experienced that.
I’d go for about 1950. A fair few really strange lines closed before Beeching!
 

Cowley

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Probably

I’d go for about 1950. A fair few really strange lines closed before Beeching!

Plus the pioneer diesels - 10000/10201 etc?
This is becoming difficult...
 

BrettSy96

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Definitely 2018 for me, had the best summer of my life with sun, mates, girls, alcohol and of course the World Cup :lol: also had a good year of being out on the railway!
 

PeterY

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1958. I was born in 1958 and I would to see all the things I missed out on, being too young to enjoy the 60's
 

DarloRich

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I wouldn't. Once would be no good. How would you select where and when to go, what to see, who to meet etc? If you could travel in time imagine what you could learn about the history of this planet and you are giving me one trip! Pointless.

And wasting that chance on trains. insert headshake icon here!
 

Bald Rick

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1945. Get to experience V day, and see my grandfather who died shortly afterwards. Then the rebuilding of the economy, the ‘white heat of technology’, the swinging 60s, etc. By the time I’m in my 80s and losing faculties, it’s the late 70s and I’ve been there, done that.
 

PeterC

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1945. Get to experience V day, and see my grandfather who died shortly afterwards. Then the rebuilding of the economy, the ‘white heat of technology’, the swinging 60s, etc. By the time I’m in my 80s and losing faculties, it’s the late 70s and I’ve been there, done that.
1945, no id card, no ration cards, you would most likely get arrested as a deserter.
 

ChiefPlanner

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1945. Get to experience V day, and see my grandfather who died shortly afterwards. Then the rebuilding of the economy, the ‘white heat of technology’, the swinging 60s, etc. By the time I’m in my 80s and losing faculties, it’s the late 70s and I’ve been there, done that.

Doubt whether you would enjoy "Austerity Britain" - rationing held on till the early 1950's , including "bread" (well the National Loaf) , interesting time nonetheless with reconstruction of the economy and indeed society.
 

birchesgreen

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1945, no id card, no ration cards, you would most likely get arrested as a deserter.
Probably fairly easy to get on the black market, stuff plenty of nylons into your pockets before you time jump to give yourself some currency.
 

LSWR Cavalier

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I think there was an optimistic mood back then, did it culminate in the UK joining the EEC?

The restricted diet was healthier in some ways than what many people eat now
 

ChiefPlanner

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A deserter? At my age? And I’d take a few pot noodles with me to tide me over :)

Just think how you could influence the Railway Modernisation Plan ? - plans for new marshalling yards in particular.

You should be OK for places to eat , as long as it was before 7pm in the evenings and were restricted to chip shops.
 

birchesgreen

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I think your ability influence past events would be limited, you might have plenty of useful knowledge but you would be a no-body without a visible past (no recorded education, status, work history), no one will listen to you!
 

alex397

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I would travel to Berlin on 9th November 1989 (or perhaps a month or so before to get a feel for what it was like before the wall fell). It would be very interesting to see the experience for myself. It must have been an incredible atmosphere. There can’t be much else in history quite like it, especially as it came as a surprise to so many (I know there was a build up to it, but it was still quite shocking for many).

The months and years following would be very interesting to see too. Not just in Berlin, but also around the main wall (which doesn’t have as much said about it, as the one in Berlin), as well the whole Eastern Bloc.
 

UP13

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I'd do the classic going back in time to win a bet/lottery.

Failing that, I'd go to 2019 and try and stop the current mess...
 

Calthrop

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I'd go back to 1929 and shoot Hitler.

There's an IMO splendid novel by Ben Elton -- Time and Time Again -- whose premise is, going back to June 1914 and seeing to it that Franz Ferdinand is not killed in Sarajevo; and immediately thereafter, going and killing Kaiser Wilhelm II. To put things briefly: the course of history thereafter, comes to involve stuff far worse than what actually happened in "our real time-line".
 
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