If you could travel to the year 1820, how could you prove you were from the future?

With no notice and no preparation, you are transported to the year 1820 stark naked. A passerby takes pity on you and gives you some clothes.

“I am from the year 2020!” you claim. Telling them about technologies or world events will sound like the ravings of a lunatic. You probably have a job that didn’t even exist in 1820. The fillings in your teeth might be cause for some intrigue, but you couldn’t show them how to do it. You don’t know how to build a cell phone from scratch, or even a crystal radio set. Even if you could there would be no signal to pick up. You don’t know how make a battery, concrete, or stainless steel. You don’t even know how to make a pencil for that matter.

Is there any way to convince people of the truth?

Off the top of my head I know where several gold strikes or other large resources would be found in subsequent years that could be used as proof of…well, something. All I can think of for mystic powers of foresight though would be that Mexico would win independence from Spain in the following year (1821).

I actually do know how to build a crystal radio btw, as well as some other things, though I couldn’t construct a cell phone. I could, however, create a telephone or telegraph system if I had some capital and a place to work. I was going to say I know how to build steam engines, but they were already in use by this point. I guess I could predict that the that Jefferson and Adam’s would die in (IIRC) 1825 or 1826. Andrew Jackson would be elected in 1829.

Really, I’d have to ask why I would want to prove it to anyone? I doubt I’d even try. If I were stuck there I’d make the best of things using whatever random knowledge I have to try and do the best I can. I’m thinking that, regardless of the miraculous things I could possibly do or know I wouldn’t last long given my own poor health and the state of medicine and sanitation in that time. :eek:

Predicting the future.
Unfortunately I’m somewhat fuzzy on events 1820-1860, so it may take some time until my predictions are proved to be correct, and my very presence will probably alter future history making my predictions less acurate.
If you only had sent me to 1814 I could predict Napoleon’s flight from Elba for example.
However I think may be reading a couple of newspapers could refresh my memory enough to predict some death or other event.
ummm (resisting the urge to check wikipedia), I think I can predict that Wellington will be prime minister soon? (Is he already?), that there will be riots and he will be called “The Iron Duke” due to having to install iron protections on his windows.

Batteries are easy and I could put together a functional dynamo to charge it. The famous Baghdad Battery is roughly two millennia old and could have functioned as a crude battery. Of course it’s important to note that there is no evidence that it was ever used as such.

For that matter, concrete isn’t that hard…:smack:…difficult.

Show 'em your hoverboard.

The obvious answer is that you could predict a sufficient series of events that your skeptics are forced to admit this could only come from future knowledge.

Hopefully, you would know enough to confine your attempted technology demonstrations to things that don’t depend on an existing high-tech network.

It would not be hard, for example, to demonstrate aviation by building a fully functional glider - the necessary materials (wood, fabric, metal fasteners, etc.) and tools would be readily available.

You could impress thoughtful scientists in many ways, including:

  • duplicate Mendel’s genetic experiments
  • demonstrate the validity of the modern germ theory of disease
  • show that the cause of scurvy is a Vitamin C deficiency

It can be uncomfortable to carry one of those with you when traveling stark naked.

I’m heading to California as soon as I can scrape together some cash and seeing if I can get to Sutter’s Mill before Sutter. It’ll still be Mexican territory so I’d try to figure out a way to claim a large chunk of it on the transition to the US. I really don’t know much history in the 1820s so my future knowledge won’t be too useful. I guess I could head up to Philadelphia and get together a company to beat Col. Drake to drilling the first oil well in 1859 but it wasn’t like oil had a ton of value when he drilled it and it lost what it had after he could produce it so easily.

In ancient Russia, hoverboard carry you.

It might not be the best choice here, given that the Romans were using it 2000 years before 1820.

How many significant events from 1820 do you know? and how long are you willing to wait for them to happen?
I think my best bet would be to describe in detail either the course of American or world history between 1820 and 2020, or to give a lot of detail about life in the 20th century. Maybe sing some popular songs from post-1820, or describe the plots of some books or movies. I’m pretty sure that I could convince people that either I was from the future, or I was really really incredibly good at making stuff up.

Your speech and mannerisms alone would to some extent be convincing proof that you’re from the future. Nobody in 1820 talked with the vernacular of someone from 2020. Your attitude, demeanor, accent, would all be different.

Of course, though, they might just lock you up in an asylum.
And if you’re a racial minority, well, things just got even harder for you. However…this could work to your advantage, because a Hispanic/black/Indian/Asian/Arab etc. wouldn’t be expected to speak English well at all in that time. So if you have flawless English, you score bonus points for credibility.

From the Time Traveler’s Essentials:

Well, the OP already said you get clothes, given to you.

The quality of my dental work might inspire some belief…

They certainly had a crude, serviceable form of it but the modern, improved formulation of Portland Cement is an 1840s creation. Recreating that mix with tech from 1820 shouldn’t be insurmountable.

I am sure that if you locked a modern American in a room (with no warning) with the sufficient materials…they would probably starve to death before they could successfully assemble a fully functional glider.

I am sure the Wright brothers knew deep in their hearts it could be done, but they had to work at it a long time.

George III’s death and James Monroe’s (re-)election, for two, although the problem with those is that both of them were fairly predictable (and I don’t know more specific details such as King George’s exact date of death off the top of my head). But if I’m allowed to wait until 1822 to prove myself, I think Percy Shelley’s drowning would be more than sufficiently unexpected, and I do know enough detail about the circumstances to provide specifics.

Really, though, I’d be far more tempted to save Shelley! And Byron! (Keats is probably a lost cause without antibiotics.) And blow the health-inspector whistle on the Cowan Bridge School, although this would, alas, result in a world without Jane Eyre. This could be a lot of fun…

July 4, 1826. They died on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

I could invent a lot of things!

Sure, I can’t build a working cell phone by myself, but just knowledge of the basic principles of a thing and basic mechanical and scientific competence will get you really far. People often point out that

I could vulcanize rubber. No, I can’t tell you offhand exactly what goes into it, but the fact that I know that you can turn rubber into something useful with heat and sulfur is like 95% of the way there.

I can make an electric light. No, I can’t tell you exactly what the best filament material is, but I know that a glass bulb with a vacuum inside it and a thin strip of metal will incandesce.

I can make a motion picture camera. I can make a bicycle. I can make a refrigerator. I can draw the periodic table of elements and fill in… some of it. I can make an electromagnet. Pasteurization, graph theory, atomic theory!

I could fill thousands of pages with the basic principles of hundreds of years of progress. I could probably not build any of those things by myself immediately without some trial and error, but the fact that I’ve seen them and know they work puts me so far ahead of the game. Give me a few hours with a vaguely credulous group of scientists and engineers and I can make us all billionaires.