So, I’m a bored time traveller and I want to play a game.
I’ll send you back 101* years to the capital of the world, London, Westminster. You get to take one item that you have in your house/apartment/other abode right now. It has to fit in my DeLorean’s passenger seat.
Whoever can get the most in contemporary assets for their chosen item within seven days from their arrival on the 9th of July 1913 wins. You’ll return a second from the departure date. What do you win? I am master of time and space, so take your pick between caveman hookers or holographic brothels. Or something else.
I’ll send you back immune to contemporary diseases. You’ll go dressed in respectable 'temp fashion. I’ll give you enough spending money for food, more clothes, board and travel (and some maps so you don’t get lost). Gambling is strictly prohibited! You’re also in an alternate universe, so don’t worry about killing your relatives or altering history.
What do you take?
*101 since World War 1 ruins my fun 100 years ago. If you’re about to get run over by a hansom or something I’ll rescue you.
Something that would work off the power available at the time?
How about a microwave oven? That would freak them out in a good way.
“Microwave? Never heard of that brand, sweetheart!”
The power gird at the time was rather patchy and ran at different voltages and frequencies, although some brainboxes will probably figure out what modern gizmos could be powered. You might even have a big problem trying to plug it in.
A detailed world atlas. Including the solar system.
Not much use if we’re in an alternate universe, but of course the “natives” don’t know about alternate universes.
A set of Lord of the Rings books. Sell the copyright to some big high-street publisher.
I would say Harry Potter, but I’m not sure if I have a set of Harry Potter sitting around at home this very moment. Harry Potter would actually do quite nicely, I think, since it was the heyday of the “British boarding school story” genre that Harry Potter is a takeoff of.
I would take a Barbie Doll, set up a carnie-style tent and charge the men to see a naked woman with huge knockers. I’d move from neighborhood to neighborhood each day. In seven days, working 6am to 11 pm, I think I’d make a fortune. How many men were in London at that time?
I’d put my cash in a bank account to draw interest for 101 years.
I’ll take a few sheets of paper with the results of various sporting events and certain stock events, make a pile of money gambling/investing for the purposes of this contest, and mail a letter to my grandfather with instructions for the coming decades thereby creating an alternate timeline in which my family owns the world by the time I’m born.
Probably my wife’s engagement ring. She won’t be thrilled about it, though. I’ll have to ask about the caveman hookers.
Laptop, smart phone or tablet - would these work back then?
Or a microwave.
I’ve got a device I got for christmas a couple years ago (about $20) which supposedly has all of wikipedia on it sans pictures. That would be a good thing to bring back in time. A lot of scientific, medical, economic, political, etc. theories ideas and discoveries have been documented on wikipedia. I don’t know if they had batteries back then, but they had power supplies back then (electric cars, power plants, etc).
A history of WWI and WWII.
Under the terms of the agreement I have no interest in furthering science, technology or England for that matter, purely in making some money. Likewise trying to sell future tech by saying “I’m from the future” is going to get me locked up.
I’m banking on the fact that in 1913 London I wouldn’t be able to get to see any of the snobby cnuts who had real coin, so I’d rely on flogging stuff that I could get decent coin for.
So, sorry but first step is to raid my daughters room. I’m pretty sure I could pass off the cubic zirconias in some of her jewelry for diamonds and get a tidy return, even if I had to cut a deal with some unscrupulous jeweller. Given time I’d rock over to a jewellery store near home and stock up first but if not I’d make do with what I could grab now. Some of her underwear should fetch a pretty penny at the right market, given the colours, style and material as should some of the bottles of perfume
Colour photography was an expensive novelty and porn is always a saleable commodity so a stack of old porn mags should sell sell quite well.
A couple of lengths of nylon rope, couple of zippo lighters and some disposable cigarette lighters
So all that should take up a small bag. Next would be two cartons (each of 24) 500ml plastic bottles of water with a standard screw cap. These would be an absolute novelty, reusable plastic bottles with screw caps and I should be able to flog them individually for quite a bit.
Everything I sell I only take gold in return, preferably gold sovereigns.
Last thing i’d take would be a typed list of the winners and winning margin of certain sporting events that occurred between my 18th and 30th birthday, seal that in an envelope and engage a lawyer to ensure it was sent to me on my 18th birthday.
I’ve often wondered how much my chemistry textbook would be worth in the bast. It may be able to help some of the brighter chemists of the day to leapfrog a few years or decades of research.
I wish I owned a toy rocket.
My laptop. It already has all my textbooks on it in PDF form - that’s the last century’s geology, chemistry, physics, maths all neatly wrapped up. Should be worth a fortune to, say, the Royal Society or the MoD on that basis alone, never mind the computational power afforded by NumPy, SciPy and matplotlib.
I see them housing the machine in a vault and only permitting individual scientists blocks of time at the Oracle each. They shouldn’t have a problem keeping it supplied with electricity, and there should be someone brainy enough there I can teach to run the thing, in a few days. 1913 isn’t the Middle Ages, after all.
And I’d be well away, clutching my gold sovereigns before the hard drive burns out or anything…
I’ve got a solar battery pack so that would ensure my nexus 7 tablet would reliably amaze and entrance a crowd. Cue astonished audiences the world over at a shilling a pop and private interactions for a guinea a head?
I’m in the money!
Or, take boxful of penicillin. That is a lot of life-saving for not much room and you could pretty much name your price.
If I only have a couple of days, hmm. I think I learn how to solve a Rubik’s cube fairly fast and take a case of them them back. Stand on a soapbox in Hyde park and demonstrate it all day and offer a 100 BPS to anyone who could solve it. In a short while a wealthy British entrepreneur would hear about me and buy my stock so that he could reverse engineer it.
Good luck not getting taken out by the government for your laptop.
Shouldn’t there be caveman hookers on the holodeck?
People seem to be skipping the “have right now” part - who has a box full of penicillin (or Rubik’s Cubes) sitting around at home right now?
Why would they want to? They need me to operate it, initially. Plus, I’m not going to go to the government at first, I’d prefer one of the Societies. Better (i.e. richer) class of person there.