What would you 'invent'?

I was thinking of this the other day, and wondered what others might say. (Of course I know about the paradoxes, but please ignore them for now.)

Suppose you were transported in time to a location and era of your choice, arriving fluent in the local language (or more than one, if necessary), well-dressed (as a free citizen, if slavery is an issue), and with enough money to last a couple of months in appropriate style. Of course you can’t take any modern technology or reference materials, and have no prep time to study in advance, so you’re working entirely on what you can remember right now. What could you do to support yourself in reasonable comfort, if not wealth? The obvious answer is to ‘invent’ some sort of technology or process that’s unknown at your destination.

My choice would be Rome in 70 or 71 AD, when the government was stable and the economy was fairly prosperous. My ‘invention’ would most likely be distillation of brandy. The initial investment is small (a barrel of drinkable but undistinguished wine, a copper pot, and a little firewood), the technique is simple enough for me to manage, and the market would be huge. Once that starts selling, I’d move on to other things, but I’ll leave them to others for now.

Are there any better plans?

For some reason or other, I was thinking about this a while back. I came up with mass-producing glass bottles and other glassware using molds. This is a fairly simple extension of the existing blowpipe technology, and it would provide both an increase in productivity and a signficant reduction in cost.

Yes, molded bottles would be a good one. It’s even simple enough that I could probably ‘invent’ that myself. Do you have a particular time and place in mind?

I’d invent money. After having made plenty for myself of course. :smiley: Then I’d invent insurance.

It worked back when dollars were backed by gold, why not earlier?

First I would invent bumpers that actually bump.

Then, I’d drive all around, willy nilly, bumping without denting.

What fun it would be!

2nd I’d invent a toilet that attaches to the plumbing through the floor instead of the wall. This would enable an installation that would permit placing the toilet far enough from the wall to accomodate say, oh, I don’t know, a sponge mop. Thereby freeing all North American women from a life of servitude, on their knees trying to clean some totally inaccessable niche, their heads mere inches from the bowl.

Having done those two things I will surely rule the universe.

A couple of things spring to mind.

Gunpowder is easy to make, but kind of leads to the whole war and killing thing. Not what I want.

I think I’d go for “inventing” either the wheel (and axle) or the assembly line. Or both, I suppose.

What I’d really like to invent is a flushable house. Hit the switch, the dirt swirls out and is replaced with nice clean everything.

Or at the very least, a “save” button I can hit just after the cleaning lady walks out the door.

The chain letter. $$$.

It would require a literate society, with reliable postal service equivalent.–no, wait, wasn’t there a chain a few years ago that involved parties like Tupperware parties?

Ancient Rome wouldn’t be a bad choice - I can make black powder, and show the Romans how to make flintlocks with it. Distilling alcohol is a another good money source. Hopefully, I could make enough money to field my own army, and use the gunpowder based weapons to conquear some areas that Rome never reached, pushing further into Germany. Then I could take my army back to Rome and get myself declared as Emperor, like Caesar did. Optics would be another area I could improve things significantly - I wouldn’t need to know the details, just show the basics of how curving glass bends light, using

Once I become Emperor, I would start introducing wide-scale medical improvements, introduce the doctors to germ theory, that sort of thing. Basic sanitation practises alone would cut down on disease. Then I would mandate that everyone be infected with cowpox(to stop smallpox), and then I would get my doctors (whom I taught germ theory) working on making penicillian from mold. Of course, they would have micropes as from above.

Movable type would sure be a useful thing to have … more than a thousand years before its inception.

I’d go back to yesterday morning, and invent coffee filters that separate easily.

As Brainiac4 suggested, the assembly line would be a good thing to “invent”. Not only are they effective, but the concept behind them is so simple that even I understand them.

I would teleport back to the Romans and invent the menstrual cup.

Sorry, guys, you will have to google for that one.