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If I had a time machine, I would first visit...

Displaying poll results.
The past, within 100 years
  3839 votes / 12%
The future, within 100 years
  5906 votes / 19%
The past, within 10,000 years
  2664 votes / 8%
The future, within 10,000 years
  4371 votes / 14%
Dinosaurs (distant past)
  960 votes / 3%
Galactic Empire (distant future)
  4452 votes / 15%
I'd let it sit in my garage and not use it
  1285 votes / 4%
I'd hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button
  6178 votes / 20%
29655 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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If I had a time machine, I would first visit...

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2012 @09:51AM (#41498427)

    Give your past self a sports almanac?

    • by donak (609594) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @09:53AM (#41498439) Journal

      I'd go back just far enough to beat you to first post ... *sigh*

    • by ugen (93902)

      I'd go for stock history for the next 100 years. It's easier to play ;)
      But yes - and that's the reason travel to the future will never be possible. Big bankers won't allow it :)

      • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @02:17PM (#41500271) Journal

        But yes - and that's the reason travel to the future will never be possible.

        Actually travel to the future is technically possible (and not just at the usual one second per second rate). With a sufficiently fast spacecraft time dilation makes any future date achievable in an arbitrarily small amount of local time. There are just two problems. First you will need an unbelievably huge amount of energy to achieve relativistic speeds - far more than the mass-energy of your spacecraft - to go fast enough. Second it is a one way trip, so if you don't like what you find in the future there is no going back.

      • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:51PM (#41501033)
        Stock market? Pffft, too slow. I'd go a few months into the future and check out the winning lottery numbers.
      • I'd go for stock history for the next 100 years. It's easier to play ;)
        But yes - and that's the reason travel to the future will never be possible. Big bankers won't allow it :)

        You're looking to get rich? That's way too easy....

        Have you considered influencing/changing religious history? How one might prevail to influence the naive cultures of 6000 years ago and forward?

        I know it would greatly alter future outcomes, but the introduction of critical thinking and logic into earlier states of our human culture, however possible, would be amazing.

        • by tbird81 (946205)

          Imagine the world if someone went back and killed Mohammed.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2012 @10:10PM (#41503237)

            It might suck. The spread of Islam on the Arabian peninsula stabilized regional geopolitics, allowing for a blossoming of the academies. Today we enjoy the fruits of the works of many amazing Islamic philosophers and mathematicians, and the Islamic empires linked Europe to Asia, something it hadn't enjoyed for millennia. Without the combined efforts of Indian, Persian, Arabian, and European mathematicians and scientists, the world we know today might be far bleaker.

            It might also be far nicer. It's tough to say. But I wouldn't presume that the rise of Islam was a net loss. I tend to think of it as a net gain.

          • Yes there will be wars and terrorism all in the name of someone else. Religion doesn't cause violence it is mean people who cause it. While religion is currently the biggest excuse, there is political ideology, cultural traditions, money... many many other reasons to be generally crappy to one and other.

            The Middle East, once the center of civilization, slowly went down hill. Now countries that once were considered to be barbarians are the new centers and center of civilizations tend to push their culture

  • John Titor (Score:2, Funny)

    by elvestinkle (2734643)
    My father was a time traveler from the future stuck in the present, you insensitive clod!
  • by Zumbs (1241138) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @10:09AM (#41498531) Homepage
    Whenever I visited, I would never, ever go back in time before my own birth. Once I start interacting with *anything* there is no knowing how it would affect the future. Who is to say that it wouldn't be another of my fathers sperm cells that impregnated my mother, or some other random occurrence caused different mutations or what not? I would no longer be me. My clear preference is to visit the future, though I am uncertain if I would be able to not sneak a look at my future history.
    • by V!NCENT (1105021)

      At first I voted for a 100 years into the future, but then I realized that one hundred years from now; I'll be dead.

      So if you travel backwards towards pre-birth, then you're stuck in this loop forever, and the moment you get into your timemachine; you essentialy commit suicide the very second you decide to loop your life.

      I simply would keep it obscure and ask someone to press the red button (marked from age of 3) as a last wish when i'm at my dearhbed. Unless the entire universe would never split of and dev

    • by frovingslosh (582462) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:36PM (#41501707)
      As far as I can tell, every time someone invents a time machine he eventually goes back to some point before the time machine was invented. Things Change. And the machine never gets invented.
  • I love Dickens' and his contemporaries' work so I'd go to find out what 19th century England was really like.

    • Just go to a Foxconn factory in China today to get an idea what life was like in the Victorian era of the UK? People tend to remember the positives of the past and not real life for everyone else. Ancient Greece sounds exciting too, but instead of debating with Plato more than likely slave catchers would find a foreigner an easy subject to work the dreaded silver mines.

      I used to romantice about that period too until I took a college level history course. Even in the US life was very rough and if you think t

    • by jonadab (583620)

      > I'd go to find out what 19th century England was really like.

      Ugh. I have a fair idea what the nineteenth century was like (London in particular), and I can tell you for free, you don't really want to go there (err, then). Streets literally _running_ with decaying fecal matter is one of the highlights. Also, it would probably take a couple of days for most modern folks (anyone who hasn't studied historical linguistics) to get enough of a handle on the accent to be able to communicate effectively. By

    • I love Dickens' and his contemporaries' work so I'd go to find out what 19th century England was really like.

      I love Dickens too, and therefore I don't want to find out about 19th century England for myself.

  • I'd go back to the points in time when major religions started and make sure to kill their leaders before they ever plant their first poisonous seeds. I'd then make sure the Roman Empire never falls and the dark ages never happen. At this rate i'm not so confident there will even be a distant future for the human race. In the nuclear age we're far too likely to kill ourselves collectively over some sky fairy.
    • Re:Past (Score:5, Funny)

      by Roger W Moore (538166) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @02:25PM (#41500341) Journal

      I'd go back to the points in time when major religions started and make sure to kill their leaders before they ever plant their first poisonous seeds. I'd then make sure the Roman Empire never falls...

      Hmmm....your real name isn't Pontious Pilate by any chance?

      • by Psyborgue (699890)
        Nope. It's not that I have some particular fondness for Rome, it's just that it was the largest, most developed society at the time in that part of the world and starting off from scratch would kind of suck.
        • Re:Past (Score:4, Interesting)

          by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @10:44PM (#41510157)
          Sadly, you might be better off killing Colombus somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. The native Americans had more advanced astronomy than Europe at the time. And from what I've read about, which is mainly conjecture at this point, the natives were more domesticated than we thought, with crops and cities, but the plague brought in by the first explorers killed off 90% of the natives, and 100% of the cities, and they turned nomadic and more tribal to survive. But to know for sure, you'd need a time machine or something.
    • Re:Past (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tomhath (637240) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @03:57PM (#41501079)
      Be careful, by killing the religions we have you might provide an opportunity for something even worse. Read up on what Aztec priests did for a living (the Conquistadors couldn't count all the skulls, but estimated something over 100k lined the walls of the main temple).
      • Re:Past (Score:5, Interesting)

        by afeeney (719690) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @06:04PM (#41501879)
        If your goal is preventing wholescale slaughter of humans and destruction of bodies of knowledge, Genghis Khan and the Mongols were responsible for more deaths directly ( 30-60 million []) than any other war except for WWII. Proportionately, no other regime has ever killed as much of the world population, at 7.5 percent to 15 percent. By comparison, the highest death rate for WWII is estimated at 3.1 percent. If you count Timur as one of the Mongols (some do, some don't), the figures go from 45 to 80 million killed. Using the broadest possible definition of Holocaust deaths, including the high estimates for Roma and all Soviet/Polish POWs, there were 17 million deaths.

        If you count the probable indirect death toll, one of the unintended consequences of the improved trade routes through Asia was the Black Death, which would make the Mongols the most destructive force ever in terms of human loss of life. Bugs coming out of obscure locations to kill millions due to improved travel capacity didn't begin with WWI, ebola, or SARS.

        Stopping Mao from the policies that led to the Great Chinese Famine of 1958-63 would have saved 15 to 43 million lives. These policies included such idiocies as killing all the sparrows and small birds that allegedly ate crop seeds, which of course left crops vulnerable to the much more destructive insects; collectivization of farms in ways that put the most loyal rather than the most competent farmers in charge; refusing to use farming methods that were too bourgeoisie, and so on.

  • by tmosley (996283) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @10:34AM (#41498663)
    I wouldn't go into the past unless A, time is at least two dimensional (ie my arrival in the past splits off another time stream), and B. I could get back to my original time stream. Don't want no paradoxes that result in me slowly disappearing while playing a guitar at a high school dance.

    And really the first order of business is going to the distant future to steal acquire advanced technologies like FTL drives, immortality tech, loyal nanites, etc. After all that, then there is time for exploration. Of course, if my trips to the future are interfered with by my return to the less distant future or present, that result in the disappearance of all my cool stuff, then I would just have to learn how to make it all and rebuild it myself from present materials on my return, and afterwards, time travel would become a "look but don't touch" affair.
    • Dunno. Seems that there's enough enabling technology commonly available now, that being universally acknowledged as a god 3000 years ago would not be all that difficult, provided that you're sufficiently armed. I don't know if you could do it alone though. If you tried it alone, there would be logistical problems. So maybe a small financially obsessed group? Think about the return on investment when you're done.
  • On a bad day I feel like we don't have that much time left between climate change, oil depletion, bad governments and general idiocracy.
    I'd like to see if we're still around in 100 years, if we have done something to change things and if somethings has actually changed.
    And maybe a quick peek at how my life turned out, why not?

  • all gone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by carnivore302 (708545) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @10:54AM (#41498753) Journal

    On one hand I'd like to go 10K years in the future, to marvel at the technology we have then. But I'm afraid what it will do with me psychologically if I discover there's nothing there any more...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Billly Gates (198444)

      My fear is that in 10,000 years from now we will be primptives, poor, and filthy. As oil goes away mankind will go back to using horses. With so many people on this planet I do not think we can sustain ourselves and we will have an Easter Islands style tragedy.

      Once the inhabitants used up all the wood they couldn't build boats to leave nor nets to fish. They resorted to cannabilism, disease, and mass starvation.

      We just keep buying trucks and SUVs like there is no tomorrow and use cargo ships that use 50 mil

      • Once we run out of oil, we'll produce it. It'll be more expensive than just pulling it pre-formed out of the ground, but there are plenty of sources to create biofuels and petroleum components.

      • by nr (27070)

        With fourth generation liquid lead cooled nuclear technology we have enough energy to power us for thousands of years into the future. The good thing with Gen IV is that it burns old stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel rods, plutonium and americium as well so we reduce the toxic hazard and storage of these resources. On top of that we got thorium too that is four times more abundant in the ground than uranium. The core of the earth is a gigantic ball of molten metal, just imagine the amount of free energy avai

  • I'm brown... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eepok (545733) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @10:54AM (#41498755) Homepage

    I'm brown, so I'll be happy checking out the future. The Western world prior to the 1960s is interesting, but I don't think I'd fare as well as I wish.

    • by jonadab (583620)
      If you had a white friend or colleague whom you could _really_ trust, you could go back together and pose as his slave. Dress in rags and keep your mouth shut in public, and nobody would look at you twice: all the attention (and all the pressure) would be on him. You'd be like a fly on the wall.

      But yeah, failing that, brown people should probably avoid the past beyond about fifty years, particularly in North America (unless you go back _before_ slavery, but going that far back, anywhere, is dangerous for
      • by naroom (1560139)
        Eep. Posing as a slave sounds like a really bad idea when you consider the Stanford Prison Experiment.
  • FIRST trip? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ritchie70 (860516) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @12:18PM (#41499257) Journal

    About six hours in the future to see if the damn thing works OK.

    Being "stranded" six hours in the future isn't that big of a tragedy. I'm still there to put my daughter to bed if I time it right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Go back six hours in time, and see your daughter's face when both of you put her to bed.

    • by antdude (79039)

      How about going six hours ago to test it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 29, 2012 @12:25PM (#41499313)

    I'd travel back in time to just before I was born and tell my parents to leave my penis intact, thank you very much.

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @12:41PM (#41499431)
    I already made a reservation for dinner at Milliways.
  • by Nationless (2123580) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @12:52PM (#41499557)

    I see a lot of votes for the last option and I wonder how many of them are Doctor Who fans.

    Personally I'd see little point of going back in time (and scared to due to the "savage" nature of humanity and rampant illnesses)

    And I'd be terrified to go forward in time because by then Time Travel will probably be mainstream and regulated and I don't know what to expect from their technology level. (also new diseases.)

    I think I'll stay on my couch.

    Nice and safe.

    Unless the Doctor drops by... Because nobody dies when they follow the Doctor, right? ...Right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jonadab (583620)
      I'd probably use it for small, practical things.

      I could get off work on a Friday, go back in time two weeks plus four hours (to a time when my former self was at work), leave on vacation, and not have to be back for two weeks, *without* having to ask my boss for two weeks off work. If I wake up one morning and just don't _feel_ like going to work, I could go back in time six hours, take a four hour nap, read for an hour or two, and still get to work on time. I could get an answering machine, leave the rin
      • If you have a time machine and still need to work a day job, you're doing it wrong. Think lottery tickets, sports almanacs, stock markets, etc...
      • Micromanaging your life using a time machine, that's actually a quite interesting interpretation of the theoretical scenario.

        Personally I'd do something stupid like cheat at the lottery to A) Not work again B) See what happens to the time streams and (maybe) see if paradoxes are possible.

    • Unless the Doctor drops by... Because nobody dies when they follow the Doctor, right? ...Right?

      Depends on how indirectly you're talking about. Technically Rose isn't dead, but she did have to start a completely new life from scratch. I forget how everyone else went, and the interwebs tell me that Amy and Rory cease traveling with the Doctor tonight...

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @01:39PM (#41499879)

    My answer, and probably everyone's, is "all of the above". Let me go hunt t-rex, stop by the future to see if they ever do figure out cold fusion, listen to some ancient Greek debates, maybe end the day with a live performance of one of Shakespeare's lost plays. Asking "when would you go if you had a time machine?" is like asking what countries I'd like to visit - all of them, ideally.

    So this question only makes sense with two additional qualifiers. First "when would you go FIRST if you had a time machine?" (my answer: Rome, circa 750 AUC). Second, "when would you go if you had a ONE-USE ONLY time machine?"

    That's where the title of this comment comes in. It stands to reason that if you have developed a one-use time machine, that eventually someone will develop a multiple-use time machine. So the first goal is to travel into the future to acquire one of those.

    The thing with time travel is that you can't go too far without tons of preparation. If you only speak English, you're useless more than 800 years ago or so, even in England, because Middle English looks nothing like Modern English. Same for any modern language, really. And it's foolish to think that the same does not apply in the other direction - 800 years from now, they won't be speaking any of today's languages (although you can likely find an expert who studied the language, much as you can still find people who can speak Latin, or Aramaic, or Babylonian, but that won't be of too much use for you).

    So your best bet for doing this is 400-600 years in the future. That's as much time as I would risk - too much more, I won't be able to do anything, too much less, they may not have developed the technology I'm after.

    • Read it again.

    • by Tom (822)

      The language barrier is probably the most important preparation to consider.

      However - they didn't have audio recording in ancient greece. We do today. So a language expert from the future would probably have those available and communication would be quite a bit easier. But if, say, English keeps being a live language, then good luck finding an expert not only in (by then) ancient english, but in ancient english from exactly the early 21st century period.

      So, yeah, going forward in 100-year steps or somethin

      • by gman003 (1693318)

        But if, say, English keeps being a live language, then good luck finding an expert not only in (by then) ancient english, but in ancient english from exactly the early 21st century period.

        I think you're overestimating the difficulties of two people not speaking the exact same language.

        Personal anecdote (because that's totally valid evidence): When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was at a Brazilian restaurant. I was probably the only native English speaker there - actually, besides the manager and one of the waiters, everyone spoke only Portuguese.

        I had my formidable English skills, my three years of Latin, and the smattering of Spanish any American picks up naturally. Oh, and the four

  • I have been traveling through time for dozens of years until I finally arrived at the chance to make this post, but now I forgot what I was going to say!
    • I have been traveling through time for dozens of years until I finally arrived at the chance to make this post, but now I forgot what I was going to say!

      You were going to mention how you wish you could go back 13 years and get a 2-digit Slashdot UID.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @02:40PM (#41500475)

    ...6000 years ago.

    I'm an irrational creationist, you insensitive clod!

  • Say,"If I was to build a time machine, I'd travel back to now, and tell myself it is possible."
  • If it's a one time use machine, I wouldn't use it at all. If it's multi-use, I'd check out various parts of the future and find a new home.

  • and I would tell myself not to do all the stupid things I did. Maybe also tip myself off on the lottery numbers.

  • ... darn it, can't remember ... a short story, about a guy exiled to the past. The point was made, (rather didactically, if I recall correctly), that nobody's going to be happy at any distance, temporally, from what he's used to. The future's incomprehensible, and the past more awful than we recall in the rose-tinted rear-view mirror. Ended, I think, with a recurring bit about a guy just trying to get home to ... Nagasaki? Hiroshima?
  • I have a feeling that Doctor Who just continuously hit's the "I'm feeling Lucky" button.
  • by linebackn (131821) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @05:45PM (#41501767)

    Most of the posts so far assume a time machine would force you to interact with the past/future.

    If I had a time machine that would just let me spectate, I would love to examine details and reasons behind many historic events without altering anything and creating messy alternate time lines. Changing the present might ruin the entire reasons for examining a piece of history in the first place!

    Examining the future in such a way would be interesting too. But then it would only be one possible future as observing it might change it.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @06:55PM (#41502153)

    Unless your "time machine" is also a "place machine". At least for those of us in the US.

    I suppose if you were to go back 100 million years, it could be interesting - but if I went back, say, 500 years - I'd be sitting in the middle of a forest without much in the surrounding area.

  • To do things like buy Apple at $2 and get in on some IPOs. Gotta pay for the time machine somehow.

    And then it gets interesting...

  • by Gte (66976) on Saturday September 29, 2012 @08:00PM (#41502573)

    Inputting a figure of 10,000 years into your time machine is pointless. You'd have to be *very* *very* accurate with your jump times to end up in exactly the same physical spot you were when you set off.
    In 10,000 years, not only will the orbit of the Earth have expanded out slightly around the sun, but the position of the sun relative to the gravitational centre of our galaxy will have changed also. Likewise, our galaxy will have moved out slightly from the centre of the big-bang too.

    Chances are with all these options you'll end up floating dead in space.

  • The RNA world (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Sunday September 30, 2012 @12:54AM (#41503913) Journal

    Dinosaurs? Pah! A mere 65 million years away - practically on our chronological doorstep. I'd send a (very very well sterilized) robot back to bring me samples from the RNA world. [] Then I'd try to find out what preceded the RNA world, jump forward a bit to try to find the origin of the eukaryotes [] and maybe then go for filling in the minor details, like observing the Cambrian explosion [].

    Brief explanations:
    The RNA world is a hypothesized (but very plausible) stage in evolution where RNA performs the functional roles currently filled by proteins and the genetic role currently filled by DNA.
    Eukaryotes are the complex cells with a nucleus, including all known multi-cellular life plus some single celled life (e.g. amoebae.)
    The Cambrian explosion was a period about 530 million years ago when multi-cellular life suddenly appeared in a great profusion of forms.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Monday October 01, 2012 @11:44AM (#41513817) Homepage Journal

    I'd go back with terabytes of memory cards and film for as long as they lasted (and making sure to bring along spare battery packs and solar rechargers).

    When done, come back and show Ham and other creationists there were no humans when dinosaurs existed.

    And I guess I'd take along some air sampling equipment so scientists could get a firsthand look at what the atmosphere was really like, and a thermometer as well. You know, for the real science.

"A car is just a big purse on wheels." -- Johanna Reynolds


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