If we could travel back in time, would we be of great use to our ancestors? Probably not. We would chatter to them about scientific advances we did not fully understand, based on supportive technologies which would not be available, & without knowing what they already knew.
— James Thompson (@JamesPsychol) November 15, 2021
Somebody should update Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court with a 2021 Connecticut Yankee sent back to 500 AD, but all he’s good for is explaining about pronouns.
I could imagine myself going back to 1850, traveling to England, finding the young Francis Galton and telling him the names of all the stuff he invented later in life, thus going down in the history of science books as the Mysterious American who gave Galton all his best ideas. On the other hand, without instant access to Wikipedia, I’d probably be completely lost:
“Three words, Frank: Silent Dog Whistle.”
“Interesting … but, sir, how I would make a silent dog whistle?”
“Uh, beats me. Out of metal, I imagine. I’m guessing tin. You Victorians were always making stuff out of tin, right? But, whatever, I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Also: Correlation Coefficient.”
“It’s … Well, it’s a small r. Does that ring a bell?”
“Okay … But, you just focus on that: a small r. It’ll come to you.”