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Author Topic: What historical events ... 19th century “steampunk” technology possible?  (Read 921 times)
cossoft
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« on: April 03, 2019, 01:40:26 pm »

A daft link about time travel from the Stackexchange network - What historical events would have to change in order to make 19th century “steampunk” technology possible?

https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/143011
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2019, 10:10:26 pm »

For my literary purposes, I'd say we were severely deficient in the study of the atmosphere in the 19th. C.

I need no specific historical changes, save for more money applied to research such as the one done by Henry Coxwell and James Glaisher in 1862. Perhaps a war or conflict was needed to accelerate reserch, such as a transatlantic conflict that would push interest in flight much sooner.

https://scied.ucar.edu/docs/higher-any-other-balloon

https://scied.ucar.edu/docs/unconscious-stratosphere

Quote
Once he was safely on the ground and had regained the use of his limbs, Glaisher wondered what sort of data he would have collected had he not lost consciousness at 29,000 feet.

“The balloon must have attained an altitude of 36,000 or 37,000 feet,” he speculated. This is consistent with Coxwell’s observation of the barometer while Glaisher was out cold.

If so, then Coxwell and Glaisher made it into the stratosphere, or very nearly made it. Had Glaisher not been unconscious, he would have found interested temperature data up there. That data wouldn’t be collected for about thirty years until technological advances allowed us to explore the atmosphere without going there.

It just ocurred to me that if in the 1860s, Coxwell and Glacier had set out to perform experiments on the ground where they take a test subject and make him breathe lower levels of oxygen by concentration (say 50% oxygen relative to ground levels), or perhaps try to build a pressure chamber, they could begin to answer some important questions.

Atmospheric science was deficient all the way up to the 20th. C well into the 1920's when the first real scientific studies were done, and even up until the early 1930s. Airplanes in the early 20th C flew much earlier than we understood how high we could fly. Having a stratospheric-capable airship is possible (the airbag only needs to have 3 times the volume of a typical 20th C. airship), but we didn't know anything about the stratosphere clime, or the ultimate capacity of humans to function at altitude. Statosphere capable airships could use the tropical jet stream to travel much faster over certain segments of the Earth's circumference, specially over oceans.


« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 10:31:56 pm by J. Wilhelm » Logged

chicar
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« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2019, 12:14:16 pm »

Financement was effectively the problem for much of the near misses of the 19th century in matter of tech jump. Philanthropy may have brought us analytical engines and tesla power.

Their was also quite a few attempts to create dirigibles and airplane powered by steam. Sterling engines might have been a more pratical power source , for the former at least.

Other Hard Science Steampunk Historical Inspiration: Electric Motors ( By Volta And A Few Others), Solar Power ( Mainly Steam Power Throught Solar Heat), Volta Pistol ( Pistols Using Gaz Ignited By A Electric Spark To Launch The Bullet)

Pre-19th Century Near Misses: Anticythera Mechanism, Baghdad Battery, Elopyle

As for historical events proper: Rome never fell, no dark age, the library of Alexandria never burn, no Ice Age
« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 12:17:48 pm by chicar » Logged

The word pagan came from paganus , who mean peasant . Its was a way to significate than christianism was the religion of the elite and paganism the one of the savage worker class.

''Trickster shows us how we trick OURSELVES. Her rampant curiosity backfires, but, then, something NEW is discovered (though usually not what She expected)! This is where creativity comes from—experiment, do something different, maybe even something forbidden, and voila! A breakthrough occurs! Ha! Ha! We are released! The world is created anew! Do something backwards, break your own traditions, the barrier breaks; destroy the world as you know it, let the new in.''
Extract of the Dreamflesh article ''Path of The Sacred Clown''
J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2019, 10:37:53 pm »

Financement was effectively the problem for much of the near misses of the 19th century in matter of tech jump. Philanthropy may have brought us analytical engines and tesla power.

Their was also quite a few attempts to create dirigibles and airplane powered by steam. Sterling engines might have been a more pratical power source , for the former at least.

Other Hard Science Steampunk Historical Inspiration: Electric Motors ( By Volta And A Few Others), Solar Power ( Mainly Steam Power Throught Solar Heat), Volta Pistol ( Pistols Using Gaz Ignited By A Electric Spark To Launch The Bullet)

Pre-19th Century Near Misses: Anticythera Mechanism, Baghdad Battery, Elopyle

As for historical events proper: Rome never fell, no dark age, the library of Alexandria never burn, no Ice Age

I agree on the financing issue. We certainly had a sufficient technical capacity to permorm the necessary research. On the other hand the century was already saturated by scientific progress. One thing is to discover a physical phenomenon, and quite a different thing is to dream up an application for it.
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RJBowman
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2019, 11:40:41 pm »

A much more rubust economy would certainly have made a difference.
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J. Wilhelm
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2019, 04:55:29 pm »

A much more rubust economy would certainly have made a difference.

What I would argue is that it's much less of the robustness of an economy, and more along the lines of a developed economy. The industrial revolution didn't come with instruction manuals detailing how to prioritise monies, regulate industry, etc. And the priorities of the 19th century mostly revolved around war and conquest. So I'd say a likely catalyst for research would be war itself.
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RJBowman
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2019, 05:33:55 pm »

What war seems to do is push technology that was on the brink of becoming practical; WWI pushed aviation from experimental to practical. WWII pushed nuclear science from theory to reality. Both World Wars propelled mass production and standardization as industry had to provide equipment to millions of soldiers. The Civil War was the first major war fought after the invention of germ theory, and provided thousands of patients to surgeons, allowing them to refine the fields of surgery and antiseptics.

But a strong economy can have the same effect. The Internet other modern communications technologies didn't boom because of the various Gulf wars; it boomed because the economy is (despite all the naysaying) strong, so people can afford computers, smartphones, and 100+ dollar a month service.
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53Bash
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« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2019, 07:53:04 pm »

You can have events that push the tech forward, but when you do so the tech isn't "steampunk" any more.  To me steampunk implies tech that CAN'T exist, and depends on hand waving away problems with things like energy density, material strength, thermal waste, etc, if not just straight up inventing fictional sources of power / forms of energy transmission that can't exist in reality via any known laws, not just due to lack of developmental engineering.
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