Which Place In Time
Do you suppose geekdom transcends lifetimes? I ask because this week’s question is which time period (past or imagined future) would you live in if you could. My problem is that there are so many cool mysteries about past time periods that I’d like answers to, but those questions are predicated on the knowledge we all have in the here and now. If I couldn’t take that curiosity, that sense of ‘ooo, cool’ with me, I don’t wanna go.
Case in point: Ancient Egypt. Who wouldn’t want to see the pyramids going up and know something about how that happened? I mean, there’s a huge difference between our ancient ancestors knowing far more about engineering than modern scientists imagine and ‘built by aliens’, right? The problem is that this is only fascinating if you aren’t one of the people breaking your back to either build those pyramids or support the builders. It’s only intriguing if you aren’t a slave in some household. It’s only interesting if you’re in the rarified position to be able to be fascinated by it rather than simply trying to survive. And given that the period is marked by distinct lines between the haves and the have nots, that’s assuming an awful lot.
The other fascination is Puma Punku – this is a ruin in Bolivia. The stone construction blocks look a little like Legos in that they are slotted and carved to interlock. Some of that stone is incredibly hard stuff (some of it is sandstone, which isn’t all that hard). The site has been radiocarbon dated to roughly 500 AD – though, naturally, the stones can’t be dated – organic matter from the lowest layer of a debris mound was dated and is presumed to be concurrent to the carving of the stones and creation of what’s assumed to be a temple complex. The kicker is: No one *really* knows for certain what this site was or why it was created. It is a ruin. To the extent that many of the stones are shattered. Conspiracy theorists point out that some of the stones show evidence of extreme heat – the exposed surfaces have some of the constituent parts fused into glass. I totally want to know A) how this thing was built, B) why and C) how it was destroyed. That last one – preferably without being one of the casualties of whatever happened to blow that site to its current state. But again – I run into the notion that if I lived in that time, I’d take everything happening around me for granted. Also, I can’t help but note that in about 500 AD, I’d likely already be dead since the average life expectancy at that time was . . . short.
Okay. If I could live in any future? Give me one with commonplace interstellar travel. Assuming that any future with enough technology to handle that sort of travel has also come up with a cure for space sickness. Life wouldn’t be worth living if it was possible go into outer space, but you didn’t want to because you’d be miserable. I’d absolutely want to walk on another planet or find out how much the state of physics has changed in order to accommodate interstellar travel.
This is the long way of saying I’m mighty fond of this time I’m in right now. It’s a unique time in history, I think, because I have the luxury of day dreaming about what my life might be like in some other time period. Time periods, I might note, that often didn’t allow such luxury to anyone who wasn’t one of the one percent. And literate. Also? I really like flush toilets. Just saying.