What event would you travel back in time to see?

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You mean I can only pick one event? I don't think I can do that.

Just for you Heather, you can list 5 :)

Thank you Sanjoy, for accepting me as who I am. ;-). I have always been the distractable idiot who is curious about everything and I am ok with that. It just means I can't decide on any one thing, and that's part of why grad school went so poorly for me. I like to think my wide interests help me make connections that most people would overlook. :-)

Ok, I'll narrow things down to 5 experiences in time, not events. I got a time machine and I'm gonna use it! I've never claimed to be an astrobiologist so I'll let everybody here else cover the whole Big Bang, and origin of life stuff.

My time machine comes with a Universal Translator right? I'll make use of it. I want to spend a few months wandering the ancient Library of Alexandria: reading, learning, listening to conversations. I want to spend months amongst an undocumented civilization. I want to sit in the coffee houses of Edinburgh during the Enlightenment and people watch. Maybe I'll spend a few years touring all of Enlightenment Europe attending lectures, watching performances by Beethoven and Mozart and other notables. I want to watch the Battle of Trafalger--well, as much as one can through all that cannon smoke. I would like to meet Siddhartha and Confucius. I want to sit down with Hannibal to discuss military tactics. And of course, I want to spend a few months or years wandering around the Cretaceous seeing everything and trying not to get eaten. that'll be my contribution to science.

Then I suppose I'll need some time to write up everything I have experienced. A few months someplace warm with coral reefs right outside my door, I think. And thanks to the amazing technological marvel that is a time machine, I'll be an old woman by the time I get back and my kids won't have aged a bit!

I guess that's more than 5 things but I don't want to spend time trying to pare my ADD mind down further. Instead, I'll just come up with more things that I can't leave out!

The delicious primordial soup on the verge of making self-replicators  ----but there is a possibility that I risk watching a non-event, if it turns out that life came via comets :)

Well, then in that case, it might be an awesome show to watch (that is, if you aren't so close that you're vaporized and/or obliterated in the course of watching the impactor event!).

Hmmm, maybe I'm just hung up on technicalities, but I always wonder about the non-linearity of such possibilities. Like what if I go back to watch eukaryotic life emerge from bacteria and archea, and I accidentally step in the pool at the time it's about to occur and make it not happen? Or, in the Red Dwarf land of possibility (Ouroboros!), what if I end up creating eukaryotic life if I go back to try to witness its beginning?

So I guess my answer is: the beginning of eukaryotic life.

But a close second option would be to go back and watch the launch of Apollo 11 and subsequent TV broadcasts from the moon...or, if I could get sufficient clearance, to meet the Chief Designer himself... Sergei Korolev.

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