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View Poll Results: The earliest era that could successfully reverse engineer a car would be ...
1850 - 1902 era 19 52.78%
1800 to 1849 6 16.67%
1750 to 1799 5 13.89%
1700 to 1749 0 0%
1650 to 1699 0 0%
1600 to 1649 0 0%
1550 to 1599 1 2.78%
1500 to 1549 0 0%
1450 to 1499 0 0%
472 ad to 1449 1 2.78%
1 ad to 471 ad 0 0%
500 bc to 1 bc 0 0%
2000 bc to 501 bc 0 0%
4000 bc to 2001 bc 0 0%
10,000 bc to 4001 bc 1 2.78%
Earlier than 10,000 bc but after homo sapiens emerged 0 0%
I think those earlier hominids were pretty ingenious. Mark me down for them. 0 0%
I don't think anyone could do reverse engineer a car. It had to be developed in a forward gear. 0 0%
I think dolphins could do it. 1 2.78%
I need to learn more about insurance rates in each era before I can answer. 2 5.56%
Voters: 36. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-25-2015, 07:48 PM  
Rain Man Rain Man is offline
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What's the earliest era in which people could reverse engineer a car?

The scenario:

It's a sunny Saturday afternoon, and you decide to go to a car show. There's a sweet 1977 Trans Am, black with gold trim, and you decide to sit in and pretend you're eastbound and down, loaded up and trucking.

In the next stall is a cherry 1988 DeLorean, but unbeknownst to everyone, the flux capacitor is on the the fritz. Some kids are messing with the car and turn it on, and it's accidentally set to transport 12 feet to the left.

Suddenly you and the Trans Am are transported back in time.

Now, we all know that there are three outcomes to this scenario.

1. You will live in the car in squalor until a dinosaur steps on it and crushes both of you to death.

2. You will be immediately burned as a witch or feted as a god by some culture that has little interest in internal combustion.

3. Your car will be seized by the most powerful person around, and they will attempt to reverse engineer it. They will either learn how to build automobiles before Henry Ford, or they'll end up pedaling around in bamboo and palm frond vehicles like Gilligan on the island.

My question to you involves Scenario 3a. What's the earliest culture/era that could successfully reverse engineer a car by studying Burt Reynolds' Trans Am?

The rules:

1. The car does not have to match the performance of the Trans Am. It just needs to run and be capable of achieving a top speed of at least 13 mile per hour.

2. At least half of the accessories must work - headlights, air conditioner, etc.

3. No need for a working radio, and any tape deck or 8-track may use your existing inventory. No need to create new tapes and 8-tracks.

4. All parts of the new vehicle must be manufactured. No scavenging of parts from the Trans Am.

5. Assume that the car is in the hands of the most powerful person in the world.

6. Assume that they are working without your help since they don't trust your accent, and that they have never seen Smokey and the Bandit.

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Old 07-26-2015, 03:22 PM   #16
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It's interesting to me because it implies that we can't make a huge technological leap forward. I like the point that one can't understand how to manufacture a material by studying the material.

When we think about the Chinese bootlegging products, there's obviously some time jump available through reverse engineering, but maybe that's more design than actual materials manufacturing.
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Old 07-26-2015, 03:23 PM   #17
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Old 07-26-2015, 03:39 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
It's interesting to me because it implies that we can't make a huge technological leap forward. I like the point that one can't understand how to manufacture a material by studying the material.

When we think about the Chinese bootlegging products, there's obviously some time jump available through reverse engineering, but maybe that's more design than actual materials manufacturing.
Sure, on the time scales that military and high tech commercial technologies are important, a few years advance is not that difficult to reverse engineer and is relevant to their goals.
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Old 07-26-2015, 03:44 PM   #19
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Tesla and Edison could reverse engineer that shit!
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Old 07-26-2015, 04:00 PM   #20
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Tesla and Edison could reverse engineer that shit!
Tesla could have. Edison was a hack.
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Old 07-26-2015, 04:07 PM   #21
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The mechanical parts can actually be manufactured relatively early in Northern Europe. Probably the 1300s. Mechanical clocks were mentioned in writings as far back as 1280. The Northern Europeans had a very good grasp of mechanization based off of water mills, partly why they industrialized so quickly they had all the components figured out just need to hook up to a different power source.

The problem is something to power the engine. The earliest possible would be with steam and you would be looking at more locomotive than car at that point.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:47 AM   #22
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Think about this, the prototypes for airplane wings (birds) have been around for a very long time and it took humanity forever to figure out how to fly. That doesn't require advanced manufacturing facilities either. I'm thinking we might be giving out ancestors too much credit. It's an interesting question though.

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Old 07-27-2015, 08:25 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
The scenario:

It's a sunny Saturday afternoon, and you decide to go to a car show. There's a sweet 1977 Trans Am, black with gold trim, and you decide to sit in and pretend you're eastbound and down, loaded up and trucking.
Sorry, but it's "truckin'"
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:35 AM   #24
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Quote:
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Sorry, but it's "truckin'"

I can't type a text with those little abbreviations, either. Cultural relevance is no excuse for bad grammar.
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Old 07-27-2015, 10:05 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
It's interesting to me because it implies that we can't make a huge technological leap forward. I like the point that one can't understand how to manufacture a material by studying the material.

When we think about the Chinese bootlegging products, there's obviously some time jump available through reverse engineering, but maybe that's more design than actual materials manufacturing.
If a car was dropped into 1700 England, and it still worked, and they didn't ruin the carb, or drain the battery while playing around with it, would they be able to reproduce? No.

As was said earlier, technical advances would have been made in select areas by observation and testing; but mfg of working components....no.

People thoughout the ages have been as innovative and smart as our inventors today; ever since the western world mindset of patent ownership, its been the MATERIALS that have determined the rate of innovation.

When I was in the composite industry, we made communication towers 300ft long that weighed 500lbs. Try making that in 1700 or 1850 of wood or cast iron or steel.
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Old 07-27-2015, 10:29 AM   #26
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So what you're saying, then, is that we might as well not make contact at all with aliens. There's no huge upside for us. They're either going to be tech-savvy and view us as savages, or they're just going to go on the welfare rolls.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:25 PM   #27
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I loved the SiFi shows Stargate and Stargate Atlantis. However, one of the major flaws was they went through the galaxy picking up new technologies and 3 months later had it reversed engineered and creating power supplies and star vessels.

A better example may be "Interdependence Day 2. I've read that in the movie script...it's been twenty years since the aliens were defeated and left their technology all over the planet. Apparently, the humans can't figure out how the power technology works; but have managed to attach to our technology to make very powerful weapons. (Can't wait to see it.) Eventually, we would figure it out in the real world; but not for a very long time.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:36 PM   #28
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Is the car still running? Fresh gas and oil in it?

If people saw it in action, working, then i'd guess they'd figure it out mechanically kinda quick. If the car isn't operative, then i'd imagine it'd take much longer.

I have no idea what it takes to make Gas & oil, so i'd imagine that would be the biggest limiting factor. Mechanically, i doubt it would take long to figure out at all.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:52 PM   #29
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After thinking about this awhile I'd say 1950. The few computer circuits in the car would be a complete fail. No idea what would make any of them work. The 8 track player would never be figured out.
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Old 07-27-2015, 09:06 PM   #30
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Bullshit question.

They only built the deloreon until '83.
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