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13 Moments In Alternate History

In Alternate History, things can happen for whatever reason you fancy.

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Rome (27 BC): Titus Livius publishes his History of Rome. In it, he claims that the current emperor, Augustus Caesar, is part horse.


China (3rd century): Mechanical engineer Ma Jun builds his south-pointing chariot, a two-wheeled vehicle with a figure or doll at its centre that always points south. He spends his life trying to perfect a miniature version to aid migrating oriental storks.


Rome (5th century): St. Augustine publishes The City of God, reminding us all that, to gain citizenship, we must relinquish all tapping of asses.


India (7th century): Earliest known records of shatranj, the game that evolved into chess, pave the way for innumerable and multifaceted deliveries of the taunt, "You've been pawned!"


India (9th century): Zero is used in calculations for the first time, ensuring the existence of the next century.


Yorkshire, England (12th century): The first vertical windmill in Europe is constructed to remedy a pigeon problem.


Egypt (14th century): Archaeologists unearth the oldest known examples of knitting, including wool fragments, cotton stockings, and three dozen Coptic Christmas sweaters.


Falmouth, England (November, 1577): Due to bad weather, Sir Francis Drake postpones his circumnavigation of the earth and attempts to break the record for most swear words uttered in sixty seconds at the annual Falmouth Foulmouthed Festival. He clocks out with thirteen having listed pillicock, penn pyst, Jesus, cacare, fucker, zounds, arse, lackwit, helminth, excerebrose, slattern, clapperdudgeon, and culus.


Jaktorów Forest, Poland (April, 1627): The last auroch, wild ancestor of domestic cattle, walks out of the forest, 8 kilometres east to the town of Grodzisk Mazowiecki, where she's adopted by a lawn mowing company for cost-cutting purposes.


Beijing, China (1773-1782): The Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty commissions the Siku Quanshu, the largest compilation of books in Chinese history. Three thousand eight hundred and twenty six scribes transcribe 2.3 million pages by hand; the underground halls where they worked become known as The Carpal Tunnels.


United States of America (October 22, 1844): Across the country, thousands of Millerites spend their Tuesday waiting for Jesus to return to the Earth. The occasion is later referenced in an ad for the DMV with the tagline, "We're not that bad."


Paris, France (May, 1908): Émile Cohl makes "Fantasmagorie," the first fully animated film, out of roughly 700 sequential illustrations, to find out what it's like to be swallowed by a champagne bottle that turns into a flower that turns into an elephant.

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Franco-Swiss border (September 10, 2008): The world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, The Large Hadron Collider, goes live after the collaborative efforts of more than 10,000 scientists and over 100 countries, proving that we can, in fact, get along.

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