How Useful Are You? Take This Technology Quiz

There is a Twilight Zone episode where a businessman makes a pact with the Devil, which allows him to go back in time so that he can capitalize off of his knowledge about the future. It turns out though that the businessman’s knowledge about the future is all superficial and thus he is unable to jump start any technological advancements by traveling back in time. This would likely be the plight of most contemporary humans if they were sent back in time. While we rely greatly on technology, most of us don’t know much about how it actually works and where the materials to make it come from.

If you were to travel 2000 years into the past, how useful would you be in jumpstarting technological advancements? This 10 question quiz will help you figure out your technological usefulness. If you do poorly on the quiz, as most people likely will, then just let that inspire you to study up more on how things work and where raw materials come from.

Click Here To Take The Quiz in a New Window

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178 Responses to “How Useful Are You? Take This Technology Quiz”

  1. Nice quiz on July 13th, 2007 10:47 am

    7/10: I just might be able to save us all in the event of a nuclear holocaust, so be nice to me. 😀

  2. » How Useful Are You? Take This Technology Quiz on July 13th, 2007 11:18 am

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  3. Culprit on July 13th, 2007 11:35 am

    10 for 10, Im glad I watched all those BBC Connections Series videos :-)

  4. cucu on July 13th, 2007 11:42 am

    Actually this type of ‘quiz’ is precisely what’s wrong in today science/technology – the world is full of people that might score 10/10 but which can’t actually repair anything – and even less so invent something meaningful – and they very often get to be the managers of people smarter than them …

  5. dana on July 13th, 2007 11:57 am

    taking quiz

  6. N. Christopher Perry on July 13th, 2007 12:00 pm

    Interesting. But about half of these questions I was able answer correctly without really understanding the overall process behind the technology; for instance, in steel making, I don’t know what the flux might be, nor would I know exactly what materials are needed to make cement.

  7. 3284ME » How much do you really know about … stuff? on July 13th, 2007 12:05 pm

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  8. Varban on July 13th, 2007 12:38 pm

    I am techonlogically useful, starting from the year 0 i can advance a civilization all the way to the 19th century. Time to go play some Civ 4 ^^

  9. SEO Ranter on July 13th, 2007 12:42 pm

    Where are the answers! I can bring us up to the 19th century but no further

  10. One Invention to Rule Them All | cephyn on July 13th, 2007 1:30 pm

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  12. Jeff on July 13th, 2007 1:37 pm

    Who wants to go 2000 years in the past? I just wanna go back 20. Man, if I re-lived my childhood, I’d be way better at the second time around.

    But, to stay on topic, I rocked out 7 of 10. I’d say that’s decent.

  13. Bryan on July 13th, 2007 1:42 pm

    Hmmm, 3 out of 10. I could get civilization to the 10th century. Not bad for someone who isn’t mechanically or scientifically inclined! :)

  14. Leah on July 13th, 2007 1:54 pm

    I aced it
    Ten out of ten
    Curious indeed.

  15. tivs on July 13th, 2007 2:08 pm

    I agree with cucu. Most people I know in college may have above a 3.7 gpa but cannot fix a loose dresser drawer or even figure out how to connect a dvd player to a television. theory is useless without practice.

  16. Geoff Canyon on July 13th, 2007 2:16 pm

    Anyone interested in this subject might like a series of books called the cross-time engineer series by Leo Frankowski. It’s about a Polish engineering student who gets dumped through time back to Poland ten years before the Mongol horde is due to destroy the place. That gives him ten years to turn Poland into the technological superpower of the middle ages. There’s lots of engineering information as he sets up a steel mill, etc.

  17. colinnwn on July 13th, 2007 2:19 pm

    This applet has an error for sure at least on replays!

    I got 8/10. Retook it changing only the 2 questions I was unsure of and got 8/10. Retook a 3rd time changing the same 2 questions to the final available answers and got a 7/10 ?!?

  18. Alex on July 13th, 2007 2:42 pm

    The retake error was fixed (if there really was one) by getting rid of the retake feature.
    Correct answers are listed at the end of the quiz.

  19. alvin on July 13th, 2007 2:58 pm

    colinnwn, it is possible for what you did to happen.
    Consider if you missed another question that you were sure of.
    1) one of the questions you were unsure of was originally right and one was originally wrong, giving you a score of 8
    2) when you changed those two, you changed the wrong one to the right answer and the right one to the wrong answer, keeping your score the same 8/10
    3) then when you changed them again, you changed them both to the wrong answer and thus had 2 wrong in addition to the one that you were sure about and still got wrong.

    Obviously the flaw is not with the technology.

  20. Tamara Butler on July 13th, 2007 3:41 pm

    This was enlightening.

  21. $ave on July 13th, 2007 3:50 pm

    Nice quiz – looks like I do better in teams…

  22. Regan on July 13th, 2007 4:15 pm

    Yeah? Will I can advance the first century to the 10th xD. Im just THAT smart! :]

  23. Bruce on July 13th, 2007 4:46 pm

    I got 5 out of 5. I feel pretty good about that. If I wanted to know the answer to any of those questions, I could find the answer by buying Encarta for $59 bucks. Or a $300 dollar set of Encyclopedia Brittanica if the world comes to an end. So if you got 10 out of 10, your worth somewhere between $59 and $300 bucks. lol

  24. Dave on July 13th, 2007 5:13 pm

    Google for the win!

  25. Jim on July 13th, 2007 5:21 pm

    I got 7 of 10. I will manage all of you nerds.

  26. Marshall on July 13th, 2007 7:19 pm

    I’m 13 and got 6/10. So apparently I can help until the 15th century. Well, if I was going back 2000 years, I wouldn’t bother with the “knowing” crap, I would just bring some fun today stuff to wow them for money 8-D

  27. jekpopulous on July 13th, 2007 7:53 pm

    a lousy 6 correct…funny i can write a convolution reverb software but cant tell a diesel engine from a combustion engine.

  28. Le Bishop on July 13th, 2007 9:56 pm

    Well I’m only 13 and I could bring us back to the 17-19th century, think about what I can do in the future!

  29. lee doolan on July 13th, 2007 10:47 pm

    9/10 wonder which one I missed

  30. Ted on July 13th, 2007 11:36 pm

    Fun little test. I got an 8 out of ten.

    All in all agree that this is not a good test of technological usefulness ;). There’s a big difference between knowing basic thermodynamics and being able to build a fridge, or between knowing the components of steel and how to actually make it. Still, it would make figuring things out a LOT easier. As compared to taking 2000 years to reach the modern day, you might cut the recovery down to a few hundred. All in all a win for civilization.

  31. Harry on July 14th, 2007 12:55 am

    I was powned.

  32. pinky on July 14th, 2007 4:16 am

    whr is the quiz link?

  33. Alexander McCabe on July 14th, 2007 4:30 am

    Hi there,
    Nice idea for a quiz, but it could have done with feedback for each of the questions so that I knew which ones I got right and wrong.
    I’d like to offer you a complimentary academic license for Question Writer if you’d like to add that kind of feedback for this or future quizzes. Contact me at above e-mail address if you’d like to take me up on the offer.

  34. ibenaija on July 14th, 2007 4:50 am

    This doesn’t really tell us anything… It is one thing to know trivia… it is another to be grounded in science, and its application, technology…

  35. La Tejedora » Blog Archive » Saberes tecnológicos realmente útiles on July 14th, 2007 5:48 am

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  36. andy on July 14th, 2007 9:26 am

    as a reply to the guy who said `this is what’s wrong…we need people who can invent, repair stuff’

    I think Joe Rogan put it best when he said `Let’s say I drop you off in the woods with a hatchet; how long before you can send me an email?’

  37. Alex on July 14th, 2007 9:51 am

    For the 14 out of 30,000 people who haven’t been able to open this flash quiz, try this link.


  38. Un internauta en la corte de Enrique VII on July 15th, 2007 5:13 am

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  39. Dan on July 16th, 2007 9:46 am

    I guess I’m only useful enough for the middle ages.
    Oh well..

    o/~Bring out yer dead o~/

  40. Cat on July 16th, 2007 11:35 am

    7/10 … not too bad for an old guy: I might be able to advance mankind from Year 0 to the 19th century! Only problem is, there *is no year 0!*

  41. Chris on July 16th, 2007 12:17 pm

    I supposedly got 8 right, but I noticed some of the questions weren’t worded well. For example, a diesel engine is a type of internal combustion engine. Some books to read are Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, or Harry Harrison’s Deathworld trilogy.

  42. Russ on July 16th, 2007 12:31 pm

    10 of 10, but then I like to real about industrial processes. They might have gone for more obscure processes – as an example making nitric acid is critical for a lot of industrial processes but not well known. Other things would be more critical – getting decent hygiene in place, mechanization of farming to get more labor available, things that are more concept than invention.

    Some errors in the list – the question on making steel more properly should reference making cast iron, making steel uses cast iron.

  43. Alex on July 16th, 2007 1:46 pm
  44. josh on July 16th, 2007 1:52 pm

    Yeah, the thing that doesn’t make sense about a quiz like this is that I don’t think I “knew” any of the answers-I guessed on every question and still got a 60%. There’s a reason people are experts in their fields. Ask me about the principles of design! 😉

  45. Evan on July 16th, 2007 5:07 pm

    I got 5 out of ten, I’m only thirteen but at some point in my life I’m sure I’ve know each of the answers.

  46. elijah beaver on July 16th, 2007 5:46 pm

    All very suspicious. I know the elements of an atom, but i don’t know what i would do with that information in the time of Augustus Caesar except maybe get myself killed. I do, however, know the ingredients required to make gunpowder. Some individuals might consider this a little more influential than refrigeration. I would also hi-jack the christian faith, maybe modify some of the texts to make sure those fucking pharisees never stepped on my toes again, maybe remove all mention of hell and revenge and see if i couldn’t avert the crusades. Just for laughs. I really wonder what i would do with a diesel engine without knowledge of petrol refinement, just as i am not sure what the purpose of an incandescent lightbulb would be without electrical current/electrical generators. Especially when i know the basics of cocaine and heroin manufacture, of poker and blackjack, of bourbon production and lotteries. More importantly, i know a bit about history and human fallacies and the power of propaganda. With these tools i would quickly bring the local population to a phase equivalent to what you would expect of Colombus, Ohio, or Philadelphia, PA. Pretty advanced, indeed. The only relevant thing the writers of the quiz got right was the steel-making process. And even then, neglected the superiority of the longbow.

  47. Alex on July 16th, 2007 6:36 pm

    This quiz tests a range of subjects to grasp a person’s range of knowledge. There is only so much that can be done in a little 10 question quiz. Thus, not every invention of history can be linearly covered. It is meant to be fun. So don’t take it too seriously.

  48. Dean on July 17th, 2007 1:51 pm


    Question 3: Though your “correct” answer is workable, and the only possible choice out of your selection, isn’t it true that most air conditioners and refrigerators work by DECOMPRESSION of refrigerant?

  49. Alex on July 17th, 2007 2:21 pm

    Just semantics. By decompressing it, it evaporates.

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  52. Kathleen Mary on July 18th, 2007 12:50 pm

    Actually, I got 6 right – but I think the quiz was prejudicial towards only one kind of technology/knowledge that could improve civilization. I know how to make paper, for example, weaving and other fabric arts and I know a great deal about health, food and healing – cleaning and preserving food. Think about telling them how to clean wounds properly – and most of all, and we all know this – that there are two new continents across the ocean ripe for colonization and what about historical knowledge -the reasons why the Roman Empire collapses in the 400’s – sell that to an emperor and advise him how to prevent it – knowledge about the future is very strong magic in any era- or tell him not to persecute the Christians because it will just make them stronger …. more so than how light bulbs work, helping to prevent the end of the Roman Empire could do much to change the last 2000 years & setting the world up to evolve quickly. That is, if you don’t get killed for being a witch – something the Romans mistrusted as much as their Christian descendants.

  53. Straha on July 18th, 2007 5:29 pm

    I got 8/10. This is surprising that I scored so high!

  54. Vee 210 on July 19th, 2007 9:10 am

    Quite good, i got told…i would have advanced civilisation to the 17th or even 19th i totally think thats a lie!! ha ha

    I got 9/10

  55. dondingo on July 19th, 2007 12:16 pm

    only took 2 tries to memorize the answers.
    I’m sure people cheated 2000 years ago, too!

  56. John on July 20th, 2007 9:15 pm

    Many of these actually tie together.

    You would need knowledge of power generation, the steam engine, and lightbulbs to create electric lighting. In turn, you would need a knowledge of metallurgy(steel, aluminum) for the steam engine, generators and the bulbs themselves(tungsten filament). Atomic theory, while a nice aside, would be about the only unnecessary item, unless you are using it for the purpose of electricity.

  57. Cathy on July 21st, 2007 3:05 am

    Obviously I would be totally useless as I can’t even get the quiz to start! But then would being able to jump start technology and cause global warming 200 years earlier be a good thing anyway!

  58. Alex on July 27th, 2007 8:57 am

    Comments are now off to improve page loading times. If you want to leave a comment leave it at the Tech Quiz Follow Up.

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  65. Maxrobo on November 20th, 2007 7:27 pm

    And what about knowing the languages of 2000 years ago ?
    What would you say in Rome if you only know english, french, german, japanese…? …Ave Ceasar, morituri te salutant

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  69. on August 15th, 2008 7:57 am

    Yeah, technology is almost on our fingure tip.

    chekc out the lady coupon site:

  70. Anon on October 4th, 2008 9:49 pm

    but in math I could give very strategic advances

  71. James on October 7th, 2008 12:41 pm

    I scored 9 out of 10 but my penis is still small?

  72. ladylatina on November 13th, 2008 12:59 pm

    so hared but i did it 100%

  73. dunbar on January 27th, 2009 1:26 pm

    i guessed on all of them. i can advance civilization by 2 days.

  74. Abhinav on February 11th, 2009 8:09 am

    abhinav–>……10 on 10 on 1st try witout ny hlp……nthng mor 2 say thn dat….

  75. the dude on February 24th, 2009 5:30 am

    would be interesting to see the wrong answers :/

  76. Grant on February 25th, 2009 1:21 am

    if i would only bring us into the 15th century, i fear that in present day i am literally dragging us back into the 18th century, maybe even further.

  77. Morman on July 20th, 2009 4:26 am

    cool posting ,bookmarked!!!

  78. Drunkard on October 9th, 2009 2:29 am

    I have been up three days Drinking and 6/10 ,shit i need more beer!

  79. 133 on October 9th, 2009 4:16 am

    only 5/10 and i was just guessing, cant remember anything from school and if you dont use it, you will forget/ most of the questions are irrelevant, so this quiz is fail from the start.

  80. Sierra Sam on October 9th, 2009 4:39 am

    9/10. I wish that they would tell me which one I missed.

  81. on October 9th, 2009 5:55 am

    ¿Serías una persona útil si fueras 2.000 años al pasado?…

    Si pudieras viajar 2.000 años atrás en el tiempo, ¿cómo serías de útil para ayudar a la gente a dar el salto a una edad de avances tecnológicos? Con este test de 10 preguntas basadas en conceptos básicos sobre la industria actual sabrás si tus conocimi…

  82. Dr.Abdul on October 9th, 2009 6:08 am

    7/10 yehhh…… I could do something

  83. John Davis on October 9th, 2009 7:25 am

    Wow, thats pretty cool stuff dude!


  84. candor on October 9th, 2009 7:35 am

    Very good quiz, even if your result is bad.

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  86. Shaun on October 9th, 2009 10:18 am

    Congratulations, Reddit front page. It looks like your website is holding up with all the traffic.

  87. Todd on October 9th, 2009 10:33 am

    None of the choices for #9 are correct. You do not need need “copper” wire to build a generator. A magnet, ANY conductive wire, & appropriate motion will generate electic potential, period.

  88. Don on October 9th, 2009 1:06 pm

    Knowledge of materials required to further technological advancement is only a small factor in how quickly a civilization evolves. For example, I’m more of a philosopher and I’ve studied religion and metaphysics heavily. I could have brought logic and enlightenment to the people and prevented the dark ages. Also, understanding the basic principles of general science and physics would allow for a much quicker growth than just knowing how to build a few specific devices.

  89. Don on October 9th, 2009 1:09 pm

    On another note, there are inventions that could be considered far more important to mankind than anything listed here. Such things include soap, antibiotics, water purification, etc…

  90. Pituquasi on October 9th, 2009 1:59 pm

    There is other knowledge that would be useful, such as biology and anatomy, but most of all if you truly want to rule the world… weaponry.

  91. SAM on October 9th, 2009 7:55 pm

    I Shouldn’t drop Engineering :3 …………….. But I wanted to Rock :)

  92. Lawrence on October 9th, 2009 11:32 pm


    Got the Aluminium one wrong, even if I live in a country region that produces tons of it. Bauxite was the only one I remember being involved in the process, so choosed that one.

    I’m pretty sure the question about concrete was missing by most people. Who would have thought the mixing was to fuse instead of keeping it liquid. Weird.

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  94. Vardubuae on October 10th, 2009 3:20 pm

    9/10…..pretty useful….

  95. Anno on October 11th, 2009 11:49 am

    9/10. To the 19th century!

  96. Use Less on October 11th, 2009 4:55 pm

    I’m qualified to haul water…sadly, for none of the above :(

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  98. lylebot on October 13th, 2009 9:24 pm

    Got 7/10 even though I guessed on almost everything. I’m smart enough to make educated guesses on multiple choice tests, but I doubt I’d be very useful in the year 0.

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  102. DigitalDiablo on October 14th, 2009 7:31 am

    10/10 for me – just goes to show, I watch FAR too much ‘How its made’ on Discovery.

  103. sriram on October 14th, 2009 7:40 am

    8/10 here.
    But in 0009AD, there would be no one giving out the choices — so that I can make my “educated” guesses.

  104. Doug Watson on October 14th, 2009 8:04 am

    8 OUT OF 10! I often wonder if ET was asked how his spaceship worked, how much he would know!

  105. peter on October 14th, 2009 8:34 am

    Back 2000 years? At that time, the answers to most of these questions were known by the Sumerians, Greeks, Chinese, etc, etrc……

  106. Linda Hancock on October 14th, 2009 11:21 am

    7 out of 10 hmm I think I would rather stay in year 0 life is just to complicated now

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    The lift question is bogus. Most of the lift generated by an airfoil comes from redirection of air flow–the trailing edge of a useful airfoil angles downward to some degree. The explanation we were all taught in school, that the lift comes from differential pressure due to faster movement of air on the top surface is pretty much bogus. In reality, there wouldn’t be much difference between answers A and C, especially at low air speeds.

  109. BobDumberg on October 14th, 2009 6:13 pm

    First, there was no year 0. Second, if anyone tried to tell people 2000 years ago about these “technological” advances they would most likely have been killed for sorcery, heresy, etc.. What makes you think they’d listen? They’re not listening now!

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  112. Glen @ Roche Limit on October 15th, 2009 8:30 am

    @BobDumberg “First, there was no year 0. ”

    The christian calender has no year 0, but the astronomical one does, with 10 BC = year -9, 1BC = year 0!

    Works for me.

    (10/10 – just as well, as I teach this stuff in college)

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  116. Gabe on October 19th, 2009 7:32 am

    I’m not even going to take it. I’m confident that all I’d accomplish is somehow squaring-off the wheel and cooling down fire.

  117. tim on October 19th, 2009 8:02 pm

    8 out of 10. Lucky guest!!!!!!!

  118. León on October 27th, 2009 3:17 pm

    yo aportaría el mechero y el mapamundi. de paso, me haría erigir como un dios ante los romanos, pues sabría cómo es el mundo y sacaría fuego de un aprato que cabe en un bolsillo

  119. N Putnam on October 27th, 2009 9:16 pm

    I got eight out of ten. I would guess however that most of the information would be useless if you went back over 300 years. People would think you were nuts if you brought up some of the information required for answers.

    I’m 86 and have forgotten a lot but still get a kick out of doing as well as did.

    Suggest that you make up a new test and ask about starting a fire with out matches, elementary first aid, finding food and how to prepare it and what to use for shelter when the temperature is below freezings.

  120. Robert Sharp » Blog Archive » Linklog for 14th October to 12th November on November 11th, 2009 8:02 pm

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  121. leimar on November 12th, 2009 1:50 am

    very easy quiz

  122. leimar on November 12th, 2009 1:52 am

    i got 9 out of 10…awesome!!!! very easy

  123. Miabi Films » Blog Archive » How useful would you be? on December 7th, 2009 12:45 am

    […] Go to the link and take the quiz. […]

  124. nugget on March 8th, 2010 2:13 am

    I’m going to agree that this quiz does not really tell you how useful someone may be. I’ve got a fairly firm grasp on mathematics and could jump start quite a bit of it if I was not called a wizard and burned alive. Plus I’ve got fairly good grasp on putting things back together and fixing them so I guess I would do better at giving them some technology as opposed to giving them the fundamentals to build the technology. 6/10

  125. Andrew on March 8th, 2010 3:14 am


    And by the way, there never was a year 0 in our current calendar.

  126. travesti on May 1st, 2010 5:36 pm

    Thank you for your explanation. There really useful information.

  127. harsh on August 29th, 2010 12:17 pm

    m an iitian n got 9 correct

  128. Satish on August 30th, 2010 8:31 am

    ….i am useful upto 19th century….i think this quiz is judging your aptitude, quest for knowledge, and whether you know the basics or not….but i don’t understand how it has been linked with present day and age….

  129. Dr. Doom on December 21st, 2010 7:26 am

    10/10, but I cheated by being really smart.

  130. Adam on February 19th, 2011 10:22 pm

    Great quiz. :)

  131. mark morgan on May 13th, 2011 9:03 am

    i would ask the original jesus christ. to lay his hands on me.
    now do i sit for the quiz. in person? amen

  132. mark morgan on May 13th, 2011 9:09 am

    for the question ask . you wouldnt need to ask!

  133. mark morgan on May 13th, 2011 9:13 am

    but if you needed help in this case. all you need is the manual. its called the bible :)

  134. safi on December 3rd, 2011 9:50 pm

    3 on 10 noooooooooooooooooo :(

  135. pandey on December 15th, 2011 9:36 am

    asaan tha

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