I read this about 30 years ago but I can't remember what it is named.

In the future, a few "real" scientists still exist in semi-secrecy. A lot of inept people believe that they are scientists but in fact play with high-tech Legos and build "inventions". By accident, a small group of them build a working time machine and start wreaking havoc on the time continuum. A group of the real scientists see the danger and chase them to put things right.

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    Real time-travel scientists clean up the amateurs' mess before they make it. Feb 24 at 14:42

1 Answer 1


This sounds like "The Little Black Bag", by C.M. Kornbluth.

In the future, humanity has split into a small minority of supergeniuses and those of normal intelligence, and a much larger group of dimwits, as described in "The Marching Morons". The geniuses masquerade as assistants to the morons, the better to covertly manage them and keep them out of trouble.

A "physicist" goads his minder into giving him specifications for a time machine. The faux physicist builds it, and uses it to send a "doctor" friend's highly automated medical kit into the past (our present), where it is found by Dr. Full, a physician who has succumbed to alcoholism and fallen to the bottom level of society.

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    Relevant quote for "building" a time machine: "So he gives me these here tube numbers and says, 'Series circuit. Now stop bothering me. Build your time machine, sit down at it and turn on the switch. That's all I ask, Dr. Gillis—that's all I ask."'
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 24 at 16:21
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    Not so much a group for tracking down time travel as that they note that the bag was used to commit a homicide, so they switch it off. It's basically a clerk that notes that the red light has gone off on the bag, and so he needs to deactivate it, with him not even realizing the time displacement.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 24 at 16:41

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