I am the author of 'The Knowledge: How to rebuild our world from scratch' about the science and technology you'd need to reboot civilisation as quickly as possible after an apocalypse. AMA!
I'm Dr. Lewis Dartnell (www.lewisdartnell.com), a research scientist at the University of Leicester, England. My research is in astrobiology, and the possibility of microbial life on the martian surface, what signs of life to look for, and how they're affected by the cosmic radiation. I've also been thinking a lot recently about the resilience of modern civilisation, and how you could go about rebuilding it from scratch if you ever needed to. Let's say for the sake of the thought experiment there was some kind of apocalypse - an asteroid strike or a pandemic flu maybe - that wipes out the vast majority of humanity and collapses our civilisation. You're part of a small community of survivors. What would you need to know to start over from scratch - what are the key technologies and central scientific principles that support our everyday lives? After an apocalypse, how you might be able to avert another prolonged Dark Ages, and take shortcuts through the web of science and tech to accelerate the reboot of civilisation as much as possible? I have written a popular science book on this, called The Knowledge, but I won't mention the book again.
How can you scavenge and repurpose what you need at first to survive and thrive? What single piece of knowledge will do more than any other in keeping you healthy and alive in the immediate aftermath? What are the most crucial materials and substances, and how can you make them yourself? Why is glass so important? How can you keep trucks and automobiles running? How do you recover medical capabilities? What are the most useful mechanisms? How can you work out what day of the year it is, or where on the Earth you are? Which communication technologies would be critical to rebuild? What vital scientific knowledge would you want to rediscover as rapidly as possible? What are the crucial gateway technologies that you would want to be able to leapfrog to? What will civilisation need to provide for itself as it grows and progresses over the generations? ASK ME ANYTHING...!
But I'd also dearly like to hear your thoughts. What would you consider to be the most vital knowledge to try and preserve in case of a cataclysm? What steps could be taken to reboot civilisation as quickly as possible?
I'll be here all day. Cheers!
My Proof: http://imgur.com/WR2bKEV
*** OK BACK NOW. APOLOGIES AGAIN... ***