Featured Image – Photo Credit: SethPDA
Oh noes, the peri-apocalypse has arrived! Whether it’s from a massive asteroid, flu, zombies, or we just didn’t bother to stop climate change before it passed the +6 degree global increase, it is now upon us and tearing down civilization town by town, country by country.
Which three items, instructions, scientific theories, maps, novels, works of art, or blueprints do you put into the super-protected cache of information which the survivors will need to reboot human civilization? (We assume the survivors will be able to read and do simple mathematics.)
It won’t reboot society but it will help society chill out after it’s rebooted:
- A bed (because hangovers are a bitch)
As long as we’re rebooting civilization, I want to take the opportunity to make it better. Here are 3 technologies I consider the foundation for making that happen:
- Vegetarian cuisine. This is actually a combination of 2 concepts. The first is the knowledge of how to produce sustainable, nutritionally balanced no-meat ingredients; the second is the ability to prepare those ingredients well, because cooking is the backbone of civilization—turning a bare necessity into a luxury, the communal element of sharing a meal, and the flexibility associated with being able to make food last are all huge parts of our cultural development. As for the veggie part, I was a vegan for seven years. I’m not anymore because DON’T JUDGE ME, but I still believe that we have the technology to create cheap and healthy vegan food for everybody, but we don’t because the economic system favors the traditional agricultural model, not to mention the purveyors of junk food everywhere. I’d just like to live in a world in which other animals aren’t treated as commodities.
- Domestication. On the other hand, let’s maintain our interspecies relationships in the new world. Dogs and cats make awesome companions, and when they aren’t mistreated, I think the relationship is mutually beneficial for both parties. And let’s take it a step further. Let’s hang out in trees with birds. Let’s build our houses on the beach and make friends with the dolphins. Let’s find companionship where we can and respect boundaries where we can’t and make a more awesome civilization for everyone, ‘kay?
- Storytelling. I was tempted to put writing, because it’s really nice to be able to communicate across time and space, but I think storytelling might be a greater priority. The transmission of cultural memes and valuable lessons through oral tradition should eventually help us catch back up to the other technologies that matter.
OK, let’s assume, we are kind of like Noah without his Ark, so if we could yield (can I use this verb?) the next civilization’s three things, they would be:
- A huge microfiche archive of world art, and I mean, _every_ artist should be presented (I know, this one could be pretty huge collection, but Bill Gates and his wife are about to scan all the world art with their Private scanner in another garage alike bunker, so they should be the right contact persons). Microfiche is cool since it’s weather-proof and doesn’t need any digital gadget to read it. They just need to use a huge magnifying glass — or if they have some advanced technologies, even better.
- OK, you have me, this is not original, but I also have to say: Coffee. Coffee seeds with some instructions how to grow this elixir of life in their backyard.
- A metallic time- and weather-proof panel with a small sentence translated into many languages and sign systems (in order they could translate Rosetta-ingly this): “You are not the first civilisation, you are not the last. Be honest, fair and nice to each other. Otherwise you’ll be the next.”
- Vegetarianism/veganism (side-note: I’m neither) – it’d be essential to preserve what little animal life there is left over, and we’d learn to show restraint within our new environment.
- Medical/scientific texts – keep people healthy and motivated to try better themselves/their world after the catastrophe.
- Establish new calendar year/copying Alex Vladi & Byron Campbell’s #3
Sueyeun Juliette Lee
- A collection of cross-cultural creation myths. Those stories are such gold.
- Blueprints for a windmill.
- And a basic book on human health and hygiene.
- The first item for our reboot (assuming mass destruction of the world’s electrical grid): a compendium of (printed) research notes, formulas, and studies on electricity, from Thales of Miletrus to Benjamin Franklin to Michael Faraday to Nikola Tesla to Thomas Edison, etc…We’ve gone more and more paperless in the Digital Age, so re-engineering electrical-based society will be essential in accessing all of the human, world, and galactic information we have collectively amassed in this ginormous virtual cloud. And of course, electricity is vital for most of our day to day routines, for keeping our food from spoiling, and really, who can go more than a week without a profile update on Facebook?
- A photo of Abhijit Baruah, as a reminder that endurance running, which continued into the 21st century, contributed greatly to our early survival on the planet, and most likely, post-apocalyptically, will contribute to our survival again. Baruah set the world record for the “longest run barefoot(!)” when he covered a distance of 97 miles (156.2 km) in 24 hours. If you want to include a photo of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump, yeah we can do that too. Some trivia: “In 2011, the Library of Congress selected Forrest Gump for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant'” supposedly for depicting the scene of him running across the country.
- Translated into every written language, a collection of historical accounts indicating to apocalypse survivors that outside of the corporate greed and self interest that led to this planetary catastrophe there were humans who worked for social and political equality and the embrasure of diversity (MLK Jr, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Mandela). It’s likely humans will be reduced to predators or prey in the early anarchical days of the post-apocalypse. Perhaps these accounts of human altruism can provide us with a pleasant dream, once in a while, as we slumber on our tree branches.
- The recipe for beer passed down to us from ancient Mesopotamia via “The Hymn to Ninkasi.”
- An astrolabe.
- Some way to watch or otherwise access the content of James Burke’s CONNECTIONS
We’re going to have to embed some technology in this little capsule for mine to work, but I’ll trust the scientists on that one:
- An interactive map of the universe, à la this.
- A map of the New York City subway system, à la this.
- An interactive map of semantic connections in the human brain, à la this.
- A primer on the scientific method and some basic scientific knowledge (outline of the solar system, principles of navigation, ecology etc). The hope is that with this, civilization 2.0 will be able to create their own methods for for example navigation and map making.
- Instructions of basic medicine and first aid, with explanation of what antibiotics are and how they work. This to save the survivors centuries of trial and error and illness.
- An outline and short explanation of human and animal rights to at least give the survivors the idea these once existed. So civilization 2.0 can maybe avoid some of the mistakes from the previous one.
As much as I considered giving the survivors the instructions, locations, and door codes for various seed vaults around the world, I think that could become contentious. More importantly, with food being so basic and precious, the survivors would have to learn how to grow their own food very quickly anyway. So no door codes to Svalbard this time.
What Michael J Seidlinger said. Whisky definitely 🙂
- Preserved seeds
- Perl version of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces.
I like everyone’s ideas about preserving our knowledge and so on, and I was going to do something like that but the more I think about it, the more unlikely it seems that any of that will be necessary. By the time this happens, it’s likely that most of the animals that currently exist will cease to exist and our ecosystems will be astronomically different. And antibiotics, as we understand them, will probably also be worthless.
I think I’d choose to leave nothing behind. They wouldn’t be able to learn from our mistakes, I suppose, but they also wouldn’t be able to repeat them. I think the best thing to leave behind is that quote by Alex.
As tempted as I was to put 1) Whiskey 2) Whiskey 3) Whiskey
Let’s instead go with
- The Stranger by Albert Camus