Sanding our assholes with 150 grit.

If civilization were destroyed

could you help bring us back?

Take the quiz:

http://reddit.com/info/261x7/comments

I brought us back to the 15th century with soemthing like half of them correct.

I've been watching Modern Marvels for years. Why oh why couldn't I remember some of the same exact stuff they cover in those shows?????!?!?!?!?!
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 1:42pm
15th century.  Oh well.

It's sort of arrogant to phrase it "how useful are you?" as if the most important thing after the fall of civilization would be to exactly replicate the technology that likely brought about the fall.  (Fossil fuel dependant engines, petrochemicals, etc etc etc)
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 13th, 2007 1:45pm
Heh, I got 8 of 10, though a couple were largely intuition guesses.
Permalink DF 
July 13th, 2007 1:47pm
I love Modern Marvels.

That's what I _should_ be doing for a living: making documentaries about how things get made. That's my true calling.

I should do that now:  set up a site similar to How Do They Do That or whatever but focus on documenting real factories.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 1:48pm
It's called "How it's Made".

Your true calling changes daily.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 13th, 2007 1:50pm
Hmm, 10 out of 10 while I completely guessed two answers.
Permalink Send private email Erik Springelkamp 
July 13th, 2007 1:51pm
"Quite good.  Starting from the year 0, you might be able to advance civilization to the 17th or even 19th century.  You are technologically useful."

8 right, 2 wrong.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
July 13th, 2007 1:54pm
8 on 10.
Permalink Send private email (100+85)/2 
July 13th, 2007 1:56pm
Unless large lumps of human produced copper and other metals would still be available, a re-invention of our technology from scratch is not so easy, as all the easy mineable good quality metal ore has already been used.

In ancient times there were many places where the copper ore was so rich that just heating it would get you copper.

And iron meteorites were found and formed the first workable iron. When people had ages of experience with copper and tin they finally found a way to use high temperatures to make iron from ore. And again, the richer the ore, the easier it is.

Today you would need a much higher technology to prepare metals, but it wouldn't be obvious.
Permalink Send private email Erik Springelkamp 
July 13th, 2007 2:00pm
9 out of 10, I only got the one about cement wrong.  I always  figure cement is for Civil Engineers...

It's total BS, if civilization is destroyed, none of that's gonna be any use, you'd need to know how to hunt w/ spears, identify poisonous mushrooms, etc.
Permalink Send private email Ward 
July 13th, 2007 2:04pm
"It's called "How it's Made".

Your true calling changes daily."

I watch that too, but it isn't as good as Modern Marvels because they don't go into enough detail, smart ass.

As far as what changes daily, I look forward to hearing how you hate changing bed-pans once your nursing glow wears off.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 2:06pm
I got 10/10 - but knowing the catalyst for aluminium production is called cryolite is meaningless if you don't know where to find it or what it looks like. The book 'The Day of the Triffids' has quite a bit of philosophical discussion on recovering civilisation and makes the point that the key ingredient is having the time to pass on the knowledge
Permalink Billx 
July 13th, 2007 2:06pm
Registered nurses don't change bed pans.

Stop willfully spreading ignorance.  It's unbecoming.
Permalink Send private email muppet 
July 13th, 2007 2:07pm
"It's total BS, if civilization is destroyed, none of that's gonna be any use, you'd need to know how to hunt w/ spears, identify poisonous mushrooms, etc."

Once you got past eating and basic shelter, you would then want sex.  But the neighboring tribe has all the hotties.  How to get them?  By showing off your abilities with new technologies and doing way better than those other guys, that's how.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 2:08pm
First order of business is to recreate money so that others around you can trade efficiently, and thus perfect whatever glints of knowledge they have retained.

If you're the only one left, fuck it, find a tall cliff.
Permalink Send private email strawdog sobriquet 
July 13th, 2007 2:10pm
Ah, yes.  Bed-pans, sticking needles in someone's penis--same diff.

...

I tend to dabble.  I should have been a documentary person.  Get excited, learn about it, move to the next topic.  That's got me all over it.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 2:10pm
"First order of business is to recreate money so that others around you can trade efficiently, and thus perfect whatever glints of knowledge they have retained. "

Good point.  I missed that entirely.  Yes, create a currency based on something valuable (gold, fox-tails, whatever) that is sufficiently rare.  Then you be the only one who can get that rare item with your technology skills.  That's how you take the other tribe's hotties.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 2:12pm
>as all the easy mineable good quality metal ore has already been used.

Mine landfills.
Permalink DF 
July 13th, 2007 2:15pm
I could recreate reddit. But that doesn't bring the hotties of the other tribe in.
Permalink Send private email strawdog sobriquet 
July 13th, 2007 2:16pm
No need for money.

Apply the theory of organised warfare and found your dynasty.
Permalink Send private email Erik Springelkamp 
July 13th, 2007 2:18pm
I remember the proofs of Gödel's incompleteness theorems and how newtonian mechanics is a speical case of special relatively.

Does that count?

Even worse, no one knows how to make a volin or piano.
Permalink Rick Zeng 
July 13th, 2007 2:31pm
17th or even 19th century

So what, I couldn't actually build an internal combustion engine.

And me knowing the names of components of the atom, does me fuck all good.
Permalink s 
July 13th, 2007 2:31pm
BTW, this is the stuff that always gets me about books like Lest Darkness Falls, or the Lost Regiment.

I know the components of gunpowder, and a general idea how steam engines work, or how to make a hydrogen balloon, but there's a hundred little things you have to get right, to reproduce it properly.
Permalink s 
July 13th, 2007 2:34pm
It sure narrows the trial and error process though...
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 13th, 2007 3:37pm
Richard Feynman thought the most important knowledge we have is 'Everything is made of atoms'.

As others indicated about money, the way we setup our society is a whole lot more important than what we know.

We stagnated under a tribal/warlord society for so long. Some of them, in the middle east, are still stagnating.

So a collective government, strong individual rights, and the rule of law. Something like that. You have that and I don't think the civilisation could possibly wallow in the dark ages for thousands of years.
Permalink anoneemouse 
July 13th, 2007 3:59pm
So first up, gunpowder!
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 13th, 2007 4:09pm
Second up: cultivating bread mold.  The guy who has the penicillin stockpile is gonna be real popular.  Especially if he can separate the good penicillin from bad molds that make you go nuts.  For those wondering, you want the blue-green stuff.  Other colors are bad.  Of course, there's probably plenty of bad blue-green stuff out there too.
Permalink Send private email Clay Dowling 
July 13th, 2007 4:30pm
Gunpowder's easy, just hum the "daah-dum daah-dum dee-dum dee-dum" music and pretend you're Capt. Kirk fighting the Gorn.
Permalink Send private email Ward 
July 13th, 2007 4:31pm
I failed the test. If civilization is destroyed though, I'll do OK for the remainder of my own life.

Even knowing the answers to the questions doesn't mean you know how to make rubber or steel. Where would you get it? As was stated, the easy ore isn't so easy any more. Your best bet post-apocalypse really is the junk yard for raw materials, and the library for directions on how to.

I have made penicillin before in tiny quantities - it's not easy to get a full dose, I think it turns out you need 1000 lbs of bread to make enough to treat an infection. Good luck raising the wheat and threshing it and building the mill and millstone, etc etc to get that 1000 lbs.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 13th, 2007 5:06pm
>>> Good luck raising the wheat and threshing it and building the mill and millstone,

Or even for the questions they did ask, fine, you remember there's something about making steel from iron and aluminum from bauxite...  How the hell do you find bauxite?
Permalink Send private email Ward 
July 13th, 2007 5:15pm
Missed one.  Probably the one on cement.  I know what a rotary kiln is, but don't know why they'd be using one in cement production.

It used to be that the Encylopedia Britannica was the text to have on hand in case of a collapse of civilization. 

"Break glass in case of collapse of civilization"

I don't know where I'd pick up a copy today, and I think the modern editions have removed anything "interesting" from them (like making gunpowder & penicillin)
Permalink xampl 
July 13th, 2007 5:17pm
What was the story where all their tech is based on about a 1916 edition of Britannica?

I have a text-only and scanned versions of

HENLEY'S TWENTIETH CENTURY

BOOK OF

RECIPES, FORMULAS
AND PROCESSES

CONTAINING TEN THOUSAND SELECTED HOUSEHOLD AND
WORKSHOP FORMULAS, RECIPES, PROCESSES AND MONEY-
SAVING METHODS FOR THE PRACTICAL USE
OF MANUFACTURERS, MECHANICS, HOUSE-
KEEPERS AND HOME WORKERS


Of course, if civilization is destroyed, I probably won't be able to turn on my PC to look at it...
Permalink Send private email Ward 
July 13th, 2007 5:20pm
150 km from my house, in a sandy region in the centre of the Netherlands without a rock in sight, there was the largest production site of iron of the early Middle Ages, 600 - 800 AD.

Old sandy beaches of small rivers collect iron ore, and here they produced 55 million kg of iron in small charcoal ovens, as proven by archaeological finds of wasteproducts.

Not a word about it in written history, and the merchant town where it was probably sold or exported, Dorestad, was later erased in a Viking raid, and is only a legend now.
Permalink Send private email Erik Springelkamp 
July 13th, 2007 5:34pm
Largest site of North Western Europe.

There must have been larger sites in the Eastern Roman Empire and Asia.
Permalink Send private email Erik Springelkamp 
July 13th, 2007 5:36pm
For penicillin, you could probably figure out how to culture it pretty well in/on some other medium once you got it going on the bread and isolated it.

I could find bauxite, but only because I've seen a few bauxite quarrys. Bright blue water. No life in it.
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 13th, 2007 6:02pm
I think those were anti-freeze quarries.

Or maybe Miracle-Gro quarries.

Or maybe Windex.
Permalink Send private email strawdog sobriquet 
July 13th, 2007 6:17pm
Did look quite a bit like windex. Now that I think of it, I can still only tell you that bauxite is there. I'd still have to figure out just what the hell it was.

I know it is responsible for making the water blue like that though... or so I was told.
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 13th, 2007 6:20pm
ok, you bring the Miracle-Gro gravel, I'll bring my spaghetti trees.
Permalink Send private email strawdog sobriquet 
July 13th, 2007 6:26pm
And wSV will bring the steel wool sheep!
Permalink Send private email Ward 
July 13th, 2007 6:30pm
I love this thread.

I used to pretend I was the Professor on Gilligan's Island.  I dreamed I could string together wood and strips of metal from the ship wreck to make a radio to call someone to get us off the island.  I went to the library to see how radios were made.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 7:45pm
10 out of 10. 20th Century.

I was expecting harder questions. ;-)
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
July 13th, 2007 8:01pm
You'll be the first one in the pot when the survivors turn to cannibalism, bon.  No-one likes a smartass.
Permalink Send private email Ward 
July 13th, 2007 8:02pm
eh... pot? cannabis?

fuck the 20th century. we did shit all wrong.

given a clean slate, I would hope we could do so much better. If that future did not involve aluminum, hey that's cool with me.
Permalink Send private email arg! 
July 13th, 2007 8:07pm
The question is, would you rebuild the internet.  How would things be different if we had the internet sooner...hmmm. 

With the internet, once we all turned to cannibalism, we could have a Wiki of human meat recipes.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 8:10pm
Human flesh is not so bad really.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 13th, 2007 9:07pm
Dewd.  Yur freekin' me out.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 13th, 2007 10:33pm
Hey you started in with the cannibalism.

I'm a sexual animal, eat you like a cannibal,
Crammed full of energy,
I'm inflammable,
Yeah, I finish my beer
So come here and get nice while I lick you here,
Put your legs over there and kinda swing on the chair,
I swear you look wicked with your panties in your hair,
Eyes half closed,
Cute little nose,
And like a pound of self-raising I just rose and rose,
Stepped out of my clothes started doing the right thing,
I was pumping and she was biting,
Yeah, lightning flashed and thunder roared,
The girl had her finger on my keyboard,
Oh lord, this is gonna last all night,
If lovin' you is wrong I don't wanna be right.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 13th, 2007 11:02pm
Cryolite huh? The secret sauce to go with vast amounts of cheap electricity.

I'd say knowing the trick to the Haber ammonia plant would be much more useful once you had sufficient spare hydrogen ... oops.
Permalink trollop 
July 13th, 2007 11:29pm
Who cares about Cryolite, Crocolite is the uber-essential material of the 21st century. It's what Croc shoes are made of.
Permalink Send private email strawdog sobriquet 
July 13th, 2007 11:51pm
It's not necessarily cannibalism, but the best I could think of:


Mommy doesn't have a head any more
Keep it underneath my bed on the floor
Well thats alright though, thats OK
She never really used her head anyway

Daddy called me a silly boar
Bet he wont say that any more
Cause the way his body is severed in two
His vocal cords are gonna be hard to use

Beheaded, watch you spurt like a garden hose
Beheaded, bloody mess all over my clothes

Watch my girlfriend come to the door
Chop off her head, she falls to the floor
Well watching my baby's jugular flow
Really makes my motor go

Wrap a towel round the bloody stump
Take my baby's body to the city dump
Then wipe the mess off the bloody axe
Scoope all the heads into my burlap sack

Beheaded, watch her squirt like a garden hose
Beheaded, bloody mess all over my clothes

All my collection, adorns my room on bamboo poles
Used to be a little, but a little got more and more
Now I'm craving yours

Night brings bad dreams, bad dreams with guillotines
Night brings bad dreams, bad dreams with guillotines

Off with her head
Off with her head
Off with her head
Off with her head
Off with her head
Off with her head

Find another victim for my machine
Put 'em in a home-made guillotine
And now the blade falls, gonna need a casket
Watch the head plop in a wicker basket

Leave the house at a quarter to four
Come back with sixteen or more
Cause the more I want, the more I see
I got a funny feeling coming over me

Beheaded, watch you squirt like a garden hose
Beheaded, bloody mess all over my clothes
Permalink Send private email Ward 
July 14th, 2007 12:12am
>If civilization were destroyed could you help bring us back?
Yes. But I don't want to.
Permalink Peter 
July 14th, 2007 12:21am
(Nothing But) Flowers, an awesome song, one of my all time favorites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(Nothing_But)_Flowers

lyrics:

http://www.vividgreen.net/guster/covers/flowers.htm
Permalink Send private email arg! 
July 14th, 2007 8:09am
19th century. I am technologically useful, even thought I don't think I could make anything happen in real life. I think a knowledge of how to make war and manipulate political systems would be more useful.
Permalink son of parnas 
July 14th, 2007 10:41am
"I think a knowledge of how to make war and manipulate political systems would be more useful."

Reminds me of the Ender's Game sequels.
Permalink Send private email sharkfish 
July 14th, 2007 1:52pm

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