Hay Festival

HayFestivalI was absolutely thrilled to be invited to talk about The Knowledge at the Hay Festival this year. The event sold-out and the audience were absolutely wonderful – plenty of interesting discussion for the last 20 minutes. But just as much fun, the publishers worked with a creative agency to put together a publicity stunt in and around the town and festival, based on the premise of the book. A rapid response team, complete with a biohazard container and dressed up in hazmat suits, distributed flyers and copies of the book. Here are some of the pictures tweeted by the surprised public.


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Prize Giveaway

Knowledge_pbkTo celebrate the paperback publication of The Knowledge, the UK publishers Vintage are running a prize give-away!


Sorry, I meant to put the word ‘Imagine’ at the beginning of that sentence. Panic over.

But imagine if it had. Maybe a viral pandemic, an asteroid strike, or perhaps nuclear war. Maybe even a zombie apocalypse. Whatever the cause, the world as we know it has ended and you and the other survivors must start again. What key knowledge would you need to start rebuilding civilisation from scratch? Once you’ve scavenged what you can, how do you begin producing the essentials? How do you grow food, generate power, prepare medicines, or get metal out of rocks? Could you avert another Dark Ages or take shortcuts to accelerate redevelopment?

That’s why you need The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell, a book which explains everything you need to know about everything.

Obviously you’d save a copy of The Knowledge in the event of a catastrophe…! But what Vintage want to know is: What other book would you save if you could only grab one as you fled to the bunker?

To enter the give-away, email your answer to vintagebooks@randomhouse.co.uk with ABOOKALYPSE! in the subject line. See the Vintage competition website for full details. And you could win this amazing survival kit from The Bushcraft Store.


The Survival Store’s Small Ultimate Survival Kit contains:

  • A Maxpedition M-1 waistpack 
  • A Columbia River Knife and Tool RSK Mk 5 Ritter Lightweigh survival knife
  • US GSA Compliant 550 Paracord
  • Commando Wire Saw 
  • A TBS Firesteel
  • Care Plus Hand gel 
  • Waterproof Matchbox
  • 2″ Signal Mirror
  • Signal Whistle
  • US Issue Water Purification powder 
  • Fishing Kit
  • Can Opener
  • A US Issue Sharpening stone 
  • A Wristband Compass



I was thrilled to have been invited to deliver a mainstage TED talk about the thought experiment behind The Knowledge and exploring the behind-the-scenes fundamentals of how our world works and what enabled civilisation to progress through history. TED have written a blogpost of the talk, Gavin Blake of FeverPicture was live-scribing the event, and produced this brilliant graphical summary of my main points (click to enlarge):

Scriber-Gavin Blake_small

The video of the talk will be uploaded to the TED homepage soon, but for now there are some teaser photos. The gasifier stove demo worked well, but the embers and ashes it spat out at first came alarmingly close to all the hairspray they’d put on my head…



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The UK paperback publishers, Vintage, have run a fun billboard campaign to celebrate the paperback publication of The Knowledge. Some of the posters contain their own red emergency box containing a copy of the book, in case of emergency!



If you’d like to see one of the posters for yourself, here’s a map of the billboard locations:

Abrir en caso de Apocalipsis

AbrirThe book is published today in Spanish. Abrir en caso de Apocalipsis: Guía rápida para reconstruir la civilización (Open in Case of Apocalypse: Quick-start guide for rebuilding civilisation) is available on Amazon.es or local bookshops.

Una pandemia incontrolable, el impacto de un meteorito, o quizá una guerra nuclear; por el motivo que sea, el mundo que conocemos ha desaparecido y los escasos supervivientes deben comenzar de cero. ¿Cuáles son los conocimientos fundamentales necesarios para reconstruir nuestra civilización? Tras recoger lo poco lo poco que queda, ¿cómo se puede empezar a producir lo esencial? ¿Cómo cultivar alimentos, generar electricidad, preparar medicinas o extraer metal de las rocas? ¿Se puede evitar una nueva edad oscura y aprovechar los atajos para conseguir de nuevo el desarrollo? La vida en las sociedades contemporáneas nos han desconectado de los procesos básicos que nos sostienen, así como de las elegantes premisas científicas que permiten aprender las cosas por uno mismo. “Abrir en caso de apocalipsis” es un viaje de exploración, un libro que explica todo lo que hay que saber acerca de todo lo que nos rodea. Una guía rápida para reiniciar la civilización que transformará nuestra comprensión del mundo, y nos ayudará cuando este ya no exista.

Librería Gigamesh @GigameshTienda

“Un maravilloso compendio de los conocimientos que hemos olvidado. El libro más inspirador que he leído en mucho tiempo”. (Peter Forbes, Independent)

“Un libro extraordinario, una lectura estupenda incluso si la civilización no desaparece. Si lo hace, será la biblia del nuevo mundo, y Dartnell su profeta”. (The Times)

“Una mirada fascinante a los principios básicos de las principales tecnologías que sostienen la sociedad contemporánea” Wall Street Journal

“Una fascinante historia de la ciencia y la tecnología” (Steven Poole, The Guardian)


Lewis Dartnell, astrobiólogo y autor del libro 'Abrir en caso de apocalipsis' / LIONEL DERIMAIS
Lewis Dartnell, astrobiólogo y autor del libro ‘Abrir en caso de apocalipsis’ / LIONEL DERIMAIS 

Article in El País newspaper: “Hemos perdido gran parte de nuestra capacidad para sobrevivir”

Out now in paperback

Knowledge_pbkThe Knowledge is now out in UK paperback! I’m currently away on book tour around Canada and the US, but very excited to see it out. Vintage have gone with a very similar cover design to the original hardback (and also watch the making of the smashed emergency box as an animated gif) and I love the bold colours and the elegance of graphical concept.

Lighter and more portable than the hardback, the paperback edition is perfect for all your civilisation-rebooting needs. But probably best you buy two copies, just in case…