The new Mad Max film, Fury Road, has been one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year. And it certainly doesn’t disappoint. But how realistic is this portrayal of a post-apocalyptic world? In this ‘Hollywood Science’ feature article in BBC Focus magazine, Helen Pilcher, asks how civilisation might be rebuilt after the apocalypse.
Starting with nothing more than two rocks in a forest, this is an incredible example of building from scratch. Using a stone axe, watch how to fell sapling trees, gather strong vines and construct a strong frame to then fill-in the walls with wattle and daub for a shelter.
During the Canada-US book tour in March of this year I stopped by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, hosted by the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI). I had a few meetings and seminars on how to use the research material in The Knowledge in an innovative course on the history of civilisation and development of technological capability, and also delivered an evening public talk at The Museum. The Museum has a wonderful central atrium where I spoke, with a huge Tyrannosaurs Rex model towering over me and pterodactyl swooping down from the ceiling three floors above! Here’s the video of the event.
I 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.
— Ric Yarborough (@RicDrummer) May 26, 2015
The New York Post has run a fun feature on The Knowledge. The article, which was printed in the Sunday paper on 5th April, explains how to survive the urban jungle if society collapses, and how to begin rebooting civilisation from scratch. Click the image below to enlarge for reading.
Read this sobering and though-provoking cartoon on The Nib by Mike Dawson. ‘The Breakdown’ is about how we imagine the apocalypse in films and sci-fi novels, compared to the reality for the rest of the world that is already upon us today.
“For them, the collapse happened long ago.”
See the full cartoon here, and definitely read to the end!
To celebrate the paperback publication of The Knowledge, the UK publishers Vintage are running a prize give-away!
THE WORLD HAS ENDED!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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):
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…