How to Survive an asteroid strike

asteroidOne of the possible hazards that could collapse civilisation is an asteroid impacting the Earth. This June I was involved in the launch of Asteroid Day, an international effort to raise awareness and begin a measured discussion on the potential threat posed by asteroids. The event at the Science Museum in London was organised by Grigorij Richters and also included Lord Martin Rees, Brian May, Stuart Clarke, Sir Crispin Tickell, Prof Richard Crowther, Prof Alan Fitzsimmons, and Debbie Lewis. In this guest blog post below, we have Debbie Lewis discussing how it is possible to survive a Near-Earth Object (NEO) impact event. Debbie is a Fellow of the Emergency Planning Society and a Director for Resilience Preparedness.

Launch of Asteroid Day, Science Museum, London
Launch of Asteroid Day, Science Museum, London

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How to make breakfast from scratch

Every morning, after I’ve stumbled out of bed and through the shower, I make some breakfast to fuel myself through the morning. I often simply have toast with butter. I explain in The Knowledge the fundamental reasons why humanity eats bread and why butter is so useful.

Follow development 1But how many of us actually make breakfast from scratch? I mean really from scratch – growing your own wheat and making butter out of milk fresh from a cow?

Well,  Dr Sarah Bearchell (Facebook page: Sarah’s Adventures in Science) has run a project doing exactly this with school children. Working with a group of pupils from a primary school in Oxford she showed them how to cultivate their own wheat, harvest, thresh and winnow the grain, and then mill into flour for baking a loaf of bread, as well as using their own simple butter churn.  This is a wonderful education project on the basics of how things we take for granted are actually done. Read here about the project in Sarah’s own words:

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Knowledge: The Play

VolksTheatreThe Knowledge is being performed as a play! Theatric dramatisation rights were requested  earlier this year by a German production company, and the book will be adapted and directed by Jessica Glause«Handbuch für den Neustart der Welt» will have a run of ten performances from November in the Volkstheater in Munich. The play will explore on stage how civilisation could be restarted after doomsday, and the challenges that would pose. Read the announcement in Die Welt, the German national newspaper, here or in English using Google Translate.

Big Issue North

BigIssueNorthThe Big Issue North printed an interesting feature article about The Knowledge and the invisible processes and principles that underly our everyday lives.

Dartnell doesn’t really think the end of the world is nigh. But why are we so fascinated with the notion?

“One part of our fascination is wishful thinking, that yearning for a simpler time, like in films like Mad Max. You don’t have a job and a calendar and a mobile phone. You can do whatever the hell you please, and have a wild time and wear lots of tight leather. But people also overlook just how brutal life without civilisation provided for us would be. That you would have to fight and fend for everything. You’d have to really struggle to keep your existence going.”

Click on the thumbnail image above to read the whole article.

Fury Road

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.


Shelter from scratch

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.

The Knowledge: How To Rebuild Our World From Scratch – WICI Talk with Lewis Dartnell from Waterloo Complexity Institute on Vimeo.