One of the projects I worked on when I was writing The Knowledge was to create my own self-portrait author photograph for the back of the book. This was a selfie in the deepest, truest sense that a photo can ever be a selfie – a photograph created from scratch.
Chapter 12 of The Knowledge explains how you can go right back to first principles to work out how to tell the time for yourself. Planting a stick into the ground can serve as a simple sundial, with the hour of the day indicated as the shadow revolves around with the movement of the sun. This chronological technology has been used by humanity for thousands of years.
But now, sundials have been brought right up into the 21st century.
Julien Coyne has invented a sundial that indicates the time as a digital display. This astounding example of ingenuity is based on some very clever mathematical design and 3D printing of the gnomon. Once orientated correctly, the sunlight passes through the precisely-calculated slits in the gnomon to project a shadow that indicates the time as a digital display.
Wrapped is a superb computer-generated video exploring what New York may come to look like if plants and trees were ever to take over again. This is an epic piece of rewilding imagination! The short film was created by a team of students, Roman Kaelin, Falko Paeper and Florian Wittmann, at the Institute of Animation and Special Effects at Germany’s Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg. And a lot of the aesthetic is similar to the opening chapter of ‘The Knowledge’ or Alan Weisman’s ‘The World Without Us‘.
The film begins with a microscopic tour of a decomposing dead rat on the pavement, zooming out to broader and broader scale, and faster and faster time, as the vegetation invasion unfolds. And make sure you watch right through to the end, otherwise you’ll miss the twist in the tale [tail…? ;o) ]
On 8th May I gave a large public lecture about The Knowledge at the venerable Royal Institution. Although in a feat of forgetfulness I’d managed to leave my laptop on the tube on the way to the venue, the event went well and involved a number of demonstrations, including EXPLODING UNDERPANTS..! Watch the video of the event below, including the interview with Daily Telegraph journalist Tom Chivers and the Q&A with the audience. The themes of the book were also discussed after the public lecture on Twitter for a #RiChat, which is available on Storify to read through if you missed it. See also this list of upcoming events about The Knowledge.
Here’s a video interview I did with Book Zone TV about The Knowledge and the fundamentals of civilisation, filmed appropriately enough in The World’s End pub in Camden, North London… This interview featured on the Evening Standard and Daily Telegraph websites.
Ruin is a short film created by Oddball Animation. It is a chase sequence with a lone survivor racing through a beautifully rendered post-apocalyptic cityscape. Click the still frame below to watch the film on the Oddball site.
For the launch of the book, we created a series of five short films to showcase different techniques that would be vital for surviving the immediate aftermath and rebuilding the capability of your post-apoclyptic society. This third one in a series of three shows how to make gasifier stove using nothing more than old tin cans. A gasifier stove burns fuel exceedingly efficiently and cleanly, and demonstrates the principle behind wood-powered cars that were common in the Second World War. Also see (1/3) How to open a can without a can opener and (2/3) How to start a fire with everyday items, as well as How To: Electrolysis.
For the launch of the book, we created a series of five short films to showcase different techniques that would be vital for surviving the immediate aftermath and rebuilding the capability of your post-apoclyptic society. This is the second one in a series of three, which demonstrates how to make fire. Once all the matches and gas lighters have gone, here’s how to start a fire with everyday objects (which could be scavenged from the abandoned cities) used together in surprising combinations. Also see (1/3) How to open a can without a can opener and (3/3) How to make a gasifier stove, as well as How To: Electrolysis.