‘Most crucial scientific knowledge’ preserved in academic’s guidebook for end of the world

Posted by er134 at Apr 02, 2014 10:20 AM |
University of Leicester astrobiologist highlights importance of understanding fundamental science in new book

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 2 April 2014

Contact pressoffice@le.ac.uk to request images

Book launch: Wednesday 9 April at 6.30pm, at Lutyens & Rubinstein, 21 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 2EU. RSVP to Maria Garbutt-Lucero at: MGarbuttLucero@randomhouse.co.uk

If the prospect of a worldwide apocalypse plays on your mind, a University of Leicester astrobiologist will put your fears to rest with a guide to the technical knowledge you would need to survive the end of the world.

The Knowledge: How To Rebuild Our World From Scratch, published by The Bodley Head, is described as ‘a captivating journey of discovery and a quickstart guide to rebuilding our world after the apocalypse’. In it, Dr Lewis Dartnell of the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, explores the fundamental science that forms the basis of the modern world that many of us now take for granted.

Dr Dartnell said: “My field of astrobiology is all about how life works on a fundamental level and the conditions necessary for the survival of life. A book preserving the most crucial scientific and technological knowledge to enable regrowth after an apocalyptic calamity is identical to how the hardiest forms of life on Earth safeguard their vital DNA in spores when the environmental conditions crash around them.”

“Many of us living today in the modern world are feeling a growing disconnect between our everyday lives and the basic principles and processes of the civilisation that supports us.

“I think that very few of us have any real idea where our food comes from, or the clothes we wear, or how the materials making up the objects in our pocket right now were dug out of the ground and processed and refined. I wanted to dig down to the foundations of all of this and try to understand how our world actually works on a fundamental level, and so how you could rebuild it all from scratch if you ever needed to.”

Maybe an asteroid hit Earth. Perhaps a nuclear war reduced our cities to radioactive rubble. Or avian flu killed most of the population. Whatever the cause, the world as we know it has ended and now the survivors must start again. But how do we set about rebuilding our world 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?

The Knowledge is a guidebook for survivors. We have become disconnected not only from the beautiful fundamentals of science and technology but even from the basic skills and knowledge on which our lives and our world depend. Living in the modern world, we have become disconnected from the basic processes that support our lives, as well as the beautiful fundamentals of science that enable you to relearn things for yourself.

Dr Dartnell said: “After researching and writing The Knowledge I’ve found that I’ve come to appreciate much more all that I used to take for granted: varied food, bountiful energy, instant communication around the globe and effortless travel over vast distances.

“But I’ve also found it absolutely fascinating seeing how all these capabilities have developed over time, and how civilisation has progressed from the very beginnings of agriculture thousands of years ago to the wonders of modern life.

“It’s science that has built our world and it’s science that would be needed to rebuild it again.”

The Knowledge: How To Rebuild Our World From Scratch published by The Bodley Head on 3 April 2014. You can find more information online at http://the-knowledge.org/


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Maria Garbutt-Lucero at MGarbuttLucero@randomhouse.co.uk | @mariagluc <http://twitter.com/mariagluc>

Follow Lewis Dartnell on Twitter at @lewis_dartnell <http://twitter.com/lewis_dartnell>  and @KnowledgeCiv <http://twitter.com/KnowledgeCiv>


LEWIS DARTNELL is a UK Space Agency research fellow at the University of Leicester, in the field of astrobiology and the search for signs of life on Mars. He has won several awards for his science writing, and contributes to the Guardian, The Times and New Scientist. He has also written for television and appeared on BBC Horizon, Sky News, Wonders of the Universe, Stargazing Live, and The Sky at Night. His two previous books are Life in the Universe: a Beginner’s Guide and the illustrated children’s book My Tourist’s Guide to the Solar System and Beyond. When the world ends, he will be ready to start again. www.the-knowledge.org <http://www.the-knowledge.org>  @KnowledgeCiv

Supporting quotes:

‘As the scouts say - be prepared! Say your prayers that you never need this book’ Bear Grylls

‘Impeccably researched and beautifully written, The Knowledge makes me proud of all we humans have achieved – and dismayed at how much we have to lose. You need to read this book.’ Stephen Baxter

‘A remarkable and panoramic view of how civilization actually works’ Roger Highfield, Science Museum

‘Useful if civilization collapses, and entertaining if it doesn't’ S. M. Stirling

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