Thursday, April 24, 2014

SURVIVING THE UNTHINKABLE

During the Cold War, the West was immersed in a culture of fear. Many were certain that nuclear war was imminent as the United States and Soviet Union were raced to stockpile more nuclear bombs. Nuclear preparedness was a way of life. Some towns installed air raid sirens and community fall-out shelters. School children were taught duck-and-cover drills  and many people built and stocked bomb shelters. 

The aim was to survive the unthinkable. Today the news is full of apocalyptic potential. They range from shifting magnetic poles, global warming, asteroid strikes, Zombie attacks, alien invasions to catastrophic natural disasters.  

One could easily fall victim to paranoia and anxiety. The sale of anti-depressants is at an all time high.

The fall of the Roman Empire led to the Dark Ages, signalling the death knell of education and literacy, sophisticated architecture, advanced economic interaction and the rule of written law. The dark age lasted for nearly 400 years. Fortunately there were a few guardians of knowledge that preserved, reproduced and eventually reeducated.

One of my favorite sci-fi television programs of all time Babylon Five painted a picture of human civilization ascending and collapsing many times over the millennia until eventually the sun burned out and we moved on.

How many times have advanced civilizations risen up and fallen to terrestrial and extraterrestrial calamities? How many times has society re-booted? What are our most valuable accomplishments? 

A recent article in the Boston Globe provides a blue print for preparedness in the event of an event that destroys civilization as we know it. Want to reboot Civilization? What You'll need is fascinating.

Author Annale Newitz interviews Lewis Dartnell, an astrophysicist and author of a new book on the subject, “The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch.” 

What are  keys to unlocking all other knowledge and how do we preserve them to give future civilizations a shot at survival in a post-apocalyptic world.




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