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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday October 21 2018, @09:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the documenting-our-tech-tree dept.

Imagine that in the future you can rent time machines just as easily as you can rent a car. Paradoxes are nicely sidestepped, and you even get the handy pamphlet "1001 Fun Ways to kill Hitler". Sounds great, right? Suppose that time machine breaks down. Turns out it's easier to re-invent civilization than it is to fix said machine, and that's what this book purports to do.

This book is chock full of tidbits, like this on buttons. People wore buttons for thousands of years as ornaments. It was only fairly recently someone realized they could hold clothes closed. This is disgraceful and embarrassing. You can do better.

Scalzi's page describes this book much better than I can. Need to know which animals to domesticate? Covered. Foods to cultivate? Covered. Crop rotation? Compass? Non-sucky numbers? Forge? Birth Control? Logic? Chemistry? Steel? check, check, check, check, ...., check.

This is not a textbook, there is no math, and minimal theory on why things work. It's focused on why and how, not "how does it work?".

I got my copy from the library and, after an hour or two, ordered my own copy from Amazon. I'm sure my fellow Soylenters will also love this book.


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:37PM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday October 21 2018, @11:37PM (#751809) Journal

    How much luggage can a hypothetical time traveler bring? If you can bring a cubic meter, you might be able to bring a replicator, self-replenishing nanobots, robot assistants to perform delicate and dangerous tasks, or whatever you need to simplify and skip hundreds of steps on the way to becoming self-sufficient and reaching a modern level of technology. And while reinventing hundreds of rudimentary things in order to build X is a hassle, you could have a good shot at doing so if you have some specialized equipment, no time limit due to anti-aging, and have the "cheat codes" that the real inventors never had. There are other, more subtle advantages that you could exploit, such as a historical map of all known iron, gold, titanium, crude oil, lithium, etc. deposits on the planet.

    The pursuit of knowledge doesn't just mean finding a new way to make a smaller microchip. We can also learn how to do more with less. That could mean finding a new chemical reaction that is less energy and resource intensive, using genetically engineered organisms to produce complicated pharmaceutical products, or using cheap tools [hackteria.org] to perform the same tasks as expensive lab equipment. This knowledge would be useful for space colonization, a post-apocalypse situation, or the hypothetical time traveler.

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    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
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