A Friend and I are interested in how people would recreate our
everyday technology if we had to go back to the stone age or to
giligan's island. What would be the first priorities in recreating
our electronic and mechanical tools? We were talking about glass,
mining metals, creating rudimentary computers. A lathe would be a
Does anybody have any ideas? What would you do if you were the
professer on Giligan's Island?
Cutting implements would be the first thing I'd make. Knives, axes,
spears, scythes, etc.
Pottery would be an important second focus. Food storage technology
would be very important. Salting, etc. Simple canoes with a design
that could be easily upgraded to small sail technology would probably
be a good idea.
It'd take quite a while before one would have to worry much about
computers if you are talking about starting totally from scratch. By
the time you got enough technology to make the materials and machines
people would have lost much of the knowledge. Unless your model
includes bringing along a massive library and devoting loads of
resources to teaching things that wouldn't be particularly useful for
several generations. I would expect that if you sent 500 scientists
and engineers back to the stone age with no tools and no books that
the society would be pretty close to stone age level within three
generations. There'd be a few shamans that kept rudimentary technology
going but ....
Well, first off I'd only be the professor if Amanda was MaryAnne. I'd
like island living and wouldn't waste time trying to get off if I had
a fun companion!!!
That is pretty strange.
It isn't that hard at all. You don't need a huge unversity science library for
First one establishes basic smelting of metals using a sand pit furnace. Then
basic metal smithery.
Then basic chemistry based on simple biological and plant materials.
Then blacksmithery. Then electricity using batteries made from biological
materials and salt water and metals.
Then glass making, vacuum tubes,
It would take less than a decade for the 500 to get to the level of 1940
technology--at a small scale without big factories.
In fact five scientists would get there in a decade.
p.s.If you had the three volumes of the Feynman physics lectures, a basic
chemistry book or two, and two or three basic math books, and a basic biology
book or two----you would have 99% of science and engineering.
p.s. If I had to take one book--I would take the CRC handbook or perhaps the
1940 edition of Strangs "Methods of Experimental Science".
p.s. If I could transmit one fact only to the next generation--it would be:
The world is made of atoms.
If I could give two-- I would add:
And it follows math.
Consider the fact that the techniques of 1940 physics were not all that far
from 19th blacksmithery.
Just look at Strang's book.
p.s. Using simple methods and homemade lathes--it is possible to make metal
surfaces accurate to a millionth of an inch.
It's called "shaping" and it similar to the method used to home polish a
telescope mirror to similar accuracy.
Lindsay Tech sells a book on it.
"Dubs" <[Only registered users see links. ]> wrote in message
I think one of the main concerns is what types of material you have
available. Without iron ore of some kind, you are not going to get very far.
Without sulphur, no sulphuric acid, which limits your options considerably.
There are many other minerals too, especially some of the more exotic metal
ores, without which you will have difficulties recreating certain
technologies. Also, I think you need porcelain clays in order to make
crubicles and furnaces that can withstand extreme temperatures and hold
molten materials of many kinds without leaking or absorbing them. As
technology expands, the demand for more and more different materials (oil,
rubber, platinum, uranium to name a few off the top of my head) will be a
constant hindrance. The development of technology through the ages has gone
hand in hand with expanding trade, and availability of new materials from
There are sites on the web that deals with things more or less relevant to
this thought experiments. Lindsay Books ([Only registered users see links. ]) has already
been mentioned. Another good source, I think, is some of the Foxfire books
(I have just ordered a few of them at Amazon, but haven't received them yet,
so I cannot testify as to their relevance). A third source you may want to
check out is Kevin Dunn's book and website on "caveman chemistry" as he
calls it. ([Only registered users see links. ]) You get excellent tuition on many basic
technologies, with lots of hands-on experiments from making fire to making
Dubs ([Only registered users see links. ]) wrote:
: A Friend and I are interested in how people would recreate our
: everyday technology if we had to go back to the stone age or to
: giligan's island. What would be the first priorities in recreating
: our electronic and mechanical tools? We were talking about glass,
: mining metals, creating rudimentary computers. A lathe would be a
: crowning achievement.
: Does anybody have any ideas? What would you do if you were the
: professer on Giligan's Island?
I'd start by making stone tools, ropes and nets. People ALWYAS
underestimate the power of a net. Next I'd look for some kind of metal
ore, starting with copper. It's easy to recognize (if there is any in the
vicinity), and easy to smelt. Iron ore would be the best, but requires
more work. If you want to make steel from Fe, you need to have someone
with good knowledge of the process, or plenty of time for trial and error.
Al aleternative to fussing about with metals would be to make a makeshift
sextant and a sailboat. I'd take a few trips around and get a feel for
the local currents, then head off in the fastest direction either east or
west. Eventually you're bound to hit a continent.
William "Dave" Thweatt
Robert E. Welch Postdoctoral Fellow
Houston, TX [Only registered users see links. ] [Only registered users see links. ]
[Only registered users see links. ] (Dubs) wrote in message news:<firstname.lastname@example.org. com>...
So, what would happen if a group of scientists had to rebuild our
technological advances, eh? Hmm... Well there was a trial of sorts
.... called Biosphere II. Google it. There were many problems, but a
major one was that a group of researchers is poorly suited for the
performance of backbreaking labor. For example; mining ores, forging
tools, formal agriculture, food preservation techniques are exhausting
tasks for someone not accustomed to performing manual labor sunup to
sundown. My mom is 65 and was a farmer in WWII-era Italy. My
diligence for yardwork is, compared to hers, laughable.
So. Maybe if we keep to the scientific method, maintain religious
tolerance, maybe we can shave a few centuries off our technological
reemergence. But can we get the work done? If we need a vast group
of proles to provide the raw energy in the form of human handiwork,
can the scientists provide enough goodies for the workforce to keep
them happy? And too many astrology readers and religious
fundamentalists in the workforce and well, we're back to
pre-Renaissance Europe or 18th century Ottoman Empire -- a slow climb
back up or a slow slide back down.
Basic metal production and metal working skills would be first on my
You need metal for tools. Iron and steel first which aren't that hard if
you have a ready source of high grade iron ore and you manage to build a
decent reduction furnace to smelt it. Natives in Africa still use small
furnaces for that using goat skin bags as bellows to blow air in. You
need sand in the process and your island will have plenty. Glass is no
problem if you also have a source of sodium carbonate.
Electricity would be a priority. For a basic generator you need copper
for wiring although other metals can be used.
Early on you might be dependant on batteries. Once you have access to
metals they're easy to build.
Work on your glass manufacture and you'll be able to make lightglobes.
Some other fairly important metals would be silver, gold, tungsten,
lead.. plus many others.
Radio is fairly easy if you use a primative spark gap transmitter and
AM radio is simple. Resistors are easy. Capacitors a little harder.
Speakers and microphones require delicate work but once you have copper
wire and magnets your well on the way.
If you want super simple, radio receivers can be built from a lump of
galena (lead sulphide) which can act like a diode and really thats all
Computers would take awhile although with glass working skills you could
make one based on valves instead of silicon chips like Eniac... I think
it was called that.
Silicon requires rigorous purification for chip manufacture and then you
need all kinds of fancy equipment to draw the circuitry on the chips.
This technology might take a little longer.