Thursday, February 4, 2010

Non fiction: How much of modern knowledge can survive even a 50 year loss of civilization?

Tom Simonite & Michael Le Page do some well thought out, if familiar, speculation on the subject at New Scientist.

"if the power was cut off to the banks of computers that now store much of humanity's knowledge, and people stopped looking after them and the buildings housing them, and factories ceased to churn out new chips and drives, how long would all our knowledge survive? How much would the survivors of such a disaster be able to retrieve decades or centuries hence?"

[via Bruce Sterling]

See also: Fredric Brown's "The Waveries" - happy-go-lucky story where civilization goes on pretty much undisturbed after it's no longer possible to produce electricity in any form, not even as ignition to start a car engine or lightning, because invading aliens feed on it!