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Restarting Civilisation – Episode 14


Richard Feynman once said: ‘If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis that all things are made of atoms-little particles that that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.’

So, we asked the people featured in this app what scientific idea they would like in their back pocket in the event we had to restart civilisation.

If we can understand EM waves then that opens so many doors technologically.

If we had to start again from scratch, what would be the one nugget of information that would help us rise from the ashes, let’s say?  Do you know what, I think the understanding of electromagnetism and electromagnetic waves – EM waves – because they help so much with not just modern life…they just help our understanding, and they helped us to progress so much.  If we can understand EM waves then that opens so many doors technologically, that I would say it would be that. And even Faraday, he didn’t really know what they were, it took Maxwell to go, hang on mate, here’s the maths, there you go and so, in a way, maybe you don’t need the understanding bit: the practical application of the EM waves is what I’d try and write in my death note.