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Restarting Civilisation – Episode 18


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.

Here’s the number one rule, don’t be a dick.

I think if civilisation was to crumble tomorrow and we had to start again from the beginning, everything would be fine.  I know from movies and pop culture whenever there’s like a doomsday thing about to happen, you know, a catastrophe, everyone’s really worried about the world being wiped out.  But that’s a really selfish point of view, that’s just for people, something will evolve, life on earth has this amazing way of adapting to all sorts of situations and environments and the dominant species won’t be humans, despite the fact that we aren't really the dominant species, despite the fact that we like to think we are, it will be something else, it will be some sort of bacteria. 

But in terms of humans, and I’ve learnt this from the movies, whether it’s a zombie apocalypse or a robot takeover or the fact that a meteor will hit us, what is probably most important is language and the fact that we can communicate.  

Now here’s the number one rule. Don’t be a dick; cooperate, I think that is the way to kick start humanity and civilisation again, to communicate and cooperate: someone will have a rock, someone will have a stick, put the two together and start a fire and paint some paintings on a wall together in a cave.

- Lawrence Leung