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Bootstrap Box

Rebuilding civilization since 2008

Bootstrap Box

Volcano Eruption


August 26th, 2008

As montyy0 pointed out, the particular situation / context really drives what would be in the box. So, here's a relatively soft scenario to begin with...

Gentle (all things being relative), Mid-speed, 500:1 Collapse

In late April of 2009 an asteroid hits earth, and on it are alien brain worms. They're fast, insidious, and highly lethal - only 1 out of 500 people survive a brain worm infection. Global penetration is within a week of the strike. Brain-worm infection is obvious, and time-to-death is about 48 hours. The worms are specialist, targeting high-end hominids (humans, chimps, apes, etc.). By two weeks after the strike it's all over - anyone left is immune to brain worms, and they die off completely. While there would be all kinds of riots and such, the infection to death time is slow enough that there would be no vehicular crashes except long term things like large ocean vessels. The physical infrastructure of civilization is largely intact (sans end-of-world rioting / conflict), and rife with scavenging opportunities. I don't know how long various services last (grid power, town water, etc.), but probably on the order of a week at most.

August 25th, 2008

When I think about ending up with no resource but what's in my pockets, my biggest concern is chemistry: I don't know it, and while I know much of the theory, I think it would take more than my lifetime to do the experiments just to construct the periodic table and lay out the S and P orbitals, let alone do useful stuff like making plastic or TNT or rocket engines or iodine tablets or chlorinated water. So for me, a comprehensive chemistry reference (like the CRC handbook, perhaps) and a good supply of chemical stuff that's hard to find or synthesize would be good.

more generally:

I think in the "post disaster" situation, there would be plenty of precision instruments and machine tools lying around, but without those, it's hard to go from blacksmith tech to machine-tool tech reliably.

A lot of modern information is online or on CDs or what-have-you, which is good for redundancy but not so hot if things get so bad that there's no electricity.

I also think what's in the bootstrap box depends quite a bit on the nature of the problem... if there are people who remember the "card catalog" of stuff, and know what to look for enough that there is continuity between generations, that's a lot easier than people having to figure out how to use artifacts. And what artifacts and resources remain is also important. What are the needs of people? Can they eat canned food while they learn to farm? Is it necessary to find or produce weapons to fend of hordes of punk-rock looters, zombies, or aliens? Has the world been ruined to the point where shelter and protective clothing is vital, as well as extremophile crops? Are plagues rampant?

The premise of this group is fun, but to me the answers depend a lot on context...
Say your available tech infrastructure is that of around 1700 America or so, but you have a 20 watt, 12 volt solar panel. What useful things could you do with that kind of power source at that tech level?
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