Monday, August 18, 2014

So then I read: "The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our world from scratch" by Lewis Dartnell

I just finished "The Knowledge" by Lewis Dartnell.

(Amazon Link)

This book gives the basic information that you would need to re-industrialize society after a major catastrophe.  If you have seen the TV show Jeremiah where people are scrounging and scraping to put together a working steam engine from scrap, this book is for them.  The topic is huge, but the author makes it engaging enough that it is readable.  He covers many topics from basic agriculture and making common industrial chemicals to steam power and electricity generation.  He repeatedly brings up the scientific method of observing, predicting, and testing.  This last bit is huge, as all of modern science is built on it.

When I build a time machine, I will put a copy of this book in the emergency box along with a copy of caveman chemistry.  I would want copies of both if I were stuck on a deserted island.

I would liked it if the book had more pictures.  I also would prefer it if it were more specific about some of the processes.  As an example, the text's explanations of a spinning wheel were fantastic, but I could not construct one.  I simply do not understand the hook-twisting mechanism.  In the author's defense, the book's guiding principle is not to give you all the answers, but to give you the must-have information and get you asking the right question.  I think he succeeds in that regard.

I would also have liked to see a section on mathematics, but I suspect that this chapter would have scared off many readers.  I understand his decision not to put it in.

This was a library check-out for me, but I will purchase a copy.  It is that good.

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