Imagine there's no people
January 5, 2012 4:52 PM   Subscribe

So you wake up tomorrow morning to find almost everyone on Earth missing. The Internet will continue to work for a few hours: what information could you download to ensure your survival and rebuild civilization? A few suggestions: The CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Third Word Development (18 GB of information on agriculture, livestock, food processing, construction, water, sanitation, health and much more). The Global Village Construction Set (previously). Copies of Gray's Anatomy, Where There Is No Doctor, and The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide.

A few more that might be handy even in ordinary times: all of Wikipedia, or perhaps just a portion. (Ideally, of course, you’d already have a bound, printed copy), Offline Google Mail (Chrome) to save correspondence; SiteSucker to download sites you’d like to keep around while offline.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (89 comments total) 315 users marked this as a favorite

 
and, the Zombie Survival Guide.
posted by HuronBob at 4:55 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Um...unless I have also evolved overnight the ability to self-replicate, I'm pretty sure rebuilding civilization will be a moot point.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:58 PM on January 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


(Bonus link: The End of AskMe by Ian A.T.)
posted by carsonb at 4:58 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


18 GB?

I'd have to delete my My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Doctor Who videos to make space.

Is a world without those really a world worth living in?
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:59 PM on January 5, 2012 [16 favorites]


what information could you download to ensure your survival and rebuild civilization?

Hey, we tried that already and God said NO. Clearly it's time for the era of nomadic orgies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:02 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Looks like there are a bunch of community health books, including my favorite nightmare factory where there is no dentist.
posted by poe at 5:02 PM on January 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Offline Gmail? Why would I want to save my correspondence?
posted by me & my monkey at 5:04 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


lol @ "rebuild civilization" yeah lemme get right on that *right-click 'save all' brazzers.com*
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:16 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Handbook of Chemistry and Physics is great if you really really need to know the melting point of 2-methyl butanoic acid (for a bar bet or something) but as a "how to synthesize drugs you might need to not die after the apocalypse" book it's only likely to tell you what solvents won't work during a recrystallization step. (You can work that out experimentally pretty easily.) I'd recommend a good organic chemistry text book instead.

Also, you mean there are people who don't own a physical CRC Handbook? I have three of them! (Pro tip: Aim for the years with the burgundy and black covers. Some of the other combinations are hideous.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:19 PM on January 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Guess I know what I'm downloading all of when I get back to my apartment and that old external I've got rattling around somewhere.
posted by Slackermagee at 5:19 PM on January 5, 2012


I'm going to hoard all the porno I get my hands on. The future will thank me.
posted by Renoroc at 5:20 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Was the agriculture bit done in a format that something like the Nook could process?
posted by Slackermagee at 5:24 PM on January 5, 2012


what information could you download to ensure your survival and rebuild civilization? --- But then your glasses fall off your head and break on the steps, and you're totally blind without them, even though you had time enough, at last... "That's not fair... that's not fair..."
posted by crunchland at 5:26 PM on January 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


and, the Zombie Survival Guide.

at my old house, we kept it next to the toilet.
posted by mannequito at 5:27 PM on January 5, 2012


So you wake up tomorrow morning to find almost everyone on Earth missing.

Don't get my hopes up like that.
posted by briank at 5:27 PM on January 5, 2012 [35 favorites]


So you wake up tomorrow morning to find almost everyone on Earth missing.

They're under the seat cushion on the couch.
posted by the Magna Carta at 5:30 PM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've been thinking along these lines for a while, but in the terms of colonizing somewhere, as a thought experiment. I feel like you'd need more than just a bunch of random information. You need a development plan, and a training plan. Say you have to build a civilization to at least mid 20th century levels of development, and all you can take is people and information. The people are intelligent, but without specialized training beforehand. How do you train them, and build civilization and technology without any premade items? You have to gather, mine, and refine all your materials.

That's the resource manual I want.
posted by tonyx3 at 5:32 PM on January 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Semi-related, and a good book.

(first thing to do: work out where all the nuclear power plants are and stay the hell away)
posted by BungaDunga at 5:35 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


They're under the seat cushion on the couch.

Couch fort!
posted by Phalene at 5:37 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


What information could you download to ensure your survival and rebuild civilization?

Directions to the library?
posted by LoudMusic at 5:44 PM on January 5, 2012 [43 favorites]


Fuck this is a great post. I love getting reminded that we are so dependent on things that many of us have no understanding of. Hm, maybe I should encourage at least one of my kids to become an engineer.
posted by awfurby at 5:46 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great post? No mention of how many seasons of The Wire I could download. White people want to know!
posted by yerfatma at 5:53 PM on January 5, 2012


I think I'd have to download all the info I could on the latest AI research, I'm going to need someone to talk to before I go nuts and preferably someone who won't bat an eyelid at my new found taste for cross dressing and eating beans out of the can.
posted by pmcp at 5:55 PM on January 5, 2012


OK, so if I was in survival mode, I don't know that I'd need the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. However, it is a totally freaking awesome book which I bought as a graduating senior in high school at a bargain school rate, and I still have it. I would just peruse it just for the arcane (and common) knowledge held within. It's somewhat passe now with all the internet stuff, and ou just click on shit to find just what you need, but man, just flipping through the conversion factors is a lesson in history. It's great to see it online.
posted by Eekacat at 5:55 PM on January 5, 2012


If the electricity is going to fail, I'd be kinda screwed if these were just sitting on my hard drive. Better off having the dead-tree versions.
posted by JauntyFedora at 5:56 PM on January 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of these articles are just interesting, apocalypse or no. For instance, the third link has a couple articles on firewood—one is about what to look for, another suggests low-cost sources—that taught me a few things.
posted by cribcage at 5:58 PM on January 5, 2012


No mention of how many seasons of The Wire I could download. White people want to know!

Y'all should already have it on DVD, yo. You feel me?
posted by never used baby shoes at 5:58 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would I have access to a Marine Expeditionary Force or are they still stuck in Rome?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:03 PM on January 5, 2012 [18 favorites]


If you're gonna engineer a civilization, don't just rehash one that's old and worn out. Be creative, man! Get everybody using a base-seven number system, speaking Esperanto, dominantly left-handed, greeting each other with jovial cartwheels instead of handshakes. Use that crazy Hanke-Henry calendar for marking the time. Set up an authoritarian pedarchy and circulate former presidents' baby teeth as money. If you can't have a little fun with the future of humankind, why bother?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 6:03 PM on January 5, 2012 [29 favorites]


Offline Google Map?
posted by Weebot at 6:06 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fuck downloading shit off the Internet. I'm taking my hunting bow and a bunch of arrows and occupying my local library, man.
posted by jscalzi at 6:07 PM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


There's really only two realistic options, that I can think of, when the vast majority of humanity suddenly disappears:

- relax and work your way through your local library's fiction collection to while away the days until everything runs down and stops and any remaining food goes bad and/or you get eaten by a wild animal and either way you personally are screwed; or

- get a bicycle, raid an outdoor shop for camping goods, and maybe a machete or bow and arrows to protect yourself from wild animals/hunt for game, and set out looking for other survivors to band together and maybe manage to pull together a self-sustaining village.

Because, seriously, these little intellectual exercises are fun for shits and giggles but I'd guess a teeny fraction of us at best might just maybe have the skills to survive TOTALLY UTTERLY ON OUR OWN, with very little functioning technology left, for any length of time at all. The rest of us are doomed unless we somehow manage to unite and revert to a near Stone Age-level society. That's the only place from which to start that has any hope of rebuilding civilization on a larger scale before the human race dies out utterly.

Sorry guys, didn't mean to harsh your buzz. But I've played this game before and realized how unrealistic a task one would be trying to take on.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:19 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Weebot beat me to it. I'd download a shitload of maps. Or I'd drive down to the library and just borrow paper ones, I suppose -- doesn't make sense to be dependent on a computer when the power might not hold out for very long.

After that, if I didn't already own several copies, I'd get a copy of the ARRL Handbook. It's pretty much everything you need to set up a radio station and start trying to contact and link up with other survivors, which is really the key to long-term survival as a species.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:22 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


probably download this
posted by nathancaswell at 6:24 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


- relax and work your way through your local library's fiction collection to while away the days until everything runs down and stops and any remaining food goes bad and/or you get eaten by a wild animal and either way you personally are screwed

yeah I saw that episode of Twilight Zone too
posted by mannequito at 6:24 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


This scenario goes hand to hand to what to do if you are transported back in time to pre-industrial civilization. For which these resources would be of use:

Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp

this t-shirt for essential human knowledge
posted by Apocryphon at 6:26 PM on January 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


What you need is a well insulated building near a well, that can be rigged with a pulley and bucket. Some soil is good (a greenhouse is better), and it should be somewhere close enough to the city to make for easy looting, but far enough away to escape the tremendous fires that will eventually burn everything down. Proximity to wildlife and wandering domestic animals is good, too. (Better to drive around to the farms in the first week, free all the cows and pigs and sheep and goats and chickens and horses you can, and recapture some survivors later when you're organized enough to handle them.) Paper books, crumbling internet printouts and dying electric devices, along with a stockpile of batteries and medicines, can be looted from the city after you've got a home base secured.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:29 PM on January 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


In the Larry Niven book "Lucifer's Hammer," a comet hit earth. (Or something. It's been a while since I read it.) Anyway, one guy decides to preserve existing knowledge by putting all of his books -- on science, engineering, medicine, etc., etc. -- into double zip-loc baggies and throwing them into his cesspool.

I guess what I am saying is, head for the cesspools, guys!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:37 PM on January 5, 2012


Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes, and Processes, containing ten thousand selected household and workshop formulas, recipes, processes and moneymaking methods for the practical use of manufacturers, mechanics, housekeepers and home workers (1914).
posted by ob1quixote at 6:38 PM on January 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'd guess a teeny fraction of us at best might just maybe have the skills to survive TOTALLY UTTERLY ON OUR OWN, with very little functioning technology left, for any length of time at all.

The electrician came out to replace a switch in the kitchen recently and I offered him a cup of coffee. He gratefully accepted then promptly turned off the breaker for our apartment. I couldn't even boil water.
posted by carsonb at 6:41 PM on January 5, 2012


I'd be hoarding bug spray, and I'd get a book on what plants to not eat.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 6:41 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wanna know what's scary? Being a somewhat young child indoctrinated in the ways of modern fundamentalist Christianity. Expecting your mother to be home from a church function at a certain time and not being home. Then, continuing to not be home until many hours later, after which this boy continues to fret, and worry that it happened.

The rapture happened. And he was "left behind"...

Then the thought occurs to him -- turn it on to the Christian Radio station (the only one around, in those days, before everybody and their mom started one -- and it was an old-timey kind of station, not the newfangled hip kind)...

Well praise be Jeebus! They're still on the air! The rapture HASN'T happened. And you feel much better, and then shortly after that, your mother comes home in her normal old bag-of-bones fleshy self. And you tell her never to scare you like that again.
...
Years later you find out, however, that many things are automated, and things aren't necessarily live. It could have been that the rapture DID happen, and the radio station was merely playing a tape started earlier. DUN DUN DUN....
posted by symbioid at 6:42 PM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas, Recipes, and Processes -- Here's a similar book. Buy it now, before the meteor hits.
posted by crunchland at 6:46 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Start your preparations now, read 1632, by Eric Flint. It'll get your gears grinding thinking about what it really takes to hold up our civilization together.
posted by MikeWarot at 6:49 PM on January 5, 2012


Henley's is available free to download to your smartphone. Since you'll be able to keep your smartphone working after everyone disappears.
posted by carsonb at 6:54 PM on January 5, 2012


It would still be useful to have downloaded as much information about manufacturing and processing of high-technology materials as possible. Eventually you will get back to a point where it would use feasible to implement again, and it would save you centuries of research in some cases.

Imagine if someone in the US had a copy of the prints for Babbage's difference engine back in 1820.... they would have a 120 year leap on everyone else, if they could actually ship the product.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:00 PM on January 5, 2012


Sorry guys, didn't mean to harsh your buzz. But I've played this game before and realized how unrealistic a task one would be trying to take on.

Indeed, and the situation as presented is (hopefully) unrealistic too. However, the world is sufficiently chaotic that there is a significant chance that many of us, even in the developed world, will experience significant reductions in the reliability and quality of the infrastructure and basic services available to us.

It's actually fairly sensible to invest some time and energy in making certain preparations for a worst-case scenario, if the preparations made are those that will also have utility in a range of better than worst situations. Stockpiling relevant data is very low cost, and will be useful in many non-apocalyptic scenarios in which access to high-speed internet is severely impaired.
posted by howfar at 7:01 PM on January 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


One book I'd seriously recommend is Wayne Moore's The Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy. Not downloadable, and I've not found its like elsewhere. It starts you off with three rocks (you get three flat surfaces) and ends with how to machine things. Yes, I have a (treasured) hard copy.

Here is a torrent that might qualify as a worthy download: Great Science Textbooks.
posted by jet_silver at 7:12 PM on January 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


I suspect you'd do better with Gray's Anatomy than Grey's Anatomy.
posted by pompomtom at 7:22 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Bah. CRCE handbooks are great and all, but not practical. 19th century recipes are more like to poison you than accomplish anything meaningful, if you can figure out the bizzare names and source what need.

If you want to go beyond mental masturbation, there's "Caveman Chemistry". Basically in book this guy starts with rubbing sticks together to get fire (very hard) to producing your own plastics. And he doesn't cheat on the source materials. Hint: You're going to washing a lot of wood ash for the scant amounts of useful chemicals left behind.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:26 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers
All of Audels Guides
posted by Jumpin Jack Flash at 7:29 PM on January 5, 2012


Waking up to a world suddenly devoid of others is every introvert's fantasy.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:33 PM on January 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


MINECRAFT!
posted by R. Mutt at 7:33 PM on January 5, 2012


MINECRAFT!

But sadly without the ability to dig and lift a cubic metre of topsoil with one's bare hands every second.
posted by howfar at 7:44 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


MINECRAFT!

Disgusting and sad that piling those cubes seems to be the height of creativity for most people these days. I had to show this 25 year old guy how to use a handsaw the other day. We need to be liberated from the layers of bullshit CS abstraction that isolate us from the real world.

Now I don't think a SM Stirling style world ending apocalypse would be the best way to accomplish this. but something has to happen.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:57 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess what I am saying is, head for the cesspools, guys!

I'm pretty sure anybody left is going to be neck deep in shit anyway.

Even if you do manage to gather a cordial band of survivors, I would think the odds of being overwhelmed by a ravening hoard of murderous thugs would not be a pretty way to die.

Oddly enough, I'm reading from this torrent of (post) apocalyptic scifi even as we speak.

It's pretty much a downer.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:05 PM on January 5, 2012


Alas, Babylon.
posted by crunchland at 8:12 PM on January 5, 2012


They're under the seat cushion on the couch.

So near, yet sofa way...

If I printed out Metafilter, how long would it take me to read it at 50 pages/day?
posted by Rumple at 9:15 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone plans for human zombies. But consider: What about dinosaur zombies? Dinosaurs are dead, too.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:30 PM on January 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


or Zombie Michael Crighton.... that's what I'm worried about.
posted by mannequito at 10:07 PM on January 5, 2012


You might want the FoxFire series for a "back to the land" guide to the simpler life.

Seriously though, the scenario sounds horrifying. I think I would download a way to kill myself painlessly.
posted by Joh at 10:17 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Without my meds, I'd give myself a low chance of surviving for any real length of time. So it's something of a "how slowly do you want to die" exercise to me.
posted by happyroach at 10:31 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


One book I'd seriously recommend is Wayne Moore's The Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy. Not downloadable,

hoo boy,
posted by p3on at 12:37 AM on January 6, 2012


Even if you do manage to gather a cordial band of survivors, I would think the odds of being overwhelmed by a ravening hoard of murderous thugs would not be a pretty way to die.


A decent number of people working together - 50 to 200 - with a decent spread of skills could probably get black powder weapons going in conjunction with spears and whatnot. Your murderous thugs are going to wilt in the face of firepower.
posted by rodgerd at 1:17 AM on January 6, 2012


Thanks to this post, I have now added the tags "apocalypse" and "survival" to my online bookmarks. I'm both pleased and embarrassed by this fact.
posted by MexicanYenta at 1:28 AM on January 6, 2012


Canned food. Check.
Vitamin pills. Check.
Sacks of rice and wheat. Check.
Fuel. Check.
Printer toner?
posted by Skeptic at 1:46 AM on January 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Having played this game, and owning a hardcopy of Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas I can confirm the trick is in the foundations. If you have a working underclass (or slaves!) to produce your potash, mercury, acid and soda, you can probably begin to get some analogs of modern chemicals you use daily, but lack of precursors is likely to stymie your neo-Victorian hopes.
Probably, he best option will be to mine the hippy herbal stuff to find natural (if less effective) options and hope to god you don't end up with insulin dependent diabetes etc.
Maps would be nice. I must admit I have a glovebox size street directory lodged in my bottom draw at work - I don't want to rely on my smartphone maps if I ever have to walk home a la 9/11.
At home we have a full pantry, water, chooks and what have you to get by, but when we had no power for four days last winter, it was still pretty grim (sponge bath in 4 degree kitchen).
Local mefi's are welcome to pop by in challenging times, but please bring a cake!
posted by bystander at 2:50 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a book mentioned in the classic sci fi novel Lucifer's Hammer called The Way Things Work. In the story, a scientist goes to great lengths to secure a copy in order to help rebuild civilization. Sadly, it appears to be out of print, so humanity is SOL if the Mayans turn out to be right.
posted by Beholder at 4:30 AM on January 6, 2012


Most important post-apocalyptic activity: taking VERY good care of my prescription eyeglasses.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:22 AM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


beholder, it's not too hard to find "The Way Things Work" at yard sales, library sales, etc. I have two copies purely by accident.
posted by wintermind at 5:47 AM on January 6, 2012


I used to be a zombie, until I took an arrow to the knee.
posted by stormpooper at 6:12 AM on January 6, 2012


Just follow these simple instructions
posted by exogenous at 6:35 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Keywords for book/content searches: 'self sufficiency', 'bug out'.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:57 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. My CRC Handbook is holding up a monitor in my office. I'm embarrassed to say that it dates from my undergraduate years so the chemistry section is short quite a few elements.

There's all kinds of interesting stuff in there that you would not expect, like data for calculating Hohmann transfer orbits to different bodies in the Solar System. So, you know, in case after civilization falls we can move to Ceres or something.
posted by zomg at 7:02 AM on January 6, 2012


About keeping a local copy of Wikipedia - is there a good way to get a subset of the articles? The guides I've found to get a local copy require downloading the full dump, which isn't really ideal.
posted by GenericUser at 7:26 AM on January 6, 2012


and, the Zombie Survival Guide.
--
at my old house, we kept it next to the toilet.


Dear lord, what did you eat that made THAT necessary?

Seriously, I need to know - I have a party coming up.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:40 AM on January 6, 2012


Wouldn't the near exhaustion of surface level resources such as copper, tin, iron, coal etc block any significant comeback from pre industrial levels? High level technical textbooks aren't going to be much good after the next couple of generations from survivors with limited education and nutrition are all that's left. By the time societies become large and stable enough to support significant spevaluation, they won't under stand the books any more than trying to read hieroglyphs in the 16th century.

After a few decades of fallout/mad max style scavenging, all that will be left will be enough to support some sort of agrarian village culture probably in a feudal arrangement where warlords own/protect an area in exchange for tithe.

And without the resources to boot strap us back up - no access to petroleum products for example - would we be able to advance further than that a 2nd time?
posted by ArkhanJG at 8:32 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't the near exhaustion of surface level resources such as copper, tin, iron, coal etc block any significant comeback from pre industrial levels?

Landfills would become the new mines. I don't know how long they would keep producing natural gas, but I imagine they would do that for quite a few years as well.

And without the resources to boot strap us back up - no access to petroleum products for example

There's still biogas, ethanol, Fischer-Tropf, and the like. Not nearly as convenient or efficient as traditional oil wells, but efficiency and conservation would be more important the second time around, out of necessity. As long as the knowledge of the past was maintained, efficiency would be easier to come by, since technology could jump straight to optimal technologies instead of spending energy on R&D.

Electricity can be had using something as simple as a wooden windmill/waterwheel and a generator (which can in turn be as simple as a scavenged electric motor run in reverse). Storage is tricky, but even if all you do is heat water to render it drinkable that's a big win and much easier to do than, say, manufacture chlorine for the same purpose.
posted by jedicus at 8:45 AM on January 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know what else you should print out now? the dewey decimal system, and/or the organization of your local library's books. Where I live, it's all on the computer, so after the power goes out, I'd have to just browse multiple floors' worth of shelves to find what I needed.
posted by nushustu at 9:14 AM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's all moot. We're like a shark, we have to keep going as an organized, modern civilization or we all die.

Correct me if I'm wrong, nuclear trained people, but f there aren't enough healthy people to keep the power up to keep spent nuclear fuel cool, then hundreds of nuclear reactors will spew radioactivity into the wind, forever until the entire planet is pretty much blanketed in deadly radioactivity.
posted by entropos at 10:25 AM on January 6, 2012


CD3WD Project has almost four DVD's worth of information on how to do just about anything in a Third World Country or after the zombie apocalypse. And there's a torrent, so get it now!
posted by drinkmaildave at 10:48 AM on January 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dupe above. Sorry, linked in original post. But I've got it downloaded so I'm ready. Just need an old windows machine and they're going to be around forever.
posted by drinkmaildave at 10:55 AM on January 6, 2012


Most of the nuclear reactors would melt down, which would make their containment buildings uninhabitable. The scary thing, like we saw in Japan, is if radioactive stuff catches on fire or melts through the floor and reaches groundwater. If that happens there'd probably be a massive release of radioactive isotopes in smoke, dust and water which would make large areas hot for a short time (like weeks, maybe), and the area immediately around the reactor unhealthy for many centuries.

Since most reactors are better built than Chernobyl, you'd probably end up with a bunch of 10 or 20 mile exclusion zones where it's unsafe to go, but not vast blighted areas of megadeath. But then again, we're talking about a situation where most of the human race has already vanished, so anything that makes the survivors less healthy might be enough to push us into extinction. Probably best to stay far away from reactors altogether.

If you're in Europe, give France a miss after the apocalypse, and definitely stay away from Russia.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:35 PM on January 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


nushustu: "You know what else you should print out now? the dewey decimal system, and/or the organization of your local library's books. Where I live, it's all on the computer, so after the power goes out, I'd have to just browse multiple floors' worth of shelves to find what I needed."

Wait - isn't that how you're SUPPOSED to use the library? Peruse browse dig scavenge drill dive through the wonders.
posted by symbioid at 1:41 PM on January 6, 2012


entropos: "...Correct me if I'm wrong, nuclear trained people, but f there aren't enough healthy people to keep the power up to keep spent nuclear fuel cool, then hundreds of nuclear reactors will spew radioactivity into the wind, forever until the entire planet is pretty much blanketed in deadly radioactivity."

Eponygeddon.
posted by symbioid at 1:42 PM on January 6, 2012


What if my glasses break?
posted by wheelieman at 7:14 AM on January 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the hidden gotchas hanging out there is the danger to everyone living down stream of a dam. Unattended most of them are going to fail sooner rather than later sending a deadly wave of water downstream.
posted by Mitheral at 8:35 AM on January 7, 2012


I think downloading has to be measured against the library, which I assume remains accessible, so I would download how-to videos -- instructables, make kind of things.

But I also think downloading is the wrong strategy altogether. I would use the internet as the best possible means of sending out a message to others still there (keying off the "almost") or those who might be returning (or arriving for the first time). To a degree, this relies on the premise that the internet or impressions thereof can be recovered once it goes down.

Content-wise, I wouldn't disclose my location, necessarily, but would establish a means of getting in touch with me.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 10:20 AM on January 7, 2012


Telephone sanitizer reference.
posted by mecran01 at 6:58 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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