Scenario: The world reset to the state it was in at the beginning of humanity

  • All materials go back into the ground
  • There are no man made structures (no buildings, no dams, not even a treehouse)
  • All people are still alive, with all thoughts and memories intact

The only way to get the earth back to how it was is to get to the moon, as soon as a human steps foot on the moon life goes back to normal.

Every human on Earth knows that the goal is to reach the moon, they know as soon as the Earth is reset (how they know is irrelevant, they just know).

How long would it take to get to the moon? Would humanity even care enough about getting back to where we are to bother? At what point would we reach certain milestones?

  • Stable food and shelter
  • Radio communication
  • Stable government and power control
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    $\begingroup$ This question isn't about worldbuilding. You have constructed a scenario and are asking us do describe how this scenario will play out. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Sep 20 '17 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a more appropriate site for this question? $\endgroup$ – Jye Lewis Sep 20 '17 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ It is indeed out of scope. We can't possibly know exactly what would happen, although here's a pretty good guess: massive die-offs, including the super smart people you need to retain scientific knowledge. People will have no clothes, no tools, no shelter, little to no food .. 60-70% die off is not an exaggeration. The ones who survive will slip back into the stone age, and won't rise up again for a very, very long time. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Sep 20 '17 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ 99.99% of people would die in this scenario the rest will barely get by on basic farming. Next to no knowledge of the current world would survive the first generation and in a couple thousand years, maybe we'd reach a civilization comparable to today. $\endgroup$ – A. C. A. C. Sep 20 '17 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ "The only way to get the earth back to how it was is to get to the moon…" We can't even get to the moon with all of our technology now. xkcd $\endgroup$ – Kevin Sep 21 '17 at 1:26

Long time.

With such a reset, you have several problems:

99% of the world's population will starve to death, die of thirst, or get killed by panicky neighbours in the first week. I expect that you will be able to tack on a couple more 9's on that figure by the end of a year.

The ones that do survive will mostly be people who currently are subsistance farmers or hunter gatherers.

All knowledge outside of human skulls vanishes with the reset.

Within 2 generations, the old world is a set of myths.

The only thing that really remains is subsistence agriculture, in place in various spots of the world. Depending on the degree of reset, you may have modern grains at your disposal, but you have no tools.

If you have current grains, then the surplus available will be larger, and you may rebuild faster.

Call it 6 to 20 thousand years

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Depends on how much people are focused on "the goal"

If people would just act on their instincts to survive, most of the humanity will die within the first year, and in the ensuing chaos almost certainly the people with knowledge (college professors, rocket scientists etc.) will be among the dead, without even a chance to write down what they know.

In 10-20 years, advanced stone-age societies will be set up, and some will even start working metal, and, most importantly, make recordings. This way, at least some of the knowledge will be saved. With that knowledge, stone-age societies would be able to make quick (probably within 100 years) progress to industrial era. After that, because scientific research has to be performed again, we are looking at another 100 years as the minimum before the space travel.

Any wars and epidemics will slow this process down, potentially to 1000 years overall, but not likely longer than that.

However, if "the goal" of reaching the Moon again is followed by everyone with religious zeal, things can be done much faster. College professors will be revered as holy men, they will be given as much tree bark or clay tablets to write as they need. Eager students would be competing to learn, even no Oxford or Harvard exist anymore. In case of wars, all scientists and their inventions should be spared.

In this society, after initial "stone age" phase, "space age" can be reached again in less than 100 years.

P.S. There is one important factor that is "reset depth". If all animal breeds and crop cultures are also reset (i.e. there will be no corn, no cattle, no chickens as we know them) then the society would be plunged much deeper and formation of stable states in 10-20 years would not be possible. This would turn the world into a prehistoric chaos, which, in my estimate, may last for thousands of years.

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  • $\begingroup$ My goal would be to survive, and that is a lot of work: getting food, making fire, finding/building a dry home with water supply and pushing hungry neighbours on the head. I would NOT feed some professors or students or even dig in earth for some ore. Would you, if you are hungry and frozen? Before a stable society is established, going to moon will already be a mythos from forgotten past. $\endgroup$ – mviereck Sep 21 '17 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ If I am part of a group, and the rule of the group is "Share food with our professor, or leave", I would rather stay and share my food. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 21 '17 at 0:34
  • $\begingroup$ If there are no tractors and fertilizers then most of 7 billions people would die in a matter of couple years at most. And taking care of professors would not help you much in those first years. $\endgroup$ – Vashu Sep 21 '17 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Vashu I don't think so. Every word written by these professors will save years of time down the road. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Sep 21 '17 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander They will save time, yes. When you start doing complex things, 10-20 years after. For the first years, when people work with stone tools, they would be dead weight. And people would be hungry, stressed and tired - that would make it hard for them to think about future. $\endgroup$ – Vashu Sep 21 '17 at 5:36

It would never happen. By the time humanity got to the level they needed to complete the task, the powers that be (Government, religious groups, military) won't ever want it to go back to the way it was. It would mean they'd lose power.

Everything would be done to prevent it from ever happening.

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  • $\begingroup$ Moreover, if they have built up their civilization to that point, they are alrady there! The reset would only change one modern civ against another and who wants that? $\endgroup$ – ths Sep 21 '17 at 22:29

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