Suppose we are at the brink of a nuclear war between two major nation-states. These states have many thousands of warheads and the war is likely to lead to a nuclear winter that would kill most of those who survived the initial bombings. However, let's assume that some people are able to survive.

Suppose some country is concerned with ensuring that the surviving few are able to preserve a good portion the world's scientific heritage and technological capabilities. It is willing to expend quite a bit of resources to do this. What should it do?

Some ideas I've had are the following:

  1. Build large nuclear bunkers and pay many scientists who have very diverse and far-ranging research interests to live in nuclear bunkers. They can leave, but only if replaced with other scientists, so that at any point in time, some scientists will be protected. Questions: what kind of scientists would be best? Which countries should these bunkers be located in?

  2. Pay non-scientists to sit in bunkers too. Society is more resilient to decline if many survive. These people would be trained in developing food sourcing for during the nuclear winter, and possibly with the job of restoring electricity grids and other critical national infrastructure systems. Question: what training would these non-scientists need?

  3. Create data centers that archive much of the internet including scientific publications. These data centers would have to be secured and be supplied with some energy supply, such from as geothermal sources (sunlight wouldnt do, given a nuclear winter). Question: How could one best store archive what's on the internet?

  • $\begingroup$ How best to archive what's on the internet? For how long? Decades? Centuries? $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ Print the internet. On paper. Or better: print the relevant bits. The result would typically be called a library. Paper can last ages. and the only thing needed to make the information useful is somebody who can read the language. $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome to worldbuilding. Yes, I know this is your third post but I feel a slight introduction is in order. Let me point out one thing in particular: This is not a forum. Worldbuilding SE — just like all other sites on Stack Exchange — is a Question & Answer resource. Your posts are not really questions, they are more like attempts at starting up a discussion. This is something that works great for our chat, but not for the main site. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ I am voting to close this because this is much too broad and opinion-based. Too many "It depends" factors. And it grossly fails the "Write A Book" test because you can easily write a whole book about the efforts to preserve knowledge for the dystopian after-world. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ Just some info about closing questions: at first a question will be put on hold if 5 community members with 3,000 reputation think it's off-topic in its current form. Any edit from the author will then automatically send it to a special reopen review queue, where anyone with 3,000 reputation can vote to reopen or leave closed, judging the on-topicness of the newest version. If 5 members vote to reopen it gets reopened. It's a normal process, especially on WorldBuilding. Only after a week or so without any activity from the author a question will not be sent to the queue, but voting possible $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Oct 30, 2017 at 13:03

1 Answer 1


You may wish to look at https://lifeboat.com/ This foundation has made some fairly detailed plans for archiving knowledge and avoiding a number of possible doomsday scenarios. And are actively working to implement those plans.

The lifeboat foundation has considered the possibility that asteroids, nanotechnology, nuclear war, chemical, or biological agents (as well as a few other scanarios) could result in the end of human life, or end of current state of science and technology from loss of life on a large enough scale to lose skill sets needed to keep the machines running. And they have begun planning and fund raising to implement these plans including the preservation of knowledge mentioned by the OP.

I am not current on these plans, but the last time I looked, it was based on optical storage because of the density, low cost of the media, and the ease of building replacement readers in a worst case scenario.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice, but link only answers are discouraged in case the links go bad. Any summaries of some relevant plans you could add to your answer? $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Oct 30, 2017 at 12:48
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    $\begingroup$ Unfortunately, even after the edit you still don't provide details that answer the question. $\endgroup$
    – Azuaron
    Oct 30, 2017 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ I responded to the question as posted, and completely ignored the "some ideas I've had section" on the basis that it would be too much to answer. But "preserve a good portion the world's scientific heritage and technological capabilities" by building a wiki of files and committing them to optical disk is a reasonable answer. Sorry if you are not pleased with it. $\endgroup$
    – steverino
    Oct 30, 2017 at 13:37

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