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The Survival Machine Farm

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the zombie-machines dept.

Technology 214

pacopico writes "There's a 30-acre plot of land in Maysville, MO where about two dozen people have gathered to build a Civilization Starter Kit. As Businessweek reports, they're working on open-source versions of bulldozers, bread ovens, saws and other tools right on up to robots and chip fabs. The project has been dubbed the Factor e Farm, and it's run by a former nuclear physicist and a bunch of volunteers. The end goal is to have people modify the tool designs until they're good enough to compete with commercial equipment."

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Ah... Yeah... (5, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#41883911)

wskiâ(TM)s hut anchors a 30-acre compound near Maysville, Mo., full of wooden shacks, yurts, work sheds, flapping laundry, clucking chickens, and a collection of black and strange-looking machinery. A dozen or so people in their twenties, none of whom appears to have bathed in a while, wander around or fiddle with the machines."

I'm not sure these people are queued for success...

Re:Ah... Yeah... (4, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | about 2 years ago | (#41884105)

Perhaps not, but the idea of an archive from which the survivors of a disaster could start to rebuild is intriguing. I'd tend to focus more in information than objects, mostly because I believe it would be easier to ensure that the information survives in a usable state, but objects do have the advantage of allowing you to test your specifications.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41884201)

In order for survivors of a disaster to start rebuilding civilization there has to be survivors that are able to continue surviving. Buying food at WallMart is #1 indicator that you got whole survival thing WRONG.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

jandar (304267) | about 2 years ago | (#41884699)

You don't understand what he is doing. He is creating the civilization-stack top-down. He creates the high-level machines and than the necessary tools to build them and so on.

Reinventing the Amish [Re:Ah... Yeah...] (5, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 2 years ago | (#41884771)

Basically, these people need to learn from the Amish, who are already skilled in knowing how to survive without the complicated infrastructure of a high-tech society.

--if there really is going to be a civilization-destroying apocalypse, the Amish are going to be the ones who rebuild civilization, 'cause the rest of us all starved to death by about the fifth winter.

(Yes, the Amish don't live completely independently of the rest of society. But they are a darn sight closer than any of the rest of us.)

Re:Reinventing the Amish [Re:Ah... Yeah...] (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#41884869)

Basically, these people need to learn from the Amish, who are already skilled in knowing how to survive without the complicated infrastructure of a high-tech society.

--if there really is going to be a civilization-destroying apocalypse, the Amish are going to be the ones who rebuild civilization, 'cause the rest of us all starved to death by about the fifth winter.

(Yes, the Amish don't live completely independently of the rest of society. But they are a darn sight closer than any of the rest of us.)

Exactly - if civilization collapses, they are going to be better off with human and animal powered tools since they'll quickly run out of fuel, supplies (like oil), and tools to maintain the powered equipment. Even steam powered equipment needs repair and maintenance.

Re:Reinventing the Amish [Re:Ah... Yeah...] (4, Interesting)

aurispector (530273) | about 2 years ago | (#41885009)

Exactly. It's pure arrogance on their part to assume that the expertise at John Deere will be simple to match. Those folks know what they're doing because they've been doing it for generations. Institutional knowledge is a precious thing.

  The other arrogance is to assume that somehow not making a profit will make it all better. A profit is simply an indicator that you are efficiently supplying people with goods and services that they actually want. A tractor that is 70% as good as a Deere won't sell on an open and competitive market where people vote with their dollars.

Re:Reinventing the Amish [Re:Ah... Yeah...] (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41885455)

A tractor that is 70% as good as a Deere won't sell on an open and competitive market where people vote with their dollars.

Have you forgotten how dollars work? If that tractor is a penny less than the Deere, people will buy it even if it's only 1% as good. Harbor Freight stays in business thanks to this principle.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (4, Funny)

JWW (79176) | about 2 years ago | (#41884203)

When you said archive for survivors, this concept for a post-apocalyptic movie just popped into my head.

In 2275 on a wasteland Earth, survivors seek the fabled temple of Google, rumored to contain all the knowledge of mankind before the great cataclysm....

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

cyclohazard (677922) | about 2 years ago | (#41884745)

Why wait for someone to make it into a movie? If you are somewhat decent at writing and enjoy it, make a short story out of it.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (5, Funny)

RMingin (985478) | about 2 years ago | (#41884837)

Go play Fallout 1. Been done. We called it a GECK there.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#41884919)

beat me to it, i was gonna suggest they contact me when the geck is done.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (3, Informative)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 2 years ago | (#41885199)

That was Fallout 2. The Macguffin in the first one was the water chip.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

RMingin (985478) | about 2 years ago | (#41885241)

Good catch, my mistake. Thanks.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

Shinobi (19308) | about 2 years ago | (#41885491)

And those who played Warhammer 40k before that remember the STC's...

And even the STC's were far from the first to bring up that concept

Re:Ah... Yeah... (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41884283)

That already exists. If humans survive, machines will survive to be reverse engineered. And they will not be theoretical OS machines , but mass produced tried and tested machines which become OS as soon as civilization collapses.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41884781)

Exactly. Why all this re-inventing of the wheel (even literally?)

If they were working on machinery that could be more easily built with low technology (that is, w/o requiring CNC machining and integrated circuits), then it would be a sort-of good idea, though I'm not 100% sure that they can accurately predict what technologies and resources will still be around (and what won't) post-apocalypse.

But, if all they're trying to do is to make something free from patent/copyright encumbrance and BS like that? Umm, yeah - not seeing too many patent trolls roaming the Earth after civilization collapses (and any that try would likely be turned into fertilizer).

Re:Ah... Yeah... (4, Funny)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 years ago | (#41885077)

If cockroaches survived the last apocalypse then I suspect patent trolls will survive this one.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about 2 years ago | (#41885175)

They actually are trying to make things that can be constructed without infrastructure. To create and document the construction entire tool stack. The long term goal is to be able to take a pile of raw materials and be able to make every single tool in that chain without having to use a tool from outside that chain.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (4, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#41885357)

You can't quite reverse engineer machinery with your bare hands. Sure, you can take the thing apart (for the most part) and examine how the parts are shaped and how they fit together. But the metallurgy alone is a whooole other ball game.

Here's an example: my espresso machine. Yes, I know, it's not a farm combine, but work with me for a second. It's stainless steel, but if you look carefully at it, you'll see that the body of the machine is a different color metal than the tray at the bottom. And there's a reason for this: the steel of those two sections, while both considered "stainless steel," are different alloys. Why is this? Well, I happen to know that it's for reasons of ductility with regard to the body of the machine, and of stiffness for the tray. But what I don't know is the exact composition of those alloys. I also don't know how to make the dies that produced either component, how to smelt the raw metals that went into the alloys, and so on...

Now, that was just the outside body of a relatively simple device with relatively minimal demands with regards to physical strain or usage. Just a household espresso machine. Take that a step further, onto a device that has waaaaay more moving parts, exerts far more force, and must also be weatherproof. Something that will be exposed to grit, dust, moisture, mud, snow, and rain. Something with hydraulics (good luck reverse-engineering the fluid, by the way) and an internal combustion engine, and an electrical system. Try reverse engineering the metal of the cogs and bearings, the plastic/neoprene of the seals, the wires, the chips inside the microprocessors. And then try to imagine how to build them all.

I'd hang out with the Amish, and cast my lot with them...

Re:Ah... Yeah... (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 years ago | (#41884451)

Look! A field full of iron doohickeys! We're rich! Let's build a blacksmith shop right here so we can turn these sculptures into something useful like plows.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (3, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | about 2 years ago | (#41884749)

Perhaps not, but the idea of an archive from which the survivors of a disaster could start to rebuild is intriguing. I'd tend to focus more in information than objects, mostly because I believe it would be easier to ensure that the information survives in a usable state, but objects do have the advantage of allowing you to test your specifications.

Neither are actually really of much use. There's too much interconnected technology these days. Behind any one little thing there's a chain of a hundred other technologies (or entire industries) supporting it. And underlying almost all of it is "available energy". There are very few viable energy sources a group of "survivors" could tap if they truly had to bootstrap a technical society again. The fuel sources that powered industrialization (coal, whale oil, eventually petroleum) are all largely non-recoverable anymore without infrastructure built up over time using those same energy sources.

A bulldozer won't help you do much -- you need steel to make more. That takes electricity or coal. To get electricity, you need (in its simplest form, something like hydro) bulldozers. To get coal, you need them, too. And to build them you need steel -- and fuel to power them. To get that fuel, you need drilling equipment. See where this goes?

If you really wanted to help "survivors" you need to enormously reduce the industrial and energy requirements of manufacturing your manufacturing equipment. The industrial revolution was very likely a one-time event in history, at this point.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

Millennium (2451) | about 2 years ago | (#41885131)

Obviously you can't go straight back to industrial levels. You would have to start with considerably lower-tech solutions and build up from there, not too different from how it worked the first time around. The object is to make it faster (without the overhead of rediscovery from scratch), not to make it instantaneous.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

fifedrum (611338) | about 2 years ago | (#41884131)

while this particular implementation may be lacking, the concept as a whole is sound and should be supported by local governments and distributed throughout the land. If I had a chance, I would include semi-automatic, automatic and bolt action rifles and pistols both design and manufacture, along with appropriate ammunition, I would also include the resources to smelt and reprocess scrap and ore at one end of the facility, delivering raw slabs of steel of various compositions to the other processes, maybe small diesel engines, wind mills, refrigeration and what not, stuff at the lower end of the civilization boot strap process. Then have a pharma section capable of producing the basic life-saving drugs we rely on today. All in all interesting piece.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

jandar (304267) | about 2 years ago | (#41884829)

I would include semi-automatic, automatic and bolt action rifles and pistols both design and manufacture, along with appropriate ammunition

What kind of civilization is in need for automatic rifles? The kind "harvesting" neighboring states. No thanks.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41885089)

Unfortunately, we can't all sit in a drum circle, hold hands, and sing "kumbaya."

Unless you're capable of defending yourself, you'll end up slaves to the first civilization to come along with superior firepower. See also Rome.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 years ago | (#41885215)

I would include semi-automatic, automatic and bolt action rifles and pistols both design and manufacture, along with appropriate ammunition

What kind of civilization is in need for automatic rifles? The kind "harvesting" neighboring states. No thanks.

Perhaps the ones needing to defend themselves from said harvesters? At the onset of a societal collapse there will be an order of magnitude more harvesters, as you put it, then there will be producing communities. Survival will most definitely depend on ones ability to defend against attack.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41884137)

Other than 30 acres that sounds like most remote telecom sites I've visited. Bonus points for having to fiddle with the machines at 2am because a laser burned out or a dexcs card fried.

Re:Ah... Yeah... (5, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41884153)

Really. While these folks are struggling re inventing technology, I'm gonna grab the D4 sitting in the rental store yard, trundle over to a diesel tank, steal that and drag the whole thing down the road to my house. All the while taking potshots at people who are similarly inclined with my semi automatic rifle and the 10,000 rounds of ammo I found in the neighbor's house.

Then I'm gonna head down to these guys and steal their chickens.

Come on. If the apocalypse happens there is going to be so much techno crap strewn over the landscape that you will want to bury it at some point. Once you have stabilized your situation with appropriate amounts of defensive gear, food, water and communications you will have a treasure trove of stuff to pick from once the buzzards pick the bodies clean.

In the mean while, I'm going to sleep on a nice bed and take regular showers. Easier to get laid that way.

Don't forget ... (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41884049)

... the mineshafts [] .

Re:Don't forget ... (2)

rwa2 (4391) | about 2 years ago | (#41885277)

Hmm, disappointed it wasn't a minecraft video.

Yeah, someone just needs to introduce these people to running their own server with some of the realism mods... maybe that will get this survivalism fetish out of their systems.

(but really, all the more power to them. When it hits the fan, I'm certainly gonna have some bloody knuckles from punching trees)

Open Source Bulldozer? (3, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#41884073)

An Open Source Bulldozer?

I think these Open Source evangelists are going a bit off their rocker.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#41884147)

There are probably more people in the world who can benefit from a robust, easy to build, easy to repair, fully documented bulldozer than there are people who can benefit from open source software. Now, whether they have actually produced a design that is any of those things is another question that I'm not equipped to try to answer.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#41884235)

Considering that bulldozers are relatively ancient technology, I'd tend to say that there's plenty of designs that are older than their patents, thus fully duplicable without having to pay any licensing cost.

The trick is that it takes lots of equipment and skill to make a high quality bulldozer, especially from 'scratch'.

Not that I'd object to a more complete set of 'civilization' specifications, maybe something like designs for a good quality engines in a range from 1/4 hp all the way up to 400 hp.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (1)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41884259)

Absolutely, there are plenty of people who can benefit "from a robust, easy to build, easy to repair, fully documented bulldozer". These are not the same people who are potential survivors of post-apocalyptic Earth... or do you think Patent Trolls are THAT powerful and can survive THAT well to litigate few rugged survivors for violating this or that patent on rounded corners?

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41884289)

And there are probably more people in the world that ARE benefiting from rebuilding various bulldozers of whatever origin and parentage that are scattered over the entire frikkin planet. If The Shit Hits The Fan, there are going to be lots and lots of unemployed bulldozers / engines / radios / whatnot floating around. You're better off keeping your skills up by disassembling a Caterpillar D4 [] every other week than trying to make something new.

Same with Pharma - go steal some college's organic chemistry lab and supplies and a laptop full of organic chemistry and pharma books. Don't try to make bioreactors with logs and PVC pipe.

Postapocalyptech (2)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | about 2 years ago | (#41884429)

There are several existing solutions for this problem. The better specialized postapocalyptech for earthmoving is [] but for more general usage the [] design is widely preferred. If in doubt, consult the Whole Earth Catalog.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884469)

Unlikely. The reason (one of them, anyway) Open Source software is successful is that the hardware is much less expensive than the information it's running (developing good software is expensive). That situation is exactly reversed with something like a bulldozer. The design (internal combustion engine + giant scoop) is WAY easier to develop than, say, steel-forging and welding skills are.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#41884507)

Exactly. For reference, see AK-47. Easy to replicate and everywhere.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884579)

While I don't doubt there are people who would benefit in today's atmosphere. However, don't bulldozers need fuel? How likely is that to be around post-Apocalypse? Better to document simple living like the Fox Fire books did.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#41884713)

does it come with an easy-to-install gasoline manufacturing plant too?

When I was a kid we did stuff for Sierra Leone, and one part I remember was the bit where well-meaning western organisations would fund raise to buy tractors for the place, only that a year later these would be rusting away after various mechanical failures in the heat and dust, or because the villager couldn't afford to run them. What the villagers really needed, and no-one in the industrialised world figured out, was shovels.

The problem is often that you look for an answer to your own perceptions, and no those of the end-user.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41885263)

That's why Heifer International gets my charity money on a regular basis: []

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41885341)

I saw the same thing is some villages in the Ukraine. Several women would be out working the fields by hand while multiple Soviet era tractors and other equipment sat off to the side unused. The reason they didn't use the equipment is that they either had no fuel to run it or it was broken and nobody knew how to fix it. Nevermind getting spare parts.

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884305)

The open source bulldozer is fully documented here [] .

Re:Open Source Bulldozer? (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#41884415)

Nice...shame you posted AC. +5 Funny!

Already done in a better way? (5, Informative)

pr0t0 (216378) | about 2 years ago | (#41884129)

Didn't these guys do this last year with the Global Village Construction Set on Kickstarter? []

Re:Already done in a better way? (1)

NearO (591410) | about 2 years ago | (#41884421)

It's the same project.

Re:Already done in a better way? (0)

SandBender (255049) | about 2 years ago | (#41884577)

Yah but they are a self sustaining village so they need more money so they can continue sustaining themselves. I guess $64,000 goes fast when you are building shitty tractors instead of actually farming.

Misguided... (5, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41884139)

Civilization starts with an ability to feed and shelter its members. Not with tractors, open source and agile development techniques.

If you are serious at building civilization survival kit, obsess less with open source (in the event of apocalypse there won't be anyone enforcing patents), but with a designing robust, reliable and highly redundant system to meet basic needs.

Re:Misguided... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41884223)

I agree, this just seem like a bunch of open source nutjobs that wanted a cool way to spin some OS stuff. This does not seem to have any practical connection to civilization founding.

Re:Misguided... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884227)

Civilization starts with an ability to feed and shelter its members. Not with tractors

Who needs a damn tractor to feed anyone? Now git back to work, slave! *whipcrack*

Re:Misguided... (1)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41884407)

Unless you also develop a way to make this tractor's fuel source renewable - nobody, because it will be unpowered hunk of rusting metal and decaying plastic in a very short order.

If you are going with worst-case scenario, then you need to go back to animals as your baseline technology. Otherwise, some sort of specialization will be available. If you think you can find your post-apocalyptic niche in tractor building (with all existing tractors are still likely available for use from now deceased/displaced owners) and compete in this niche, well more power to you.

Re:Misguided... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41884751)

Making biodiesel on a small volume basis isn't hard. Stealing a tanker of diesel may be a bit more challenging but I imagine lots of people will think themselves up to the task after watching reruns of Mad Max on their iPads.

The big problem is population. It's not all that hard to feed small numbers of people on a large planet. Larger number of people make it really, really challenging. Presumably the apocalypse is going to deal with that problem in some fashion. You just have to survive for a couple of years without getting killed or eaten or both.

Re:Misguided... (1)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41884881)

>>> Making biodiesel on a small volume basis isn't hard.

News to me. You can retrofit diesel engine to run on vegetable oils, but we are talking entire farm's worth of output of vegetable oil to just power one tractor.

Basics of biodiesel is that it is net energy loss. You can obfuscate this part by tapping into energy grid and using regular oil products elsewhere, but in post-apocalyptic world you'd have to double your shoveling to just run that tractor to mechanize single-shoveling workload. Most people would reasonably go with regular amount of shoveling and forget the tractor.

The only exception I am aware is distilling high-proof alcohol from bio waste, but it takes specialized engine design to work well.

Re:Misguided... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884253)

> Civilization starts with an ability to feed and shelter its members. Not with tractors

What do you think that tractor could be used for?

Re:Misguided... (1)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41884503)

Probably nothing, unless you can also address its power source. Article mentions "power cube" based on internal combustion, but does not mention if it runs on gasoline or alcohol and what process is used for distillation and so on...

If you are serious about building post-apocalyptic tractor you probably want it to be carburated, ultra-low compression, 2 cylinder 5ish HP air cooled engine. Still, I am not an engine designer, but it is very clear that nether is individual from the featured article.

Re:Misguided... (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 years ago | (#41884819)

most post-apocalyptic civilisations will have a form of power source based on an internal combustion engine, though they're likely to be called Ermintrude or Daisy and you'd best not be anywhere the exhaust when the internals are combusting.

Maybe they will build this tractor in the shape of 2 large pieces of metal roped together with a wooden (or other renewable-tech) handle to provide a means of guidance.

But I guess such things aren't "cool" enough.

Re:Misguided... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884651)

Without infrastructure to supply gasoline or diesel, what good will that tractor do? If we're rebuilding civilization, how to build a tractor becomes nothing more than an exercise in self-centered circle-jerking.

Re:Misguided... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#41884353)

Feeding your members is much easier when you have a tractor. Housing your members is much easier when you have a table saw and a brick press,.

Re:Misguided... (1)

SandBender (255049) | about 2 years ago | (#41884639)

Man I wonder how everyone survived and flourished before sayyyyyy 1800. These people need to learn how to feed themselves without begging for internet handouts before I'd take any advice from them on restarting civilization.

Re:Misguided... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884497)

Actually I'd argue that civilization starts with the ability to successfully isolate the weirdos from everyone else, and in that sense these guys are off to a great start!

Re:Misguided... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41885401)

These guys aren't some lunatic fringe apocalypse survivalists. Their target market is the third world.

They're designing tractors for people who are doing their plowing by hand.

When they refer to survival they are talking about people who already dying.

When they refer to "building civilization" they are talking about giving the worlds impoverished something else to do with their time other than subsistence farming.

TFA completely misrepresents what these guys are doing. Check out their blog [] .

Open Source??? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41884195)

But if civilization has collapsed, or you are just building a new one, everything is open source.

So why not just reverse engineer existing tech...

Re:Open Source??? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884273)

Lawyers, like cockroaches, can survive most kinds of disasters.

Re:Open Source??? (1)

sinij (911942) | about 2 years ago | (#41884643)

Yes, but in post-apocalyptic world they are more likely will be leading reaver raiding party, so AK-47 is all tools you would need for post-apocalyptic patent defense.

Re:Open Source??? (1)

Chatterton (228704) | about 2 years ago | (#41884359)

Try to reverse engineer a non functioning microprocessor with a out of order electronic microscope... Building a civilisation is hard enough to not add the complexity of reverse engineering the previous one.

Re:Open Source??? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41884625)

There will definitely be some functioning microprocessors of every variety left if any humans survive.

That is the thing with existing commercial tech, you do not even have to reverse engineer it for a long time, as it already is mass produced and available everywhere.

Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884257)

It is nice that they are providing the material requirements for a civilization, but I wonder if developing laws wouldn't be more prudent?

Having a plow won't be too useful if there isn't a stable society to make use of it.

Re:Laws (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#41884417)

Personally I'll take having food over having written down some rules.

Well when we go to Mars.. (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | about 2 years ago | (#41884275)

Initially when we setup a base on mars we'll send two of everything plus parts, but over time being able to build for yourself using a basic erector set of parts is going to be extremely useful, if not completely necessary. All we need is some calamity that causes launches to be delayed and suddenly they'd be on their own.

Re:Well when we go to Mars.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884527)

Then, much later, when society is finally built on Mars they'll have time to puzzle over all the extra bits in that little plastic baggie.

I don't think there will be small colonies on Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41885057)

In spite of the vision of sci-fi authors. I think when people go to settle on Mars, there will be in the hundreds of thousands to the millions. The fixed costs of developing infrastructure and technology to get to and live on Mars will be very high. The incremental costs will then be lower. Why have a few hundred people on Mars, when you can have a few million, and not have to develop many small scale, inefficient technologies.

Obligatory xkcd! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884277)

Choose one:

Anything about SQL database exploits-
Anything about cracking a password -
Anything about password length or multi-factor authentication -
Anything about any Mars mission -
Anything about general Turing machines -
Anything that obviously conflates cause and effect -
Anything that obviously draws a false conclusion with data extrapolation -

I could keep going on, but I don't have the time! I got to speed up my news reading by seeing if the headline ends with a ? and then I don't have to read it! All I got to do is post real quick about Beatrix's law of headlines! That way I get +5 funny all the fucking time!!


Captcha - override - I've been overridden by a troll. It turned out it was your mom riding me over.

bitch, please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41885173)

wake me up when you've got v1 of your script checked into sourceforge and it's driving slashdot to the verge of collapse.

Post-Apocalypse Petroleum Refinery (1)

nuckfuts (690967) | about 2 years ago | (#41884279)


Most of Factor e Farm’s equipment runs on an in-house invention called a Power Cube. It’s a black metal box about the size of an office copier, with a 27-horsepower engine that runs a hydraulic pump.

Honestly, if you're going to have a bunch of 27HP motors with hydraulics kicking around, (and fuel to run them), how big of a challenge is it to mechanize things?

I think a true post-apocalyse scenario should focus on relearning the now-forgotten survival skills of past generations. Simple, fundamental things that were once widely known, such as how to grow and store crops, mill lumber, weave fabrics, make soap, etc. Assume that available sources of power will be draft animals, water and wind mills, or your own hands. Don't assume there will be a gas station open for business down the street.

Re:Post-Apocalypse Petroleum Refinery (3, Informative)

Loughla (2531696) | about 2 years ago | (#41884691)

And those books already exist. []

I agree - tractors and what-not are fine, but that technology exists now, we will get there again. In the event of a full-on collapse, basic survival skills and how we used to do business before modern conveniences become more useful than how to build a diesel engine.

Amish (1)

nuckfuts (690967) | about 2 years ago | (#41884867)

Not to mention, groups such as the Amish and the Mennonites are living right now with minimal reliance on modern technologies. Survivalists could probably learn a lot from studying how these religious communities subsist.

Needs a Catchy Name... (1)

Xeleema (453073) | about 2 years ago | (#41884333)

Is Garden of Eden Creation Kit taken?

Re:Needs a Catchy Name... (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | about 2 years ago | (#41885247)

How about the Mid-American Body Odor Repository and Parasite Farm?

Chip fabs huh? (3, Funny)

ddd0004 (1984672) | about 2 years ago | (#41884339)

I took a look at the picture on the first page and your clean room needs a little work

Hmm..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884373)

Doesn't sound like they're thinking very long term, more like in the 30-70 year span after some world changing event (super volcano, plague, extreme climate change). The point where machinery starts breaking down but parts and equipment are still somewhat available, only not always the correct parts so modifications are required. Beyond that you're going to have to restart some level of manufacturing or do without things like tractors, "power cubes" and such as there are likely going to be few working components left.

Are they ready to start building a settler yet? (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 2 years ago | (#41884439)

The nerd in me really wanted to read this as a real life implementation of Civilization (the computer game). Sigh.

You're trying too hard (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | about 2 years ago | (#41884463)

Just get you a cardboard sign and live under an overpass. You can keep your agile development techniques too. Heck, I saw a guy having a stand up scrum meeting by himself on a street corner just this morning.

I am so sick of Marcine and his band of re-treads (2)

SandBender (255049) | about 2 years ago | (#41884519)

These folks pop up every year or so. I'm assuming it's around when they run out of money and need to find some more suckers to fund them. I've been following them and their "Compressed Earth Brick" huts (sod huts anywhere else) for a few years. They would be better off buying some Oxen, Pigs, Horses and maybe and old 8N tractor. The the concept is fundamentally flawed the hubris involved is off the charts. If they want to be self sufficient the first thing they should do is dump anything invented post 1900. This classic DIY'itis. Gahh so annoying, what a waste of 30 acres of good land.

I told 'em we already got one... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 2 years ago | (#41884595)

Typical "not re-invented here" syndrome.
I thought that's why we kept these beard-slashing traffic impediments [] around.

Would they stop closed source people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884619)

Would they stop closed source people form using these?

Good bye Bill G!

Great until.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884665)

....someone claims their version infringes someone's existing patent.

If you want an open source bulldozer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884689)

start with the public domain version.

By which I mean, every idea patented more than 20 years ago is currently in the public domain. Without inventing anything new, you can produce the best possible bulldozer that humanity could come up with from the beginning of our species until 1992.

Surely that should be a good enough design with which to start a civilization...

Missouri? I assume they're.... Mormons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884741)

That would fit....

Pffft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41884777)

This "project" puts the filthy in Filthy Hippie.

The saddest thing about all of this is that it was reported on by Bloomberg Business week and twice by Slashdot.

Stuff that matters, indeed.

Most of the hurdles are legal (3, Informative)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#41884895)

This happens in Missouri for a reason: lax zoning and a distinct lack of busy-bodies who complain.

This is what California was like 40-50 years when hippies were doing this kind of thing there. Now it's locked up tight. In some cases it's for good reasons. Developers were silting streams and destroying fisheries with ill-advised grading. OTOH, the government is literally telling you where you can poop, which makes doing things like this illegal and/or expensive now. Sometimes it still happens. They can't police communes any better than they can police illegal pot growers; but a project like this out in the open is less likely to happen in CA now, which is a bit sad.

My understanding is that a good chunk of Missouri was depopulated by the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. I wonder if too many "back to the land" people like this will eventually cause complaints and ruin it like California.

Blueprints for Civilization: worth watching (4, Informative)

Fubari (196373) | about 2 years ago | (#41884929)

Blueprints for Civilization [] This TED video is worth 4 minutes of your time.
Jakubowski articulates his vision very clearly.
I remember hearing of this a few years ago; I am glad to see they're making some headway.

Presumed outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41885025)

It appears this nuclear physicist has determined in his own mind folks will be reduced to local needs fulfillment at some point, as a result of a nuclear exchange, or a monetary crash, and is simply developing the technology for that possible outcome. Considering they can't get 6 generators to gas stations in New jersey and 3 tanker trucks to them despite the clear freeways and long lines of cars, it might be smart if only as a dumbshit proctector.


Who cares (2)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 2 years ago | (#41885115)

I mean if civilization is reduced to the stone age do you really want to survive it?

When I see shows like Doomsday Preppers, and the types of people preparing for the end of the world, it further steadies my belief that I in no way want to survive any of these kinds disasters once the yokels crawl out of their caves and spider holes.

Just Walk Away... (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#41885185)

If you have all that stuff, post-pockyclypse, there's going to be a lot of meaner, more badass people ready to take it from you.

G.E.C.K (1)

Holammer (1217422) | about 2 years ago | (#41885205)

Concept reminds me of the the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) from Fallout. Without the "just add water" deus ex machina.

Far out! (0)

whitroth (9367) | about 2 years ago | (#41885227)

The tractor alone is incredible, though I'd love to know how they built it in six days, and starting with what.

On the *other* hand, the "reporter".... I have a friend who teaches at colleges around the country, and who has a course called "science for non-science majors". A few years ago, he went down the food chain of the majors that take the course. Business majors were the next to the bottom - "they didn't get it, but didn't let that worry them". The very bottom of the food chain were the communications majors, who "didn't get it, and didn't know that they didn't get it". The "reporter" is clearly at the bottom. If she were ever stranded away from civilization, say, with a broken down car and no cell phone, she'd be in deep do-do; if civilizaiton collapsed, I guess her choice would be either sell her body,,, or die, since she appears to be incredibly snotty about people who can actually make things and do things. "nerd camp"; "who didn't seem to have bathed in weeks" (been reading right-wing crap from the sixties, have we, girly?)

What a jerk she is.

I want their final report and docs. Esp the chip fab.


Patents and copyrights after the Apocalypse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41885361)

So, they have been so brainwashed that they are concerned about being sued for violating the patent on the wheel (tractors, motors, and so on) after civilization ends.

Forget the frigen zombies, it is obviously the lawyers we have to worry about eating our brains.

Work smarter, dig into history (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41885385)

While I applaud them for what they are doing and their attempt, I think they need to do some more research into what else is going on in the (self)sustainable living sphere.

1. Waste management and water supply is important. People have been drinking water from wells, streams and rivers for a really long time. I'm sure with some time on google you can find simple, inexpensive ways to purify it enough that it's not harmful to drink. (Boiling + filtering?) And keeping waste away from the main water source seems pretty self explanatory. Also, you can totally use filtered gray water to shower and stay clean.

2. Agriculture and livestock are important. So, he planted 100 trees in a day, great. It takes years of growth and cultivation for a fruit tree to reliably produce fruit. There are lots of other crops you can plant year round that will give high enough yields to support a small population. I've seen some people that produce a large part of their food on less than an acre [] . With the land that they have, it opens up many more opportunities to reuse wastes from ag and livestock (From TFA sounded like they didn't really have any, except a cow) to fuller advantage as feed/fertilizer. And all with out a bulldozer.

3. Home designs seemed kind of shitty. I know a number of people who live in yurts from time to time, and they're great for what they do. But they were designed by a nomadic culture and aren't the best for long term summer abodes. And, a BRICK HOUSE? Are you F'ing kidding me? There are many better ways to build build houses that can be really comfortable: Cool in the summer, warm in the winter, yadda yadda. One that I've come across are earthships [] made from recycled materials and built into the ground.

4. Work ethic. From TFA It sounded like a lot of the on-site work force was AWOL from much needed work. This is totally unacceptable and easy to fix. If you don't work, you don't get to eat/stay/reap the rewards. You can't be self sustaining if people won't pull their weight. It's demoralizing and a drain on wile compound.

5. Power cube idea was sort of cool, but I have to question any "post-apocalyptic"/sustainable items that depend on distilled fossil fuels. Are you going to build your own oil pump and distillery as part of the kit? the still can totally be done, but not everyone has gas or oil within simple drilling distance.

Like some other commenters said previously, take a hint from the Amish. I would extend the "must read list" to imitating other communities like urban homesteaders and aqua/hydroponics aficionados. There's no reason to be hot stinky, unable to drink local water and totally dependent on food from Wal-Mart. Especially a few years into the project.

This is for Africa, not post-apocalypse (2)

robot256 (1635039) | about 2 years ago | (#41885487)

Not sure if the reporter missed this or if it's just a Slashdot obsession, but I'm sure I read before that these guys are trying to make technology accessible to third-world countries. Their goal is not (necessarily) to bootstrap a post-apocalyptic economy, but to bootstrap starving villages so that they can rapidly increase food output using all the tech we can bring to bear in a cheap, interchangeable manner.
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