7Wannabe5 wrote: ↑
Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:10 am
For instance, cultural traditions associated with cuisines often contained a good deal of accumulated wisdom that has likely not yet been reconfigured into the ingredients list on a Soylent package.
This also holds for scientific knowledge in general. What's published is scientists communicating to other scientists. A person not of that [scientific] culture would be missing unwritten "ingredients"(*). A good example is how computational physics (or at least computational astrophysics) tend not to publish their source codes. Once lost, anyone will have to rebuild the codes from scratch with the only edge being knowing what the result is.
(*) For example, scientists rarely publish "what didn't work".
Consider high finance. Most of the research being developed that beats the market is never published. People make their money and then they leave abandoning the techniques or codes that made it work never sharing them with others. Other fields have more of a balance. Academic science puts more in writing including textbooks that at least in principle would allow someone with a blank slate to bootstrap pretty far. But suppose all scientists were wiped out in an instant. Could a highly intelligent person or team of persons self-educate and replicate the lost knowledge by walking into a library. I think not.
Google "lost technologies" and you'll find a lot of examples. Roman concrete is probably the most famous example. Modern concrete tends to wither on a timescale of 100 years. Roman concrete is apparently near forever and also holds underwater. Of course modern civilization only has about 200 years worth of engineering experience. The Romans had hundreds of years.
Perhaps of more contemporary relevance, most of the Gemini and Apollo space tech has been lost to time despite some of the rockets/vehicles still being around. Blueprints have been lost or techniques simply weren't written down in the worst place. For example, there might be a certain piece of plastic. We can see it and measure it. We just can't replicate it---perhaps we can't make it as hard or light as they could in the 1950s or 60s. Many engineers and scientists working on those programs are either retired or dead, so there's no one to ask either.