Scatter, Adapt, and Remember
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“. . . our odds of surviving the apocalypse have never been better.”
Surviving the end of the world has never been so enjoyable! In Scatter, Adapt, and Remember, Annalee Newitz takes us on a whirlwind journey from mankind’s (indeed our very planet’s) earliest beginnings to our possible endings. The good news is we’ll survive if we’re smart enough to follow the title’s directive.
Our primitive ancestors’ survival extincts served them well, Newitz theorizes, as they dispersed from Africa and wandered across the continents, possibly intermingling and intermarrying with our fellow hominids the Neanderthals and Denisovans. Love and cooperation may very well have saved Homo sapiens from extinction and not our ability to use symbolic logic alone, although it played a crucial role. By scattering far and wide, adapting to the local climate changes and environments, and remembering to share their stories and adaptive technology with their offspring, our ancient human ancestors insured we’d still be here today.
But what happens if another mass extinction event occurs? Remember the dinosaurs? What if we’re hit by a burst of gamma radiation from a hypernova or a megavolcano erupts spewing particulates high into the atmosphere, blocking out our sunlight? How will we survive as a species then? Newitz interviews top scientists about the cities of tomorrow and where they’ll be located (probably underground), and how we could change genetically in order to survive on Mars or Titan. More good news—research into these far reaching fields will yield discoveries we’ll be able to use now, such as the space elevator and fuels derived from blue-green algae. All in all, our odds of surviving the apocalypse have never been better.
Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews