Novogenesis:Areas of study

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There are a near-infinite number of areas of study to consider

General Problems

Chicken and egg

There are a lot of chicken-and-egg problems: How do you mine the metal to get the iron ore for a hammer when you don't already have an iron hammer and chisel? Current interpretations of history posit convenient ramps (start with a copper or bronze hammer) but the practicality of these ideas is seldom tested.

Improving accuracy

A.K.A the "nines" problem.

  • How do you make a surface flatter than the flattest surface you already have?
  • How do you get from 90% purity in one material to 99% in the next to 99.9% in the next?


  • How do units arise in a completely unit-free environment? (Hammurabi)

Physical Sciences

Materials Science

Consider the sequences:

ashpotashlye] → sodium hydroxide
dead vegetationcompostnitratessaltpeternitric acid.

These show a progression from naturally occurring materials through increasing levels of processing and purifying to modern industrial materials. Measuring and recording this process could shed light on not just the history of these processes, but on practical methods of extending modern technological boundaries.

Tools and Machines

Closely related to the nines problem, how do you get from branches to dowels, from carved holes to bushings to bearings?

Physiology and Medicine

Calories in and calories out. Adaptation to changes in sleep, eating, and discomfort levels. Medications available in-situ at any given time.

Social Sciences


  • Labor
    Recent empirical data (See Naked and Afraid and I, Caveman') show that up to 40% of the hypothetical labor is available at any given time due to emotional restrictions. Sometimes this trades off on a day to day or week to week basis as moods among the participants change. Sometimes it appears to be completely suppressed until the need reaches some threshhold. Social interaction over time seems to be remarkably well patterend in some of these experiments: independent action with occasional cooperation, resentment, strong need, accommodation, etc.
  • How are independent and common goals assessed and addressed?
  • Gender expectations
    In a less sophisticated environment, the differences in individual contribution that are strictly physical (or strictly mental) may be much larger than in a modern environment. How does this affect social interaction? Is there a legitimacy to "might makes right" that isn't recognized from our modern perspective?


Includes much of the above, but also

  • Adaptation to the imposition of new norms
  • Celebration of situation-specific victories
  • Appreciation of the contributions of "others" that might go unnoticed in other situations
  • Longer-term changes in the participants afterwards. (e.g. The Colony, Season 1, "Aftermath")

Organizational Topologies

  • Shuttling between completely independent action, coopting helpers, autocracy, socialism, democracy.
  • Segmenting the group intentionally or unintentionally.