Foundations Explained

ASIMOV: The Foundations Project

It is essential to address the current global energy and sustainability crisis. Global Warming, Fossil Fuel Dependence, Resource Shortages, Water Supply, Food Supply, and Unsustainable Electrical Generation all contribute to a rapidly looming Malthusian Crisis. Developing sustainable and “green,” energy efficient methods for rapid implementation should be a national and private priority, using all methods available. Those implemented first should involve the least material-intensive designs.

The ASIMOV Foundations Project’s Mission is to Solve Modern Problems through the Application of Ancient Technologies. The Project will research, develop and replicate Historic technologies alongside the best manners of adapting them to Modern needs. Through the use of Historic mill designs, farming techniques, tools and ideas, the Foundations Project will rapidly develop detailed literature, plans, kits and instructions on historic technologies relating to sustainability, organic farming and other such fields. These will be destined for distribution to farms and other entities in the USA and worldwide in an effort to begin solving the aforementioned problems.

The Project will require equipment to start. Among the concerns already raised, about   eighty Acres of ground suitable for farming with several buildings and workshops, including a forge, wood shop, tannery, farm buildings, dormitories, and an archival-quality library are on the inventory. Basic Farm Equipment will also be required, such as tools, a tractor with several attachments for haying, harvesting, dragging and many other items. Tools and Skilled members in the trades as well as those skilled in research will also be required for the realization of the end mission. Starting off, it is more practical to discard the Ideal situation described above. Purchasing a large plot of land which could be put into use quickly using the pre-existing buildings and facilities is far more practical and is the favored manner for developing the Foundations Project. Other buildings and projects will simply build themselves around the original structures.

Further, the Project will require skilled artisans and members with the knowledge and skills to achieve the stated objectives. A search for these persons will  commence once the basic provisions are covered,  and as provisions for projects are made. Contracting for specific parts of projects from each artisan will likely be the most practicable method for starting the Project. Support from the local Communities will also be required, as explained in several of the major projects contained hereinafter, such as the Outliers Initiative, Corvée, etc.

Another aspect of the Foundations Project is its effect on the local employment situation. As agriculture requires large amounts of labor, and the Foundations Project is based on an idea which partly limits the mechanization of this labor, the Foundations Project will have a larger than normal pull for labor. This side effect could, in many areas, be mutually beneficial for the community and the Project.

The Project will require large amounts of initial funding, with budgets yet to be determined. This will require several major donors at a corporate or large personal donor level if the possibility of donated resources is discounted. Should land, buildings or money be donated initially these factors will be lessoned. The ASIMOV Foundations Project, if funded, could be running in 12 months from construction of the principal buildings. Once these are established, the systems for developing the proposed products would be developed as quickly as possibly, some within the first year for distribution.

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The Idea of Foundations

The idea for Foundations came from my experience in the museum field, where I spent 15 seasons as a historical Interpreter in 18th and 19th century sites through New York and New England. I used many of these technologies routinely, and realized they were still useful, and could be built much faster and cheaper than many modern technologies to answer the same problems. Further, when I was young, I read the works of Issac Asimov, specifically his Foundations trilogy, wherein there is a group of scientists, engineers and technicians who preserve the technology of the intergalactic empire as it declines and collapses, shortening the predicted dark age by from 30,000 years to less than 10,000. The same Idea, applied to ancient technologies, carefully selected, could have a similar effect.

As you may be aware, there are several elements to Historic Technologies which make them very well suited to solving modern problems or inefficiencies, namely their Simplicity, Efficiency, Variety and Expediency. Historic technologies are for the most part very simple, which allowed a mechanic to design, build, and maintain them with a minimal amount of work. Further, this simplicity of parts and structures ensures reliability by allowing the least number of chances for something to break. Interlocking systems frequently fed off each other, using a waste product to feed another process.

The variety of historic technologies also allows one to address most any practical problem imaginable. These technologies were designed to aid in producing everything necessary to live comfortably, from food to clothes and consumer goods to tools. These designs need not be engineered from the ground up, or from an ephemeral idea, as they exist in both documentary and working variations, which provide detailed plans and instructions for their construction and employment.

The Bronze Age Strikes Again, OR, yet another plan which will likely get me injured.

In case you didn’t know, I like History. I also like making things.

Unfortunately, a confluence of events will be causing me to have a furnace available to me in the near future, as well as the scrap aluminum from used Cans collected about the place, and at work. This can only lead to shenanigans.

That’s right. I plan on making Aluminum versions of Bronze-Age Technology, and trying them out. I don’t exactly think the results are going to work perfectly, nor will they be anywhere near as good as steel. However, I do think this is more worthwhile than simply fooling around at Experimental Archaeology. In some situations, extremely simple ways of making simple tools are extremely valuable, and can mean the difference between success and failure. Whereas the tools made by Open Source Ecology are very useful, and a both novel and inexpensive way to build many necessary tools, these are all advanced items, primarily made of metal. They include such things as tractors, industrial robots, and agricultural implements which are extremely necessary to any large scale project of the kind they are seeking. However, sometimes, you just need a chisel.

Aluminum isn’t the best material for making chisels. Or Hammers. Or Splitting Wedges, knives, pry-bars, axes, mattocks, or picks. But, with experimentation, I hope to find out if it is at least workable for a few of these. This is mainly due to three things: Aluminum is readily available; the infrastructure for working it is extremely simple; these very basic tools are needed before most of the OSE tools would come into play.

This will be a Foundations project, as well, and it will be documented for publication as soon as I can get the Foundations Project up and running. I hope to be able to show a variety of usable (if not ideal) tools which can be made with stone, clay, sand or metal molds, simply, from common waste material, on almost any site, worldwide. The thing with tools in a non-ideal situation is that you need something workable now, not perfection in 6 weeks. This project might just be able to provide a route to those workable tools for next to 0 cost, even in an area with very limited resources. There will always be trash, and there’s almost always some Bronze, Aluminum, Copper, or other material which would work for these applications in the trash.

Even if it fails miserably, it’ll still be fun, so I won’t count it a total loss.

Foundations Introduction

I have a plan, for the far future. It goes by many names, but mostly by “Foundations” after the Isaac Asimov Trilogy.  I read these books many years ago, and liked the Idea.

The plan involves building a Secular Monastery, and using Ancient Technology to solve modern problems. The technologies will need a little in the way of adaptations, of course, which is the reason for the research and development. You’ll be seeing, in future, a few posts about the endeavor, and I hope to be able to use this as a way to air the Idea, and get some feedback. Maybe it’ll end up with a backer or two, if I really go out on a limb of wishful thinking.

The following articles will be segments from the work I’ve already done on the project, and are likely a very small part of what is to come thereupon.