How to Invent Everything

Ryan North

Discover the highlights of human civilization in How to Invent Everything. Although it doesn’t cover absolutely everything, this book takes you on a captivating exploration of basic survival skills, important technologies, and fundamental science concepts. From the compass to computing and logic gates, it provides an essential reference text for reproducing 12,000 years of human progress in just 5 years.

While the chances of finding yourself in the exact same scenario as the book‘s premise are slim, it’s still a fascinating read. Delve into how humanity improved its quality of life from the ground up, starting with the very basics.

One of the main reasons I highly recommend this book is its reductionist approach. By breaking down technological advancements, it allows you to easily connect the dots and understand the linkages between different innovations. For example, the development of steam engines relies on precision engineering, which in turn requires a standard unit of measure and knowledge of steel production. And the journey doesn’t stop there—learn about smelting iron, making kilns, producing bricks, and even creating charcoal. This roadmap takes you from nothing to the core of the Industrial Revolution, showcasing the enormous impact of technology on society.

Furthermore, the book encourages thought-provoking considerations. Imagine a world where certain natural resources aren’t as abundant. So many advancements in technology are rooted in the chemical and physical reactions involving wood and mud, demonstrating the importance of these resources in shaping our modern world.

Throughout the book, you’ll come across the stark difference between when inventions were actually created and when they could have been invented. The gap often spans decades or even centuries. It’s tempting to label humanity as “dumb,” but perhaps the truth is that our intelligence evolves at a slow pace, and civilization emerges as soon as we become smart enough to construct it. In that sense, humanity is the “dumbest” species capable of creating civilization.

In conclusion, How to Invent Everything is not just an engaging read, but also a valuable resource for understanding the trajectory of human progress. Dive into the depths of innovation and see how it has shaped our world, sparking your own curiosity and imagination along the way.