anachronauts tidbit: post-post-apocalypse

13 07 2009

I have no idea where to turn to research this, so I’ll ask on the blog first. A major metropolitan city freezes over near instantly and stays that way for 200 years (and is in fact still frozen).

What, if anything, is left that would still be functional / useful / safe provided you could chip it out of the ice or find it lying around? Any food, or would it all be spoiled and gone? Any gasoline? How about batteries?

Edit: Fascinating research material so far, and only an hour since I posted it. :D It’s looking like to have anything other than an unrecognizable pile of metal building skeletons full of utterly decayed or gone food and useless electronics I’m going to need to pull a supernatural rabbit out of a hat — which is fine. I need some ideas for a05, anyway, beyond “And then they find this out, and fight something, I don’t know, like a giant nazi t-rex with a laser gun, the end”.

Still, I have other opportunities, particularly in a07, to show an actual, honest to goodness city left to decay for 200 years. So hey, keep the P-P-A ideas and links coming!

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16 responses

14 07 2009
chiave_trust

I’d assume that if it were flash frozen the food would still be good.

14 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

All of it, or just canned goods/meats/whatever? Wouldn’t some stuff spoil after that much time, frozen or otherwise?

14 07 2009
raigne

None of the food, imo. Not after 200 years. May not get freezer burn, but if you’ve ever taken something out of the freezer after a few years, even if it was flash frozen it’s not something you’d want to eat. Canned stuff goes bad after awhile just like everything else.
I’m not sure about electronics. Heat is usually what kills them, but if there’s ice involved, I assume it would shatter anything it got into. Water expands when it freezes, after all. Batteries slowly lose charge over time. I’m not sure how long it would take. Anything else would need power to run and the lines would have been damaged by the ice, I’d think.
If you have a better way to get them usable stuff, do it. I’d only go this route as a last resort.

14 07 2009
jengagne

It’s not specific to ice, but you might find this interesting:
http://www.history.com/content/life_after_people
It’s one of those shows that sounded neat, but I never got around to it.

14 07 2009
lirazel

OK…
Not batteries. The chemical reaction that makes the elecricity in the battery doesn’t stop for cold. It may slow down, but it won’t stop. (Batteries lose their charge if they’re not used at normal temps, so.)
Food… is interesting. If it is flash-frozen and remains without any contact with air (other than the air in the ice) evereverever, fresh meat and vegetables might still be good. Canned, probably not — the cans would collapse under the contraction caused by the extreme cold. Also, since water expands when frozen, any bottled things will probably be no good.
Frozen food… interestingly enough, I’m not sure about this. The reason is, there’s always a certain amount of air in a bag of, say, peas, and if you leave it in the freezer too long, the water in the peas is drawn out into the bag and forms ice crystals. The peas themselves shrivel up. This is called freezer burn, and it hits all frozen foods over time, unless they are vacuum-sealed. So, for instance, the frozen creamed spinach in an Omaha Steak store, for instance, might still be good, where the peas in your freezer would probably not be.
Cereals and grains are your best bet for long-term survival. And, of course, freeze-dried foods.
(Please note: This is me talking out of experience with home freezing, not from experience cooking recently defrosted mastadon.)
EDIT W00t! Insight! http://www.refrigeration-repair-tips.com/frozen-food-storage.html
In other words, safe? Probably. Yummy? Not so much

14 07 2009
jaeai

WARNING: ADDICTIVE.
You’ve been warned.

14 07 2009
jaeai

Gasoline would be my only bet.

14 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

That would be the most important. The machines can be repaired, parts can be crafted again, but refining gasoline may take more technological oomph than is available at the moment. Food would be nice but I have alternatives, especially if I shelve the idea of salvaging in a05 and move the idea of a ruined city to a07 where it’s more a “Lookit that!” than a “We are going to die unless we make something of that”.

14 07 2009
Stefan "Twoflower" Gagne

Is this on DVD? It looks like it’s not airing anymore.
Edit: The series is over, but I did manage to snag the 2 hour movie that it was based on via tivo. It’ll record during Otakon.

14 07 2009
raigne

Ooo. In the same idea (umm, accelerants or whatever) alcohol would also probably still be liquid, assuming it was never opened.

14 07 2009
jaeai

Hmm, would the instafreeze have taken out everything glass? That’d leave plastic bottles…usually not enough alcomahol content to keep from freezing. Hmm. Still thinking this one over.

14 07 2009
jaeai

Gah, Otakon. (><) Your post reminded me about the cosplay there.

14 07 2009
raigne

The speed might have, yeah. If there was enough space in the neck of the bottle for the liquid to expand, it might not have shattered though. Regardless, if it’s high enough proof, it won’t freeze. 100% alcohol in plastic containers might still be available, assuming the plastic survived. If not, I think the alcohol might melt the ice. Maybe not though.

14 07 2009
raigne

Quick googling confirms that it would in fact melt the ice. That could cause some instability if it could fracture it right, leaving some portions of the city exposed after the ice collapsed. I don’t know what you could do with that scenario but there might be something interesting there.

14 07 2009
tozetre

Electronics would be pretty much fine- I mean, depending on the amount of cold, you know. Cold can cause metal fatigue, which movies leave out; metal fatigue plus load bearing isn’t a happy combination. But anyway, things like gold, copper, tin, and circuit boards? Those handle extreme cold pretty well. Hard drives with greased bearings and air holes, maybe not so much, but flash drives with no moving parts you betcha!
If gas is okay, and a generator is okay, then you get power. You add some electronics, you’re happy. Aaaand unless the cold is REALLY cold, gaskets etc. will probably be okay- they survive Canadian winters, after all. Then there’s lubricants like oil- it’ll be sluggish but not harmed by mild cold. Oil vessels in the oilfield are insulated, but that’s normally to keep it flowing.
So anyway, as far as I know in fields I’m educated or experienced in, you should be able to salvage generators, oil, gas, and electronics.

14 07 2009
Anonymous

I think considering the amount of time, even canned food would be somewhat useless. Electronics I’d imagine would be a gone cause primarily due to the damage that would come with exposure to water then ice. Silicone doesn’t like exposure very much.
Possible options with food that might survive would be jerked food or pickled food, although once more the duration of time elapsed would seem to suggest that you’d have to be VERY hungry before you tried the food.
Gasoline would be fine, but batteries I’d imagine would be corroded. You get that under normal conditions with batteries where if left alone for long enough they corrode and become unsafe for use.
~KenW

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