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There is some event which leads to a general loss of knowledge, and the story involves (or at least includes) a person or a group relearning such knowledge, mostly math and physics. I heard about it in the 90's but it's probably much older than that (though surely 20th century).

Edit: sorry about the lack of details (although I think Michael got it right; I'll mark it as the correct answer). It's a written, most likely short story, which a teacher described to me a couple of decades ago. I realize it was very little to go by but this had been nagging me for years.

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    You heard about it? Have you not read/seen this yourself? If you have do you know what media it was? Novel, TV show, short story, etc.? Do you know more detail as to what the event was? How were they relearning? Old books? Discovering themselves? etc. If you have anything else to add you can edit the details into your question.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 8 '20 at 11:53
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    Will you be able to know which answer is right since you never read it yourself? Jul 8 '20 at 12:08
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    The 90% answer for this is A Canticle for Leibowitz.
    – DavidW
    Jul 8 '20 at 12:35
  • Losing (and regaining) knowledge is a scifi trope. There will be multiple properties that match this description. This needs more detail
    – Valorum
    Jul 8 '20 at 17:44
  • What @Valorum said; in addition to everything else listed here the same trope crops up in works as diverse as Anathem, Drake's The General series and The Mote in God's Eye.
    – DavidW
    Jul 8 '20 at 20:16
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It sounds like A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller. After the apocalypse humanity has reverted to a level that resembles Europe in the dark ages. There are monasteries where the monks are trying to preserve wherever scientific knowledge they can. They have no printing technology. They want to make multiple copies of any scientific diagram they have, even though they don't understand what it actually means. They have to laboriously copy them out by hand using a quill pen.

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    You've got an unregistered account and have had one for a few months it seems. If I remember correctly unregistered accounts are based on cookies. You might want to register your account so you don't lose access to it in the future.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 8 '20 at 12:45
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A deleted suggestion was an Asimov story, which I think was The Feeling of Power. In this case it's specifically maths that has been forgotten - computers are used for all calculations, so humans have forgotten the principles. The short story is set against the backdrop of an interstellar war. A technician (Myron Aub) rediscovers the basic principles of arithmetic, before (gradually) developing more advanced concepts.

Loesser said skeptically, "What progress? What can you do beyond multiplication? Can you integrate a transcendental function?"

"In time, sir. In time. In the last month, I have learned to handle division. I can determine, and correctly, integral quotients and decimal quotients."

The military are fans:

The general was saying, "Our goal is a simple one, gentlemen - the replacement of the computer. A ship that can navigate space without a computer on board can be constructed in one fifth the time and at one tenth the expense of a computer-laden ship.

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  • Thank you, this feels like the one. From the title it should be about the thrill of learning something technical, and this is what the teacher who described the story was talking about. And I may be hallucinating but he may have mentioned Asimov by name. (Should I add these details to the question? It feels like cheating, I only remembered them once I read your answer.)
    – Lucas
    Jul 10 '20 at 23:33
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Riddley Walker (1980) by Russell Hoban.

Roughly two thousand years after a nuclear war has devastated civilization, Riddley, the young narrator, stumbles upon efforts to recreate a weapon of the ancient world.

The novel's characters live a harsh life in a small area which is presently the English county of Kent, and know little of the world outside of "Inland" (England). Their level of civilization is similar to England's prehistoric Iron Age, although they do not produce their own iron but salvage it from ancient machinery. Church and state have combined into one secretive institution, whose mythology, based on misinterpreted stories of the war and an old Catholic saint (Eustace), is enacted in puppet shows.

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  • When quoting from a source in the future can you include a link to where it comes from and also use quote markdown > to indicate what is a quote.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 8 '20 at 15:23
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This might be Ursula Le Guin's short story "The Masters" (collected in The Wind's Twelve Quarters):

  • Post-apocalyptic world.

  • Rediscovery of mathematics, concept of zero, etc.

  • Application of math to solving engineering/physics questions.

  • First published in mid-20th century (1963).

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