UvA MOOC: Big History – From the Big Bang until Today

Notes for Big History – From the Big Bang until Today, from the University of Amsterdam on Coursera.

Duration: 4 weeks

  1. Introduction, Cosmic History
  2. The History of Earth and Life
  3. Human History
  4. Wrap up

Videos also available on ChronoZoom and BIG HISTORY web site.

More

 

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Time

Human history on cosmic scales: 13.8 billion years compressed into a single year:

  • Big bang on new years eve, first few months everything would be dark
  • In spring the first stars and galaxies emerge
  • On September 1st, our sun and solar system appear, including Earth
  • October, first bacteria (single-cellular) appear
  • Mid-December, complex (multi-cellular) organisms, like sponges, appear
  • By Christmas, the dinosaurs appear to be wiped out by December 30th.
  • December 30-31: evolution of the mammals
  • Last 6 minutes: modern human beings appear
  • Last 30 seconds: agriculture, written records
  • Last second: modern history (last 500 years)

In terms of space, the Earth (as peppercorn) would be at the distance of 10 meter from the Sun (as grapefruit) [3:00]. The next star, Alpha Centarii would be 3,600 km away.

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Space

http://scaleofuniverse.com

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To create a scale model with an earth only as big as a marble you need 7 miles of empty space (1:45). At this scale the sun is a meter and a half.

  • Mercury 68 m
  • Venus (same size as Earth) 120 m
  • Earth 178 m
  • Mars 269 m
  • Jupiter 920 m
  • Saturn 1,700 m
  • Uranus 3,400 m
  • Neptune 5,600 m

 

Agricultural Societies – State Formation and Development (2500 BCE)

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