Everything So Far Summarized

The story of how we got here

This post is for those of you who like to zoom out and put things into perspective. We now know the answer to the question that gave rise to all the creation myths of the past: Where do we come from? And the real thing is a lot weirder than expected.

  • 1 month ~ 1.2 billion years
  • 1 week ~ 265 million years
  • 1 day ~ 38 million years
  • 1 hour ~ 1.6 million years
  • 1 minute ~ 26 thousand years
  • 1 second ~ 437 years

January

We start with the Big Bang on January 1st at 00:00 AM. The universe was smaller than an atom, and with everything squeezed into such a tiny space, you can imagine it being pretty hot and dense. A soup of subatomic particles was all there was, but the universe wasn’t in a mood to stay like this.

An image of the Cosmic Background Radiation from 2003. The photons that painted this picture flew uninterrupted for almost 13.8 billion years before hitting our cameras (Source: NASA).

February, March, April, May, June, July, and August

I originally intended to accommodate one chapter per month, but that didn’t work out since almost nothing concerning us happened during the next seven months. In fact, only two things worth noting happened:

  • About two months later on May 12th, the Milky Way had taken the iconic spirally disc shape it still has today.
This is the universe on a very large scale. The blue spots consist of millions of stars. Notice the web-like structure and the explosions caused by colliding black holes. Modern simulations like these produce strikingly accurate results — even spiral galaxies can be seen forming, which suggests that our current cosmological theories are relatively accurate (Source: Illustris Project).

September

On September 2nd we finally got our Sun. An older star had exploded into a cloud of debris, and the solar system appeared when some of this debris collapsed in on itself under the pull of gravity.

  1. Saturn: 21%
  2. Uranus: 3%
  3. Neptune: 3%
  4. Earth: 0.2%
  5. Venus: 0.2%
  6. Mars: 0.02%
  7. Mercury: 0.01%
A simulation showing what the collision that created our moon might have looked like (Source: SpaceRip).
Life arose in the early oceans whose chemistry was enriched by impact events and volcanic activity (Source: Marc Szeglat).

October

With so much happening in September, you would expect at least as much from the following month, but life remained single-celled for the entirety of October. Recall that a month on our Cosmic Calendar is 1.1 billion years, so what was evolution doing all this time? The answer seems to be: laying the foundations of complex life.

Realistic visualization of the mechanism that copies our DNA (Source: The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute).

November

You may be surprised to hear that life remained single-celled for yet another month to come.

Realistic visualization of the signaling system inside a eukaryote used when it’s about to split in two (Source: The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute).

December

With only one month left it was time to kick evolution into high gear.

Actual footage (not CGI) of cell division as seen in a multicellular organism (Source: Francis Chee Films).
The diversity of life during the Cambrian Explosion (Source: Unknown).
Reptiles have since their appearance perfected the art of living in the deserts, such as this Namib Sand Gecko (Source: Biomorphosis).
Mammals filled the gap left by the dinosaurs both on land and in the waters. Some grew very large like the Humpback Whale as shown here. The Blue Whale grew to become the largest known animal to have ever lived on Earth (Source: Unknown).

December 31st

At the beginning of the final day mammals and birds had invaded close to all parts of Earth. Primates resembling modern-day monkeys were growing increasingly intelligent on the continent we now call Africa.

Our close kinship with the other great apes can at times be strikingly obvious, which is no wonder since around 98% of our DNA is identical to theirs (Source: Unknown).
  1. Moving on two feet required less energy, allowing us to run down prey and walk greater distances.
  2. Most importantly, it freed our hands to carry things like food, weapons, tools, and our newborn.
We, Sapiens, began our journey in central Africa. Some of us migrated out of Africa, across Asia, over into North America, and then to the southern part of South America, where this cave painting was made in Cueva de las Manos 10,000 years ago (Source: Wikimedia).
Sapiens seems to have been the only species of human who were able to cooperate in large numbers, which not only allowed us to build lasting stone structures but it may have been the deciding factor as to why we survived while they went extinct (Source: Raph Howard).

10 seconds ago

The Great Pyramid of Giza is built, and it will remain the tallest man-made structure for another 8 seconds (3,800 years) to come.

9 seconds ago

Hammurabi, the 6th king of Babylon, enacts his code of law in which he, among other things, writes: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

8 seconds ago

The Shang Dynasty, which is the earliest known Chinese dynasty with a developed form of writing, appears around the Yellow River.

7 seconds ago

Iron overtakes bronze as the preferred material for tool- and weapon crafting.

6 seconds ago

Buddha reaches enlightenment in ancient India. Confucius authors his philosophical texts in ancient China. Socrates teaches Plato; Plato teaches Aristotle; and Aristotle tutors Alexander the Great, who goes on to create an empire stretching from Greece to northwestern India.

5 seconds ago

Jesus is born and crucified in Judea.

4 seconds ago

The Roman Empire falls apart after having ruled the Mediterranean for almost 1000 years.

3 seconds ago

Muhammad authors the Quran in Arabia and gunpowder is invented in China.

2 seconds ago

Genghis Khan expands the Mongol Empire to cover 16% of the total land area of Earth, making it the largest contiguous empire to have ever existed.

1 second ago

The Black Plague kills around half the European population. Columbus rediscovers the Americas and kicks off the Colonial Period. The Maya, Aztec, and Inca civilizations fall to the Spanish conquistadors, and Isaac Newton makes his contributions to math and science.

Less than a second ago

The industrial revolution supercharges the capabilities of civilizations, while Darwin resolves the mystery of life. International tensions culminate in two World Wars, and as a consequence of Einstein’s insights, nuclear warfare becomes an all too real danger.

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