Who watched the documentary television series ‘Cosmos’ last year? If you did not you should take the opportunity sometime to read about it – it was very interesting and fascinating. I like learning about space, how things work, how things are built, travel exploration, history – all those areas that I had no interest in as a younger person, especially in school when I should have paid attention. As an middle age man, now I want to learn, maybe because I have more time on my hands or as a ‘wiser’ person I ask the questions ‘what is the purpose of life’ and ‘why are we hear’, see my post ‘Life in a Petrie Dish’. I don’t necessary need the answer to those questions, but expanding my knowledge of areas I avoided in my younger years is important now. Unlike my younger self, I appreciate the importance of learning because learning is growing and growing is moving forward to a better understanding.
Ok, back to the ‘Cosmos’ –
In the first episode titled ‘Standing Up in the Milky Way’, the host Neil deGrasse Tyson described the evolution of the universe as a calendar – a Cosmic Calendar. So to not bore you with all the details of the Cosmic Calendar, here are some highlights from the actual script –
The Cosmic Calendar begins on January 1st with the birth of our universe. It contains everything that’s happened since then, up to now, which on this calendar is midnight, December 31st.
On this scale, every month represents about a billion years. Every day represents nearly forty million years. Let’s go back as far as we can, to the very first moment of the universe.
January first — the Big Bang.
Our Sun’s birthday is August 31st on the Cosmic Calendar. Four and a half billion years ago.
Life began somewhere around here, September 21st, three and a half billion years ago on our little world.
December 17th was quite a day. Life in the sea really took off, exploding with a diversity of larger plants and animals.
Forests, dinosaurs, birds, insects, they all evolved in the final week of December. The first flower bloomed on December 28th.
11:59:46. All of recorded history occupies only the last 14 seconds. Every person you’ve ever heard of lived somewhere in there. All those kings and battles, migrations and inventions, wars and loves, everything in the history books happened here, in the last seconds of the cosmic calendar.
We are newcomers to the cosmos. Our own story only begins on the last night of the cosmic year. It’s 9:45 on New Year’s Eve. Three and a half million years ago, our ancestors — yours and mine — left these traces.
At 14 seconds to midnight, or about six thousand years ago, we invented writing.
It took 12 BILLION years for me to start writing. Why did I wait so long?