David Christian Big History project presented at #TED
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Bill Gates is guest curating at #TED. He sees this as an opportunity to pick four people who inspired him. He is in a way doing the same job as Chris Anderson, it’s a coup to get him I guess. First one is professor David Christian.
David Christian teaches Big History at TED
David Christian first shows scrambled eggs in reverse to illustrate 2nd law of thermodynamics, entropy. Yet what we see around us is staggering complexity. So how is it possible to create complexity? He calls paradigm shifts threashold moments in history. Thresholds increase complexity. He shows timeline with the whole history of the universe. 13.7bn years ago universe starts. Big Bang. From blur to distinct things. 380,000 years after the Big Bang, H and He appear. Gravity starts compacting clouds of H and He. Then 10 million degree temperature cross and then stars are formed. From 200 million years after the BB we get stars. Stars create all elements when they extinguish themselves. Our solar system starts around 5bn yrs ago. Rocky planets are born. More diverse environments. The next big thing is living organisms. Chemistry needs energy but not too much nor too little, not the center of a star, not intergalactic space. Life needs liquids. Life can’t grow in solid or gas. Our early earth was mostly water and heat coming from the oceanic vents. So first we have the right chemicals and then we have DNA to stabilize the chemistry of life. DNA is most of the time perfect and occasionally errors. Errors lead to evolution. Erros that suceed, very few of them. 800 million yrs ago multicellulars. 65 million yrs ago meteorite in Yucatan dinosaurs wiped out but mammals flourish. Humans is another threshold. What makes human different is that we are the only species that passes on learning to offspring and collective memory. Rats learn to, but can’t teach other rats what they learn, they don’t build a civilization. Humans are unique in that we have collective learning. We colonize the whole planet while learning how to cope with it.
10K years ago human learns to farm. 500 years ago humans began to link up globally. Now we are like a single global brain of 7bn. We discovered fossil fuels and those help complexity. He argues that it is not clear that humans are in charge of collective learning. We have nuclear weapons, we are using up fossil fuels. He is building an online syllabus in Big History.
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