The history of our world in 18 minutes | David Christian


First, a video. Yes, it is a scrambled egg. But as you look at it, I hope you’ll begin to feel
just slightly uneasy. Because you may notice
that what’s actually happening is that the egg is unscrambling itself. And you’ll now see the yolk
and the white have separated. And now they’re going to be
poured back into the egg. And we all know in our heart of hearts that this is not the way
the universe works. A scrambled egg is mush —
tasty mush — but it’s mush. An egg is a beautiful, sophisticated thing that can create even more
sophisticated things, such as chickens. And we know in our heart of hearts that the universe does not travel
from mush to complexity. In fact, this gut instinct is reflected in one of the most
fundamental laws of physics, the second law of thermodynamics,
or the law of entropy. What that says basically is that the general
tendency of the universe is to move from order and structure to lack of order, lack of structure — in fact, to mush. And that’s why that video
feels a bit strange. And yet, look around us. What we see around us
is staggering complexity. Eric Beinhocker estimates
that in New York City alone, there are some 10 billion SKUs,
or distinct commodities, being traded. That’s hundreds of times
as many species as there are on Earth. And they’re being traded by a species
of almost seven billion individuals, who are linked by trade,
travel, and the Internet into a global system
of stupendous complexity. So here’s a great puzzle: in a universe ruled
by the second law of thermodynamics, how is it possible to generate the sort
of complexity I’ve described, the sort of complexity
represented by you and me and the convention center? Well, the answer seems to be, the universe can create complexity, but with great difficulty. In pockets, there appear
what my colleague, Fred Spier, calls “Goldilocks conditions” — not too hot, not too cold, just right for the creation of complexity. And slightly more complex things appear. And where you have
slightly more complex things, you can get slightly more complex things. And in this way, complexity
builds stage by stage. Each stage is magical because it creates the impression
of something utterly new appearing almost out of nowhere
in the universe. We refer in big history to these moments
as threshold moments. And at each threshold,
the going gets tougher. The complex things get more fragile, more vulnerable; the Goldilocks conditions
get more stringent, and it’s more difficult
to create complexity. Now, we, as extremely complex creatures, desperately need to know this story of how the universe creates complexity
despite the second law, and why complexity means
vulnerability and fragility. And that’s the story
that we tell in big history. But to do it, you have do something that may, at first sight,
seem completely impossible. You have to survey the whole
history of the universe. So let’s do it. (Laughter) Let’s begin by winding the timeline back 13.7 billion years, to the beginning of time. Around us, there’s nothing. There’s not even time or space. Imagine the darkest,
emptiest thing you can and cube it a gazillion times
and that’s where we are. And then suddenly, bang! A universe appears, an entire universe. And we’ve crossed our first threshold. The universe is tiny;
it’s smaller than an atom. It’s incredibly hot. It contains everything
that’s in today’s universe, so you can imagine, it’s busting. And it’s expanding at incredible speed. And at first, it’s just a blur, but very quickly distinct things
begin to appear in that blur. Within the first second, energy itself shatters
into distinct forces including electromagnetism and gravity. And energy does something
else quite magical: it congeals to form matter — quarks that will create protons and leptons that include electrons. And all of that happens
in the first second. Now we move forward 380,000 years. That’s twice as long as humans
have been on this planet. And now simple atoms appear
of hydrogen and helium. Now I want to pause for a moment, 380,000 years after the origins
of the universe, because we actually know quite a lot
about the universe at this stage. We know above all
that it was extremely simple. It consisted of huge clouds
of hydrogen and helium atoms, and they have no structure. They’re really a sort of cosmic mush. But that’s not completely true. Recent studies by satellites such as the WMAP satellite have shown that, in fact, there are just tiny differences
in that background. What you see here, the blue areas are about a thousandth
of a degree cooler than the red areas. These are tiny differences, but it was enough
for the universe to move on to the next stage of building complexity. And this is how it works. Gravity is more powerful
where there’s more stuff. So where you get slightly denser areas, gravity starts compacting clouds
of hydrogen and helium atoms. So we can imagine the early universe
breaking up into a billion clouds. And each cloud is compacted, gravity gets more powerful
as density increases, the temperature begins to rise
at the center of each cloud, and then, at the center, the temperature crosses
the threshold temperature of 10 million degrees, protons start to fuse, there’s a huge release of energy, and — bam! We have our first stars. From about 200 million years
after the Big Bang, stars begin to appear
all through the universe, billions of them. And the universe is now
significantly more interesting and more complex. Stars will create
the Goldilocks conditions for crossing two new thresholds. When very large stars die, they create temperatures so high that protons begin to fuse
in all sorts of exotic combinations, to form all the elements
of the periodic table. If, like me, you’re wearing a gold ring, it was forged in a supernova explosion. So now the universe
is chemically more complex. And in a chemically more complex universe, it’s possible to make more things. And what starts happening
is that, around young suns, young stars, all these elements combine,
they swirl around, the energy of the star stirs them around, they form particles, they form snowflakes,
they form little dust motes, they form rocks, they form asteroids, and eventually,
they form planets and moons. And that is how our
solar system was formed, four and a half billion years ago. Rocky planets like our Earth
are significantly more complex than stars because they contain
a much greater diversity of materials. So we’ve crossed a fourth
threshold of complexity. Now, the going gets tougher. The next stage introduces entities
that are significantly more fragile, significantly more vulnerable, but they’re also much more creative and much more capable
of generating further complexity. I’m talking, of course,
about living organisms. Living organisms are created by chemistry. We are huge packages of chemicals. So, chemistry is dominated
by the electromagnetic force. That operates over smaller
scales than gravity, which explains why you and I
are smaller than stars or planets. Now, what are the ideal
conditions for chemistry? What are the Goldilocks conditions? Well, first, you need energy, but not too much. In the center of a star,
there’s so much energy that any atoms that combine
will just get busted apart again. But not too little. In intergalactic space, there’s so little energy
that atoms can’t combine. What you want is just the right amount, and planets, it turns out, are just right, because they’re close to stars,
but not too close. You also need a great diversity
of chemical elements, and you need liquids, such as water. Why? Well, in gases, atoms move
past each other so fast that they can’t hitch up. In solids, atoms are stuck together, they can’t move. In liquids, they can cruise and cuddle and link up to form molecules. Now, where do you find
such Goldilocks conditions? Well, planets are great, and our early Earth was almost perfect. It was just the right
distance from its star to contain huge oceans of liquid water. And deep beneath those oceans, at cracks in the Earth’s crust, you’ve got heat seeping up
from inside the Earth, and you’ve got a great
diversity of elements. So at those deep oceanic vents, fantastic chemistry began to happen, and atoms combined in all sorts
of exotic combinations. But of course, life is more
than just exotic chemistry. How do you stabilize those huge molecules that seem to be viable? Well, it’s here that life introduces
an entirely new trick. You don’t stabilize the individual; you stabilize the template, the thing that carries information, and you allow the template to copy itself. And DNA, of course,
is the beautiful molecule that contains that information. You’ll be familiar
with the double helix of DNA. Each rung contains information. So, DNA contains information
about how to make living organisms. And DNA also copies itself. So, it copies itself and scatters the templates
through the ocean. So the information spreads. Notice that information
has become part of our story. The real beauty of DNA though
is in its imperfections. As it copies itself,
once in every billion rungs, there tends to be an error. And what that means
is that DNA is, in effect, learning. It’s accumulating new ways
of making living organisms because some of those errors work. So DNA’s learning and it’s building greater
diversity and greater complexity. And we can see this happening
over the last four billion years. For most of that time of life on Earth, living organisms have been
relatively simple — single cells. But they had great diversity,
and, inside, great complexity. Then from about 600
to 800 million years ago, multi-celled organisms appear. You get fungi, you get fish, you get plants, you get amphibia, you get reptiles, and then, of course,
you get the dinosaurs. And occasionally, there are disasters. Sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid landed on Earth near the Yucatan Peninsula, creating conditions equivalent
to those of a nuclear war, and the dinosaurs were wiped out. Terrible news for the dinosaurs, but great news
for our mammalian ancestors, who flourished in the niches left empty by the dinosaurs. And we human beings are part
of that creative evolutionary pulse that began 65 million years ago with the landing of an asteroid. Humans appeared about 200,000 years ago. And I believe we count
as a threshold in this great story. Let me explain why. We’ve seen that DNA learns in a sense, it accumulates information. But it is so slow. DNA accumulates information
through random errors, some of which just happen to work. But DNA had actually generated
a faster way of learning: it had produced organisms with brains, and those organisms
can learn in real time. They accumulate information, they learn. The sad thing is, when they die, the information dies with them. Now what makes humans different
is human language. We are blessed with a language,
a system of communication, so powerful and so precise that we can share what we’ve learned
with such precision that it can accumulate
in the collective memory. And that means it can outlast the individuals
who learned that information, and it can accumulate
from generation to generation. And that’s why, as a species,
we’re so creative and so powerful, and that’s why we have a history. We seem to be the only species
in four billion years to have this gift. I call this ability collective learning. It’s what makes us different. We can see it at work
in the earliest stages of human history. We evolved as a species
in the savanna lands of Africa, but then you see humans migrating
into new environments, into desert lands, into jungles, into the Ice Age tundra of Siberia — tough, tough environment — into the Americas, into Australasia. Each migration involved learning — learning new ways of exploiting
the environment, new ways of dealing
with their surroundings. Then 10,000 years ago, exploiting a sudden
change in global climate with the end of the last ice age, humans learned to farm. Farming was an energy bonanza. And exploiting that energy,
human populations multiplied. Human societies got larger,
denser, more interconnected. And then from about 500 years ago, humans began to link up globally through shipping, through trains, through telegraph, through the Internet, until now we seem to form
a single global brain of almost seven billion individuals. And that brain is learning at warp speed. And in the last 200 years,
something else has happened. We’ve stumbled on another energy bonanza in fossil fuels. So fossil fuels and collective
learning together explain the staggering complexity
we see around us. So — Here we are, back at the convention center. We’ve been on a journey,
a return journey, of 13.7 billion years. I hope you agree this is a powerful story. And it’s a story in which humans
play an astonishing and creative role. But it also contains warnings. Collective learning is a very,
very powerful force, and it’s not clear
that we humans are in charge of it. I remember very vividly
as a child growing up in England, living through the Cuban Missile Crisis. For a few days, the entire biosphere seemed to be on the verge of destruction. And the same weapons are still here, and they are still armed. If we avoid that trap,
others are waiting for us. We’re burning fossil fuels at such a rate that we seem to be undermining
the Goldilocks conditions that made it possible
for human civilizations to flourish over the last 10,000 years. So what big history can do is show us the nature
of our complexity and fragility and the dangers that face us, but it can also show us
our power with collective learning. And now, finally — this is what I want. I want my grandson, Daniel, and his friends and his generation, throughout the world, to know the story of big history, and to know it so well that they understand
both the challenges that face us and the opportunities that face us. And that’s why a group of us are building a free, online syllabus in big history for high-school students
throughout the world. We believe that big history will be a vital
intellectual tool for them, as Daniel and his generation face the huge challenges and also the huge opportunities ahead of them at this threshold moment in the history of our beautiful planet. I thank you for your attention. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “The history of our world in 18 minutes | David Christian

  1. Don't tell Daniel lies. Dinosaurs never existed and mankind was not akin to the apes. Charles Darwin came from apes… If it were true, all the said apes would have evolved into mankind. Lucy has been proven false long ago. Paleontologists were given huge grants after finding some large bone (1955), after which, they falsified bones. Most of the so-called dinosaurs at the museum are constructed of such bogus bones. People have been changing their field of study ever since, 'Paleontology' due to light being put on the so-called profession. Hollywood wants people to believe in dinosaurs. There is the current source of the falsely prophecized lie. Hollywood is a strong foe. Mankind was most probably the offshoot of alien society which is actually from our own world. They even still continue to impregnate a woman. The resulting child needs certain bacteria, which is produced by the human woman herself. The Greys extract enough of this bacteria before releasing the brainwashed woman. The very young child will have enough of it. These findings are widely known to be true, though unspoken of by most who know it's true… Understandably, it is a very sensitive subject.

  2. Ya ok..First, we came from magic apparently. And then he claims that we are the only species with collective intelligence that gets passed on from one generation to the next, which is absolute nonsense. That happens with every species.

  3. Oooooman everything came from nothing🧐. If you are serious about looking for the truth watch Dr Ken hovin On you tube

  4. If the universe is truly ruled by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and order degenerates in chaos, then the prediction will be that evolution is caused by DNA failing and the code become more corrupted each generation.

  5. Better get back to basics before trying to understand the universe, people don't even understand human behaviors and attitudes and the close relationship with primates oh, you could save yourself a lot of headaches, because the universe is not going to cuz you're huge financial losses.

  6. When the organism dies, all of the information and experiences don't die with it. RNA records experience, and habitual information. It's all locked up in the cells and can manifest itself depending on current situations. All is not lost.

  7. God's version of Creation and history makes a lot more sense than this anti-God gibberish.

    Science should be left alone and not hijacked by people trying to claim ownership of science to push their nonsensical agendas. Science is not there for you to try crowbar your baseless argument into something brainwashes people into believing your theories.

    There was once NOTHING and then suddenly, magically, there was SOMETHING and this something created itself and everything else. Let's forget the long-winded story telling that follows. Can you please EXPLAIN and prove this starting bit?

    Are those prescription drugs that you're on???

  8. these dummies repeat what the elite has told them to learn.. they actualy believe the universe can create complexity. this is the power of money. they can make you believe anything.. even that building 7 collapsed because of fire.. you ppl are dumb

  9. DNA learns? Please explain coordinated mutations? For pakicetus to morph into the modern whale required 10s of thousands of coordinated and simultaneous mutations.

  10. Now as conscious beings of this universe, is the universe conscious? Since we came from it? So nothing wanting to be something was enough for matter to erupt from nothing???

  11. Man and his stupidity. The birth of Jesus, the Christ, was prophesied hundreds of years before been born. Witnesses give testimony of seeing the Lord resurrected. The fine tuned universe and the fixed path of celestial bodies including galaxies, give testimony of a conscious intelligence governing everything. God lives.

  12. The question would be, what make the first explosion to exit?
    What force made it to happen?

    And how big that empty space which existed before the explosion?
    And if the universe is expanding, does the original space where it existed within before the first explosion also expand and stretches to accommodate the expanding universe?!!

    And what behind the space thst contain the universe?
    Is this space unlimited? Or it contained within other bigger space?

    Can this actually be imagined or even mathematically explained?

    Continuous expansion, must have enough space to accommodate this expansion, but logically everything happen within a space, and based on our capacity, we always think and trying to contain the boundaries of this space!

    But yet we will never contain infinity?
    We never did and we will never be able to contain it or have understanding or even imagine how big the universe really is, and what behind universe!

    Simply, regardless how big universe is, based on what we think of universe, but this universe must exist within a much bigger space and the story continues
    That space must be contained within other bigger space!

  13. Within the first second BANG….PRESUMPTION, RADICAL ESTIMATION burst into existence…. and then logic, the scientific method, all the patterns and laws we know of reality, etc. get thrown out by 'scientists' and other people who think this all makes sense and who instead adopt a FAITH in something they can't prove (yet often teach) and that goes against ALL THAT REASON AND THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD IS BUILT ON. And in that first second, HYPOCRISY becomes the foundation of a great deal of 'scientific conclusions'. And in that first second the first joke is born out of a premise that would be rejected because of having more fallacies wrapped into one tiny ball (one might say molecule) than can be listed by ANY professional debater, polemicist, apologist – anyone who studies reason, rhetoric, science, etc. But it's ok! Just move on real quick and distract with a lot of shiny, highly technical language and nobody will notice – just like magicians do. Ofc one could just say "We Don't Know", but that requires humility and uncertainty. And know-it-alls hate that!!

  14. WTF??: The 4000 IDIOTS who DOWNVOTED THIS!!
    What MORON thinks this is stupid, untrue, not amazing, unscientific or… I CANNOT fathom any legitimate reason to dislike this presentation.

    The rip in the sacred, astounding fabric of humanity: We're dragged down by religious, antiscience dumbos and Luddites, apparently 😩😱😱😱

  15. I wonder what caused the big bang, like how did nothing all of suddenly create something. And I wonder what the "nothing" was…it's hard to fathom.

  16. Science like this requires faith, In this religion there is no right or wrong just consensus of the members, with no deity to worship or direct I find it cold and barren.

  17. 4.26 : this Darkness is what your soul moves into, before we pass over to the non physical realm. According to people who have had a near death experience.

  18. Regarding the entropy law, and the pockets of higher complexity (due to the energy flow from low to high entropy meaning exergy consumption) I recommend Joseph Tainter's work on the collapse of complex societies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Ac61MsZKE#t=29m45s
    Complexity grows as it is a method to cope with problems, more complex structures are more performant than less complex ones. But as there is no free lunch, complexity has to be paid by energy (more precise exergy). Additionally we have to fight the issue of diminishing returns: the low hanging fruits are picked first and the easier options that give more benefits in increasing complexitiy have already been realised.

  19. How do we know the structure of the universe in the early years? Not picking an argument I swear I’m just curious

  20. I think everyone knows we are created beings. Everyone knows that there is moral chaos in this world, considering these past shooting events, wars, sexual abuse, etc. Love exists, no molecules there. Everyone also knows the Name of Jesus is something you need to talk yourself out of, rather than believe. Stop and think people; spirits and souls are do not have molecules. A perfect environment is sinless and there is coming a time when you will be held accountable for your life.

  21. Позор безграмотному редактору субтитров Галине Хасановой и тому кто наклацал текст к описанию этого видео!
    Наляпать столько (!) грамматических и пунктуационных ошибок мог только третьеклассник!
    Или откройте доступ для редактирования титров, чтоб более грамотные люди могли исправить ваш позор или относите тексты переводов учителю русского языка старших классов перед их публикацией!

  22. The Big Bang is what you get when you extrapolate the current expanded universe backwards in time without an adequate understanding of the universe's forces and properties. Traditional Big Bang theory does not take into account the (recently discovered) acceleration of the expansion of the universe, and renders embarrassing hiccups like the need for mathematical inventions like dark matter and dark energy to make the equations balance.

  23. It's, in my honest opinion, not about hope or despair, nor optimism, not even pessimism, rather we just have a lot of work to do. A little bit today, some help with a friend tomorrow, pass it on. Lawson di Ransom Canyon

  24. Daw need to forget them laws, speaking of coarse from a concrete pro standpoint about his opening statements !!

  25. Ok i will assume everything else but how such a big universe was smaller than atom.
    Ok lets assume a tree grows by small seed but it takes air minerals water from outside.
    Means there was nothing in black is lie.

  26. .. Universe is only 12.5 billion years not 13.7 years… we are accelerating faster than once thought….getting younger every day

  27. Yep! All this by ''coincidence'', no intelligence behind that design, right ? Who was holding the magic wand already that caused a Big Bang, light and energy to emerge? (nothing! said the ''scientist'' of the EDV religion (Empty Dark Void)). How come atoms and all those bigger spheres never stop spinning ? Deep interrogations, but easy to answer! Super Intelligent Consciousness Energy, more obvious than E=MC2. It takes much much more faith not to believe in a Creative Energy and to realize it could be called God.

  28. In your creation myth, it all happened by magic. Hahaha! Just admit it, you have no earthly idea. It gives you a false sense of security to think you know more than you do, and a false pride gives you to make confident assertions about matters beyond your comprehension. What put it all into motion? https://youtu.be/U9iGWFzMVm4

  29. Great talk from the gentleman and what a great idea to show younger generations the big picture!
    I think if children were tought about this they would have good clarity of mind and a good sense of appreciation for life growing up!
    ✌🏻❤🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🎩👌🏻🍻

  30. We ALL DIDMT BEGIN IN AFRICA! Black ppl did. And stayed there. They didn’t sail. They didn’t build. I believe w many others, that whites and higher developed Asians were form each their own planets. We destroyed them like we are doing here, now. We were at the heights of our individual technology! So we ventured here to Earth 🌍! We made sure to never mix w aboriginals hence we invented prejudice! To in effect scare individuals into not mixing their seed. For better or worse it worked effectively up until about 1500 A.D. now we are all linked through the internet and are spoiling Mother Earth. Through our combined use of Fossil Fuels. Deforestation. Pollution. Along w many other factors. Again looking for another “Earth “ in space so that Elon Musk can lead us there,lol, or someone like him in the not too distant future

  31. How about history in one or two sentences. The victor writes the history and history has been rewritten so many times, nothing about known history is true.

  32. How long will you talk bullshit made evolution genius Lol..the earth is 6000 years approx not millions genius..il teach you come to India

  33. I'd like to like this, but, dang, a menstrual waste product is a measurement to the dismissal of entropy. Take the right spin and you can win any argument when you amaze the audience with cool beans history. I'm not saying what he's saying is wrong, but he is flawed.

    Solid point and value reasoning. Still, flawed. Yes, we progress and do far better than others species by way of communicating history. No, it is not a right to dictate the outcome. It is a measurement of our ineffectiveness when we don't listen. It's not about changing our technology, it's about changing our ethics.

  34. Even though he skipped critical parts to fully logically explain the beginnings of DNA & life itself (we cannot just asume information wrote itself, did it happen by accident? Or was there a comand ((which is information itself)) for informantion to be written). It's very interesting how from a religious point of view, we are hopeless to our very own achieved power because if we look into ourselfs we have the ability to succeed 100% of the time with tasks, but the way in which we freely think also ensures that we also fail at vital tasks, and thus, need salvation from god (higher ethical values, understanding and power).
    Or from another way to view this, we are to ourselfs become increasingly ethical, gain higher inteligence/understanding and then correctly use this new found power, to stop our own destruction and of our habitat. But this is again put in the balance due to our free thinking system.
    Its like we are beings of unlimited pottential, but the system that enables our pottential, is flawed, and ensures we fail too. If we were capped from the ability to fail (no greed, no killing eachother, no self doubts etc) then in theory we would have much higher pottential and success, if not even infinite, but we would not be fully phycologically free, or in another way, we would not be humans as we are now.
    Jezz this video really got me thinking, anyone else feel free to add more to this… Or perhaps, argue what is written 🙂

  35. It doesn't make any sense to believe that in the beginning of time there was nothing.
    nothing can come from nothing.
    I believe in the beginning of time the power that is gave a piece of it's self for the sake of life.
    Light comes from light and something comes from something
    So in the beginning there was a division scientists don't know about so they say there was nothing and after nothing a boom of something.
    The something that came like a boom came from something, so there was something and there wasn't absolute nothingness first. The big boom of light came from somewhere and what ever caused it is much greater than the boom it's self and that's where we came from

  36. "Do you realise
    that you have the most beautiful face?
    Do you realise
    we're floating in space?
    Do you realise
    that everyone you know someday will die?
    But instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
    let them know you
    realise that life goes fast
    it's hard to make the good things last
    you realise the sun doesn't go down,
    it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning 'round"

    -The Flaming Lips, circa 2002 (yr?) A. D.

  37. Extraordinary way of building up to a very good point. I hope we can find ourselves continually perpetuating in such a volatile time.

  38. So… there was nothing then…. Bang…Yada Yada… then welcome home humans. Thinking I'd like to see what's behind door # 2.

  39. *This is the scientific community's presentation of the Universe and Earth's version of the "Wizard of Oz" and "Alice in Wonderland," a fictional bedtime story for IMPRESSIONABLE children and NAIVE adults. Their cosmic story of how the Oceans and Seas got here is enough to make you wonder why these CHARLATANS haven't already been ARRESTED and IMPRISONED for educational malpractice and fraud.*

  40. The very fact you are here reading this comment. The odds of this happening from "the big boom!" Is simply mathematically, fundamentally and logically impossible. This story is to support the bullshit we are told to believe in. Do your own research…. dont be told!

  41. If we are all "chemicals" and were created by accident, why is it wrong to kill one another, rub one another or lie etc?

  42. He was starting off with "In the beginning there was nothing"…really?…Nothing? ….Nothing does not exist, if there is nothing there is nothing so please tell me how anything can come from nothing! … unless my understanding of "NOTHING" is wrong… like asking my wife whats wrong? …nothing! So if nothing is the void of any existence or presence of things how can anything come into existence?

    Secondly
    Story sounds very familiar …In the beginning there was nothing,… Stars,…Water,….Land,….Life,….Humans… Did I miss something here?

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