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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Big History for taking us from the big bang,
through the beginning of life on earth, and on through the rise of humanity.

Big History: The Big Bang,
Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity
Lectures by Professor David Christian

Big History (2008) - 48 lectures, 24 hours
Big History at TheGreatCourses.com

About 100,000 to 60,000 years ago, a species of hominines - bipedal ape-like creatures - began to move out of its home territory in Africa and into the Asian continent. Today, homo sapiens, the descendants of those first hominines - live in nearly every ecological niche. We fly through the air in planes, communicate instantaneously over immense distances, and develop theories about the creation of the Universe. In Big History: The Big Bang, Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity, you'll hear this ever-evolving story - the history of everything - in its monumental entirety from the moment the Universe grew from the size of an atom to the size of a galaxy in a fraction of a second.

Taught by historian David Christian, Big History offers a unique opportunity to view human history in the context of the many histories that surround it. Over the course of 48 thought-provoking lectures, he'll serve as your guide as you traverse the sweeping expanse of cosmic history - 13.7 billion years of it - starting with the big bang and traveling through time and space to the present moment.

A Grand Synthesis of Knowledge

Have you ever wondered: How do various scholarly discourses - cosmology, geology, anthropology, biology, history - fit together?

Big History answers that question by weaving a single story from a variety of scholarly disciplines. Like traditional creation stories told by the world's great religions and mythologies, Big History provides a map of our place in space and time. But it does so using the insights and knowledge of modern science, as synthesized by a renowned historian.

This is a story scholars have been able to tell only since the middle of the last century, thanks to the development of new dating techniques in the mid-1900s. As Professor Christian explains, this story will continue to grow and change as scientists and historians accumulate new knowledge about our shared past.

Professor David Christian, formerly Professor of History at San Diego State University, is one of the pioneers of the field of big history. Currently he is Professor of History at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, which won the 2005 World History Association Book Prize, and This Fleeting World: A Short History of Humanity. He is coeditor of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of the World History.

48 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: What Is Big History? 25: The Origins of Agriculture
2: Moving across Multiple Scales 26: The First Agrarian Societies
3: Simplicity and Complexity 27: Power and Its Origins
4: Evidence and the Nature of Science 28: Early Power Structures
5: Threshold 1 - Origins of Big Bang Cosmology 29: From Villages to Cities
6: How Did Everything Begin? 30: Sumer - The First Agrarian Civilization
7: Threshold 2 - The First Stars and Galaxies 31: Agrarian Civilizations in Other Regions
8: Threshold 3 - Making Chemical Elements 32: The World That Agrarian Civilizations Made
9: Threshold 4 - The Earth and the Solar System 33: Long Trends - Expansion and State Power
10: The Early Earth - A Short History 34: Long Trends - Rates of Innovation
11: Plate Tectonics and the Earth's Geography 35: Long Trends - Disease and Malthusian Cycles
12: Threshold 5 - Life 36: Comparing the World Zones
13: Darwin and Natural Selection 37: The Americas in the Later Agrarian Era
14: The Evidence for Natural Selection 38: Threshold 8 - The Modern Revolution
15: The Origins of Life 39: The Medieval Malthusian Cycle, 500 - 1350
16: Life on Earth - Single-celled Organisms 40: The Early Modern Cycle, 1350 - 1700
17: Life on Earth - Multi-celled Organisms 41: Breakthrough - The Industrial Revolution
18: Hominines 42: Spread of the Industrial Revolution to 1900
19: Evidence on Hominine Evolution 43: The 20th Century
20: Threshold 6 - What Makes Humans Different? 44: The World That the Modern Revolution Made
21: Homo sapiens - The First Humans 45: Human History and the Biosphere
22: Paleolithic Lifeways 46: The Next 100 Years
23: Change in the Paleolithic Era 47: The Next Millennium and the Remote Future
24: Threshold 7 - Agriculture 48: Big History - Humans in the Cosmos


7-1-17 The rock that records how we all got here
The rock that records how we all got here
You're going to want to touch it; you're definitely going to want to run your fingers over its wavy lines. This 2.5-tonne lump of rock will be one of the new star exhibits when London's Natural History Museum re-opens its front entrance-space in a couple of weeks' time. The Hintze Hall has been closed for most of this year to allow the South Kensington attraction to remodel its welcome to visitors. Out has gone "Dippy" the diplodocus dinosaur, and in its place has come a massive skeleton of a blue whale. From 14 July, as you go into the NHM, you'll be confronted by the largest animal on the planet diving down at you from the ceiling. Your correspondent has had a sneak peek, and it's spectacular. Earth's early oceans would have been full of reduced iron in solution that had been washed off the continents, and when it combined with the nascent oxygen being produced by photosynthetic bacteria, the resulting oxides would have precipitated to settle on the seafloor. The different layers incorporated into the rock probably mark cycles of bacterial boom and bust. Ultimately, all of the right type of iron in the ancient waters was consumed and the free oxygen had nowhere else to go but up and out into the atmosphere. Earth had become a different place. "The rock tells a fantastic story," says Prof Richard Herrington, the head of Earth sciences at the NHM. "This is the prelude to complex life. We're oxygen breathers. An organism needs an energy source and the burning of carbon in the presence of oxygen is largely where we get our energy from. It still took two billion years from this rock to get to multicellular organisms, but that's another story," he told BBC News.

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Big History: The Big Bang,
Life on Earth, and the Rise of Humanity
Lectures by Professor David Christian

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse Big History for taking us from the big bang,
through the beginning of life on earth, and on through the rise of humanity.