Cosmic Calendar: Apes to the present moment

It’s finally here.  An especially fun way to count down to the New Year is with Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar (illustrated as a comic strip here), which maps the entire history of our cosmos onto a single year.

Jon Cleland Host shares the experience with his children, calling out momentous events by the tick of a watch, as history whizzes by in the last few seconds before midnight.

Human evolution

Date / time mya Event
31 Dec, 06:05 15 Apes
31 Dec, 14:24 15 hominids
31 Dec, 22:24 2.5 primitive humans and stone tools
31 Dec, 23:44 0.4 Domestication of fire
31 Dec, 23:52 0.2 Anatomically modern humans
31 Dec, 23:55 0.11 Beginning of most recent glacial period
31 Dec, 23:58 0.035 sculpture and painting
31 Dec, 23:59:32 0.012 Agriculture

History begins

Date / time kya Event
31 Dec, 23:59:47 5.5 First writing (marks end of prehistory and beginning of history), beginning of the Bronze Age
31 Dec, 23:59:48 5.0 First dynasty of EgyptEarly Dynastic period in SumerAstronomy
31 Dec, 23:59:49 4.5 AlphabetAkkadian EmpireWheel
31 Dec, 23:59:51 4.0 Code of HammurabiMiddle Kingdom of Egypt
31 Dec, 23:59:52 3.5 Mycenaean GreeceOlmec civilization; Iron Age in Near East, India, and Europe; founding of Carthage
31 Dec, 23:59:53 3.0 Kingdom of Israel, ancient Olympic games
31 Dec, 23:59:54 2.5 BuddhaConfuciusQin DynastyClassical GreeceAshokan EmpireVedas completed, Euclidean geometry, Archimedean physics, Roman Republic
31 Dec, 23:59:55 2.0 Ptolemaic astronomy, Roman EmpireChrist, invention of numeral 0
31 Dec, 23:59:56 1.5 MuhammadMaya civilizationSong Dynasty, rise of Byzantine Empire
31 Dec, 23:59:58 1.0 Mongol EmpireCrusadesChristopher Columbus voyages to the Americas, Renaissance in Europe

The current second

Date / time kya Event
31 Dec, 23:59:59 0.5 modern science and technology, American RevolutionFrench revolutionWorld War IWorld War IIApollo Moon landing

2 Comments on “Cosmic Calendar: Apes to the present moment

  1. Pingback: What to look forward to in December at HP | Humanistic Paganism

  2. Pingback: Cosmic Calendar Special | Humanistic Paganism


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