Comparing the Human Lifetime to the Universe

Comparing the Human Lifetime to the Universe
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  • 0:01 The Cosmic Calendar
  • 0:29 The First Half of the Year
  • 1:38 The Second Half of the Year
  • 3:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Did you ever wonder how long your lifespan actually is compared to the lifespan of the entire universe if it's condensed to one year? This lesson will tell you that and much more.

The Cosmic Calendar

For this lesson, we'll engage in a little activity. You can either follow along onscreen, or take out a calendar and follow along that way to appreciate what a human lifetime means in the grand scheme of the history of the universe when it's condensed to one calendar year.

We'll pretend that the Big Bang occurred on January 1st of this year and then slowly go from there to determine what happened and when.

The First Half of the Year

It's midnight on January 1st of our calendar. The Big Bang has occurred. No, not the big bangs of the fireworks going off on New Year's day. I meant the start of the universe! The reality is that this happened 13.7 billion years ago when no fireworks were even around.

Fifteen minutes later, as if this date has little day planner-like sections in our calendar, the first neutral atoms of hydrogen and helium have formed. Without these guys, the rest of the calendar would be blank because they're as necessary to everything in the universe as food and water are to you on a daily basis.

Roughly 2.5 weeks later, the first stars and galaxies have come about, meaning the first neighborhoods were being built really early on in the universe's history. This is actually around 700 million years after the Big Bang, but it's not until May that the thin disk of the Milky Way Galaxy, the galaxy where the earth resides, has formed.

The Second Half of the Year

By September of our year, things get a lot more relatable. On September 1st, the solar system has begun to form. Hence, later that same month, the Moon and Earth are born! Who knew that Earth was a Virgo? Towards the last week of September, the first signs of life appear on planet Earth, except this life was at first invisible to the unaided eye. As far as we know, E.T. didn't fly over in a UFO and drop some animals on Earth out of nowhere. Instead, things had to evolve on Earth pretty slowly, and so, it's not until November, about 11.7 billion years after the Big Bang, that more complex life arises.

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