Big History Capstone Project
By Tyque Seals
What Is Big History?
Where Did Everything Come From? How Did We Get Where We Are Now?
The origin of the universe is one of the greatest unanswered questions in the history of mankind. Humans have been debating it for thousands of years, and every religion attempts to posit a different explanation. Questions about the origin of the universe – or, indeed, the origin of reality in general – are challenging for science to tackle head-on. The simple answer is: we don’t know. We may never know exactly how the universe was formed or what, if anything, came before it, although science does have a few ideas to explore. However, not knowing the answer does not give us free range to make something up.
We are now reaching the tipping point; our society demands a different type of learner to meet the challenges and needs of the 21st-century economy. Instructional models, assessment models, and learning opportunities are shifting to meet the desires of today’s student and the requirements of tomorrow’s workforce. We are redefining the goals and ambitions of today’s and tomorrow’s educational systems. How will schools react to this new reality? It is not only about modalities and methods; it is about new tools and opportunities for learning for both students and adults.
The Big Bang
How Did Our Universe Change?
The Ptolemaic view of the Universe was an Earth-centered, or geocentric, model. The Sun and all of the planets orbited the Earth and the other stars formed a backdrop that also orbited Earth
The Copernican Model
The idea of a Sun-centered, or heliocentric, view of the Universe had been suggested by ancient Greek astronomers like Aristarchos and was later published by Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus in 1543. To some extent, this model (not at actual scale in this illustration) ushered in a new age of astronomy.
Kepler and Elliptical Orbits
The German astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler demonstrated that the orbits of Earth and the other planets (not drawn to scale in this illustration) were not perfectly circular but were actually elliptical, or egg-shaped.
This illustration simulates the redshift, or Doppler shift, that affects how light waves appear to us when the source of light is moving away. When we view galaxies from Earth, their light is shifted to the red side of the color spectrum, and indication that they are moving away from us. This is strong evidence for an expanding Universe.
Stars & Elements
How Were Stars Formed?
The Stars form inside relatively dense concentrations of interstellar gas and dust known as molecular clouds. These regions are extremely cold (temperature about 10 to 20K, just above absolute zero). At these temperatures, gases become molecular meaning that atoms bind together.
Earth & The Formation of our solar system
The formation of the Solar System began 4.6 billion years ago with the gravitational collapse of a small part of a giant molecular cloud. Most of the collapsing mass collected in the center, forming the Sun, while the rest flattened into a protoplanetary disk out of which the planets, moons, asteroids, and other small Solar System bodies formed
This widely accepted model, known as the nebular hypothesis, was first developed in the 18th century by Emanuel Swedenborg, Immanuel Kant, and Pierre-Simon Laplace. Its subsequent development has interwoven a variety of scientific disciplines including astronomy, physics, geology, and planetary science. Since the dawn of the space age in the 1950s and the discovery of extrasolar planets in the 1990s, the model has been both challenged and refined to account for new observations.
What IS Life?
What Is Life?
the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
How Our Ancestors Evolved?
When modern humans reached the Near East 125,000 years ago, evidence suggests they retreated back to Africa, as their settlements were replaced by Neanderthals. It is now believed that the first modern humans to spread east across Asia left Africa about 75,000 years ago across the Bab el Mandib connecting Ethiopia and Yemen. From the Near East, some of these people went east to South Asia by 50,000 years ago, and on to Australia by 46,000 years ago at the latest, when for the first time H. sapiens reached territory never reached by H. erectus. H. sapiens reached Europe around 43,000 years ago, eventually replacing the Neanderthal population by 24,000 years ago. East Asia was reached by 30,000 years ago. The date of migration to North America is disputed; it may have taken place around 30 thousand years ago, or considerably later, around 14 thousand years ago. The oldest DNA evidence of human habitation in North America, radiocarbon dated to 14,300 years ago, has been found in fossilized human coprolites uncovered in the Paisley Five Mile Point Caves in south-central Oregon. Colonization of the Pacific islands of Polynesia began around 1300 BCE, and was completed by 900 CE. The ancestors of Polynesians left Taiwan around 5,200 years ago.
The Rise Of Agriculture
Agriculture involving domestication of plants and animals was developed around 12,000 years ago, although earlier people began altering communities of flora and fauna for their own benefit through other means such as fire-stick farming prior to that. Agriculture has undergone significant developments since the time of the earliest cultivation. The Fertile Crescent of Western Asia, Egypt and India were sites of the earliest planned sowing and harvesting of plants that had previously been gathered in the wild. Independent development of agriculture occurred in northern and southern China, Africa's Sahel, New Guinea, parts of India and several regions of the Americas. Agricultural techniques such as irrigation, crop rotation, the application of fertilizers were developed soon after the Neolithic Revolution but have made significant strides in the past 200 years. The Haber-Bosch method for synthesizing ammonium nitrate represented a major breakthrough and allowed crop yields to overcome previous constraints.
In the past century, agriculture in the developed nations, and to a lesser extent in the developing world, has been characterized by enhanced productivity, the replacement of human labor by synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, selective breeding, and mechanization. The recent history of agriculture has been closely tied with a range of political issues including water pollution, biofuels, genetically modified organisms, tariffs, and farm subsidies.
For most of the agrarian era, the world was divided into four separate and distinct world zones. Over time, these zones slowly became more connected as networks of communication and exchange expanded. While innovations did occur throughout this era, such as irrigation, iron plows, and fast-ripening rice, none of these innovations were able to sustain long-term population growth, which limited expansion. Each innovation led to immediate growth, but once populations had grown beyond a certain point, they fell. These cycles of rise and fall in population, called Malthusian cycles, characterized the agrarian era. Humans would not break out of these cycles until the world zones became more connected and rates of innovation were capable of sustaining growth over much longer periods of time.
Transitions, Thresholds and Turning Points in Human History
For example, when a car starts from a standstill (zero relative velocity) and travels in a straight line at increasing speeds, it is accelerating in the direction of travel. If the car turns there is an acceleration toward the new direction. For this example, we can call the accelerating of the car forward a "linear acceleration", which passengers in the car might experience as force pushing them back into their seats. When changing directions, we might call this "non-linear acceleration", which passengers might experience as a sideways force. If the speed of the car decreases, this is an acceleration in the opposite direction of the direction of the vehicle, sometimes called deceleration. Passengers may experience deceleration as a force lifting them away from their seats. Mathematically, there is no separate formula for deceleration, as both are changes in velocity. Each of these accelerations (linear, non-linear, deceleration) might be felt by passengers until their velocity and direction match that of the car.
Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in all of human history.
By 2030 the average person in the U.S. will have 4.5 packages a week delivered with flying drones. They will travel 40% of the time in a driverless car, use a 3D printer to print hyper-individualized meals, and will spend most of their leisure time on an activity that hasn’t been invented yet.
The world will have seen over 2 billion jobs disappear, with most coming back in different forms in different industries, with over 50% structured as freelance projects rather than full-time jobs.
Over 50% of today’s Fortune 500 companies will have disappeared, over 50% of traditional colleges will have collapsed, and India will have overtaken China as the most populous country in the world.
Most people will have stopped taking pills in favor of a new device that causes the body to manufacture it’s own cures.
Space colonies, personal privacy, and flying cars will all be hot topics of discussion, but not a reality yet.
Most of today’s top causes, including climate change, gay liberation, and abortion, will all be relegated to little more than footnotes in Wikipedia, and Wikipedia itself will have lost the encyclopedia wars to an upstart company all because Jimmy Wales was taken hostage and beheaded by warring factions in the Middle East over a controversial entry belittling micro religions.
Our ability to predict the future is an inexact science. The most accurate predictions generally come from well-informed industry insiders about very near term events