Friday, March 24, 2006

World: The age of everything

The universe: 13,700 million years
Earliest stars: 13,300 million
Sun: 4,700 m
earth: 4,500 m
Life on earth: 600 m
Earliest dinosaurs: 200 m
Current life forms: 10 m
Homo sapiens: 0.2 m (200,000 years)
Known history: 10,000

I thought it would be useful to give a bit of perspective for everything. Yes, we all know human history is crammed into the last second of the evolutionary clock. But to collate where everything else fitted in, I had to use a variety of sources.
Some people like to say there's only 5,000 million years of fuel left in the sun. But this is pretty irrelevant; it dwarves human history, and the earth isn't even that old. Stephen Hawking also felt so moved to pointlessly mention this (A Brief History Of Time).

I once thought it was a shame we're on an outer arm of our galaxy the Milky Way, because if we were closer to the densely packed centre, we'd be closer to a lot of other life forms. But then I read up on quasars. These seem to be galactic centres that collapsed in on themselves, ie if you're at the centre, you'll get sucked into a mammoth black hole. No thanks. Even given the time scales for this to happen, it sounds dodgy.

To get an idea of our place in the universe physically, I strongly recommend Monty Python's The Galaxy Song (analysed here). Lots of useful information therein.

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