The History and Future of the Universe in Four Minutes

TED Blog

Physicist Brian Green promises he will tell the audience at TED 2014 the whole history of the universe in four minutes. “Forgive me,” he says, “if I leave out a detail here or there.”

He does it with two metaphors. One from the beginning till now, and another from now till the end.

TED2014_DD_DSC_2082 Brian Greene. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

The universe today is 13.8 billion years old, and it can be very hard to get our minds around that number. So Greene uses a metaphor pioneered by Carl Sagan. Imagine that we’re part of a single calendar year. All of cosmic history compressed into a single calendar year. On this calendar:

  • May 12, the Milky Way is formed.
  • Sept 2nd, the Earth is formed.
  • 11:40pm New Year’s Eve, Humans evolve.
  • 11:44pm, we domesticate fire.
  • 11:58pm the first cave paintings are made.
  • 11:59:49pm writing is developed, so all of recorded history takes place…

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