Guess what happened 23 minutes ago?
Planet Earth. The place where every known living creature was ever born and perished. This is our home, and it is 4.57 Billion years old.
That’s a lot of time. But even if it was 10 Billion or 100 million years old, we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Our brain is not designed to process this kind of data, unless we can scale it and give it a proportional context.
What if we scaled down those 4.57 Billion year into one year?
Two years after the Big Bang, when our universe itself was born - it gave birth to planet Earth.
After a month and a half some molecules arranged in something we call RNA: the first form of life.
It took full 9 months for the first multi cell animals to evolve (50 days ago).
Trees, insects and sharks showed up about 1 months ago (and it took another 1 week for winged insects to evolve).
The earliest dinosaurs started showing up 24 days ago. They managed to survive a major extinction event that wiped out 70% of the species of earth (this happened 16 days ago). But unfortunately for them, 11 days later another extinction event killed the last dinosaur.
Early mammals formed 18 days ago, and our relatives — the primates, showed up just 107 hours ago.
Homo, a genus of Hominidae family, developed into several known human species. For example, Homo Habilis is traced back to 5 hours and 20 minutes ago. Another specie, Homo Erectus, joined in 3:36 hours ago and lasted more than any other human specie so far: 3 hours and 28 minutes. Neanderthals were tracked back to 29 minutes ago, and managed to stay around until 3 1/2 minutes ago.
Wait, but what about us?
You guessed right. Homo Sapiens have joined in just 23 minutes ago.
We developed a language, left Africa and started spreading over this planet 8 minutes ago. It happened shortly after a huge genetic bottleneck in humans almost got us extinct (only several thousands of humans survived the Toba supereruption).
Modern language has helped us overcome a limitation other human species had: our brain is wired to process the relationships of up to 150 people. So while other relatives had to count on individual observation, we started using gossip. By developing a story about another individual, an event or a plan, helped us cooperate and form much larger communities.
We were hunters and gatherers for 6 minutes (3/4 of our time here), until 90 seconds ago when we started the ‘Agricultural revolution’.
We were always curious and yet fearful from the unknown. Stories turned into ideologies: a collection of stories and ideas that felt right & meaningful to unite very large groups of Homo Sapiens.
Some ideologies were reinforced by a super human power behind it, adding a magical element to the narrative. Religions like Judaism and Buddhism (21 seconds ago), Christianity (14 seconds ago) and Islam (10 seconds ago) became very popular.
The beginning of the ‘Scientific revolution’ (often marked by the European global scientific exploration) started 4 seconds ago followed later by the ‘Industrial revolution’ just 1.5 seconds ago.
Antibiotics, cars, airplanes, space shuttles, nuclear power, telephony, computers, the internet and more were invented in the last single second of this year.
It’s been 12 months x 24 hours x 60 minutes x 60 seconds. We are visitors who showed up in the last 23 minutes of this full year.
And yet, we often feel like we own the place and its future.
Vain? Remarkable? Both? Time will tell…