Big History –A Look at the Big Picture Ernesto Medina Reyes History 140 – Section71183
The Day the Universe Changed People today are insatiably curious and this curiosity has shaped our world. Knowledge dictates how we see the universe and as our knowledge changes, our perceptions change. People will defend to the death their version of the truth and their ideals . Massive military and defense systems in place around the world are one way of protecting those ideas. Western Civilization is based on the information we have accumulated.
The Day the Universe Changed Greeks rationalism changed everything when they began finding ways to reconcile things. The idea of progress began in the 19th century. We learn the rules as we go and we know the “code”. We teach our young to ask questions that have already been answered. We control change by institutionalizing it with examples like marriage and science centers but we live in the face of constant change with little time to adapt. Technology is the prime example. Change is the only constant thing in modern life .
The Journey of Man Everyone came from a single man in Africa who lived approximately 60,000 years ago. He was fully modern in appearance and brain function. At one point all of the continents were one. A small group walked out of Africa approximately 50,000 years ago and ventured out into the unknown. Geneticist Spencer Wells believes these were our ancestor based on common genetic traits across the world. Testing on the blood of isolated tribes in Africa shows the pattern originated there.
The Journey of Man DNA samples show the Africans passed through India and went down into Australia. They began populating the Middle East but took an additional 10,000 years to move into Europe. Europeans were caught off from the rest of the world during the ice age and , as a result, their physical characteristics changed including skin color, hair color and height. Evidence of this journey in our genetic code will soon be lost as isolated cultures disseminate around the globe.
Catastrophe Major catastrophic event occurred at about 535 AD. Tree ring evidence shows a worldwide period of missed summers and long stretches of extreme cold. At least two dozen accounts across the world of a darkening of the sun, red rains, floods, and a yellow sky. Climatologists believe a veil of dust was covering the sun rays. Three possible explanations of events that could cause worldwide climatic change: Comet striking Earth Asteroid striking Earth Major volcanic eruption Core samples from polar ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica show major sulfuric deposits suggesting a volcano was the most likely scenario. China has a recorded account of a loud bang or “thunderous noise” in the southwest in 535. The event was described in the Book of Kings as “ a deadly storm darkening the entire world …the island of Java was split in two.” The volcano Krakatoa in Indonesian shows evidence of a major eruption around the same time period.
Catastrophe Climatic change had a huge effect on human civilization. Catastrophe drew the ancient world to a final close. Rome Bubonic plague’s widespread effect is a result of the drop in temperature. Fleas feed on rats infected with the bacteria. As the bacteria grows in the fleas gut, the food supply is cut off and the flea is unable to sate its hunger. As a result it feeds off anything, including humans. This bacteria will only grow in the fleas gut in cooler temperatures. Millions tied. People left infected cities and spread the disease to small towns and rural areas. Resulted in mayhem in the cities, reduced military populations, reduced income from agriculture and taxes. Rome was unable to withstand the attack from the Avars of Magnolia and suffered total devastation.
Catastrophe America City of Teotihuacan, Mexico had approximately 125,000 people at the start of the sixth century. Bone research shows the population suffered an extreme decline in health and an increase in death from infectious bacteria in young adults and babies. Lake deposits in the Yucatan Peninsula show evidence of a 30 year drought during the same time period. People rose up against the leaders, smashing palaces and setting the city ablaze. Marked the end of the city’s prosperity.
Guns, Germs & Steel The advantages of Europe and China over the rest of the world were a result of being in the right place at the right time, not evidence of more intelligence than any other culture. Europe Agriculturally has 32 of 56 prized wild grasses. Home to 13 of the 14 most important animals to humans. Outpaced Asia in advancement because China and Japan began to isolate themselves and stopped trade with other countries. Asia Agriculturally is able to grow 6 of the 8 founder crops. Home to 4 of the 5 most important domesticated animals. Europe and Asia experienced trading and migration advantages based on a even east-west latitude that maintained moderate temperatures America and Africa would have to look north-south and could not use technological advancements of other cultures because of the extreme climate differences. America did not have any animals that could be domesticated and African animals are not genetically coded to be tamed. This left these cultures at a great disadvantage during war. Americans did not have disease immunities because many diseases came from domesticated animals. Often European diseases arrived before the Europeans themselves wiping out thousands of the native population.
The World & Trade Although Columbus was not the first person to “sail the ocean blue”, his journey came at a time when the world was ready to expand it boundaries and take advantage of relations with other nations. By overcoming ignorance about what lay across the ocean, Columbus brought together humanity in a way the Norse visit to Greenland 1,000 years prior had been unable to do. Columbus’ voyage paved the way for additional exploration into America and opened trade lines and resources across the world. Silver mined in Mexico and Bolivia became the core currency for trading all across Europe and Asia.
The World & Trade The aristocracy in Europe and Asia began to demand exotic items from foreign countries and trade flourished. Drug and tobacco trade became increasingly popular for both religious and recreational use. Trading of potatoes from Ireland saved England and France during a time of war, failing wheat crops and famine. Although initially rejected the potato was a hardy plant able to withstand the elements. Cacao, a prized commodity known to be a stimulant, intoxicant, hallucinogen, and aphrodisiac, was originally used as currency by the Aztecs then by Spaniards. It later became the high demanded drink in Europe. These events were the foundation of the continued trade that exists today.