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David Christian – The History of Our World

complexity

In this video, David Christian describes what he refers to as Big History: the history of the complexity in the universe. He shows how the complexity of our planet has developed in spite of the universal law of entropy, which says that the tendency of the universe is to move from order and structure to lack of order and lack of structure.

Christian explains that despite entropy, complexity can be created with just the right conditions (ie- Goldilocks conditions).  As complexity builds, things become more fragile and the conditions for complexity become more stringent.  He describes six thresholds of complexity that had to be passed in the universe’s 13.7 billion year history to create the scientific miracle and complexity of human life.

  1. The big bang (electromagnetism, gravity and matter)
  2. Creation of stars
  3. Creation of complex elements during supernova explosions
  4. Formation of rocky planets from complex elements
  5. Life forms from DNA
  6. Humans appear

He believes that we are facing a 7th threshold in that we humans are capable of creating more complexity with our ability to learn collectively and we are capable of destroying the conditions that made human life possible.  He hopes that an understanding of Big History will enable us to understand the challenges and opportunities that face us during this 7th threshold moment in the history of our planet.

 

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