Monday, March 12, 2007

The Short Human History

Today, at Daily KOS I came across a very thought provoking article on how to think about the scale of human history. The article discusses human history in increments of a single human lifespan. It illustrates just how short human history is:

“Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., one the United States' great historians, is less than two lifetimes removed from a world where the United States did not exist. Through Mr. Schlesinger, you're no more than three away yourself. That's how short the history of our nation really is.

Not impressed? It's only two more life spans to William Shakespeare. Two more beyond that, and the only Europeans to see America are those who sailed from Greenland. You're ten lifetimes from the occupation of Damietta during the fifth crusade. Twenty from the founding of Great Zimbabwe and the Visigoth sack of Rome. Make it forty, and Theseus, king of Athens, is held captive on Crete by King Minos, the Olmecs are building the first cities in Mexico, and the New Kingdom collapses in Egypt.

Sixty life times ago, a man named Abram left Ur of the Chaldees and took his family into Canaan. Abram is claimed as the founder of three great religions. A few lifetimes before that, and you've come out the bottom of that dime. You're that close to it.”

In your lifetime alone you will add one more percent to the length of the human experience, a whole 25% to American history and more than double the length of the computer age. This really makes one lifetime seem a lot more important on the face of human history (as long as you don’t consider the vast number of people in one age category).

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2 Comments:

Blogger Oli said...

That is remarkably cool. In terms of depth, we're not nearly so insignificant!

But yeah, looking at breadth....and then the cosmos...

7:30 PM  
Blogger Jesse said...

But yeah, looking at breadth....and then the cosmos...

Who was the bastard that came up with relativity?! Besides Einstein.

This really makes one lifetime seem a lot more important on the face of human history

Yeah, it does, except I'm not so sure that this article takes into account the really short lifespans of previous generations.

1:56 AM  

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