A work in progress (updated 8/11/2020) …
13.7 billion years ago
Universe appears. Sensitive radio telescope technology which shows faint cosmic microwave background radiation is detected in 1964. Radio telescopes are observing instruments used in radio astronomy, which studies the radio frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum emitted by astronomical objects, just as optical telescopes are used in traditional optical astronomy which studies the light wave portion of the spectrum coming from astronomical objects.
4.5 billion years ago
Our solar system forms with earth. How do we know? We’ve used the debris from meteor impacts, such as the Meteor Crater in Arizona, assuming that the material from such meteors coming from the asteroid belt would have been made at the same time as the Earth.
3.5 billion years ago
Prokaryotes, single-cell organisms without a nucleus, appear in fossil record. They are the first living organisms. The name comes from the Greek ‘pro’ (before) ‘karyon’ (nut or kernel), since it lacks a membrane-bound nucleus.
1.5 billion years ago
Eukaryotes, multicellular organism with nucleus, appear in fossil record, among the first of these being algae.
535 million years ago
Cambrian Explosion would see super biodiversity on earth. Tardigrades, ‘slow walkers,’ appear around in the fossil record (discovered in 1773 by a German pastor named Johann Goeze).
65 million years ago
Asteroid hitting the Yucatán peninsula wipes out dinosaurs, as part of one of five major extinction events. Mammals and birds, the latter descended from theropod (carnivorous, bipedal) dinosaurs, emerged as dominant large land animals. Georges Cuvier in early 19th century is first to establish notion of extinction and identify dinosaurs through fossil evidence. We may be currently living through one of the biggest extinction events as our human population displaced and destroys other species. We have succeeded to increase our carrying capacity through agricultural production, medical advancements, and public health measures—yet our population is now slowing down since there is less need for children as labor. We have moved from positive feedback loop to negative with 1.1% growth (slowing down since 1960s).
3 million years ago
Lucy, Australopithecus afarensis, ‘Southern ape from Afar,’ is uncovered in Ethiopia.
2 million years ago
Homo Erectus, followed by Homo Habilis, and later Neanderthal, appear. Discoveries of the former made by Louis, Mary, and son, Richard Leakey in Olduvai Gorge, northern Tanzania.
600,000 years ago
Homo Erectus gains control of fire, tool-making well underway among Neanderthals (either H. neanderthalensis or as H. s. neanderthalensis)
200,000 years ago
Modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) appear in Eastern Africa; we are foragers, nomadic hunters and gatherers.
Beginning of Paleolithic (‘Old Stone Age’), the great stretch of human history, till the Mesolithic about 20,000 years ago.
100,000 years ago
Out of Africa. Humans begin migration out of Africa to Eurasia, and will populate the world, albeit in very small numbers.
10,000 years ago
Neolithic Revolution (‘new stone age’), with tools that are more polished. Up to this point, since 200,000, most of human history, small communities, with global migration, little population growth. We cultivated grains in Mesopotamia, yams in Africa, and rice in China. Human population will now begin to grow with the domestication of animals and the development of agriculture.
Wheel invented in Mesopotamia
Egypt unified. First written language soon developed by Sumerians of Southern Mesopotamia (Bronze Age to 1,000 BCE; bronze made of 90% copper and 10% tin; we know of large tin mining from Afghanistan by looking at ice core samples and measuring the levels of pollution found from the production of bronze.)
Cities are developed in India, and China, in addition to Mesopotamia and Northeastern Africa; with sedentary civilization comes hierarchy and class division. The Egyptian physician Imhotep describes 200 diseases.
Judaism begins with Abraham
Hatshepsut comes to throne
Akhenaton comes to throne following Amenhotep III
Exodus under Ramses II and Olmec civilization begins; collapse of multiple civilizations in eastern Mediterranean, including Minoans, Mycenaeans (drought theorized by looking at pollen levels in dug out mud of dried up lagoon), Hittites. Egypt survives.
c. 483 BCE
Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, passes away
Alexander, tutored by Aristotle, reaches India
c. 240 BCE
Eratosthenes, based at the great library and research center of Alexandria, calculates circumference of Earth (engineer Archimedes and his screw, heliocentric theorist Aristarchus of Samos, mathematician who developed geometry Euclid, are contemporaries). The Musaeum (‘the instituons of the muses,’ since it was dedicated to the muses, the nine goddesses who inspire literature, science, and the arts—the source of knowledge embodies in these—including Clio, the muse of history, daughter of Zeus).
Ashoka Maurya, spreads Buddhism
Rosetta (town of Rashid) made by Ptolemaic ruler, discovered in 1799.
Roman empire and development of first concrete, pozzolana
Boudica, queen of the Iceni people of Eastern England rebels against Romans
Emperor Constantine converts to Christianity
Hypatia, who, teaches astronomy, philosophy, physics, and mathematics, is killed at the direction of the Bishop of Alexandria, Cyril, who is later made a saint.
Indo-Arabic numerals being used
Fall of western Roman Empire
Hejira. Year one of Muslim calendar
Islam reaches Iberia and India; Chinese invent gunpowder
Charlemagne coronation as Holy Roman Emperor and unites much of Europe
Ibn Sina (Avicenna) Persian physician writes The Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine
Arab scientist Ibn al-Haythan considered to be one of the first to postulate on the nature of light and optics leading to the concept of the telescope, as well as one of the first researchers to use the scientific method.
Ibn Rushd (Averroes) interprets Aristotle
Ibn Battuta begins journey and Mansa Musa of Mali empire will set off on Hajj the next year
First African captives taken to Portugal
Johannesburg Gutenberg moveable type printing press
Fall of Constantinople
Leonardo da Vinci dissects corpses
Martin Luther and Protestant Reformation
Cortez begins conquest of South America
Polish astronomer Copernicus’ heliocentric theory; Girolamo Fracastoro germ theory published three years later.
Native Americans push out Spaniards at Joara (Xuala)
Giordano Bruno championed a much more expansive understanding of the Earth’s place in the universe, with the Sun being just one star among all the others, and is burned at stake; Malik Ambar in power
Galileo telescopic observations
Jamestown, VA, 20 Africans; Francis Bacon publishes Novum Organum Scientiarum (‘new instrument of science’) a year later, challenging Aristotle’s methodology of coming to a scientific ‘truth’ by way of argument (using his logical rules), arguing instead that ‘truth’ required evidence from systematic observation. The title of the book was a reference to Aristotle’s Organon, his treatise on logic and syllogism. Lays the groundwork for the ‘scientific method,’ consisting in systematic observation, measurement, experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses—a proposed explanation for a phenomenon—that can be tested, but provisionally accepted (different from a scientific theory, which is an explanation that can be repeatedly tested … yet accuracy is different from precision).
William Harvey explains the function of heart to circulate blood; Robert Boyle, a founder of modern chemistry, performs controlled experiments and publishes, having devised the vacuum chamber (air pump) and defining the modern idea of an ‘element.’
racial codification begins in Chesapeake
Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion; Antoine van Leeuwenhoek, pioneer in microbiology, observes bacteria in water.
Isaac Newton three laws of motion and gravitation in Principia
Glorious Revolution, Germantown, PA, Quaker petition against slavery
Thomas Newcomb builds first practical dream engine
John Campbell invents sextant, enables sailors to measure longitude accurately for the first time
Declaration of Independence
Steamboat invented by John Fitch; Bill of Rights ratified
Dr. Edward Jenner introduces idea of vaccinations (taken from Ottoman Empire, taken from India) with small pox on young English boy.
British and U.S. end slave trade
George Stephenson builds first practical steam locomotive
Peru gains independence
Michael Faraday discovers electro-magnetic current making electric generators and motors AND Nat Turner revolt, North Carolina law then prohibits teaching enslaved to read or write.
Britain abolishes slavery
1835 – Sol, an enslaved African American (of General Hamilton), known to have assisted in setting up escapes for others with Levi and Vestal Coffin almost twenty years earlier uses the Underground Railroad to gain his own freedom.
Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect which explains how electricity can be generated from sunlight.
First successful surgical operation using anesthesia by William T.G. Morton
Seneca Falls Convention
Broad Street cholera outbreak in London to be studied by John Snow, shows a clear understanding of Girolamo Fracastoro’s pioneering work on germ theory from 1546. Snow is challenging the dominant miasma theory of ‘bad air’ first proposed by Galen. Smallpox vaccination in use in Europe, with similar treatments in India dating to 1,000 C.E.
Dred Scott case
Charles Darwin Origin of Species; John Brown raid at Harpers Ferry; Louis Pasteur begins to amass evidence to support Germ Theory of Disease
13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the U.S.
James Maxwell publishes Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism
Alexander Graham Bell patents telephone
Thomas Edison patents incandescent electric lamp
Pleasure v. Ferguson, separate but equal
Marie Curie wins Nobel for work on radio activity; Wright Brothers first engine-powered airplane
Albert Einstein theory of special relativity
Plastic based on synthetic polymer called Bakelite
Dr. John Leal conceived and implements first disinfectant of a U.S. drinking water supply using chlorine; Henry Ford launches Ford Model T
Francis Aston pioneers first mass spectrometer and used to discover many isotopes.
19th Amendment women’s suffrage; first radio broadcast in Pittsburgh, PA
Penicillin antibiotic discovered by Alexander Fleming; TV sets put in three homes with programming beginning; invention of coolant chemicals for air conditioning and refrigeration
Stock market crash, Great Depression
Karl Popper’s falsifiability; Lev Vygotsky ‘tools and results’
Atomic bomb and end of WWI
India gains independence AND Carbon-14 dating is invented by University of Chicago chemist. Radioactive carbon-14 (an isotope of carbon) has a half-life of about 5,700 years. In 1947 American chemist Willard Libby figured that plants absorb some of the trace carbon-14 from the atmosphere (some nitrogen turning into carbon-14 when hit with cosmic rays) while they absorbed ordinary carbon in photosynthesis. Once the plant died it couldn’t absorb any more carbon of any kind, and the carbon-14 it contained would decay at its usual rate without being replaced. By finding the concentration of carbon-14 left in the remains of a plant, one could calculate the amount of time since the plant had died. With this technique we could determine the age of plant-based artifacts (wood, parchment, textiles) up to 45,000 years old. This has allowed estimates of the age prehistoric dwellings, and ancient documents and clothes, among other things. Also in 1946 a Welsh chemist John Beynon constructed the first mass spectrometer designed to study organic compounds unrelated to petroleum; there was also the invention of the transistor, allowing electronic equipment smaller, leading to computer revolution. So, in this year we’ve got India’s independence, discovery of carbon-14 dating, mass spectrometer to study organic compounds, and the transistor!
Structure of DNA is discovered
Jean Piaget theory of development AND Algerian war of independence begins AND Brown v. Board of Education
Jonas Salk develops first polio vaccine
Sputnik launched by Soviet Union; NASA formed within a year
Invention of the silicon chip; Abu arrives to U.S. to study engineering
Woolworth sit-in and 16 African nations gain independence
Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Voting Rights Act AND Birth Control pill made legal for married couples
Voting age lowered from 21 to 18, 26th Amendment
Discovery of HIV virus that causes AIDS
Lenora Fulani on ballot in all fifty states
Fall of Berlin Wall; World Wide Web invented by Tim Berners-Lee
Collapse of the Soviet Union
Complete sequencing of human genome
Barack Obama elected U.S. President; Samina born
Three nanotechnologists win Nobel Prize in chemistry for building miniature machines out of molecules
COVID-19; Black Lives Matter uprisings; you are reading this …