You are a very short note near the end of the symphony of life

Seed has compiled a short list celebratory articles and media for your Darwin Day — take a look. I rather liked The Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds: it’s very short, but it puts everything in perspective by listing key events in the 4.6 billion year history of the planet with appropriate timing to fit into one minute. If they’d put it into the context of the over 13 billion year history of the universe, it might have been even more dramatic.

Produced by Claire L. Evans.


  1. Richard Harris says

    Jumpin Jeezus, that sure goes off with a bang!

    That dumb-ass Yahweh fellah sure took his time getting started there, so I guess it’s little wonder the Y E Creationists reckon the Earth’s only six thousand years old. Feckin’ edjits.

  2. says

    Yeah, I think a few more things were occurring during all of the dead time–including a whole lot of evolution of basic biochemical pathways. We just don’t know much about it.

    No photos, though? The IDiots say they might pay attention if we have snapshots every 30 seconds or so over the course of evolution. To be sure, they’d still probably credit any “important” changes to miracles.

    Glen D

  3. SEF says

    It’s rather dangerously misrepresentative the way these things show humans as being the last note / nanosecond / fingernail scraping or whatever. It feeds the religious nutters’ desire to be the special end product. Instead the “graph” (whatever form it takes) should show humans as a miniscule nonentity positioned merely somewhere along a sequence of ill-defined length, fading into a nebulous unknown end.

  4. strangebrew says

    ‘If they’d put it into the context of the over 13 billion year history of the universe, it might have been even more dramatic.’

    Well not for 10-12 mins or so…the dark screen of inflation…mind you what with fundamental particles…quarks…hydrogen…there would have been a couple of flashes…but what an ending ;-)

  5. pHred says

    I liked it but – it is Banded Iron Formation – IRON not Ion formations. I was so bugged by that I couldn’t pay attention to the next several events.

  6. cactusren says

    Cool. Will defnitely show this to my historical geology class. I’m sure ‘ion’ instead of ‘iron’ was just a typo–she said it correctly.

  7. Holbach says

    And there it is, so obvious in it’s origins and ramifications. Pisses you off, eh religious morons? Suffer.

  8. Sven DiMilo says

    It could do without the blood = ocean water comparison in the original blurb.

    Why? What’s the problem with that statement?

    Just as our blood still bears the salt water of our most ancient evolutionary ancestors.

    Seems appropriate to me.

  9. ThatOtherGuy says

    Haha, I was sitting there bracing myself for the Cambrian Explosion… then it came and OHMYGODWORDSWORDSWORDS

  10. Darby says

    Well, it’s just a false comparison. We’ve got water, but it’s not even in the same proportion as ocean water (thanks to a long period of fresh-water fish adaptation), and the salts certainly aren’t comparable. If you’re looking for evidence of our marine origins, plasma is too disconnected to really use as some sort of ancient remnant.

  11. Holbach says

    Frac @ 12

    I never tire of watching Carl Sagan. The cosmic calendar makes the relgionist’s version look like the insane crap that it is. Bugs the crap out of them. Suffer, you morons.

  12. Robert Thille says

    Shouldn’t “Last Banded Ion Formations” be “Last Banded Iron Formations”? My wife is the geologist in the family, but her BIF rocks are the oldest ones in the house AFAIK…

  13. RamblinDude says

    You are a very short note near the end of the symphony of life

    C sharp to B sharp!

    (Hey, wait a minute. We may be somewhere in the middle of this symphony!)

  14. SocraticGadfly says

    Don’t forget to listen to The Carnival of the Animals, by Saint-Saens! It even has the one section titled “Fossils.”

  15. Jim Battle says

    Kobra @#4 said: “e^x does very little until it hits 0, then rushes up to infinity.”

    Huh? The growth from e^(-20) to e^(-10) is exactly the same ratio as e^10 to e^20.

    Sorry, I felt the urge to pick that nit.

    Back to the topic: nice video!

  16. Chris Davis says

    That’s absolutely gorgeous! I’ve been playing over and over, and I don’t think I’ll stop for a while yet.

  17. JM says

    pHred wrote at #9:

    I liked it but – it is Banded Iron Formation – IRON not Ion formations. I was so bugged by that I couldn’t pay attention to the next several events.

    I vaguely remember having a (Chemistry?) teacher who pronounced the element “Eye-Ron”, which eliminated the confusion. It’s not the pronunciation I’m used to.

  18. defectiverobot says


    You beat me to it. The Cosmos calendar was really cool. And the evolution animation was way ahead of it’s time…and had a cool soundtrack to boot!

  19. Keith Harwood says

    These things always annoy me. We have had life on Earth for 4,000,000,000 years. Before the Sun gets too big and bright we are likely to have life on Earth another 4,000,000,000 years. (Unless we do something *really* silly.) Even David Attenborough got it wrong with his year of life on earth. We aren’t a blip of a couple of seconds at the end of December. We are a blip of a couple of seconds at the beginning of July.

  20. CraigM says

    Yeah, I also stared at Banded Ion for awhile thinking, huh? It is a very cool representation of the geologic timeline, though.

  21. Rickey says

    Maybe we should let the life at 4,000,001,000 and beyond do their own calendars. Hell, they will probably figure out how to really harness the sun and keep on going until we swing into some unforeseenly dangerous random rock. We might just be in last moment of the third week in January. It’s gonna be a long winter. History will be a thing of the past. (sorry, Red Stripe is Jamaican Mon.)

  22. Crudely Wrott says

    I like your example of us being the last note, PZ. Some others might think that our relative flash in the pan leaves an opening for the literalist thumpers to thrust their noses into. Let them have at it, I say. It will only hasten the day when they will be roundly considered anachronisms.

    We are a final note only to what has already been played. But as soon as that last note is noted and recorded and played back to wisely nodding heads, the symphony has moved on. So we are not the last note, we are a voice in a grand harmony that can be heard wherever people look closely and think long. Whenever we build upon what we know, using the predictive power of theory, the revelatory power of observation and the instructive power of experimentation. It’s worked so far.

    The last note we sing is probably a ridiculous distance in the future, though I sure cannot say with any certainty. But I can confidently say that things will certainly change by then. The accelerating trend at the end of the video certainly showed no sign of diminishing.

    The big deal here is, look what we have done in an eye blink of time! Why, we have even developed the ability to represent our understanding of natural processes with not only esoteric symbols, but with imagery that nearly anyone can understand. That’s never been done before on this rock by any other critter.

    Now comes the future . . . Bwaahahahahaaaa!