I was watching Catastrophe on Channel 4 last night. The episode was called ‘Snowball Earth’ and was about how, around 650 million years ago, the entire planet was encased in ice several miles thick. It stayed that way for about 20 million years until a chain reaction of volcanic eruptions spewed out billions of tons of carbon dioxide which warmed the planet (as it does today) and thawed the ice in a relatively speedy million years or so. The melting ice created huge amounts of oxygen which enabled complex life forms to evolve from the bacteria that was able to survive the ice age. It’s a brilliant programme that I highly recommend.

These unimaginable timescales never cease to fascinate me but I’m guilty of being short sighted most of the time. I often think to myself that Creative Year was too ambitious and that I’ll never be able to keep it up for twelve months because it’s just too long. A whole year? What was I thinking? So, with Catastrophe in mind, I thought I’d put this project of mine into context. I hope it makes sense.

So, really, a year isn’t so long after all. I guess I’ll press on.


8 thoughts on “064

  1. This is brilliant, I find it mind boggling to think of any geological date as any gauge you have for measuring dates is completely inadequate to help the mind grasp it.

  2. This is genius! I had to have it explained to me though, so I’m clearly not.

    Thanks Gray – this chart puts everything into perspective.

  3. I love the genealogy of geology (eh?) – like how if the entire existence of planet Earth were to be condensed in to an hour, humans have only been on the planet about 6 seconds (if I remember correctly).

    I like what you’ve done here Graham, I always find this thing quite humbling and mind-blowing all at the same time. 🙂

  4. Actually, Hadleigh, that’s incorrect – you’re thinking of a day, not an hour. If the history of Earth was condensed into a single hour, modern humans (200,000 years ago) would only appear in the final 16 hundredths of a second.

  5. Thank you for correcting me – I heard that analogy at University, 5 years ago now; my memeory obviously hasn’t kept up with me over that time…

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  7. Great diagram, it would be interesting to see the number too. What dates are you using?

    I’m assuming that the “start of the gregorian calendar” marks 0 CE (i.e. 0 AD) rather than the 24th of February 1582 when it was introduced. Am I right?

    Best of luck with your creative year,

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