The Structure of Big History from the Big Bang Until Today

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Amsterdam University Press, 1996 - Social Science - 113 pages
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The social and natural sciences have more in common than most of us may suspect. This thought-provoking study presents a single straightforward structure which unites the latest scientific views on the history of the universe, the solar system, the planet, life and humankind. The focus on the formation, differentiation and transformation of configurations, regimes, and on the ever-changing reactions and interactions between them produces a simple, dynamic and reality-congruent structure with which to view the whole of history. It contributes to a better understanding of some long-standing academic controversies such as the root causes behind the origins of humankind, the rise of agriculture and the emergence of early states.

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Page 90 - For while Comets move in very excentrick Orbs in all manner of Positions, blind Fate could never make all the Planets move one and the same way in Orbs concentrick, some inconsiderable Irregularities excepted, which may have risen from the mutual Actions of Comets and Planets upon one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this System wants a Reformation.
Page 90 - ... same way in orbs concentric ; some inconsiderable irregularities excepted, which may have arisen from the mutual actions of comets and planets upon one another; and which will be apt to increase till this system wants a reformation.
Page 71 - For thousands of years city dwellers put up with defective, often quite vile, sanitary arrangements, wallowing in rubbish and filth they certainly had the power to remove, for the occasional task of removal could hardly have been more loathsome than walking and breathing in the constant presence of such ordure. If one had any sufficient explanation of this indifference to dirt and odor that are repulsive to many animals, even pigs, who take pains to keep themselves and...
Page 77 - ... the Englishman of 1750 was closer in material things to Caesar's legionnaires than to his own great-grandchildren.
Page 14 - Borrowing a metaphor from physics, life may exist near a kind of phase transition. Water exists in three phases: solid ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam. It now begins to appear that similar ideas might apply to complex adapting systems. For example, we will see that the genomic networks that control development from zygote to adult can exist in three major regimes: a frozen ordered regime, a gaseous chaotic regime, and a kind of liquid regime located in the region between order and chaos.
Page 98 - Do plants tap SOS signals from their infested neighbours?
Page 17 - ... that cement for many uses is pressing hard upon stone. The same process is observable in the quarrying of stone as in many other branches of the mineral industry in Ontario. The small quarry, worked by the farmer and his boys in a desultory way, and only when there are orders to fill, still survives, and probably will continue to do so for a long time to come in districts out of the freight-charge range of larger works, but year by year more and more of these small quarries are going out of business,...
Page 83 - ... Greek and Roman lead and silver mining and smelting activities polluted the middle troposphere of the Northern Hemisphere on a hemispheric scale two millennia ago, long before the Industrial Revolution. Cumulative lead fallout to the Greenland ice Sheet during these eight centuries was as high as 1 5 percent of that caused by the massive use of lead alkyl additives in gasoline since the 1930s. Pronounced lead pollution is also observed during Medieval and Renaissance times. 1 29-5Q25 Herbicide«...
Page 70 - Ihroughout most of time human beings disposed of garbage in a very convenient manner: simply by leaving it where it fell. To be sure, they sometimes tidied up their sleeping and activity areas, but that was about all. This disposal scheme functioned adequately because hunter-gatherers frequently abandoned their campgrounds to follow game or find new stands of plants (and, of course, because there weren't all that many hunter-gatherers to begin with).
Page 25 - It is as though a position in the ordered regime near the transition to chaos affords the best mixture of stability and flexibility.

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