The “timeline” is the final touch as yet to be completed but, as the picture illustrates, certainly is not needed to make this space both entertaining and educational. It will decorate the ceiling and stretch from 4.5 billion years ago and the beginning of our solar system to the present, a span of roughly 60 lineal feet. Our Sun, a medium sized star, is the hero of this saga as the source of energy that has made it all possible. Interestingly, had the Sun been a giant star, it would have burned out ages ago, a victim of its own gravity. Although there is controversy over the exact time of the beginning of the saga, the longest period it can continue is more clear. The Sun will inevitably heat up, become a “Red Dwarf” and ultimately burn out approximately 650 million years from now, a relatively short time on this timeline but a long time by human standards.
If I remember my college biology correctly, the origin of life on Earth is placed on this timeline at approximately one third of its length, making each living species a genetic message and evolutionary legacy 3 billion years old. It is humbling to recall that humans appear in the last millimeter of this timeline. In fact, if the timeline were Mt. Everest, all of human history would be the last few snowflakes.
It is the legacy of “species diversity” that is currently disappearing at a rate that exceeds any known to have occurred in the past. This is in what is now being termed the “Sixth Great Extinction.” For comparison, it is useful to recall that the Fifth Great Extinction was the disappearance of the dinosaurs and approximately one third of all species then living on Earth that occurred over 65 million years ago. This extinction took over a million years. By contrast, the Sixth Extinction, if current trends continue, will account for the disappearance of 50% of the all species on Earth by the year 2050. This extinction would be the first massive extinction caused by a single species….us! The primary mechanism is not global warming. Rather, it is habitat destruction, the majority of which is concentrated in the tropics where the greatest number of species on the planet lives.
We hope the “timeline” and the other exhibits will provide food for thought. As has been the case before, the Sun holds the key to many of the potential answers to these challenges. We look forward to your visit and are excited to share these solutions with you.
SEE you soon,
Scott, Allen, Danielle and the MaLode Crew