To put into perspective a complete chronology and evolution of life on our tiny planet Earth, I decided to summarize what I consider the most relevant information from the very distant past to our immediate future. The objective is to reach a better understanding about the long-term evolution of life and science.

Big History is a new discipline that allows us to analyze with a multidisciplinary focus the way events follow each other throughout time. Starting with a huge time scale from the faraway past to the present, we can see that there is an acceleration of the speed of changes, that should continue now thanks to exponential technologies.

So let’s start our journey with millions of years ago all the way to the formation of our own Species.

Millions of years ago (Ma)
~13,800 MaBig Bang and formation of
the known Universe
~12,500 MaMilky Way Galaxy formation
~4,600 MaSolar System formation
~4,500 MaEarth formation
~4,300 MaFirst water concentration on Earth
~4,000 MaFirst unicellular life (prokaryotes)
~4,000 MaLUCA, our Last Universal Common Ancestor, was born
~3,500 MaOxygen concentration rises on Earth atmosphere
~3,000 MaFirst photosynthesis in simple unicellular organisms
~2,000 MaEvolution of unicellular prokaryotes (without nucleus) into eukaryotes (with nucleus)
~1,500 MaFirst multicellular eukaryote organisms
~1,200 MaFirst sexual reproduction (germinal and somatic cells appear)
~600 MaFirst invertebrate marine animals
~540 MaCambrian explosion and appearance of multiple species
~520 MaFirst vertebrate marine animals
~440 MaEvolution from marine life to terrestrial life (first plants on dry land)
~360 MaFirst terrestrial plants with seeds, and first crabs
~300 MaFirst reptiles
~250 MaFirst dinosaurs
~200 MaFirst mammals, and first birds
~130 MaFirst angiosperm plants (with flowers)
~65 MaExtinction of dinosaurs and development of primate
~15 MaHominidae family (big primates) appears
~3.5 MaFirst tools made of stone
~2.5 MaHomo Species appears
~1.5 MaFirst use of fire
~0.8 MaFirst time cooking was used
~0.5 MaFirst time clothes were used
~0.2 MaHomo Sapiens species appears
~0.1 MaHomo sapiens sapiens comes out of Africa and
starts colonizing planet Earth
Thousands of years ago
< 20,000 BCLighter skin evolution due to migration to regions with less sun
< 5,000 BCNeolithic proto-writing appears
< 4,000 BCPossible invention of the Wheel in Mesopotamia
< 3,500 BCCommunication – Egyptians invent hieroglyphics and Sumerians cuneiform writing
< 3,300 BCHealing – Documented use of herbology and physiotherapy in China and Egypt
< 3,000 BCWriting – Papyrus was invented in Egypt and clay tablets were invented in Mesopotamia
< 2,800 BCChinese emperor Shennong compiles a text on acupuncture
< 2.600 BCImhotep is considered the God of Medicine in Egypt
< 2,500 BCHealing – Documented use of Ayurveda medicine in India
< 2,000 BCMedicine – The Code of Hammurabi establishes rules to exercise medicine in Babylon
650 BCAssurbanipal compiles 800 tablets about medicine in the library of Nineveh
450 BCXenophanes of Colophon examines fossils and speculates about the evolution of life
420 BCHippocrates writes the Hippocratic Treaties and creates
the Hippocratic Oath
350 BCAristotle writes about evolutionary biology and tries to classify animals
300 BCHerophilos of Chalcedon makes medical dissections on humans
100 BCAsclepiades of Bithynia imports Greek medicine to Rome and funds the Methodic School
Papyrus invented in Egypt

So we can see medicine and healing techniques have been established before the era of Christ. Their developments were pursued in ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, Egyptian empire and India, among others then major centers of civilisation.

Homo Sapiens curiosity and desire to live longer and healthier life has been documented throughout millennia.

First millennium AD
180 ADGreek doctor Galen of Pergamon studies the connection between paralysis and the spinal cord
219 ADZhang Zhongjing publishes the Shanghan Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders) in China
250 ADFoundation of a school of tribal medicine in Monte Alban, Mexico
390 ADOribasius of Pergamon compiles the Medical Collections in Constantinople
400 ADFirst Christian hospital founded by Saint Fabiola in Rome
630 ADIsidore of Seville compiles his great work The Etymologies
870 ADPersian doctor Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari writes a medical
encyclopedia in Arabic
910 ADPersian doctor Rasis identifies the difference between smallpox
and measles

2nd Millenium saw a major increase in interest towards medicine, especially after first worldwide epidemics and deaths attributed to viruses – Black Death in Europe.

The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence, the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Black Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351.

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population. It took 200 years for the world population to recover to its previous level.

Not least the recovery is attributed to the improvement in medical standards, creation of vaccines, invention of microscope.

Benjamin Franklin was first to declare death is redundant and humanity should strive to preserve itself beyond current biological limit.

1000 – 1799 AD
1204Pope Innocent III organizes the first Holy Spirit hospital in Rome
1403Quarantine against the Black Death pandemic in Venice (after death of millions in Europe)
1541Swiss doctor Paracelsus made great progress in medicine (surgery and toxicology)
1553Spanish doctor Miguel Servet studies pulmonary circulation
(and burnt at the stake for heresy)
1590Microscope is invented in the Netherlands and makes medicine move forward faster
1665English scientist Robert Hooke uses the microscope to identify cells(and popularizes that name)
1675Dutch scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek starts microbiology
with microscopes
1774English scientist Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen and starts
modern chemistry
1780US polymath Benjamin Franklin writes about curing aging and human preservation
1796English doctor Edward Jenner develops the first effective vaccine against smallpox
1798English scholar Thomas Malthus argues about food production and
human overpopulation

Clearly 2nd millennium accelerated and systematized the understanding of medicine and interest in human health and rejuvenation with big names like American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin jumping into the study of life.

But how does all this study move from the domain of theory and hypotheses into actual practical performance and saving lives?

In the table below I list first successful complex operations like Blood Transfusion and first use of Anesthesia as well as a stepping stone in the understanding of the evolution of life – Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection:

1800 – 1899 AD
1804French doctor René Laennec invents the stethoscope
1809French scientist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposes the first theory of evolution
1818English doctor James Blundell performs first successful blood transfusion
1828German scientist Christian Ehrenberg coins the word bacterium (“cane” in Greek)
1842US doctor Crawford Long accomplishes the first surgery with
1858German doctor Rudolf Virchow publishes his cell theory
1859English scientist Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in London
1865Austrian monk Gregor Mendel discovers the laws of genetics
1869Swiss doctor Friedrich Miescher identifies DNA for the first time
1870Scientists Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch publish the microbial theory of infections
1882French scientist Louis Pasteur develops a vaccine against rabies
1890Walter Flemming and others describe the chromosome distribution
during cellular division
1892German biologist August Weismann proposes the “immortality”
of germ cells
1895German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovers X-rays and their medical uses
1896French physicist Antoine Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity
1898Dutch scientist Martinus Beijerinck discovers the first virus and starts virology

As we move into XX century scientist begin getting deeper into the cell level biology and the ways to replenish their strengths. Equally people delve deeper into the subtleties of nervous system, its functioning and the reasons for its degradation.

We can see first real Transhumanist discoveries such as artificial insemination, cloning, bionic parts of body as well as propagation of caloric restriction as a way to extend a healthy lifespan. The Immortality is also discovered, in cancer cells.

1900 – 1959 AD
1905English biologist William Bateson coins the term genetics
1906English scientist Frederick Hopkins describes vitamins
1906German doctor Alois Alzheimer discovers and describes dementia
1906Santiago Ramón y Cajal receives the Nobel Prize for his studies
about the nervous system
1911Thomas Hunt Morgan demonstrates that genes reside in
1922Russian scientist Aleksandr Oparin proposes a theory about
the origin of life on Earth
1925French biologist Edouard Chatton coins the words prokaryote
and eukaryote
1927Global population reaches 2,000,000,000 people
1927First vaccines against tetanus and tuberculosis
1928English scientist Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin
(first universal antibiotic)
1933Polish scientist Tadeus Reichstein synthesizes the first vitamin
(vitamin C, ascorbic acid)
1934Scientists working at Cornell University discover
caloric restriction for life extension in mice
1938A coelacanth (considered a “living fossil”- a genus of fish which has existed for more than 360 million years, but which was believed to have been
extinct since the time of the dinosaurs) was fished in the south
of Africa
1950First synthetic antibiotic is developed
1951Artificial insemination of cattle starts with cryopreserved semen
1951HeLa (Henrietta Lacks) cancer cells are discovered to be
“biologically immortal”
1952US doctor Jonas Salk develops a vaccine against poliomyelitis
1952US chemist Stanley Miller experiments about the origin of life
1952First cloning experiments with frog eggs are made
1953Scientists James D. Watson and Francis Crick demonstrate
DNA’s double helix structure
1954US doctor Joseph Murray transplants the first human kidney
1958US doctor Jack Steele coins the word bionic
1959Global population reaches 3,000,000,000 people
1959Spanish scientist Severo Ochoa receives the Nobel Prize for his work
about DNA and RNA
Coelacanth Discovery

Last half of XX century sees a dramatic increase in precision of medicine and real impact on human lives preservation – as scientists discovered the ways to transplant organs to people who needed them, identified shortening of telomeres as a probable cause of ageing as well as identified umbilical cord as the place where we can locate stem cells and use them to create artificial organs if there is a need for any given person throughout life.

1960 – 1999 AD
1961Spanish biochemist Joan Oró advances his theories about the
origin of life
1961US scientist Leonard Hayflick discovers a limit on cellular division
1967US academic James Bedford becomes the first patient in
1967South African doctor Christiaan Barnard makes the first human
heart transplant
1972Discovery that the DNA composition in humans and gorillas
is almost 99% similar – thus supporting Darwinian hypothesis
1974Global population reaches 4,000,000,000 people
1975Different scientists finally discover the telomeres
(first considered in 1933)
1978First human being is born thanks to artificial insemination
(Louise Brown in England)
1978Stem cells discovered in the blood of an umbilical cord
1980World Health Organization declares smallpox officially
eradicated worldwide
1981First stem cells (from mice) developed “in vitro”
1982Humulin (drug for diabetes) is the first biotech product approved by
the FDA
1985Australian-American biologist Elizabeth Blackburn identifies the telomerase enzyme
1986HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is identified as the cause of AIDS
1987Global population reaches 5,000,000,000 people
1990Human Genome Project starts as a great effort lead by several
1990First gene therapy is approved to treat an immune disorder
1990FDA approves the first genetically modified organism
(Flavr Savr tomato)
1993US biologist Cynthia Kenyon increases several times the lifespan of C. elegans
1995US scientist Caleb Finch describes negligible senescence in some animals
1996Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut clones Dolly, first cloned mammal
(a sheep). Dolly lived for 6 years in Scotland. Some in the press speculated that a contributing factor to Dolly’s death was that she could have
been born with a genetic age of six years, the same age as the sheep
from which she was cloned. One basis for this idea was the finding that
Dolly’s telomeres were short, which is typically a result of the aging 
1998First embryonic stem cells isolated in young human embryos
1999Global population reaches 6,000,000,000 people

Dolly the Sheep
Human Cryopreservation

After a groundbreaking cloning of a living being and first human cryopreservation in Alcor 3rd Millennium really sees a boost of genetic research and the quest to tame nature and reverse human ageing and eventually Death.

2000 – 2019 AD
2001US scientist Craig Venter announces his
sequence of the human genome (based on his own)
2002First artificial virus (polio virus) is created by scientists
2003Human Genome Project ends officially, with both public and private
participation and projects
2003English scientist Aubrey de Grey and his colleagues create the
Methuselah Foundation
2004SARS epidemy is contained a year after its start (genome sequenced in days)
2006Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka generates induced pluripotent
stem cells in Kyoto
2008Spanish biologist María Blasco announces the life extension of mice
at CNIO in Madrid
2009English scientist Aubrey de Grey and his colleagues create
the SENS Research Foundation that works to develop, promote,
and ensure widespread access to therapies that cure and prevent
the diseases and disabilities of aging by comprehensively
repairing the damage that builds up in our bodies over time
2009Nobel Prize on Physiology and Medicine for studies on telomeres and telomerase
2010sFirst Bridge towards indefinite lifespans using current technologies (Ray Kurzweil)
2010US scientist Craig Venter announces the creation of the first artificialbacterium (Synthia)
2010Nobel Prize on Physiology and Medicine for the development of
in vitro fertilization
2011Global population reaches 7,000,000,000 people
2011French researches achieve the rejuvenation of human cells “in vitro”
2012Nobel Prize on Physiology and Medicine for cloning and
cell reprogramming (pluripotent cells)
2013First rat kidney produced “in vitro” in the USA
2013First human liver produced with stem cells in Japan
2013Google announces the creation of Calico (California Life Company)
to cure aging
2014IBM expands the use of its intelligent medical system called Doctor Watson
2014Korean-American doctor Joon Yun creates the
Palo Alto Longevity Prize
2015First experimental vaccine against the virus of Ebola
hemorrhagic fever
2016Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg announces that
it will be possible to cure “all diseases”
2016Microsoft scientists announce that they should be able
to cure cancer within 10 years
2017Spanish scientist Juan Carlos Izpisúa announces that
he has been able to rejuvenate mice 40%
2018First commercial treatment with gene therapy using CRISPR
2018Birth of first CRISPR babies to avoid HIV infections in China
2019 FDA approval of the first senolytics treatments for life extension
2020World is hit with coronavirus epidemics – COVID-19
SOS Alert
CRISPR babies

Transhumanism and the study of ageing, death and gene editing with the end goal of avoiding senescence has peaked in the recent future.

Since 2020 it is worth noting some science-based predictions for the immediate future and how they will affect the development of life:

2020 AD – 2029 AD (some possibilities)
2020sSecond Bridge towards indefinite lifespans using
biotechnology (Ray Kurzweil)
2020sWorldwide eradication of poliomyelitis
2020sWorldwide eradication of measles
2020sVaccine against malaria
2020sVaccine against HIV
2020sCure for the majority of cancers
2020sCure for Parkinson’s disease
2020s3D bioprinting of simple human organs
2020sCommercial cloning of human organs with own cells from patients
2020sBeginning of commercial rejuvenation treatments with stem cells and telomerase
2020sAI and robot doctors complement and
supplement human doctors
2020sTelemedicine spreads worldwide
2020sFirst manned trips to Mars (Elon Musk)
2025Molecular assemblers (nanotechnology) are possible(Ray Kurzweil)
2023Global population reaches 8,000,000,000 people
according to the United Nations
2026Global population reaches 8,000,000,000 people according to the US Census Bureau
2029Longevity escape velocity is reached (Ray Kurzweil)
2029An advanced AI finally passes Alan Turing’s test (Ray Kurzweil)

Ray Kurzweil predicts that cryopreserved patients will be reanimated in the 2050s

After 2030 AD (more possibilities)
2030sThird Bridge towards indefinite lifespans using nanotechnology (Ray Kurzweil)
2030sCure for Alzheimer’s disease
2030sWorldwide eradication of malaria
2030sWorldwide eradication of HIV
2030sConsolidation of the first human colony in Mars
(Elon Musk)
2037Global population reaches 9,000,000,000 people according to the United Nations
2039Mental transfer from brain to brain becomes possible
(Ray Kurzweil)
2040sFourth Bridge towards indefinite lifespans and
immortality using AI (Ray Kurzweil)
2040sInterplanetary Internet connects to Earth, Moon, Mars,
and spaceships
2042Global population reaches 9,000,000,000 people according to the US Census Bureau
2045Aging is cured and death becomes optional
(Ray Kurzweil)
2045The Singularity: AI surpasses all human intelligence (Ray Kurzweil)
2049Distinction between reality and virtual reality disappears (Ray Kurzweil)
2050Humanoid robots win English football cup
(British Telecom)
2050sFirst reanimations of cryopreserved patients
(Ray Kurzweil)
2072Picotechnology starts
(pico is one thousand times smaller than nano)
2099Femtotechnology starts (femto –
one thousand times smaller than pico)
2099Lifespan becomes irrelevant in a world of “amortality


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