Time-binding Timeline Exercise

GraphTime-binding refers to the unique human capability to improve and progress over time through the use of symbols, language, etc. Because of books, diagrams, blueprints, plans, music, art, etc., each generation can build on the accumulated knowledge developed/discovered by previous generations.

The premise of this 3-step exercise is that the rate of human progress really began to take off in the 17th century with the widespread application of science, or a scientific approach.

1. Create lists

Make a list of xx notable People, Periods, Events and Discoveries (inventions, achievements, etc.) you can think of.

People
Alexander
Aristotle
Attila the Hun
Buddha
Caesar
Charlemagne
Columbus
Confucius
Copernicus
Curie
Darwin
Descarte
Einstein
Fermi
Galileo
Gutenberg
Harvey
Hitler
Jenner
Jesus
Joule
Kepler
King Arthur
Kubla Khan
Leif Ericson
Leonardo da Vinci
Marco Polo
Martin Luther
Marx
Muhammed
Newton
Plato
Ptolemy
Shakespeare
Socrates
St. Thomas Aquinas
Pilgrims
Thoreau
Salk
Periods
African Slave Trade
Communism
Crusades
Divine Right of Kings
Feudal system
Gladiators
Holocaust
Holy Roman Empire
Reformation
Roman Empire Fall
Spanish Inquisition
Witch trials
Inca Empire
Events
100 Years War
Decl of Independence
Appian Way
French Revolution
gunpowder in Europe
Hippocratic oath
Korea
Magna Carta
Punic Wars
WW I
WW II
Great Wall of China
Battle of Hastings
Irish Repub Army
Viet Nam
30 Years War
“Manifest Destiny”
end of dinosaurs
Bill of Rights
Berlin Wall
United Nations
Kennedy/Nixon election
Space flight/moon walk
Hiroshima, Nagasaki
MLK “I Have A Dream”
“Walden”
Discoveries
aqueducts
blood circulation
printing press
radioactivity
Geocentric earth orbit
Heliocentric earth orbit
smallpox vaccine
“New World”
nuclear reaction
heat as element
heat as energy
tools
language
agriculture
telescope
electricity
television
cellular phone
telephone
macadam roads
microchip
rayon
polio vaccine
Internet
aluminum
pre-fab construction
air conditioning
quantum mechanics
hydraulic brakes
personal computer
relativity
information systems
movies
steam engine

2. Create a graphical timeline

Plot each person or event you’ve listed on a timeline of history, from 500 B.C. to the present. What inferences, insights, observations can you make?
Timeline Data

3. Plot the historical rate of change

Draw or sketch a simple graph that reflects, in 100-year increments, approximately how similar/different life was at each hundred-year point compared to the prior period. So, for example, if you cannot identify much difference in the way humans lived between 500BC and 500AD, that period would be reflected by a relatively flat line. The period from 1900 to 2000, however, would justify a steeper curve to reflect a greater rate of change. A question for discussion could be whether or not specific changes, with some historical reflection, can be considered as “progress” or “advancement.”

Another, perhaps less subjective, method to illustrate would be to sum the number of discoveries or inventions during historical intervals and then plot those counts over time. The graph below shows the results of such an exercise with a college class of about 35 students. The horizontal axis depicts the time scale while the vertical axis shows the number of historically significant events during each period as determined by the aggregating all student inputs.

Timeline