Pondering the entire history of the universe is an overwhelming endeavor for our finite human brains. We have a hard time even conceptualizing "a billion" as a number, much less trying to wrap our heads around the billions of years of the existence of the universe.
It's even overwhelming just to try to imagine the whole of human history on Earth. There's just so much of it. Diving into the history of just one country or region is a lot, and the more we zoom in, the more there is to learn.
But what if we zoom way out? Like, waaaayyyy out. How condensed could we make the history of the world if we took a 30,000- foot view of it? And how could we make it educational and entertaining at the same time?
Those are basically the questions Bill Wurtz answered in his video appropriately titled "History of the Entire World, I Guess," which has been viewed on YouTube more than 139 million times since he posted it in 2017.
Wurtz uses an odd combination of simple animation and graphics, funny descriptions delivered almost in a monotone and some intermittent musical blips to tell the story of the universe from the Big Bang to recent history. And it's impressively comprehensive for being a quick overview of, well, everything. Wurtz told the H3 Podcast that he spent 11 months researching and writing the video, which he originally hoped would be five to seven minutes long. The final product clocked in at just under 20 minutes, but it's totally worth it.
The video starts with the basic fact of our individual existence: "Hi. You’re on a rock, floating in space. Pretty cool, huh?” Then it pulls us back to the very beginning of the universe before slingshotting us through the formation of matter, stars, planets, Earth, life on Earth and finally, the entirety of human history. It's a super high-level overview, and yet you walk away with a better understanding of the basic chemistry, physics, astronomy and geology of the universe, in addition to the geopolitical, religious, military and industrial history of the human race.
It is, in a word, remarkable.
The original video is worth a watch if you're cool with a handful of f-bombs. The version below has had almost all of the profanity removed to make it more kid- and school-friendly. My own kids have watched it at least a dozen times. Despite how quickly it moves, they get so excited when they recognize some slice of history that they've learned about, and they've been inspired to learn more about things Wurtz references in the video. They love it.
Honestly, getting this much history into one video and tying it all together in a coherent way is incredibly impressive. And to have so many clever, laugh-worthy moments thrown in for funsies is just delightful. It doesn't include everything, but how could it? And it can be a little jarring to have huge, devastating events flash by in seconds, knowing how many people's lives were impacted by them. That's the nature of the 30,000-foot view, though. It offers a perspective that feels almost disturbingly detached, but it can also help us see our squabbles as momentary blips in the big picture.
All in all, well done, Bill Wurtz.
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