In the greatest adventure saga ever told -- the story of the human species -- National Geographic presents ORIGINS: The Journey of Humankind - an eight-part series that celebrates how man became modern.   Episode 1 "Fire".  We are the Fire Species. Harnessing fire gave us the power to create, to destroy and to transform. But it also taught us hard lessons about what we can and cannot control. This is the story of how fire transformed our biology and carried us from the savannah to the moon.   (photo credit:  National Geographic)

What History Has Been Made During Your Life?

On Monday, March 6, National Geographic is premiering a mini-series titled Origins – The Journey of Humankind. It looks like it will be a great show, both educational and entertaining. Here is the trailer for it:

As part of its promotional efforts, it appears as if National Geographic has teamed up with The Atlantic, and created a “life timeline” that you can customize to when you were born.

After I entered my September 1957 birth date, the web site then highlights some of the key historical moments that took place during your life. Here’s what my timeline looks like, along with links to stories from The Atlantic that relate to the various highlights given.

  • You’re one of the first people who’s never lived in a world without TV remote controls. In August 2014, Caetlin Benson-Allott wrote “How the Remote Control Rewired the Home“, an innovative history and evolution of the remote control.
  • Around the time you were born, U.S. troops guarded black children as they entered a school in Little Rock, Arkansas. In September 2014, Noah Gordon “The Little Rock Nine: How Far Has the Country Come?“, which looked at school integration, past and present, in the United States.
  • The year you were born, Nora Johnson wrote a story in the Atlantic titled “Sex and the College Girl” that examined the inaccurate criticisms and unrealistic expectations college-educated woman faced in America.
  • At 11 years old, you were alive to behold people walking on the moon. In 1963, NASA astronauts took to The Atlantic to plead the case for landing on the moon in their article “Why Land on the Moon?”
  • The Partridge Family premiered in 1970; that is what Hollywood thought teenagers looked like the year you became one.
  • Around your 18th birthday, Gerald Ford narrowly survived an attempted assassination at the hands of Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme. In September 2005, Michael Slenske wrote about “Assassination Attempts” on American presidents.
  • Your life can be divided into two halves: before and after The Oprah Winfrey Show. In January 2011, Sharmin T.M. Kent wrote “The Oprah Winfrey Network: All Oprah, All the Time“, about Oprah launching her own television network, Oxygen.
  • When you turned 49, you watched humankind reach the outer solar system. With NASA’s Cassini-Huygens mission in 2005, humans landed a probe in the outer reaches of the solar system for the first time, a moment Ross Andersen called “the most glorious mission in the history of planetary science”. Read “A Major Correction“.
  • In 2013, Caroline Kennedy, who was born the same year as you, became the first female U.S. ambassador to Japan. (I’ve got to up my game…). In January 1994, Steven Stark, in his article, “The Cultural Meaning of the Kennedys“, argued that the Kennedys had transformed from political figures into cultural icons.
  • By the time you turn 67, the World Bank predicts that the U.S. dollar will lose its global dominance. In February 2012, Charles A. Kupchan wrote “The World in 2050: When the 5 Largest Economies Are the BRICs and Us“, about the world’s emerging economies, and how the world will look by 2050. I think the BRIC analogy is already outdated and didn’t live up to its expectations.

The web site is an interesting concept, but it seems like it could have come up with a more dramatic set of milestones that have taken place over the past 60 years. If I were to pick some highlights, it would include the following (with links to Wikipedia articles about each item):

So you may find it fun to check out The Atlantic’s “life timeline“, and then follow-up by watching National Geographic’s Origins – The Journey of Humankind, starting Monday, March 6.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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