Indentured Labor: Slavery after Slavery was abolished

After the British abolished slavery in 1833 by which time, over Twenty Million slaves had been affected by the Transatlantic Slave Trade, there was a dire need for labor in British Colonies in the Caribbean aka West Indies and Africa.

It was then that the British came up with the idea of Indentured Labor, a form of Bonded Labor, whereby they promised people in South East Asia, India and China to sign 5 yr bonds to go work in the cotton, sugar and tea plantations of the British Colonies abroad in exchange for Income, Land, Return Fare and other promises that never materialized.

Over 2 Million Indians went abroad, most of them tricked into it because they were illiterate, and suffered in conditions as worse as slavery until 1917 when the British finally abolished Indentured Labor. Over twenty percent lost their lives in transit and once there, more died of diseases they couldn’t acclimate to and bad working conditions. Those that tried to run away had their bonds doubled to ten years or worse.

After 1917, they were free and some decided to stay back and make a life in these counties. Consequently, South Africa is home to largest Indian community outside India. But they had to fight for their rights and even Gandhi fought with them in his time in South Africa where he experienced the racism first hand.


Looking into reasons for Partition

  • In Viceroy’s House it’s shown that Churchill promised Pakistan to Jinnah back in 1945 in exchange for Pakistan’s favor of British Oil interests in Gulf of Oman and their access to the Karachi port and to cut off Soviet Union’s access to the region.
  • Winston saw that Pakistan would be easier to influence than an unruly India with its socialist leanings. The movie claims Mountbatten was an unwitting pawn, manipulated by Winston Churchill as part of a secret plan drawn up years earlier.
  • The border in fact was made by Lord Wavell, the Viceroy of India October 1943-March 1947, in 1945 (Breakdown Plan) which was later given to Radcliffe to present as his impartial assessment of the partition line.
  • Churchill deliberately misled our American allies as to the proportion of Muslims in the Indian army when the US were lobbying for Indian independence. Playing on American self-interest, he stressed the need to keep the Muslims ‘on side’ in the war against Japan; something it would be harder to do if they felt they were fighting for a Hindu-ruled India.
  • the role of British strategic interests in the region; a continuation of the ‘Great Game’ of keeping Russia out of the subcontinent, in order to safeguard the oil fields of the Middle East, the ‘wells of power’. Thus the Viceroy, Lord Wavell, put forward a plan as early as February 1946 for the creation of a Pakistan which would accept British military requirements when it was uncertain whether a new India under the Congress Party would even be in the Commonwealth.
  • Churchill worried that if he handed India back as promised they were handing the whole of Asia to the Soviet Union. Stalin had already said he was going to create the biggest country in the world. He had huge manpower and natural resources, but Russia’s two ports both froze over in winter. He wanted a warm water port he could use 365 days a year and the British feared he had his eye on Karachi, which was strategically placed by the Suez Canal and the oil supplies in the Persian gulf
  • the riots and growing violence between different religious groups in India was orchestrated by the British to convince Mountbatten that the only option was to divide the country.
  • Mountbatten remained in India for 18 months after Indian independence, visiting many of the refugee camps with his wife Edwina, a devoted member of the Red Cross rumoured to be having an affair with Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian prime minister.
  • The rush to split the country into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan on August 15, 1947, left millions stranded on the wrong side of the new border and sparked the largest migration in history. Nearly 14 million refugees fled their homes as entire villages were butchered. One million died. And 70 years later, the two countries still struggle for control of disputed regions like Kashmir, where more than 50,000 people have been killed by extremists on both sides in the last 20 years.
  • ref:

The History Of Comedy S01E04


  • Comedians want to get to the real truth. That’s what comedy is
  • Comedy is about anger, fear, insecurity and self denigration
  • The jokes that work are racial and that don’t are racist
  • Diversity in comedy is a reflection of the diversity in the country
  • Comedians look at society from outside. They’re racial referees.
  • Comedy comes from pain and the darkest times of one’s life.
  • Any time you’re upset, there’s a joke there. So, the more frustrating something is, the more rife its for humor.
  • A comedian’s intention is to present something that you’re going to think about and laugh at, at the same time.
  • Comedians show you your ideologies.
  • If you can take a prejudice to the most ridiculous degree and make somebody laugh with it, then it’s not a prejudice anymore and eventually you wipe it out
  • When you’re fighting a power/ideology that you cannot defeat, you’ll find other outlets, one of them being humor
  • Comedians feel an urge to make people laugh so that they stop talking about him.
  • The more of an outsider a comic is, the more perspective he gains
  • The more fearless/raw/real a comedian is, the more powerful he is
  • Laughter is a way to deal with the pretentiousnss of the society and temporarily bust the stress that arises from keeping on the face that one does in society
  • A comedian uses people’s biases against them to make the comedy work
  • Any comedic situation has to be about problem solving
  • Racism comes from the fear of the unknown, and with the comedian presenting the “other” via jokes, making the “others” familiar, they aren’t very scary anymore.
  • Not everybody can be moved by a rousing speech, but everybody is moved by something that makes them laugh
  • Humor is a way to diffuse things, to take the air out of a tense situation

Crash Course Big History





The Big Bang: Crash Course Big History #1


  • All but a billionth of the matter created by the big bang instantly interacted with antimatter and was annihilated. All the matter we see in the universe is hence one billionth of the matter created by the big bang


Exploring the Universe: Crash Course Big History #2

  • When stars run out of fuel (H and He), their outer edges swell up causing fusion of heavier elements occurs causing higher and higher temp. creating heavier and heavier elements recursively (fusion is literally adding up the nucleus of fusing elements hence creating a heavier element ie one with more protons in its nucleus) as temp rises, all the way upto Iron ie upto 26 elements (Fe is 26 on periodic table)
  • When giant stars, 8-60 times our sun, exhaust their fuel, unlike sun which expands, they collapse.This is followed by huge explosion called supernova and this has super high temp and hence is responsible for creating elements heavier than iron in the periodic table
  • Hence we and everything else around us is literally star stuff.


The Sun & The Earth: Crash Course Big History #3

  • Our sun is not a first generation star, but instead was formed from matter ejected from a nearby supernova blast 4.5 billion yrs ago.
  • In early days of the Sun, the heat form it blasted lots of gassy materials away pushing it beyond where Mars is. This is why Venus and beyond are not rocky planets but instead gas giants.
  • Electrostatic forces allowed the dust (.01% of matter left after formation of sun that took 99.99% of the matter in our solar system) to coalesce to form minerals. These objects were upto 10 km in diameter
  • After a million yrs of sun, it contained few dozen protoplanets of mars size.
  • Then over next 100 million yrs, these collided as well leading to 9 today and asteroid belt and khyber belt and ort cloud (a light year away)
  • Then in period of differentiation, heavy metals sank to center of Earth and lighter on top and gases were ejected out forming our atmosphere
  • Water Vapor was brought by comets
  • Methane was converted to CO2 in atmosphere
  • Then mars size object Thea collided with Earth and the ejected matter formed the moon
  • As earth cooled, water vapor in atmosphere rained down on earth for millions of yrs creating the oceans 4 billion yrs ago


Life Begins: Crash Course Big History #4

  • Life Defined:  a regime that contains a hereditary program for defining and directing molecular mechanisms that actively extract matter and energy from the environment with the aid of which matter and energy are converted into building blocks for its own maintenance and if 02:39 possible reproduction
  • For first 2 billion yrs in the 3.5 billion yr history of life, there were only procaryotes.
  • Then came procaryotes and they invented sex 1.5 billion yrs ago.
  • Through the evolutionary epic of complex multicellular life between the start of complex multicellular life and today there have been five mass extinction events in nature species compete in niches. Niche is an area of the environment that requires a special set of skills and traits to extract food and reproduce when niches are full competition is heavy traits become finely tuned and evolution generally slows down a little but when a disastrous extinction event wipes out the majority of the animals living in a niche the surviving species have room in a lack of competitors to evolve new traits very fast to fill the niche again in what we call an adaptive radiation the evolutionary epic is dotted with periods of niches filling up being swept clean by disaster and filling again by new rapidly evolving species example for the longest time dinosaurs ruled the earth and mammals were a puny timid race of small shrew-like creatures that stayed out of their way sometimes we burrowed in the ground or only came out at night or confined our diet tiny bugs we could not compete with dinosaurs in their niches then the dinosaurs were wiped out and mammals were able to rapidly fill all the empty niches creating Apes and elephants and horses and even whales
  • At the end of the Permian era we have extinction often referred to as the Great dying it was the single largest extinction event of the past half billion years its cause is still debated but the most dominant theory is an environmental disaster caused by volcanoes in Siberia all told over ninety percent of marine life and seventy percent of terrestrial life maybe more died out leaving space for a huge adaptive radiation of giant reptiles
  • The giant reptile period in the subsequent Triassic period the Earth’s climate was ludicrously dry with many deserts and then near the North and South Poles it was warm and wet again dry climates were a big win for reptiles and our mammalian ancestors got a bit of the short end of the stick because there was so much reptilian competition in many niches so we hit on the fringes meanwhile there were many kinds of giant reptiles in the Triassic of which the dinosaurs were just one kind until the extinction the Triassic extinction possibly due to volcanic super eruptions or an asteroid impact emptied a lot of niches of competition and allowed one particular group of giant reptiles the dinosaurs to reign supreme and that finally led to those periods that are what most people think of when they hear the word paleontology or the word fossil the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
  • Dinosaurs were the dominant animals on this planet for a whopping 135 million years that’s 540 times longer than our species has even existed. humans and t-rex are separated by less time  than t-rex and Stegosaurus (88 million yrs).
  • Aproximately 65 million years ago the reign of the dinosaurs ends. A rock roughly 10 kilometers across crashed into the present-day Yucatan Peninsula with a million times more force than all the nuclear arsenals of the world combined bad for the dinosaurs but it opened up a lot of niches previously occupied by the many small mammals were able to survive by burrowing or simply requiring less food they were then in a position for another adaptive radiation small mammals quickly evolved into an immense variety of larger forms and so was the story of complex life on Earth during the evolutionary epic


The Evolutionary Epic: Crash Course Big History #5


Human Evolution: Crash Course Big History #6

  • As impressive as homo habilis stone-working abilities are, we see very little sign of technological improvement over the thousands and thousands of years that habilis existed.
  • Same goes for homo ergaster erectus, who was around 1.9 million years ago. Homo ergaster erectus had an even bigger brain, was taller, and they even seemed intelligent and adaptable enough to move into different environments across the old world. They may have even begun our first clumsy attempts at fire, which is vital for cooking meat and vegetables, opening up opportunities for more energy and even more brain growth. But still, there’s not much sign of technological improvement, their tools got the job done, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • Yet 1.78 million years ago, we do see homo ergaster creating a wide new range of teardrop hand axes in Kenya. By one-point-five 1.5 million years ago, these teardrop axes had rapidly become common, and had improved in quality and were shaped with a flat edge into multi-purpose picks, cleavers, and so forth.
  • Archaeologists see this as the first possible sign of tinkering and improvement of technology that may have been transmitted by social learning. A faint glimmer of something new, the coming of the homo sapiens 250K yrs ago.


Migrations and Intensification: Crash Course Big History #7

  • Humans were foragers and there were around 6 million on the planet.
  • a bottleneck of the human population occurred 70,000 years ago, proposing that the human population was reduced to perhaps 10,000–30,000 individuals[8] when the Toba supervolcano in Indonesia erupted and triggered a major environmental change.
  • Then with the advent of Agriculture 11k yrs ago and then States, the population rose to 50 million some 5K yrs ago and 120 million by 1k BC, 3K yrs ago.
  • Due to poop contaminated water, humans invented alcohol and were drinking that instead.
  • Agriculture lets one species us harness more of that energy we either eat it or we use it to feed animals that we eat or we use it to feed animals like horses and oxen that pull carts and carry burdens providing 500 to 750 watts of power about 10 times more than what a human being could do
  • Essentially agriculture is the act of harnessing more energy from the Sun way more than we could as foragers
  • Given what we know of energy and complexity consider the following if we want to prevent our bodily complexity as well as the complexity that we have created from descending into chaos we must keep harvesting matter and energy flows on a regular basis this is the bottom line of human history I will therefore argue that during most if not all of human history the quest for sufficient matter and energy to survive and reproduce has been the overriding theme.
  • That doesn’t mean that the bottom line is all there is to human history you’ve got political history in the history of warfare in gender history class history art history environmental history oral traditions creation myths and much much more but none of those would matter if we were all dead if you don’t eat if you don’t drink you die much of the collective learning inventions shifts in social structure have been geared toward coping with the problem of energy flows as the population continued to expand by leaps and bounds from a tiny thousand people seventy four thousand years ago to over seven billion people today so the beautiful thing about being able to remember and accumulate the ideas of your ancestors is that some of their ideas are great for agriculture also other things but mostly food whether it’s new forms of irrigation invented in ancient Mesopotamia or the for crop rotation that gradually proliferated across Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries these innovations increase the number of potential innovators who could exist in a social order without starving
  • there were also great innovative leaps in connectivity for instance the invention of writing in ancient States about 5000 years ago like starting from a bureaucratic form of accounting mostly to count livestock to an art largely enjoyed by the elite writing gradually communicated more abstract and complex ideas and those ideas became available to more and more people as more people could read until eventually writing became so popular that these days everyone writes books because it made it less likely that things we’d learned would be forgotten like when people started to write down what they knew that knowledge became set in stone sometimes literally
  • Then with the invention of printing in China and later Korea and the printing press in Europe more writing could be produced and circulated more quickly and often more cheaply than books copied out by hand all of this turned into a beneficial feedback cycle potential innovators raised the carrying capacity of the population more people go on to produce more ideas which raises the carrying capacity of the population which in turn produces more potential innovators
  • So throughout the agrarian period collective learning continued to raise the carrying capacity of the world populations grew from 6 million 10,000 years ago to 50 million by the dawn of States to 120 million by 1000 BCE in the midst of classical civilizations by the end of the agrarian era in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution 954 million people lived on the earth but while collective learning gradually raised the carrying capacity in the agrarian era it did not keep pace with population growth and this is a significant problem with human just like any other animals in nature we breed until we strain the resources of our environment so we are prone toward unsustainable levels of overpopulation so every 2 or 3 centuries humans would hit the carrying capacity and then the population would recoil resulting in famine disease periods of infighting and population decline in every agrarian civilization from civil wars between Caesar and Pompey the English War of the Roses to the revolt of the Janissaries in the Ottoman Empire and similar events all across the world the cycles of prosperity strain crisis and civil in fighting repeated themselves and I do worry a little bit that when we talk about traditional history we don’t do it enough in the context of carrying capacity we are after all organisms and we behave a lot like other animals on this planet we want there to be more of us and we want more resources for that more of us to enjoy so that broad big history take on the agrarian era takes us to the age of exploration explorers including Christopher Columbus but also many others United the previously isolated world zones of afro-eurasia the americas australasia and the pacific eventually this combination of world zones into one unified global network although not that unified would produce an even more astounding rise in complexity the modern revolution


The Modern Revolution: Crash Course Big History #8

  • Collective Learning, which relies on population numbers and connectivity to produce new ideas, grew by leaps and bounds with the introduction of agriculture. By the year 1400, the human population had advanced magnificently, but the world was still divided into four isolated world zones: The Americas, Australasia, the Pacific, and Afro-Eurasia. From a Big History perspective, what makes the European explorations worthy of a place in an episode called “Modern Revolution” is that they eventually united all four world zones into a global system. An increasingly connected network of potential innovators was great for collective learning. But why did the Europeans feel so motivated to expand? Well, a lot of reasons. One, Ottoman dominance of overland trade routes with Asia, particularly after the conquests of Constantinople in 1453, made Europeans seek alternative routes to the populous and rich lands of the East. Two, European states were fairly small compared to some of the vast empires of Asia, and needed to compete for more resources to fuel their almost constant wars. And three, the fruits of exploration undoubtedly had positive effects. Whether it be the many advanced inventions and consumer goods imported from China, or the spices of India and Indonesia, or crops from the Americas. That last one should not be underestimated. Crops like the potato, which earned the nickname Ready Made Bread” because it was easy to prepare combined with maize, and squashes, and tomatoes, and various yams allowed farms in Europe to support more people. This was also good for Asia where these crops were introduced in the 17th century. And, let us not forget about the vast amounts of silver that the Spanish “acquired” from the Americas, or the many cotton, tobacco, and sugar farms that Europeans bolstered their economies with. The unification of world zones also had many, many negative effects. For instance, it was terrible for people who worked on those cotton, and tobacco, and sugar farms. Europeans increasingly relied on African slaves, the first of whom were granted to the Portuguese by African rulers, and then you know, several centuries of horror ensued with an incomprehensible number of African slaves dying in the appalling conditions of the Atlantic crossing. Life was also pretty miserable for the slaves that survived the journey, and generations of their descendants. Also, because Afro-Eurasia was a modestly connected, thriving cesspool of disease, Europeans had developed many immunities. When they started arriving in the previously isolated Americas in the late 1400’s and 1500’s, the indigenous inhabitants had no immunity to those diseases. This resulted in one of the most horrific events in human history. A cocktail of various European diseases — most notably smallpox — killed off an estimated 50 million people in the Americas in little over a century. A similar tragedy played itself out in Australia when Europeans started arriving there in the 18th century. Now, along with all this horrific stuff, the unification of the world zones was, nevertheless, a good thing for collective learning — which would eventually prove our salvation in many ways. And this global system continues to increase in complexity and connectivity today. Which is why people can now look at THIS on their smartphone. Anyway, the unification of the world zones did not in itself lead to a breakthrough in the way humans harvested matter and energy. The last major shift happened with the arrival of agriculture ten thousand years prior. The colonizing European societies of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries remained agrarian. But the explorations did allow for a network of exchange that eventually did lead to a major breakthrough in how humans harnessed more energy and produced more and more cultural complexity, The Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain, as they’ll be happy to tell you, in the 18th century, but it was a global revolution involving collective learning shared across the global system. But a number of innovations that kick-started industry originated in Britain, like the more intensified use of steam engines, or the use of coke to refine metals. Not that Coke, yeah, that coke. Also, they invented many textile machines, and Britain had lots of coal and it was relatively easy to mine. Thank you trees that died hundreds of millions of years ago, we’re going to turn you into industry, and smog. But all those British breakthroughs wouldn’t have been possible without a huge global network of trade that supplied raw materials, like cotton, and that opened new markets where Britain could sell its goods. And it wouldn’t have possible to expand that network of trade in the first place without gunpowder, and the compass, which both came from China. The methods of porcelain manufacture that were important to the industrial revolution in Britain also came from China via Germany, and the improved methods of farming which freed up many British farm workers for industrial wage labour in the cities came from Flanders, in the Netherlands. Early designs for steam engines came from 18th century France, and much of the designs for these machines depended on mathematics preserved and transmitted by Islamic and Hindu civilizations. So up until the end of the 18th century virtually all production in human history was propelled by human or animal muscle power, or else, by wind and water power. But it turned out that coal and oil had stored energy from the sun that had built up over hundreds of millions of years, and using those resources dramatically increased the energy that humans could harness. Huge numbers of goods could be produced by factories at relatively low prices which meant that over many decades goods that had previously been seen as luxuries by common people, were suddenly viewed as necessities. By the 1900s most Europeans enjoyed a standard of living higher than the kings of the middle ages. Coal and oil also allowed mechanization of agriculture, which raised the carrying capacity, increasing the population. And new modes of connectivity beginning with the telegraph and then later the telephone increasingly bound the human species together allowing for swift and rapid exchange of ideas.
    A new skill or trait open up new ways or ‘niches’ to extract energy
    from the environment, evolutionary change can proceed very quickly. In the Cambrian Explosion that evolutionary change was biological. In The Industrial Revolution that increased pace of change was cultural
    Because a slight tweak in modes of production (coal aka dead trees) in the 18th century and the adoption of fossil fuels led to an explosion of productivity and invention in the 1800’s and 1900’s
    In the beginning of innovations for bicycles a huge number of designs filled all of the available niches. Eventually those designs started competing with each other and a few forms won out. You got the road bike and the mountain bike and the BMX bike. Just a little bit different variations of the same thing. Another example is the adaptive radiation of electronics. Take a look at all the stuff you needed in the 1980’s to do what your average cellphone can do today. And that was only a few decades ago. Many new ideas sparked an increase in the human standard of living, in the complexity of societies, in tons of different ways.
    The explosion of cultural evolution that started 200 years ago has yet to cease. The Cambrian Explosion went on for millions of years. The Agricultural Revolution proceeded for thousands of years. We’re still right in the middle of the Modern Revolution; maybe only at the beginning. The huge shift in human activity and a rise in complexity may continue long after our grandchildren’s lifetimes. That is, so long as we don’t do something stupid, which, you know with homo sapiens is always a distinct possibility. And let’s not forget about the rise in complexity that’s been happening since the beginning of the universe 13.8 billion years ago. A star is essentially a pile of hydrogen and helium. It’s extremely simple. By comparison, a brain that arose via biological evolution is an intricate network of billions of connections and building blocks. Industrial society is an immense whirring global network of millions upon millions of brains, more closely connected than ever before. The products of this society raised complexity even further. Bottom line is this: if the first part of this series, which looked at the vastness of the universe, made you feel insignificant, just remember that now at the tremendous heights of technological progress humanity is, in terms of networks and building blocks, the most complex system that we know of in the universe. And there’s currently no end to the potential for rising complexity in sight. This brings us to a longstanding historical question: “Why did The Industrial Revolution happen in Britain?” Great Britain was certainly uncommonly well-positioned. That said, so was China. So why didn’t The Industrial Revolution happen in, say, Song Dynasty China, between the 10th and 13th centuries? So we know the two main drivers of collective learning are population numbers and connectivity, and China has had both for a long time. The medieval Chinese had much more advanced agricultural methods than Europe; they paid attention to weeding and growing crops in rows, and frequently used tools like the seed drill. And they were doing it all centuries before that stuff was even heard of in Europe. In the 900’s, the spread of wet rice farming in Southern China raised the carrying capacity even further because rice fields simply produce more food. They are more efficient. Also, rice is easier to prepare than the laborious European process of turning wheat into bread. So, during the 10th and 11th centuries, the Chinese population increased from about 50 or 60 million to about 120 million. That’s a lot of new innovators. So many, in fact, that Song China came close to having a modern revolution of its own. I mean, coal was used to manufacture iron, production increased from 19,000 metric tons per year around 900 CE to 113,000 metric tons by 1200 CE. The Song Dynasty was the first to invent and harness the power of gunpowder, and then later, in the 15th century, Zheng He conducted overseas explorations decades before Columbus. Textile production showed the first ever signs of mechanization in ways similar to the European Spinning Jenny. But. China had dry coal, while the British needed to pump water out of their coal mines in order to mine coal, which led the British to build steam engines. So, why didn’t the modern revolution start in China around 1000 CE? Well, it might have been the cultural and political climate, and a shift away from innovation and commerce at the end of Song China in 1279. Possibly because they hadn’t united the world zones in a network of trade and unified collective learning. And possibly because the right combination of cultural innovations required to launch a Cambrian style explosion of growth just didn’t happen. The point is that collective learning is such a powerful force that from the explosion of the world population from only 6 million people 10,000 years ago to 954 million by the end of the Agrarian era, the right combination of ideas that led to the industrial explosion might have happened almost anywhere. So long as there are brains to think and exchange ideas, so long as there are energy flows on the earth, humanity has a tremendous potential for rising complexity. The modern revolution was accompanied by explosive growth in human population. It took 250,000 years for humanity to achieve its first billion people. By 1900, the world’s population was billion. Today, there are over 7 billion potential innovators who are now connected by the lightning speed of the internet, and collective learning is more powerful than ever. Humans now have unprecedented control and power over the Earth’s biosphere, which has prompted some scientists and scholars to claim that the Holocene is over and we now stand on the threshold of a new era: the Anthropocene. During this age, we may continue to raise complexity in our little pocket of the universe to wondrous new levels, hopefully to the growing benefit of all humans rather than just a privileged few. Thanks to collective learning, our potential is awesome. Unless, that is, we hit a wall like agrarian societies did every few centuries when their population growth outstripped their rates of agricultural innovation. We are now in an era of immense danger, where the modern global system of humanity might exhaust the resources of the Earth, in the same way that agricultural societies often exhausted the resources of the field. More on that next time. English

The Anthropocene and the Near Future: Crash Course Big History #9


The Deep Future: Crash Course Big History #10


Why the Evolutionary Epic Matters: Crash Course Big History #203

What it means to be human and a part of an ancient and fragile biosphere the history of life on Earth is a tale that spans from 3.8 billion years ago with the first appearance of single-celled organisms it starts with a very young Earth charts the rides complexity in the biosphere and links our story to the rocks and flames of the anatomy cosmos the evolutionary epic is a story of fascinating beasts and dramatic changes it’s pieced together similar to human history by the hunt for evidence in order to construct a timeline of events much like historians it’s the job of paleontologists to interpret that evidence and a lot of the timeline remains a mystery presently we’re at a stage comparable to the early Renaissance scholars rediscovering the history of the Roman Empire from long lost documents except we’re using fossils and evolutionary biology to explore the depths of an obscure past humans have only been around for 250,000 years or zero point zero zero zero zero six percent of the evolutionary epic what’s more we’re descended from ancestral species that lived millions and millions of years ago right back to the origin of life and their story is our story and it’s one that can teach us a lot about our lives today and the many pitfalls and perils of our future Music] since the Cambrian explosion of multicellular species 541 million years ago there have been five major mass extinctions the first the Ordovician extinction 455 million years ago was caused by a rapid freezing period followed in quick succession by a warming period killing off many inhabitants of the earth that couldn’t adapt fast enough then the Devonian extinction 375 million years ago was caused either by an asteroid impact nutrient pollution from evolving plants a decrease in carbon dioxide due to plant dominance volcanic activity or all of the above the Permian extinction 252 million years ago we have been caused by an asteroid in fact a natural increase in carbon dioxide or the prevailing theory supervolcano is blocking out sunlight the Permian is called the Great dying because it was the worst extinction of species in the past 541 million years the Triassic extinction million years ago was also likely due to volcanic super eruptions or an asteroid impact and the Cretaceous extinction 65 million years ago which wiped out most dinosaurs and led the way for an explosion of mammals was caused by an asteroid we are now in the middle of the sixth mass extinction it’s a disaster caused by us out of all the mass extinctions that have happened since the Cambrian explosion the sixth mass extinction is the first that has been caused by a single species and it’s our fault but it’s not because we’re evil or diabolically powerful but it’s because we share the lessons of each generation to future generations in exquisite detail and those lessons stack up and we get better and better at exploiting our ecosystems the sixth extinction event isn’t a recent thing either humans started the uptick in extinctions almost immediately when we emigrated out of Africa 64 thousand years ago away from the African megafauna that had evolved alongside us we begin an evolutionary slaughter of non African species that wiped out the majority of megafauna on every continent we visited easy pickings for human hunters fell before us in Europe Asia North America and especially Australia everything from woolly mammoths in Eurasia to giant kangaroos in Australia seemed to have gone extinct shortly after humans arrived there this was not out of any malice or extraordinary strength but because our skills were highly adaptive and we were talented at getting what we needed to survive we can hardly blame our ancestors for not worrying about biodiversity or studies of animal populations 60,000 years ago when talking about the sixth mass extinction you’re going to hear a lot about how this is the first one caused by a single species and by contrast with the Ordovician Devonian Permian Triassic and Cretaceous that’s more or less correct but there’s another extinction event that we don’t talk about enough allow me to take you back in time before the Cambrian explosion well before multicellular species ever existed about three billion years ago single-cell organisms were the only life on Earth dwelling in the oceans and evolving for hundreds of millions of years very slowly over millions upon millions of years bacteria rose nearer to the ocean surface they evolved to convert sunlight water and carbon dioxide into energy it was photosynthesis and the waste product of this process was highly reactive oxygen over the next billion years photosynthesizing bacteria slowly increased to the level of oxygen in the atmosphere and not all single-cell life was capable of withstanding the harmful effects of oxygen in many different species all potential ancestors for more complex life died off in the process well a mass extinction of bacteria may not appear as dramatic as an asteroid wiping out dinosaurs it is significant because these highly successful generous we’ve killed many other species by simply being well equipped to extract energy and resources from the environment humans through the use of our collective learning are very similar we’re so adept at getting what we need out of the environment that we’re leaving very little room for other species at the core of this is scarcity and the limited amount of energy in the universe upon which all complexity depends very often the success of one species must come at the expense of another however that’s not all there is to the equation since there are also many interdependencies in an ecosystem that can easily be upset for instance those photosynthesizing bacteria in the oceans are still there capturing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen and if human induced acidification of the oceans were to kill off much of this bacteria carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would rise even faster than they are now frustrating our attempts at combating climate change that is why the prospect of a sixth mass extinction is so scary while extinctions happen all of the time and are an essential part of evolution if certain species are removed from an ecosystem the entire house of cards can come crashing down threatening even humans well great oxygenation took hundreds of millions of years of slow and gradual change human led extinctions are happening in a much smaller fraction of time about two hundred and fifty thousand years that might seem like a long time but the rate seems to be accelerating with each rise of human complexity as devastating as human activity was too many megafauna species once humans created agriculture we started changing entire ecosystems to suit our needs human population numbers and density began to rise dramatically meaning more resources were consumed forests were cut down to make way for crops and pasture and predators that were a threat to humans and livestock were hunted down and over hunting and overfishing by are exploding populations became a growing concern but if we can assign a date to when these extinctions became a mass extinction the Year 1500 is a pretty good candidate around this time the age of Western explorations had begun you ain’t travelled the world started colonizing new areas and building farms and began hunting new species to extinction with improving technology we introduced new invasive species and diseases that disrupted entire ecosystem we started a global homogenize a ssin of flora and fauna introducing our domestic hits and offshoots like rats and rabbits into environments where they still compete with native species that had evolved there for millions of years let’s go to the thought-bubble after the next rise of complexity industrialization things skyrocketed even further human populations have continued to climb for just shy of a billion people around the year 1800s to seven billion today and with projections that the human population will reach nine point five to ten billion by 2050 with increased populations and increased industrialization the drop of biodiversity continues since 1500 we are aware of somewhere between 330 and six hundred and twenty major vertebrate species that have gone extinct and it isn’t just extinctions that are worrying since 1960 the wild vertebrate population that still exists has been cut in half with fewer numbers comes a greater risk of extinction in the near future as genetic diversity decreases in populations weaken today we use about of the total land area of the world for human purposes and only 15% of the land is preserved for environmental protection the remaining 45% is still eligible for further human development this is not enough to protect many threatened species habitat loss is the primary problem for 85% of the speed he’s considered in danger today and the oceans aren’t faring any better unsustainable and unregulated fishing and pollution kills off animals like sharks tuna whales sea turtles and thousands upon thousands of species that are dependent on coral reefs this doesn’t even count the vast expanses of unexplored oceans and the untold number of yet undescribed species that may be affected if this trend continues perhaps of all multicellular species could go extinct and in a thousand years the majority of life on Earth will be our domestic animals dogs cats cows sheep crops and animals that adapt to the environments we’ve created soon raccoons may rule the earth thanks thought-bubble the biosphere is a complex tangle and it’s true that our global history is full of extinctions and in fact is driven by them it might seem like we ought to just preserve the species we need for our own survival and forget the rest but if one species which seems to have no direct importance to us we’re allowed to go extinct it could potentially set off a domino effect that brings down an entire ecosystem one’s ecosystems start collapsing a ballooning human population of billions and billions of people might suffer more than just a little inconvenience our human population especially the poorest of us would experience some real threats to our food supplies health and our own livelihood it’s not quite so easy to recover from these mistakes either after a major extinction event it usually takes the biosphere about 10 to 15 million years to fully recover damage can be done within a few centuries that would take millions of years to undo and you might expect one thing that makes the sixth mass extinction even worse is carbon emissions which has a planetary boundary of 350 parts per million before it starts causing permanent problems if the boundary we have already crossed today we’re hovering around 400 parts per million the average global surface temperature will increase affecting every ecosystem on the planet but with continued emissions the question is how high will it get the best-case scenario or our goal at any rate is two degrees this century even that slight increase in so short a time could lead to the extinction of an estimated 33 percent of all species it will result in increased water shortages recurrent dust bowls like the ones we saw North America in the 1930s an uptick in climate refugees particularly from the and skyrocketing food prices that will afflict the world’s poor while their populations continue expanding if the average global temperature gets any higher the effects are even worse at four degrees which less optimistic forecasters think will reach by the end of the century it may become impossible to grow crops in some regions of the world and fresh water will become critically scarce for billions of people bubbles of carbon and methane currently trapped in frozen soil like in Siberia and on the ocean floor could escape from the sign ground and start a runaway greenhouse effect that even are cutting back on emissions couldn’t stop at 6 degrees hotter in the long run we may be looking at an extinction of Cretaceous or even Permian proportions another great dying does history repeat itself with humanity history is certainly not repeating itself given our uniqueness but the outcome of our activities might be the same as the Permian extinction a similar disaster today can not only sell the rise of complexity but destroy all complexity humans have created in the past 250 thousand years or worse silence the rise complexity on earth forever looking at the entire evolutionary epic it’s just as well to think about what our legacy will be I would hate to be classed by our struggling descendants and our geological record to be on par with an asteroid a super volcanic eruption or even photosynthesizing bacteria and that’s because we have something that asteroids volcanoes and bacteria do not we have the ability to reflect and to change our behavior and if we fail and cause just as much disaster as those apocalyptic scenarios our failure is doubled because at the end of the day for one brief and shining moment we had the power to stop it see

Origins: The Journey of Humankind


Spark of Civilization

Travel back in time to explore moments that have made mankind modern. What were the greatest landmarks in the development of our species? And what can our past tell us about our future?
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S1, Ep2
13 Mar. 2017

Cheating Death

The human species is in an escalating arms race with superbugs and superviruses – living organisms that attack our bodies, adapt to our treatments, evolve and fight back. Though we’ve made incredible strides in medical science, we may have to look back to move forward. Can the lessons of the past help us defeat these modern-day plagues?
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S1, Ep3
20 Mar. 2017

The Power of Money

In a society filled with human innovation, one invention stands out above them all: money. From a simple act of trade to today’s global economy, the meaning of money and what we value changes as civilization evolves. If modern money is a reflection of who we are, what does it say about us? Host Jason Silva takes us on a tour of commerce throughout history to find out.
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S1, Ep4
This is the story of how our world came to be – how communication defined our species and created the modern age, giving voice to the boundless human imagination, connecting us globally and to the stars. Communication gives us self-expression and collective knowledge – but it can also subvert and corrupt, and even manipulate entire populations.
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S1, Ep5
3 Apr. 2017

Progress of War

Despite all our advances, humans keep inventing terrible new ways to kill each other. What if the same thing that gave us civilization also led to an unending cycle of violence? We learned to work together, and we learned to fight together. Much of our technology was created to fight wars. For all its evils, war is the origin of the modern world.
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S1, Ep6
9 Apr. 2017

Building the Future

The human race has moved from bone huts to skyscrapers. Today, we are seemingly everywhere … everywhere we want to be. Our walls and structures dominate the landscape. They don’t just protect us, they define us. They represent our dream of the modern world. “Shelter” is the story of how we shaped the world around us, and how that world shaped us back.
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S1, Ep7
10 Apr. 2017

Into the Unknown

When it comes to the edge of the darkness, the bend in the horizon or the distant stars, humans can’t help ourselves: exploration is in our nature. We have climbed to the summits of the earth, peered into the depths of the oceans and planted our feet on the moon. Our primal curiosity has sparked new inventions and revealed the mysteries of the universe.
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S1, Ep8
17 Apr. 2017

The Road Ahead

Freedom of movement has given us freedom of mind. The flow of people and materials exposes us to new ideas, new ways of life and new understanding. This is the story of how transportation turned society inside out. How engines and animals powered the rise of civilization. And how the innovations that drive humanity forward made us modern.

The Soviet Story (2008)


  • Lenin believed in the clash of classes, and this idea exists in most communist systems in history. The basic idea is to kill around 10% of the population upfront, based on class justification, but in reality, the people being persecuted are the ones objecting to the new communist system and those that are leaders in their fields.
  • This cleansing allowed for the communist system to recreate the society and economy afresh, the way oligarchs want, and also will scare the people keeping them in check.
  • Once any system is setup, the sole motive of the system is to continue to exist, and so the agenda of the communist govt. like any other form of govt. is to keep the masses fearful and docile and struggling for basic necessities so that they can never think of rebelling against the govt.
  • Also, have secret police to deal with the people who’re speaking against the govt. immediately, before it becomes a problem.
  • When Ukraine was looking to become independent in 1933, lenin cut off their food supply and starved 7 million people.
  • Those systems (like hitler’s national socialism or lenin’s communism)  which have the ideology of creating a “New Man” by definition don’t agree with Human nature as it is. They are at war with Human Nature. This is root of Totalitarianism.
  • Nazism is hence an Ideology based on False Biology and Communism is based on False Sociology. Both lead to millions dead (stavics in USSR and Jews in Germany).
  • Marx himself wrote about class clash being inevitable when socialism is first established, coz the transition to socialism will be natural for capitalist societies, whereas the other cultures who haven’t seen the problems of capitalism won’t be able to be lifted up to the ideas of socialism and hence won’t be revolutionary
  • Marxism was as much about equality in rewards as about equality in effort ie everyone pulling their weight and hence advocated the weeding out of the unfit and idle people ie killing off the parasites and leeches within society who were not contributing anything meaningful. Marxism was based on Work setting your free and being an honor.
  • Strictly speaking only USSR practiced true Marxist Socialism, exterminating only those people who were class enemies, whereas Hitler’s extermination of Jews on basis of religion was frowned upon by socialists.
  • Stalin even ordered the orphan children of the exterminated parents to be shot coz they were roaming the streets begging for food.
  • Hitler got the idea for holocaust directly from Stalin’s tactics in 1930s
  • Stalin signed the pact with Hitler in 1939 to not oppose him and instead divide Europe between USSR and Germany, coz Stalin wanted Hitler to first destroy and destabilize Europe and then Stalin with his Red Army would later fight Hitler and become the great liberator of Europe. But instead, Hitler later broke the pact in 41 and attached Russia, later spoiling Stalin’s plans.
  • In 1939 Germany and USSR attacked poland together and divided the country b/w themselves, under the justification of fighting Fascism in Poland
  • Moscow also labelled Finland Fascist and attacked it in 1939, but finland fought back and USSR lost half million troops.
  • Hitler on the other side of the Baltic Sea, had easily defeated and occupied Denmark, Belgium, Luxemberg and Holland.
  • Next for Hitler was Norway, which he defeated with help from USSR in form of Naval Base at Murmansk. Soviet also sent Resources and Food to Hitler while people were starving in their own country.
  • USSR even reached out to communist parties all across Europe to support Hitler. They made speaking against Nazism illegal in USSR and even warned US to not intervene. This is coz they knew that Hitler’s ideology was based on their own and any Hitler’s enemies would turn to become their enemies after Hitler was defeated.
  • In 1940, Hitler crushed France, while USSR defeated Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
  • Britain was the only country left now.
  • USSR maintained it’s public image as being anti Hitler and anti Fascism and hence Jews seeked refuge there, but were captured and returned to Hitler’s Gestapo.
  • Coz USSR doesn’t own upto their secret pact with Hitler or any support to Hitler, all the carnage of WW2 is put on Hitler’s head, but in reality USSR’s acts were much worse.
  • WW2 left over 27 Million Soviet Citizens dead, but the Soviet Govt. which was a criminal entity was responsible for most of these killings
  • More than a million Soviet soldiers joined the Nazi side to escape from hellish Soviet tactics like removal  soviet tags from uniforms of it’s dead soldiers
  • Stalin did his hellish war crimes under the assumption that no one would judge the vanquisher of hitler in the future.
  • Even post the defeat of hitler in 1945, Stalin continued to use the concentration camps and in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, exiled civilian men of the families to Siberia so that russian men could take over their families and hence russians will be in majority, decreasing chance of future rebellion from these Baltic Nations.
  • Europe today is dependent on Russian Gas and Oil resources and hence doesn’t investigate USSRs real acts during and after WW2.
  • Only German Nazis were tried for their war crimes after the war and nothing more has been done ever since.
  • In fact, the existance of Marxist political parties in Eurpoean countries shows the support of some for the ideas that persecution of inferior nations isn’t a crime, coz it makes way for more advanced nations to build a better life and future.