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Earth and Space sciences Scale and Geologic Time Lab
Project description
Complete the attached Scale and Geologic Time Lab
How Long is Long?
The earth formed along with our solar system around 4.6 billion years ago.  This idea of ‘billions of years’ is a foreign concept for humans in that we are used to measuring time in minutes, hours, or days.  This lab is designed to place geologic time into this human perspective. The goal is to illustrate how vast geologic time is by comparing geologic time with the simple task of counting to 100.
The following timeline provides some major events in human history and the evolution of life. You will use this timeline in later sections of the lab.
Years before Present
250            Founding of the U.S.
2750            Founding of Rome
3800            Construction of Stonehenge
9000            Founding of Jericho, the World’s First City
17,000            First Humans enter North America
30,000            Modem Humans enter Europe
100,000        First Anatomically Modem Humans
500,000        Homo erectus Discovers Fire
3,500,000        First Bipedal Human Ancestor (Australopithecus)
66,000,000        Extinction of the Dinosaurs
425,000,000        Arthropods are the First Organisms to Live on Land
540,000,000        Cambrian Explosion in the Diversity of Life forms
4,000,000,000        First Life on Earth
4,600,000,000    Earth is Formed
I.  First you need to determine your scale of comparison. This is the human scale you are going to use to compare with the geologic time scale. For this exercise we are going to use the time it takes you to count to one hundred.
First, record the time it takes you to count to 100 (in seconds):
Time: ____________________
This time to count to one hundred is your human time scale.  The time elapsed while you counted to one hundred was probably somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds.  This is a time scale that you can relate to, especially considered you just experienced it!  You are familiar with this amount of time and you are comfortable with discussing events (like counting) that can occur over a period of 30 to 60 seconds.
Now you are going to start converting the human scale to the geologic scale.  For the purposes of this exercise, you are going to consider each 100 years along the timeline provided above as equivalent to the time it takes you to count to 100.  So, counting to 100 equals the passage of 100 years.  Let’s convert our dates before present to counting times (fill in the blanks):
1.    Founding of the U.S.-Years before present (B.P.):____
To convert this to counting episodes, first divide this number by 100:______
This is the number of times you would need to count to 100 in order to replicate 250
years of geologic history in your human scale. Now, convert this to seconds using your time to count to 100.  Do this by multiplying your counting time by the number counting episodes.
Human Scale (in seconds):____
This human scale is the amount of time you would have to count to reach the founding of the United States at your new scale.  Now, perform these conversions for each of the other events on the timeline (fill in all the blanks):
2.    Founding of Rome-Years B.P.___________;# of counting episodes___________;
human scale (in seconds)__________________
3.    Construction of Stonehenge-Years B.P._________;# of counting episodes___________;
human scale (in seconds)_______________________
4.    Founding of Jericho-Years B.P.___________;# of counting episodes___________;
human scale (in seconds)_____________________
5.    First Humans in North America-Years B.P.________;# of counting episodes _______;
human scale (in seconds)____________________
6.    Modern Humans in Europe-Years B.P.___________;# of counting episodes ______;
human scale (in seconds)____________________
7.    First Modern Humans-Years B.P.__________;# of counting episodes ___________;
human scale (in seconds)___________________
8.    Discovery of Fire-Years B.P.____________;# of counting episodes______________;
human scale (in seconds)___________________
9.    Evolution of Bipedal Apes-Years B.P.___________;# of counting episodes_________;
human scale (in seconds)____________________
10.    Extinction of Dinosaurs-Years B.P.___________;# of counting episodes___________;
human scale (in seconds)____________________
11.    Arthropods Colonize Land-Years B.P._________;# of counting episodes__________;
human scale (in seconds)____________________
12.    Cambrian Explosion-Years B.P.__________;# of counting episodes_____________;
human scale (in seconds)____________________
13.    First Life on Earth-Years B.P._____________; # of counting episodes__________;
human scale (in seconds)______________
14.    Formation of Earth-Years B.P.___________; # of counting episodes____________;
human scale (in seconds) ——————–
Remember, the human scale represents the number of seconds you would have to be counting to arrive at a given event.  Most people consider the founding of the United States or the founding of Rome to have occurred a long time ago.  How do these dates compare with the time between now and the first appearance of humans?
If human (pre)history began with the evolution of the first anatomically modem humans, how does this length of time compare with diversification of life forms marked by the Cambrian explosion?
How does the length of time between now and the Cambrian explosion compare with the length of time between now and the formation of the Earth?
Place humans within the perspective of Earth’s history?  How does human history compare with Earth’s history?   Can geologic time inform us about our own place in the world?  Given that 99.9% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct, what might Earth’s history teach us about our own future?