Some of you may have seen "Our Story in 2 Minutes," a 2012 video edited by Joe Bush and with music from Zack Hemsey. As of this writing, it had more than 17.2 million views on YouTube from people all over the world. If you haven't seen it, here is your chance:
It is a visually stunning trip through our history, starting at the Big Bang and ending far out into the future, presumably after the death of the sun. The brilliant idea here is to tell our story from its real beginning, integrating humans into the rest of the cosmos. As the video shows, we came from the stars and evolved from cells — and then from all sorts of beasts — to get to our primate ancestors and, finally, to Homo sapiens.
At this point in the video, it shifts from the physical and the biological sciences to the social sciences and the humanities. It tells the unfolding of civilization, from our ancestors of the deep past through the Renaissance and the Reformation — before exploring the history of America and of the world — as it relates to America through wars and their devastating effects.
When I have shown this video in public lectures, I have seen a mix of awe and anguish in people's faces. How wonderful it all is — and what a mess we make of ourselves and the world. We came from the stars and to the stars we will go.
Yet what matters is what happens in between, how our choices chart our future. It would be nice if the leaders of the 100-plus countries in the U.N. Climate Summit could see this.
Marcelo Gleiser's latest book is The Island of Knowledge: The Limits of Science and the Search for Meaning. You can keep up with Marcelo on Facebook and Twitter: @mgleiser.