The 2012 R. Lowry Dobson Memorial Lecture: Walter Alvarez presents Big History and ChronoZoom


Professor Alvarez delivered the 2012 R. Lowry Dobson Memorial Lecture at Sibley Auditorium on the UC Berkeley Campus, demonstrating ChronoZoom and presenting a fascinating look at contingencies in Big History.

The R. Lowry Dobson Memorial Lecture was created in 1999 to commemorate the life and passions of Dr. Lowry Dobson, a Berkeley alumnus, faculty member and research scientist.

Established by friends and family to honor Dr. Dobson's deep belief in the interdisciplinary exploration of concepts and ideas, this lecture series brings together scientists of all disciplines to share new insights, ask new questions, and find new answers to the challenges that face our world.

Lectures rotate annually among speakers chosen by the deans of biological, physical, and social sciences.


ChronoZoom 2.0 Beta Now Available

ChronoZoom-B

ChronoZoom 2 beta in HTML5 has arrived!
Please visit
www.ChronoZoomProject.org/ to try it now.

We look forward to your comments and suggestions.

- The ChronoZoom Team
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ChronoZoom 2.0 Beta in 2012, Open Source!

2.0

We are happy to announce an all new ChronoZoom 2.0 will be available in beta form later this year thanks to a generous gift and continued partnership with Microsoft Research.

The new version will allow us and others to quickly add new content to ChronoZoom’s database.

There are also some other major improvements that we will be announcing soon.

This is a big step over the ChronoZoom 1.0 proof of concept which uses a static database that is very difficult to update and expand.

We look forward to incorporating your data soon!

Open Source
ChronoZoom 2.0 will also be released as a fully open source project!

We invite those interested in the technology to view the source code of ChronoZoom 2.0 and help us improve it further.

For more information on viewing the source code, check this page later this year:
ChronoZoom on Outercurve Foundation

Roland Saekow
ChronoZoom Project Lead

ChronoZoom Cal Day Webcast Now Available

calday
11–11:45 am | 141 McCone Hall
Session Title: Visualizing Big History

Recorded at Cal Day 2011, University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Walter Alvarez & Researcher Roland Saekow

Today, a new interdisciplinary field called Big History is unifying the study of all of the past, bringing together the history of the cosmos, earth, life, and humanity.

Visualizing and comprehending the past 13.7 billion years has become one of the greatest challenges for Big History.

Professor Alvarez will introduce ChronoZoom, a free zoomable timeline being developed at UC Berkeley




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ChronoZoom Presentation at CalDay April 16th, 2011

calday
11–11:45 am | 141 McCone Hall
Session Title: Visualizing Big History

Today, a new interdisciplinary field called Big History is unifying the study of all of the past, bringing together the history of the cosmos, earth, life, and humanity.

Visualizing and comprehending the past 13.7 billion years has become one of the greatest challenges for Big History.

Professor Alvarez will introduce ChronoZoom, a free interactive zoomable timeline for the history of everything being developed at UC Berkeley.

Professor Walter Alvarez, Researcher Roland Saekow

The webcast is now available here.


CalDay Poster

[Video #6] Zooming into the History of Italy

This early example uses Italy and shows off the power of Deep Zoom, allowing us to embed high resolution images, Gigapixel images, and full resolution PDFs.

With ChronoZoom's vast zoom capability, we can embed an entire PDF within a panel. Converting a PDF to Deep Zoom allows us to quickly browse the PDF without any lag or delay traditionally associated with standard PDF viewing applications.

ChronoZoom presented at Cyberlearning Tools for STEM Education Conference

ChronoZoom 1.0 was demonstrated at the 2011 Cyberlearning Tools for STEM Education Conference in Berkeley, California.

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Session Details


Our knowledge of human history comprises a truly vast data set, much of it in the form of chronological narratives written by humanist scholars and difficult to deal with in quantitative ways. The last 20 years has seen the emergence of a new discipline called Big History, invented by the Australian historian, David Christian, which aims to unify all knowledge of the past into a single field of study. Big History invites humanistic scholars and historical scientists from fields like geology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, astronomy, and cosmology to work together in developing the broadest possible view of the past. Incorporating everything we know about the past into Big History greatly increases the amount of data to be dealt with.

Big History is proving to be an excellent framework for designing undergraduate synthesis courses that attract outstanding students. A serious problem in teaching such courses is conveying the vast stretches of time from the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago to the present, and clarifying the wildly different time scales of cosmic history, Earth and life history, human prehistory, and human history. We present “ChronoZoom,” a computer-graphical approach to dealing with this problem of visualizing and understanding time scales, and presenting vast quantities of historical information in a useful way. ChronoZoom (http://ChronoZoomTimeScale.org) is a collaborative effort of the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley, Microsoft Research, and originally Microsoft Live Labs.

Our first conception of ChronoZoom was that it should dramatically convey the scales of history, and the first version does in fact do that. To display the scales of history from a single day to the age of the Universe requires the ability to zoom smoothly by a factor of ~10^13, and doing this with raster graphics was a remarkable achievement of the team at Live Labs. The immense zoom range also allows us to embed virtually limitless amounts of text and graphical information.

We are now in the phase of designing the next iteration of ChronoZoom in collaboration with Microsoft Research. One goal will be to have ChronoZoom be useful to students beginning or deepening their study of history. We therefore show a very preliminary version of a ChronoZoom presentation of the human history of Italy designed for students, featuring (1) a hierarchical periodization of Italian history, (2) embedded graphics, and (3) an example of an embedded technical article. This kind of presentation should make it possible for students to browse history, rather than digging it out, bit by bit.

At a different academic level, ChronoZoom should allow scholars and scientists to bring together graphically a wide range of data sets from many different disciplines, to search for connections and causal relationships. As an example of this kind of approach, from geology and paleontology, we are inspired by TimeScale Creator.

ChronoZoom, by letting us move effortlessly through this enormous wilderness of time, getting used to the differences in scale, should help to break down the time-scale barriers to communication between scholars.