Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Blog Seven - 2014

Seventh Blog - June 2014

What with the Summer Solstice over and England out of the World Cup I thought I had better start on my latest thoughts as regards to all things Big Historical...

First things first, we in the UK finally caught up with the Big History TV series on the H2 Channel (which started in April). Sixteen half hour Little Big Histories and then a mammoth two hour programme on thbe Big History of Everything. Strange how the first twelve episodes (shown at Easter) were available on HD but not the remaining five including the grand finale! Still it was great to finally catch up with the USA and watch a really good TV series.

If you missed any of the series try looking here for the episodes you want to see:-
And you can see the final two hour episode here:-

One minor criticism, and it is only minor, is that it is assumed that you are already well versed in history/science. As The Big History Project are involved that means the age group targeted already have a degree of knowledge in this area. I personally would love to see something that could interest, entertain (and educate) everyone on the subject of Big History.

On another topic, while it is great to see the International Big History Association and Big History UK organisations wouldn't it be nice to see a European Big History association. Headed by Fred Spier would give it the icing on the cake.

With Big History activity in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland and Russia as well as the Netherlands and UK. I would love to see these countries coming together (with others like France and Sweden showing an interest) and forming a European Big History movement affiliated to the IBHA.

This would give Big History a little strength in depth and the Big History community another outlet in spreading the good word.

Thanks for reading.

'Til September

Chris Oddy

Big History UK

Big History Leeds
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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Blog Six - 2014

Sixth Blog - March 2014

St. Patrick's Day brought us back into the argument of God verses science. Following BICEP 2's cosmic microwave background telescope on the South Pole and its potential discovery of evidence proving cosmic inflation and gravitational waves from the Big Bang. We have now entered the era of the multiverse and the Higgs Boson "God particle" ...
The next 20 years could be interesting.
BICEP TWO data can be found here:-
BICEP TWO Facebook discussion page here:- 

Meanwhile back in the UK, Big History UK were pleased to announce in February that David Christian had agreed to become their first ever Honorary President.

H2 Channel in the UK are to show the series broadcast in the USA last year on Big History. Expect the series to include Big Histories of the Horse / Salt / Cold / Gold / megastructures / gravity / weapons / caffeine / cellphones / mountains / DNA / meteors / sun / carnivores / silver / H2O / Big History of Everything... 
It should be fun. This series starts on Easter Sunday, April 20th at 5pm UK summertime.

The BBC have finished their consultation review period. An update to everything is here:-

In Leeds, we have started a consultation of our own. On January 7th there was a meeting held at Leeds Town Hall to discuss any possible interest in Leeds challenging for the European City of Culture in 2023. Once again there is a lot of work to be done, though a large majority  of people at the meeting were in favour of this. So hopefully, with lots of consultations with the locals, not just the council elite, we may know more over the next six to nine months. If you wish to join the 
debate, and are on Twitter, use the #Leeds2023 hashtag and have your say.

Till June then...


Thursday, 19 December 2013

Blog Five - 2013

Fifth Blog - December 2013

Hello and welcome to the festive period. A time for glancing backwards, looking forwards and enjoying the present (or presents...).

The BBC are in the early stages of their own big review. On October 8th the BBC Director-General Tony Hall gave a speech outlining his vision for the BBC over the next 10 years, subject to BBC Trust approval.

If you read my third blog, reach out to the BBC, show them some love and tell them about Big History here:-

Or here:-

Or even here:-

BBC Where Next Feedback, B5232, 
The Mill, 
Burn Lane, 
NE46 3RU.

Maybe in 2015 there will be a place for Big History (sandwiched between The Great War [2014] and William Shakespeare [2016]). We live in hope.

Also on a UK level is Big History UK:-

This is something that is lacking in the UK and is a real chance to keep in touch with the pioneering spirit of Big History. We need a structure from the grassroots organisations to the national and ultimately international organisations already in place.

One part of the UK actively involved with the USA Big History people, albeit at a pilot stage, is South Ayrshire, Scotland. Read about them here:-

Meanwhile a little closer to home in Leeds. The City Council are currently debating whether to push themselves forward and compete for the European City of Culture in 2023:-

It would be great as a Leeds lad to be able to immerse myself in my home town. From our tropical past to our current multi culturism we enjoy today. Highlighted with our twinned cities, various museums, carnivals and annual events. It would be one hell of a journey, partly forged from chemicals found in dying stars! 

There is an open meeting at the Leeds Town Hall on January 7th 2014 between 2 and 5pm.

In other news 2019 sees the 200th anniversary of The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society who's aims in their own word are "To promote the advancement of science, literature and the arts in the City of Leeds and elsewhere, and to hold, give or provide for meetings, lectures, classes, and entertainments of a scientific, literary or artistic nature". What better way for them to celebrate their bicentenary five years from now than to host a season of regular Big History lectures at the Leeds City Museum!

Enjoy the rest of the festive period and see you all at some point in the Roman New Year. Beware the 'Ides of March' (Idus Martii or Idus Martiae) someone once said.


Chris Oddy
Big History Leeds

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Blog Four - 2013

Fourth Blog - September 2013

Looks like summer is just about over.

I thought earlier this year that while setting up the various Big History Leeds lectures I would make use of the social networks and piece together via the Internet The History of Big History (or something along those lines).

So, I thought I would start logically with Robert Chambers' 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation' originally published in 1844. Now Big History doesn't quite work like that. As I soon realised that I had to go back further as Big History emerged from Cosmic Evolution. The scientific approach to the Cosmos goes back to ancient Greece. Oh, but you have to go back further still, as that only emerged after humanity developed frontal lobes and began worshiping the Sun, Moon and stars back in the Palaeolithic. You could even argue that humanity itself began six million years or so ago with Orrorin Tugenesis.

So, I will return back to it soon...

Meanwhile, I have started to sort out setting up the Big History Leeds website and planning how I want it to look. Watch this space...

I have also set up a Blog account on Blogger (Google).

As well as the above, I have also set up a teacher account with the Big History Project with a view to future Big History Leeds lecturers having access to the Big History Project. If you are a teacher and are interested in Big History get in touch with the Big History Project people and set up an account! There is a lot of interesting stuff on there.

I am interested in the fifteen year development plan for the Leeds Metropolitan District being run by the Leeds City Council at the moment. They use the following documented bodies amongst others in their own cultural findings for the history of Leeds :- 

1) Leeds City Council, Village and Neighbourhood Design Statements -

2) Leeds City Council,1994, Leeds Landscape Assessment - 

3) West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, Historic Environment Record -

One thing I have noticed, and I think in the long term it should be seen as vital, is our role within the history of the metropolitan district of Leeds as a whole. In the long run it is the piecing together of all the histories of Leeds which will give Leeds its own true cultural identity. You could take it back as far as you dare possible as there is 4.5 billion years of Earth history to go at! 

You can bring cultural history up through the varying cultural changes made over the years whether it be Celtic, Roman, Viking (The Three Ridings that made up Yorkshire stems from the Vikings), Breton (Elmet preceeded Leeds in the 5th century when Leeds was Loidis forest), Anglo-Saxon and Norman.

Then we became part of England, the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, the EU and the UN which ties everything up to where we are multi-culturally today.

In the end each area will have its own vision and ideas, but by knitting them all together we will find Leeds' true identity. Remember as settlements became part of Leeds Town / City / Metropolitan District - They became part of Leeds.

Anyway, that is enough from me.

Take care

Chris Oddy

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Blog Three - 2013

Third Blog - June 2013

With Summer just around the corner I wonder how well Mr. Tony Hall is settling in to his new job as the BBC Director General. He has a little work to do to bring the BBC back from the edge and I do hope that he can do it. The BBC is a high pedigree organisation with its own history of achievement. With some of the best programmes the world has seen. 

On a personal level I would love to see the BBC have a go at Big History, or failing that a go at Long History. They have the tools and presenters to do it with.

Imagine Brian Cox, Jim Al-Khalili and the Sky At Night team doing the Big Bang up to the creation of the Solar System. Also, Sir David Attenborough, Iain Stewart and Alice Roberts on Earth Science and Natural History. Plus there is a whole raft of historians at the BBCs disposal for the history of humanity - Andrew Marr has even attempted it lock, stock and barrel.

The BBC would be back at the top of the science and history tree with such a back catalogue already. All it needs is someone to sit down, maybe update the archives and prepare something for release. Just a thought.

Anyway, I digress. Big History Leeds now has a Facebook page and Twitter, YouTube and MySpace accounts should you wish to take a look at, like and follow.

The links are here:-

I have been piecing together a framework from the Augustinian Era to the end of the human race / world / universe, and what comes after, scenarios. The Augustinian Era refers to the period in Pre Big Bang history which Einstein described the point where his theory of relativity etc breaks down. When there is no known time / motion / etc. An idea first mentioned by St. Augustine and later picked up by Einstein. The idea is to have a discussion concerning things like multiverses etc and somehow square the Big History circle between human / earth / universe death and the point of the origins of our universe - the starting point as we know it in Big History.

I see this venture as being part of the whole Big History experience. We would be pointing people in the direction of websites / Facebook / Twitter / books / CDs / downloads etc which The Big History Project people are producing. Also at certain points in the Big History story we can take it out to the many suburbs and restart the "course" there. This way we can keep everything ongoing. There should be no age restrictions.

The basic plan for each Big History Leeds lecture would be this:-

i) Lectures/discussions/field trips of Big History in chronological order. 
ii) As we cover each section and move on, if something new happens we can have a short catchup lecture before the main lecture begins.
iii) Finally, a question and answer section to finish the evening with.

Finally, I will be looking at various avenues to see where I stand as regards to funding, in order to get this off the ground. As always I would be interested in their thoughts anyway...

Have fun and enjoy the summer...

Chris Oddy

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Blog Two - 2013

Second Blog - March 2013

So, What is Big History and what is Big History Leeds?

According to Wikipedia :-
'Big History is an emerging academic discipline which examines history scientifically from the Big Bang to the present. It examines long time frames using a multidisciplinary approach based on combining numerous disciplines from science and the humanities, and explores human existence in the context of this bigger picture. It integrates studies of the cosmos, Earth, life and humanity using empirical evidence to explore cause-and-effect relations, and is taught at universities and secondary schools often using web-based interactive presentations.'

'David Christian explains Big History, the scale of its 13.81 billion year timeline, the many approaches of knowledge it involves, and how it fits within a long running human tradition of telling origin stories.' Look for 'What is Big History' here :-

The International Big History Association says 'Big History seeks to understand the integrated history of the Cosmos, Earth, Life, and Humanity, using the best available empirical evidence and scholarly methods.' A fuller explanation is found here :-

As for Big History Leeds, it will be an attempt to adapt Big History on a local level. Big History Leeds will aim to tread the path from each singularity settlement to the complexity of the Metropolitan District. While tracing our own steps from just after The Big Bang itself to the creation of stars and the chemical elements (found in dying stars) that eventually became us, one of the most complex things ever evolved so far. 

For instance, the Carboniferous river delta rainforest in the north of England powered the industrial revolution which led us into the Modern era. And it is also this kind of time period over millions if not billions of years that Big History will and Big History Leeds will aim to look at.

Big History Leeds would like to set  up three kinds of lecture series...

Firstly, a ten part lecture course on Big History itself, held monthly from, say August to May, so that everyone is more aware of what exactly Big History is. Ideally then taken out to the libraries located in the Leeds Metropolitan District.

Secondly, having taken Big History as a starting point, the next stage is an extended set of fortnightly lectures with a little more depth covering Big History but with a local slant incorporating Leeds' Big History from the first rocks up to the bustling Metropolitan District it is today.

Thirdly, a weekly lecture series covering something I call Long History. With a lot of depth and leaving virtually no stone unturned as we incorporate everything, both good and bad, warts and all looking at Big History and general world, Commonwealth, European, UK, Yorkshire and Leeds history both Local and at its place in the wider community.

As I said in my first Blog, I am not an academic. So it would be great to have help from all the science and history community in the Leeds Metropolitan District. The idea being these groups can work together to flesh out the bones of the framework I have and of the general direction I would like us to go in. To build on all the hard work Leeds has put in over the centuries to get it where it is today.

Anyway all the best and enjoy the Spring!

Chris Oddy

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Blog One - 2012

Blog One - Dec 2012

My name is Chris Oddy and I'm from Leeds in the United Kingdom. I am 45 years old and interested in Big History. Though I do not come from an academic background I think I could add something to the Big History Project.

This is how I clumsily introduced myself to the historian, David Christian, a Big History pioneer. I spoke via an email sent to the other side of the world in Australia, which he promptly replied to. 

Even though he is a very busy man working with both Macquarie University & the Big History Project he still found time to contact me. I must admit I thought he wouldn't reply but I was happily proved wrong.

I have an interest in Big History and I would love other people not necessarily aware of it to be introduced to this subject. It is a multi-disciplined approach to Science and History, an origin story from the Big Bang to now and on to the future.

David Christian sent me a few links to look at :-

'You'll get a much better idea of what we're doing if you go to 
or to 
or even to .'

I also think that Big History belongs to everyone, it is that important. 

One thought I have, is to take it out to the community. For instance, coming from Leeds, we have Astronomy Societies, a Geology Association and The Thoresby Society - (Leeds Historical Society). Not to mention The Philosophical and Literary Society among many other different local organisations which all would fit under the Big History umbrella.

I like the idea of more depth, utilising existing organisations (and possibly creating others where none exist). Holding a regular series of lectures over a period of time at the same venue promoting Big History and incorporating the sciences within it.

As well as a global view it would also incorporate a national and local view. 

Then within Leeds it could be taken to the smaller communities with histories of their own. For instance Otley Town has its own history and community and fits like a jigsaw piece into the Leeds complexity. 

Could you imagine every metropolitan district and the cities, towns, villages and hamlets within discussing their geological and archaeological history, the planets forever changing climate and pondering where we go from here. 

Well they do and wouldn't it be nice to bring them all together under one big family umbrella.

Anyway, enjoy the festive period and have a great 2013.

Chris Oddy