18 terms

Unit 1 Vocabulary

Big Bang
A theory, first articulated in the 1920s, proposing that the Universe started out extremely hot and dense and gradually cooled off as it expanded.
Big History
A unified account of the entire history of the Universe that uses evidence and ideas from many disciplines to create a broad context for understanding humanity; a modern scientific origin story.
A quality of an object or system that has diverse components precisely arranged in connection with one another (so that new properties emerge which did not exist in the components alone).
emergent properties
Properties of a complex system that are not present within its parts but that emerge only when those parts are combined.
Goldilocks Conditions
Specific set of conditions necessary to enable greater complexity. The reference is to the fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in which Goldilocks looks for the porridge, chair, and bed that are "just right."
Components that are put together to form something new and more complex.
interdisciplinary approach
An approach to a subject that uses the viewpoints of many different kinds of scholars about the same topic. For instance, Big History relies on information from cosmologists, astrophysicists, geologists, chemists, paleontologists, biologists, anthropologists, and historians, as well as experts in other disciplines, to learn about the past.
origin story
A narrative about the beginning of the Universe and humanity.
thresholds of increasing complexity
Moments in the history of the Universe when specific ingredients under the right "Goldilocks Conditions" come together to create something new and more complex.
Degrees of magnification, or perspective, used to measure time, space, and size.
scientific notation
method of expressing very large and very small numbers to avoid using the many zeros that would be required otherwise.
All the matter and energy in existence, as well as the space that contains it.
The study of past events.
A set of beliefs and practices that concern humanity's relationship with the spiritual, the supernatural, and reality.
An approach to discovering knowledge about the natural world that relies on testing ideas through observation or experiment.
The study of the properties and interactions of planets, stars, galaxies, and other astronomical objects.
The study of the Universe on its largest scales, including its origin.
entropy (the law of)
The natural tendency of all things to move from order to disorder.