Earth: A New Hope (Geologic Time to Star Wars)

Geologic time is vast, and the Earth is incredibly old. So old that understanding its scale can be hard to fathom. In order to understand its longevity, we will be looking back a long time ago in a galaxy far far away to Star Wars: A New Hope.

The origin of our Earth is 4.6 billion years ago in which a black screen envelops our movie screen to be shifted to a 20th Century Fox logo blaring loud trumpets. For 600 million years our world was bombarded by space junk, dust, and meteorites. By the time this bombardment is over in the context of A New Hope, Storm Troopers are combing the deserts of Tatooine and one brazenly yells “look sir droids!” Fast forward to a scene in the Millennium Falcon, and Han Solo is scolding Luke Skywalker with his famous line “hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match to a good blaster at your side, kid.” About a minute before this line is said, our Earth is undergoing its first tectonic activity.

Finally, we reach some of our first life on earth, which are eukaryotic cells about 2 billion years ago, and we are already over half way through the movie when imperial troops are boarding the Millennium Falcon on board the Death Star. By the time the first amphibians and insects show up on the stage of earth, the Rebel alliance is already halfway through their attack of the Death Star and Darth Vader is arriving in his specialized Tie Advanced with two Tie Fighters on both his sides. As the battle continues, dinosaurs and mammals make their entrance onto Earth, but the first flowers make their appearance right as Luke’s X-Wing missiles enter the Death Star’s exhaust port. The extinction of the dinosaurs happens right as the last scene of the movie, the award ceremony, begins.

The direct ancestors of humans arrive, but the movie is minutes to being over, as Chewbacca makes his first roar of the awards ceremony. Humans arrive at his second roar about 10 seconds later (millions of years in Earth time). As the final circular fade out of the movie happens, the earliest cave art known is found, the Neanderthals go extinct, Mount Vesuvius buries Pompeii, and everyone you have every known was born.

The credits roll.

To put this into quick perspective, the dinosaurs go extinct right as the Youtube video below begins. Everything you ever learned in history class happens right after Chewbaca’s second roar, seconds before the movie ends.

Below are the exact times things happen:

Geologic Time Real Event Movie Time
4.6 Ga Origin of Earth and the Solar System 0:00:00
4.0 Ga End of heavy meteorite bombardment; oldest surviving rocks 0:15:38
3.9 Ga Oldest sedimentary rocks; first possible geochemical evidence of life 0:18:17
3.5 Ga First likely microbial structures 0:28:45
2.7 Ga Biomarkers of blue green “algae” (cyanobacteria) & of eukaryotes 0:49:40
2.3-2.2 Ga First global tectonic activity 1:00:07- 1:02:44
2.0 Ga First eukaryotic cells, first oxidized soils; significant oxygen in atmosphere 1:07:57
750-600 Ma Widespread glaciation, oxygen rises to 100% of present level 1:40:38-1:44:33
600 Ma First fossil metazoans (multicellular animals) 1:44:33
543 Ma First multicellular animals with skeletons & modern metazoan phyla 1:46:02
500 Ma First vertebrates 1:47:10
440 Ma First multicellular land plants 1:48:44
370 Ma First amphibians & insects 1:50:34
345 Ma First amniotes (vertebrates with water tight eggs) 1:51:13
250 Ma Permo Triassic Mass extinction (over 90% of species lost) 1:53:42
220 Ma First mammals & dinosaurs 1:54:29
120 Ma First flowering plants (angiosperms) 1:57:06
66 Ma Cretaceous -Tertiary mass extinction followed by rapid diversification of mammals 1:58:31
4-7 Ma First hominids 2:00:03
100 Ka Homo sapiens first appears in rock record 2:00:13.84
50 Ka earliest cave art 2:00:13.92
45-30 Ka Extinction of Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) 2:00:13.93-2:00:13.95
12 Ka Mass extinction of large terrestrial mammals, possibly caused by humans 2:00:13.98
79 CE Mount Vesuvius erupts burying Pompeii 2:00:13.9999
1816 CE “The Year without a Summer” (part of the Little Ice Age) 2:00:13.999999
1995 CE My birthyear 2:00:13.9999999999999

 

Movie Time Movie Event
0:00:00 Black screen fades to 20th Century Fox Logo
0:15:38 Storm Troopers are looking for the missing escape pod in the desert and a Storm Trooper says “Look sir! Droids!”
0:18:17 Uncle Owen just bought C-3PO from the Jawas and says “take these two to the garage”
0:28:45 R-2 has just alerted Luke and C-3PO of the Sand People in the area and they are looking at their Banthas
0:49:40 Storm Troopers walked into the cantina at Mos Eisley, and come check out Han and Chewie’s table
1:00:07- 1:02:44 R-2 kills one of Chewbaca’s pieces in the Dejarik game; “hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match to a good blaster at your side, kid”; Obi Wan gives Luke a helmate with a blast shield
1:07:57 Two imperial workers board the Millenium Falcon with a crate
1:40:38-1:44:33 A rebel engineer is describing how a precise hit to an exhaust port will destroy the Death Star; “I use to bullseye wamprats!”; Rebel pilots take off for mission against the Death Star
1:44:33 Luke’s X-wing is taking off for mission against Death Star
1:46:02 “Cut the Chatter Red 2” X-wings in attack formation approaching Death Star
1:47:10 X-wings are being scattered by turret fighter; “Watch yourselves!”
1:48:44 Tie fighter outflanks Luke’s X-wing and gets right behind him
1:50:34 Darth Vader arrives with two other Tie fighters to the Death Star Trench
1:51:13 Imperial officer asks Grand Moff Tarkin if he would like to evacuate the Death Star
1:53:42 “Luke at that speed will you be able to pull out in time!?”
1:54:29 Darth Vader is .3 units away from Rebel pilots; “Fighter coming in .3!”
1:57:06 Luke’s missiles enter the exhaust port on the Death Star
1:58:31 Wide shot of the forest on Yavin IV and trumpets playing in the background
2:00:03 Chewbaca roars for the first time at the award ceremony
2:00:13.84 Chewbaca roars at the award ceremony for the second and last time
2:00:13.92 The circular fade out appears at the edges of the screen
2:00:13.93-2:00:13.95 Fade out reaches half-way through the screen
2:00:13.98 Fade out encompasses the screen and George Lucas’ end credit fades in slowly
2:00:13.9999 Screen is full of stars and George Lucas’ name is fully on the screen
2:00:13.999999 Screen is still full of stars and George Luca’s name is fully on the screen
2:00:13.9999999999999 Absolutely no changes
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