Evolution, Show 6: The Mind's Big Bang

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Video Description

Show 6: The Mind's Big Bang

Fifty thousand years ago, something happened -- the modern human mind emerged, triggering a creative, technological, and social explosion. What forces contributed to that breakthrough? Where might our power of mind ultimately lead us?

Chapter 1. Prologue (3:09)

Introduction to the show's theme: changes in human development and the birth of creativity

* Searching French caves for early human paintings

* The birth of the human mind and human expression

Chapter 2. Stone Age Tools (7:45)

Early tool-making and the evolution from hominid to human

* Archeological research into hominid artifacts

* Paleolithic hominids and their development of tools

* The evolution of hominids and modern humans

* Human migration out of Africa

Chapter 3. The World's First Beads (7:16)

Early modern humans using technology to express social identity

* Excavating a Turkish cave, home for early modern humans

* The discovery of 43,000-year-old beads, the oldest in the world

* Migration of early humans across Europe

* Beads as evidence of the mind's "big bang": humans' creative and cultural beginnings

Chapter 4. Neanderthals and Humans (7:07)

Technological and social differences between modern humans and Neanderthals

* Description of Neanderthals, another descendent of hominids

* Comparing Neanderthal and human burials; human use of symbols and art, while no evidence of Neanderthal symbolic life

* Examining Neanderthal and human hunting tools

* Human communication and expression, no Neanderthal equivalents

Chapter 5. Modern Humans and Art (2:49)

Exploring early modern humans' art and music

* Studying cave art techniques

* Why did early modern humans create this art?

* Cave instruments and music

Chapter 6. Components of the Human World (7:31)

The evolution of the modern human brain

* Biological changes in the brain and its wiring

* Studying chimpanzees to understand human social behavior before the human mind's "big bang"

* Humans and a theory of mind; we can recognize and infer others' thoughts

Chapter 7. Language (11:41)

Language's importance to human relationships and culture

* The critical window for learning language

* Studying a new sign language in Nicaragua for parallels to early language development

* The significance of syntax (rules) in all human languages

* The evolutionary advantages of language

Chapter 8. Cultural Evolution (9:11)

Cultural forces surpassing biological forces in determining human evolution

* Through behavior, humans copy and pass along memes (ideas, habits, skills) that are the building blocks of cultural evolution

* Human ingenuity triumphing over biological evolution, with the examples of diabetes and insulin, near-sightedness and glasses

* Changes in human lifestyle over the past 50,000 years have more to do with the evolution of memes, not genes

Documentary Description


Series Overview

Evolution determines who lives, who dies, and who passes traits on to the next generation. The process plays a critical role in our daily lives, yet it is one of the most overlooked -- and misunderstood -- concepts ever described.

The Evolution project's eight-hour television miniseries travels the world to examine evolutionary science and the profound effect it has had on society and culture. From the genius and torment of Charles Darwin to the scientific revolution that spawned the tree of life, from the power of sex to drive evolutionary change to the importance of mass extinctions in the birth of new species, the Evolution series brings this fascinating process to life. The series also explores the emergence of consciousness, the origin and success of humans, and the perceived conflict between science and religion in understanding life on Earth.

The Evolution series' goals are to heighten public understanding of evolution and how it works, to dispel common misunderstandings about the process, and to illuminate why it is relevant to all of us.

Evolution Series Show Descriptions

Show 1: Darwin's Dangerous Idea (two-hour)

Why does Charles Darwin's ''dangerous idea'' matter more today than ever, and how does it explain the past and predict the future of life on Earth? The first show interweaves the drama of Darwin's life with current documentary sequences, introducing key concepts of evolution.

Show 2: Great Transformations
(one hour)

What underlies the incredible diversity of life on Earth? How have complex life forms evolved? The journey from water to land, the return of land mammals to the sea, and the emergence of humans all suggest that creatures past and present are members of a single tree of life.

Show 3: Extinction! (one hour)

Five mass extinctions have occurred since life began on Earth. Are humans causing the next mass extinction? And what does evolutionary theory predict for the world we will leave to our descendants?

Show 4: The Evolutionary Arms Race
(one hour)

Survival of the fittest: Raw competition? Intense cooperation? Both are essential. Interactions between and within species are among the most powerful evolutionary forces on Earth, and understanding them may be a key to our own survival.

Show 5: Why Sex? (one hour)

In evolutionary terms, sex is more important than life itself. Sex fuels evolutionary change by adding variation to the gene pool. The powerful urge to pass our genes on to the next generation has likely changed the face of human culture in ways we're only beginning to understand.

Show 6: The Mind's Big Bang (one hour)

Fifty thousand years ago, something happened -- the modern human mind emerged, triggering a creative, technological, and social explosion. What forces contributed to that breakthrough? Where might our power of mind ultimately lead us?

Show 7: What About God?
(one hour)

Of all species, we alone attempt to explain who we are and how we came to be. This final show explores the struggle between science and religion. Through the personal stories of students and teachers, it offers the view that they are compatible.

Source: PBS


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