ChronoZoom – The Zoomable timeline for Big History

ChronoZoom is the Zoomable timeline for Big History

With ChronoZoom, you can browse history, rather than digging it out piece by piece.
ChronoZoom is a timeline for all of history: From the Big Bang, to the time of the dinosaurs, to the present.

Motivation and Introduction

“Big History” is a new and emerging field that attempts to unify the past — all of the past — from the beginning of time, through the four major historic regimes of Cosmic, Earth, Life and Human history, up to the present. It offers a broad understanding of how the past has unfolded, and the opportunity to think about what unifying characteristics there may be in all kinds of history. It presents a motivation for bridging the intellectual chasm between humanities and sciences.

Introduction Video

Try ChronoZoom now:
Chronozoom is a zoomable interactive timeline that covers the entire span of time, from the Big Bang, to the time of the dinosaurs, to the present. ChronoZoom was first demonstrated at the 97th Annual Faculty Research Lecture series at the University of California, Berkeley on April 29th, 2010.ChronoZoom was originally developed as a term project by student Roland Saekow in the Big History course taught by professor Walter Alvarez. Saekow and Alvarez worked with Microsoft Research and Microsoft Live Labs thanks to connections made possible by UC Berkeley's Office of Intellectual Property and Industry Research Alliances (IPIRA).

Watch the Complete 1 Hr lecture:

  • [Watch] With Chancellor’s Introduction (1 hr 7 mins)
  • [Watch] Without Chancellor’s Introduction (59 mins)
Because the field of Big History studies all 13.7 billion years from the Big Bang to the present, a tool to aid the comprehension of time relationships between events, trends and themes is necessary. ChronoZoom is an intuitive, visual approach to fulfilling this void.At the same time, as the number of electronic resources and specialized online collections containing articles, images, video, sound and other multimedia grow at an increasingly faster rate, there becomes a need to organize, catalogue and unify similar resources. ChronoZoom is a step toward enabling users to browse knowledge, rather than searching, by linking relevant online resources to fixed time scales in an organized and logical manner. ChronoZoom is a tool for instructors, students and the general public to discover new knowledge through information organization.
The primary goal of ChronoZoom is to make time relationships between different studies of history clear and vivid. In the process, it provides a framework for exploring related electronic resources. It thus serves as a “master timeline” tying together all kinds of specialized timelines and electronic resources, and aspires to bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences and to bring together and unify all knowledge of the past.


Because ChronoZoom is intended for anyone interested in the emerging field of Big History, or in any of the component historical regimes (cosmology, astronomy, geology, paleontology, evolutionary biology, archaeologoy and historipgraphy), it may become the critical, first-response tool for educators and students of all branches of history, and for the general public.

ChronoZoomʼs features make it a useful tool for browsing all of history. It becomes a gateway to online resources including scholarly articles, lectures, photographs, video, audio and other multimedia. Rather than anticipating a usersʼ specific query like a search engine, ChronoZoom facilitates browsing and self-discovery of existing knowledge. Nearly all of human knowledge can be organized within ChronoZoom since time is among one of the few enduring and continuing constants in our universe. In this light, ChronoZoom is similar to the goal of a search engine, but approaches the problem from a different perspective.

In many ways, the power to browse online collections is more useful than the ability to search it. The human mind excels at pattern matching, detection and associations– all things search engines today cannot do. ChronoZoom is a tool that interfaces online resources with the way our minds work.


Earth and Planetary Science University of California, Berkeley
Roland Saekow 
Walter Alvarez
To contact us, please use the feedback form >>
Microsoft Live Labs Bill Crow
Goldie Chaudhuri
Karan Singh
Melinda Minch
Asta Roseway
Microsoft Research Daron Green
Intellectual Property and Industry Research AlliancesUniversity of California, Berkeley
Michael Katz
Kathleen McCowin
Lawrence Lau
Eric Giegerich


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