The Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway is a 360-foot-long path in the Rose Center for Earth and Space that spirals from the exit of the Hayden Big Bang Theater to the base of the Hayden Sphere, laying out the 13-billion-year history of the universe. One’s stride is measured in millions of years, and the relative blink of an eye that is the human era is depicted at the end of the pathway as the thickness of a single human hair.
Major developmental stages represented on the pathway include the formation of the Milky Way, the Sun, and the Earth, the first life on Earth, the production of oxygen in the oceans, and the Age of Dinosaurs. Panels show the relative size of the universe at specific points in time and display objects from each period in the history of the universe. Eight media stations provide in-depth information about the evolution of the universe, the planet, and life itself.
Artifacts along the pathway include a meteorite that dates from the birth of our solar system; a sample from the oldest rock formation on Earth; a trilobite, the first animal with eyes; and the fossilized serrated tooth of a giant carnivorous dinosaur.