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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill…

A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003)

by Bill Bryson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 257 (next | show all)
Disguised as a book about science, this is actually a book about people attempting to make sense of the universe while fighting among themselves. Having gone to school several decades earlier, I now know that much of what I learned, facts that they were so sure of at the time, turned out to be wrong or incomplete or simply the fashion of the time. And even those facts which didn't change were explained to me in the wrong way so as to give me the impression that I understood when I actually didn't. I now feel simultaneously smarter and stupider and have more of a sense of wonder. ( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
I can definitely say that this is the more interesting and attention grabbing science book I have ever read. It's all non-fiction, but that shouldn't stop you. Whether you might feel that you're NOT interested in astronomy, geology, chemistry, the history of man, and what not...then this book will get you interested in it again. I found myself wanting to be an astronomer when I was reading, and re-learning, all these crazy facts about the galaxy and universe. And then I thought it would be cool to be a geologist to be able to explore volcanoes and earthquakes. Then maybe a paleontologist so I can find a brand new dinosaur bone. If you're looking for a book to inspire yourself (or someone else) to do something in the field of science, then I would recommend this book. I had the illustrated edition, which helps tremendously!

( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |
An apt subtitle for this book could have been "How we've come to know all that we know about the world." This tome serves, more than any other book I've ever read - and certainly on this broad topic - to show anti-science nuts that science really simply boils down to individuals marveling at how things work, or noticing something interesting, and being led by their curiosities to discovery. It is incredible also to realize, in bas relief here, that 1) so many scientists met their ends through odd mishaps - most notably those newfangled vehicle things, 2) So many were disregarded, and their work along with them, because of personal feuds 3) Many were not allowed to flourish because of various politicking. This was my first experience with Bryson, and if the rest of his oeuvre is anything close to this one, I may have found myself another favorite author. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
Not bad, some interesting trivia mixed in with the science. Not sure I would have made it through the entire book if I read it rather than listened to it. ( )
  Joe24 | Apr 27, 2015 |
I was not overly impressed. Almost everything was either something I knew, or something I don't care about (personal problems of long-dead geologists), or was out-of-date (status of Pluto). If he'd kept better to the promise of the prologue, to explore exactly 'how' scientists know all that stuff, it'd have been better. But at least he did explain some things that some people might be learning for the first time, such as Carbon-14 dating. I suppose the book is a good introduction to lots of science for novice autodidacts.

Ok, one thing I did gladly learn that it's lichens, not moss, that grow on the north side of trees. Only trouble is, lichen takes a long time to grow, so no guarantee I'll find some next time I'm lost in a forest... ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 257 (next | show all)
The more I read of ''A Short History of Nearly Everything,'' the more I was convinced that Bryson had achieved exactly what he'd set out to do, and, moreover, that he'd done it in stylish, efficient, colloquial and stunningly accurate prose.
"Una breve historia de casi todo" explica como ha evolucionado el mundo para acabar siendo lo que es hoy. Explica cualquier aspecto de nuestro universo, desde el más recóndito al más conocido.
added by Jaism94 | editBill Bryson
The book's underlying strength lies in the fact that Bryson knows what it's like to find science dull or inscrutable. Unlike scientists who turn their hand to popular writing, he can claim to have spent the vast majority of his life to date knowing very little about how the universe works.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goddijn, ServaasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Päkkilä, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The physicist Leo Szilard once announced to his friend Hans Bethe that he was thinking of keeping a diary: 'I don't intend to publish. I am merely going to record the facts for the information of God.' ''Don't you think God knows the facts?" Bethe asked. 'Yes,' said Szilard. 'He knows the facts, but He does not know this version of the facts.'
— Hans Christian von Baeyer, Taming the Atom
To Meghan and Chris. Welcome.
First words
No matter how hard you try you will never be able to grasp just how tiny, how spatially unassuming, is a proton.
They're all in the same plane. They're all going around in the same direction. . . .It's perfect, you know. It's gorgeous. It's almost uncanny. - Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy describing the solar system
Nature and Nature's laws lay hid in night; / God said, Let Newton be! and all was light. - Alexander Pope
A physicist is the atoms' way of thinking about atoms. - Anonymous
The history of any one part of the Earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror. - British geologist Derek V. Ager
The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming. - Freeman Dyson
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 076790818X, Paperback)

From primordial nothingness to this very moment, A Short History of Nearly Everything reports what happened and how humans figured it out. To accomplish this daunting literary task, Bill Bryson uses hundreds of sources, from popular science books to interviews with luminaries in various fields. His aim is to help people like him, who rejected stale school textbooks and dry explanations, to appreciate how we have used science to understand the smallest particles and the unimaginably vast expanses of space. With his distinctive prose style and wit, Bryson succeeds admirably. Though A Short History clocks in at a daunting 500-plus pages and covers the same material as every science book before it, it reads something like a particularly detailed novel (albeit without a plot). Each longish chapter is devoted to a topic like the age of our planet or how cells work, and these chapters are grouped into larger sections such as "The Size of the Earth" and "Life Itself." Bryson chats with experts like Richard Fortey (author of Life and Trilobite) and these interviews are charming. But it's when Bryson dives into some of science's best and most embarrassing fights--Cope vs. Marsh, Conway Morris vs. Gould--that he finds literary gold. --Therese Littleton

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:29 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In this book Bill Bryson explores the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer and attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. To that end, Bill Bryson apprenticed himself to a host of the world's most profound scientific minds, living and dead. His challenge is to take subjects like geology, chemistry, paleontology, astronomy, and particle physics and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people, like himself, made bored (or scared) stiff of science by school. His interest is not simply to discover what we know but to find out how we know it. How do we know what is in the center of the earth, thousands of miles beneath the surface? How can we know the extent and the composition of the universe, or what a black hole is? How can we know where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out? On his travels through space and time, Bill Bryson encounters a splendid gallery of the most fascinating, eccentric, competitive, and foolish personalities ever to ask a hard question. In their company, he undertakes a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge.… (more)

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