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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill…

A Short History of Nearly Everything (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Bill Bryson

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16,179295110 (4.16)395
Title:A Short History of Nearly Everything
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Broadway (2004), Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned (inactive)

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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (2003)


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» See also 395 mentions

English (266)  Dutch (10)  Spanish (5)  German (4)  Swedish (3)  Italian (2)  Portuguese (1)  Hungarian (1)  Catalan (1)  French (1)  Piratical (1)  All languages (295)
Showing 1-5 of 266 (next | show all)
Good writing. Great stories behind important discoveries tracing our scientific understanding of earth and humanity.
  collinsdanielp | Apr 25, 2016 |
Bill Bryson's a short history of everything is a short tour through the history of universe by way of the science that was done to find it out. It's a refreshing take that focuses on the ways that scientists work, and that science as a body can be as dogmatic as anything else. Being a short history, it skips over many things. I personally can't understand why he devotes so many words to telling us how many species there are on Earth without exploring in any depth the fact that the concept of species as in precursor species is basically an arbitrary distinction (when did our last common ancestor stop being them and start being us? It didn't. It's just a matter of labels). There were things that were out of date but that's inevitable with the subject matter and there were things that weren't quite right but if a non-scientist wanted a brief tour of science, they could do a hell of a lot worse than this book. It's engaging and informative and more than accurate enough for most curious bystanders. ( )
  TPauSilver | Feb 14, 2016 |
The Best of Science & History in a well written narrative that paints a comprehensible view on just how lucky we are to even exist and the tremendous progress we have made in science and as a people. ( )
  jbblaze | Feb 13, 2016 |
Richard Matthews read the audiobook version I listened to and man, oh man. In the words of one of my kids, "he sounds so smart, this man. But he's probably just reading it all out of a book."
It's a fascinating book, you feel like a rock skipping across a very shallow but full pond of astounding facts, figures, and anecdotes. The introduction to large figures and ideas in the history of science is really enjoyable, sort of like a different take on Arthur Koestler's "The Sleepwalkers."
At a certain point large number fatigue sets in, where you feel like it's one unimaginably large number after another preposterously large number, and I think he even acknowledges that fairly early on. But it was a great, engaging listen. ( )
  mhanlon | Feb 12, 2016 |
Very fun and easy to read. The writing is very accessible and makes complicated matters of science enjoyable and relevant. Bryson keeps it interesting by explaining the natural world through stories of the eccentric discoverers, and explaining why their work mattered then and now, and how it sparked so many controversies that may even remain today.

The universe and Earth can be unbelievable! I have been better informed on a wider range of topics from this book than probably anything else I have ever read. Often eye-opening and occasionally shocking, I was especially impressed with the vastness of space, the resilience of bacteria, and the instability of climate. There are many common things that we really know so little about. ( )
  richjj | Jan 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 266 (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)

(summary from another edition)

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