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A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003)

by Bill Bryson

Other authors: Scruella de Ville (Translator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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23,463401158 (4.17)508
Essays. History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML:One of the world’s most beloved writers and New York Times bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body takes his ultimate journey—into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.
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In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trailwell, most of it. In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understandand, if possible, answerthe oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.… (more)
  1. 162
    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (Percevan)
  2. 72
    The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean (amyblue)
  3. 31
    Maps of Time : An Introduction to Big History by David Christian (clamairy)
  4. 20
    Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris (sturlington)
  5. 21
    Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh (residue)
  6. 54
    Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin (meggyweg)
  7. 11
    The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen (Dariah)
  8. 00
    News from an Unknown Universe by Frank Schätzing (Dariah)
  9. 11
    Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian (ajagbay)
  10. 00
    Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson (themulhern)
    themulhern: The same sort of rollicking verve about science in "A Short History of Nearly Everything" as in the essay 'Mother Earth; Mother Board".
  11. 00
    Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens by Andrea Wulf (themulhern)
    themulhern: Both books stick to the science adventure, and go rather light on the actual science. "Chasing Venus" is about the decade long effort to calculate the value of the astronomical unit; Bryson's book is more shallow and broad.
  12. 44
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared M. Diamond (Percevan)
  13. 11
    The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium by Robert Lacey (Anonymous user)
  14. 22
    Knowledge and Wonder by Victor F. Weisskopf (erik_galicki)
    erik_galicki: Weisskopf is more concise, more cohesive, and less anecdotal than Bryson. I consider Weisskopf a more enlightening but less entertaining alternate.
  15. 12
    Almost Everyone's Guide to Science: The Universe, Life and Everything by John Gribbin (Noisy)
    Noisy: If you find Bryson too lightweight, then the next step is to Gribbin. Gribbin goes all the way from the smallest scale (sub-atomic particles) to the largest (the universe).
  16. 03
    I Love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode or Not by Richard Shenkman (John_Vaughan)
  17. 712
    A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking (coclimber)
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» See also 508 mentions

English (361)  Dutch (11)  Spanish (9)  German (6)  Italian (3)  Swedish (3)  French (2)  Catalan (2)  Arabic (1)  Hungarian (1)  Piratical (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (401)
Showing 1-5 of 361 (next | show all)
In audiobook. Excellent info on lot of subject ( )
  benoitjchevalier | Jul 20, 2024 |
I listened to the audiobook, and at times I wondered if I would get more out of it if I physically read the book. Some parts were very interesting, and other parts I felt like I was just passing the time. ( )
  umbet | May 21, 2024 |
I won't repeat what many others have already said about the overall content and style of Short History; However, I will add that the final chapter was surprising and painful to read. So if you've become tired of reading this book that just seems to go on forever and you put it down in the middle, it is worth picking up again and finishing. ( )
  donwon | Jan 22, 2024 |
A fascinating journey through the history of the universe with Bryson's sense of humor entertaining us along the way. I enjoyed the summary of scientific knowledge, but the process of discovery and biographies just beg for further study. Why couldn't our school teachers make science this entertaining? ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Jan 14, 2024 |
This took me FOREVER to read, but now I feel so smart! ( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 361 (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 (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
de Ville, ScruellaTranslatorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bouillot, FrançoiseTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goddijn, ServaasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gower, NeilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Päkkilä, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vik, Øyvor Dalansecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Essays. History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML:One of the world’s most beloved writers and New York Times bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body takes his ultimate journey—into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.

In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trailwell, most of it. In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understandand, if possible, answerthe oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

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