HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003)

by Bill Bryson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
20,125356137 (4.18)477
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)
  1. 152
    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. 43
    Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond (Percevan)
  7. 54
    Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin (meggyweg)
  8. 00
    News from an Unknown Universe by Frank Schätzing (Dariah)
  9. 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.
  10. 11
    The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium by Robert Lacey (Anonymous user)
  11. 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.
  12. 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).
  13. 02
    Understanding China: Learning from China's Past, Present, and Future by Stefan Piech (ushsira)
  14. 03
    I Love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode or Not by Richard Shenkman (John_Vaughan)
  15. 712
    A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (coclimber)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 477 mentions

English (320)  Dutch (11)  Spanish (7)  German (5)  Italian (3)  Swedish (3)  Catalan (2)  Portuguese (1)  Hungarian (1)  Piratical (1)  French (1)  All languages (355)
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
This was a fun treatment of a difficult subject: the background behind scientific knowledge in, well, basically every field. When you think about it, science has an interesting relationship to our species. For one, the whole enterprise is essentially based around telling us that things we thought were true for good reasons are actually lies; it can actually increase our ignorance rather than our knowledge. For another, the rules of the scientific method that you have to follow to make a legitimate discovery use logical processes that are very new to our brains, probably within the last few thousand years. And finally, even learning about it is difficult, since humans are programmed to respond to narratives that are simply not present in physical laws; everyone who learns advanced math has to train themselves to accept abstract knowledge without the benefit of the interpersonal stories that form the rest of their relationship to the world. Bryson, who wrote this book after realizing that he had absorbed almost nothing from his formal science education, tries to place stories and fun back into science and does a great job of relating the connections between concepts and the people who discovered them without pandering to the audience or getting too tabloidish. This is absolutely not a replacement for actually knowing anything about science, but it does make you appreciate how little we know about the world and the contributions scientists have made. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
**12.28.18 - I listened to the audiobook version and it was great! I enjoyed the book all over again. I forget how funny Bill can be and how he can make dry subjects sound interesting. Highly recommended!**

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson is an educational science book in which Bill touches upon a little bit of...well...everything!

We are offered a glimpse into the workings and history from a smorgasbord of topics such as the theory of the big bang, the quirky workings of quantum physics, the explosive history of volcanoes, world-destroying asteroids, the climate and conditions of the primordial earth and an innumerable amount of other topics.

I enjoy Bryson's writing style. He speaks on topics in a way that exudes interest and excitement and there is always humor involved and he does a great job at keeping the reader engaged and interested. There are parts in the book, however, that were a bit underwhelming. Bryson tends to go into detail about the biography of the different scientists that made their discoveries and I found that I wanted to get through those pages quickly so that I could continue learning about the topic on hand.

This was my first book that reignited my love for literature. I had gone without reading a book for a couple of years and this was the one I picked up when I decided to scratch that itch. The book is a thick one (about 544 pages) so when it arrived in the mail I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew however I was instantly drawn in and I am fan of Bryson's work! ( )
  ProfessorEX | Apr 15, 2021 |
Nothing but fun and facts. Bryson reveals not only the history of the earth and universe, but most strikingly the history of humankind's struggle to do so. ( )
  fruitsaladd | Apr 10, 2021 |
I listened to this as an audiobook and the writer's style really worked well for that format. The writing reminded me very much of Douglas
Adams, coupled with a narrator that reminded me of the narrator from the Hitchhikers Guide BBC series -- just made it very fun.

Although the title is "A Short History of Nearly Everything", it's really only covers our history from a scientific perspective, describing how we got here. The book covers astrophysics, geology and evolution but if you're looking for more traditional history and politics, then this is not the book for you.

For most people who already have an interest in the subject, there will be little that is newly revealed in this book. However as light summer reading, refresher material or an audiobook that plays while you cook dinner, it's highly entertaining. ( )
  northwestknitter | Mar 28, 2021 |
Wide-ranging narratives, explanations, history, entertaining anecdotes about natural phenomena & physical sciences; very enjoyable throughout! ( )
  JosephKing6602 | Mar 8, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 320 (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 (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goddijn, ServaasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gower, NeilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Päkkilä, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vlek, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.18)
0.5 3
1 34
1.5 5
2 116
2.5 30
3 638
3.5 199
4 1708
4.5 276
5 1853

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 157,875,784 books! | Top bar: Always visible