9780552997041

A Short History Of Nearly Everything

Bryson, Bill

ISBN 10: 0552997048 / 0-552-99704-8
ISBN 13: 9780552997041
Publisher: Black Swan
Publication Date: 2004
Binding: Softcover
Editorial Reviews:
Synopsis:

Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller: but even when he stays safely in his own study at home, he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us.

Bill Bryson's challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. It's not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know. How do we know what is in the centre of the Earth, or what a black hole is, or where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out?

On his travels through time and space, he encounters a splendid collection of astonishingly eccentric, competitive, obsessive and foolish scientists, like the painfully shy Henry Cavendish who worked out many conundrums like how much the Earth weighed, but never bothered to tell anybody about many of his findings. In the company of such extraordinary people, Bill Bryson takes us with him on the ultimate eye-opening journey, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.


Review:
What on earth is Bill Bryson doing writing a book of popular science-- A Short History of Almost Everything? Largely, it appears, because this inquisitive, much-travelled writer realised, while flying over the Pacific, that he was entirely ignorant of the processes that created, populated and continue to maintain the vast body of water beneath him.

In fact, it dawned on him that "I didn't know the first thing about the only planet I was ever going to live on". The questions multiplied: What is a quark? How can anybody know how much the Earth weighs? How can astrophysicists (or whoever) claim to describe what happened in the first gazillionth of a nanosecond after the Big Bang? Why can't earthquakes be predicted? What makes evolution more plausible than any other theory? In the end, all these boiled down to a single question--how do scientists do science? To this subject Bryson devoted three years of his life, reading books and journals and pestering the people who know (or at least argue about it); and we non-scientists should be pretty grateful to him for passing his findings on to us.

Broadly, his investigations deal with seven topics, all of enormous interest and significance: the origins of the universe; the gradual historical discovery of the size and age of the earth (and the beginnings of the awesome notion of deep time); relativity and quantum theory; the present and future threats to life and the planet; the origins and history of life (dinosaurs, mass extinctions and all); and the evolution of man. Within each of these, he looks at the history of the subject, its development into a modern discipline and the frameworks of theory that now support it. This is a pretty broad brief (life, the universe and everything, in fact), and it's a mark of Bryson's skill that he is able to carve a clear path through the thickets of theory and controversy that infest all these disciplines, all the while maintaining a cracking pace and a fairly judicious tone without obvious longueurs or signs of haste. Even readers fairly familiar with some or all of these areas o! f discourse are likely to learn from A Short History. If not, they will at least be amused--the tone throughout is agreeable, mingling genuine awe with a mild facetiousness that often rises to wit.

One compelling theme that appears again and again is the utter unpredictability of the universe, despite all that we think we know about it. Nervous page-turners may care to omit the sensational chapters on the possible ways in which it all might end in disaster--Bryson enumerates with cheerful relish the kind of event that makes you want to climb under the bedclothes: undetectable asteroid colliding with the earth; superheated magma chamber erupting in your back garden; ebola carrier getting off a plane in London or New York; the HIV virus mutating to prevent its destruction in the mosquito's digestive system. Indeed, the chief theme of this sprightly book is the miraculous unlikeliness, in a universe ruled by randomness, of stability and equilibrium--of which one result is ourselves and the complex, fragile planet we inhabit. --Robin Davidson

Review

Review:
"Mr Bryson has a natural gift for clear and vivid expression. I doubt that a better book for the layman about the findings of modern science has been written" ( Sunday Telegraph)

"A fascinating idea, and I can't think of many writers, other than Bryson, who would do it this well. It's the sort of book I would have devoured as a teenager. It might well turn unsuspecting young readers into scientists. And the famous, slightly cynical humour is always there" ( Evening Standard)

"A genuinely useful and readable book. There is a phenomenal amount of fascinating information packed between its covers ... A thoroughly enjoyable, as well as educational, experience. Nobody who reads it will ever look at the world around them in the same way again" ( Daily Express)

"Of course, there are people much better qualified than Bill Bryson to attempt a project of this magnitude. None of them, however, can write fluent Brysonese, which, as pretty much the entire Western reading public now knows, is an appealing mixture of self-deprecation, wryness and punnery" ( Spectator)

"The very book I have been looking for most of my life... Bryson wears his knowledge with aplomb and a lot of very good jokes" ( Daily Mail)

Review

 

A Short History Of Nearly Everything: Search Results

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A Short History of Nearly Everything (Paperback) (ISBN: 9780552997041)
Bryson, Bill
ISBN 10: 0552997048
ISBN 13: 9780552997041
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Book Description: Transworld Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 127 mm. Brand New Book. Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller: but even when he stays safely in his own study at home, he can t contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson s challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn t some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. It s not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know. How do we know what is in the centre of the Earth, or what a black hole is, or where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out? On his travels through time and space, he encounters a splendid collection of astonishingly eccentric, competitive, obsessive and foolish scientists, like the painfully shy Henry Cavendish who worked out many conundrums like how much the Earth weighed, but never bothered to tell anybody about many of his findings. In the company of such extraordinary people, Bill Bryson takes us with him on the ultimate eye-opening journey, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before. Bookseller Inventory # EAS9780552997041

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2.
A Short History of Nearly Everything (Paperback) (ISBN: 9780552997041)
Bryson, Bill
ISBN 10: 0552997048
ISBN 13: 9780552997041
Bookseller: The Book Depository US (Gloucester, ., United Kingdom)
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Book Description: Transworld Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 127 mm. Brand New Book. Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller: but even when he stays safely in his own study at home, he can t contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson s challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn t some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. It s not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know. How do we know what is in the centre of the Earth, or what a black hole is, or where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out? On his travels through time and space, he encounters a splendid collection of astonishingly eccentric, competitive, obsessive and foolish scientists, like the painfully shy Henry Cavendish who worked out many conundrums like how much the Earth weighed, but never bothered to tell anybody about many of his findings. In the company of such extraordinary people, Bill Bryson takes us with him on the ultimate eye-opening journey, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before. Bookseller Inventory # EAS9780552997041

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A Short History of Nearly Everything (ISBN: 0552997048 / 0-552-99704-8)
Bryson, Bill
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Book Description: Random House. Book Condition: New. pp. 688 , Index Black Swan Edition Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, revealing the "world in a way most of us have never seen it before. Bookseller Inventory # 06203436

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Book Description: 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 127mm x 198mm x 34mm. Paperback. Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller: but even when he stays safely in his own study at home, he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History o.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 672 pages. 0.482. Bookseller Inventory # 9780552997041

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Book Description: Random House. Book Condition: New. pp. 688 , Figures Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, revealing the "world in a way most of us have never seen it before. Bookseller Inventory # 7645297

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Bryson, Bill
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Book Description: Transworld Publishers Ltd. Paperback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, A Short History of Nearly Everything (New edition), Bill Bryson, Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller: but even when he stays safely in his own study at home, he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to find out everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson's challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. It's not so much about what we know, as about how we know what we know. How do we know what is in the centre of the Earth, or what a black hole is, or where the continents were 600 million years ago? How did anyone ever figure these things out? On his travels through time and space, he encounters a splendid collection of astonishingly eccentric, competitive, obsessive and foolish scientists, like the painfully shy Henry Cavendish who worked out many conundrums like how much the Earth weighed, but never bothered to tell anybody about many of his findings. In the company of such extraordinary people, Bill Bryson takes us with him on the ultimate eye-opening journey, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before. Bookseller Inventory # B9780552997041

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