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A Short History of Nearly Everything

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In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the 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 In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the 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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In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the 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 In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the 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.

30 review for A Short History of Nearly Everything

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    A Short History of Goodreads Surveys show that nearly 40% of all Americans believe the history of literature started in 2007, when Amazon sold the first Kindle; indeed, Amazon Fundamentalists hold it as an article of faith that Jeff Bezos actually wrote all the world's e-books over a period of six days. This is, of course, nonsense. It has been conclusively demonstrated that literature is far older than the Kindle; books already existed thousands of years ago, which were the direct ancestors of t A Short History of Goodreads Surveys show that nearly 40% of all Americans believe the history of literature started in 2007, when Amazon sold the first Kindle; indeed, Amazon Fundamentalists hold it as an article of faith that Jeff Bezos actually wrote all the world's e-books over a period of six days. This is, of course, nonsense. It has been conclusively demonstrated that literature is far older than the Kindle; books already existed thousands of years ago, which were the direct ancestors of today's e-publications. For example, careful examination reveals that The Odyssey and The Gospel according to Saint Mark are primitive versions of Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters and Bared to You. Similar relationships have been shown to obtain for all modern books. Problems arise, however, from the fact that these archaic protobooks still exist today; indeed, some have adapted to the e-reader environment and begun to thrive there. It is entirely too easy for an unsuspecting internet shopper to purchase a copy of Pride and Prejudice, incorrectly believing that it is part of the Twilight series. From the standpoint of formal literary theory, it is admittedly incorrect to say that Pride and Prejudice is "worse" than Twilight. They are simply different; neither one is "worse" than the other, since they have developed in different environments. From a practical point of view, however, a person who buys a Jane Austen novel is almost certain to be disappointed. There are no vampires or werewolves; sex is barely even hinted at; most upsettingly of all, the book will be full of long sentences and difficult words. The combination of these factors can only lead to an intensely unpleasant reading experience, which may discourage the reader from making new Amazon purchases for days or even weeks afterwards. Particularly given the fragile state of the US economy, this is evidently not an acceptable state of affairs. People have always exchanged recommendations and warnings with their friends, but it became clear that a more systematic approach was needed. There had to be a place where book-consumers could post advice and help each other avoid these infuriating mistakes, so that everyone could be sure of reading nothing but up-to-the-minute YA erotic paranormal romances. Thus was born Goodreads. This work by Manny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Good grief if I had even one textbook half this enthralling in high school, who knows what kind of impassioned -ologist I would have grown up to be. I hereby petition Bryson to re-write all curriculum on behalf of the history of the world. I would run across things half-remembered from midterms and study guides and think, "You mean this is what they were talking about? You have got to be kidding me." It's never condescending, always a joy. In fact, what I loved most is the acute, childlike sense o Good grief if I had even one textbook half this enthralling in high school, who knows what kind of impassioned -ologist I would have grown up to be. I hereby petition Bryson to re-write all curriculum on behalf of the history of the world. I would run across things half-remembered from midterms and study guides and think, "You mean this is what they were talking about? You have got to be kidding me." It's never condescending, always a joy. In fact, what I loved most is the acute, childlike sense of wonder seeping through the pages. How fantastic little we know about the world in which we live. All the great scientific leaps fallen through the cracks, all the billions of leaps that will never be made, every scientist who with an amiable grin shrugs to say, "I don't know. We don't know. Who has any idea?" The world is a magically baffling, enchanting place, and after nearly everything there is infinitesimally more.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Okay, so here's my Bill Bryson story. I was in The Gladstone, a public house not too far from this very keyboard, with my friend Yvonne, who will remain nameless. We had been imbibing more than freely. A guy approached our table and asked me in a sly surreptitious manner if I was him. Him who? Was I Bill Bryson? Now it is true that I bear a very slight resemblance but you could also say that about Bjorn from Abba and a zillion other white guys with beards and gently rounded fizzogs. Anyway, withou Okay, so here's my Bill Bryson story. I was in The Gladstone, a public house not too far from this very keyboard, with my friend Yvonne, who will remain nameless. We had been imbibing more than freely. A guy approached our table and asked me in a sly surreptitious manner if I was him. Him who? Was I Bill Bryson? Now it is true that I bear a very slight resemblance but you could also say that about Bjorn from Abba and a zillion other white guys with beards and gently rounded fizzogs. Anyway, without missing a beat I said yes, I was him. So the guy immediately asked me if I'd sign two of his books, and before I could say "Come on mate, I'm not actually American, can't you bleedin well tell?" he had zapped out of the pub. Only to zap straight back with two hardbacks of Bill's deathless works. What could I do? He opened them up reverentially and told me one would be for him and one for his mother. Friends, I signed them - "Best wishes, your friend Bill Bryson". He was so grateful, so very very pleased. We drank up and got the hell out of there. I look back on this disgraceful incident and shudder. That's the last time I'm impersonating a famous author. Short note on the book in question: There was no way our Bill could write a gently humorous book about the history of all of science without sounding like a fairly smirky know-it-all, so that's what he does sound like, which can be just a trifle wearing. LOTS of good info in here, but it's like being forced to live on Indian takeaways and nothing else, great for a while and then GET ME A SANDWICH! Or like being stuck on a long airplane ride with a very garrolous and opinionated fellow who thinks he is the very model of the modern travelling companion, regaling you with insightful and humourous anecdotes by the bucketful while you're wondering if it would be so bad if you faked a heart attack and you could whisper to the flight attendant "I'm okay really but GET ME AWAY FROM THIS GUY!"

  4. 4 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    What I learned from this book (in no particular order) 1. Phosphor was accidentally discovered when a scientist tried to turn human urine into gold. The similarity in color seemed to have been a factor in his conviction that this was possible. Like, duh. I’m no scientist, but shouldn’t it be obvious enough? 2. “In the early 1800s there arose in England a fashion for inhaling nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, after it was discovered that its use ‘ was attended by a highly pleasurable thrilling’. For What I learned from this book (in no particular order) 1. Phosphor was accidentally discovered when a scientist tried to turn human urine into gold. The similarity in color seemed to have been a factor in his conviction that this was possible. Like, duh. I’m no scientist, but shouldn’t it be obvious enough? 2. “In the early 1800s there arose in England a fashion for inhaling nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, after it was discovered that its use ‘ was attended by a highly pleasurable thrilling’. For the next half- century it would be the drug of choice for young people.” How groovy is that? 3. If you are an average-sized adult, you contain within you enough potential energy to explode with the force of THIRTY very large hydrogen bombs. Assuming, that is, that you KNOW how to actually do this and REALLY want to make a point. Talk about a monstrous temper tantrum. 4. We are each so atomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that some of our atoms probably belonged to Shakespeare, Genghis Khan or any other historical figure. But no, you are NOT Elvis or Marilyn Monroe; it takes quite a while for their atoms to get recycled. 5. When you sit in a chair, you are not actually sitting there, but levitating above it at the height of a hundredth millions of a centimeter. Throw away those yoga mats, your ARE already levitating without knowing it. 6. The atomic particles that we now know as Quarks were almost named Partons, after you know who. The image of Ms. Parton with her, uh, cosmic mammaries bouncing around the atomic nuclei is VERY unsettling.Thankfully, that scientist guy changed his mind. 7. The indigestible parts of a giant squid, in particular their beaks, accumulate in sperm whales’ stomachs into ambergris, which is used as a fixative in perfumes. The next time you spray on Chanel No. 5, you’re dowsing yourself in the distillate of unseen sea monsters. * Note to self: must throw away sea monster perfume collection* 8. The ‘maidenhair’ in maidenhair moss does NOT refer to the hair on the maiden’s head. BUT SERIOUSLY, this is a fascinating, accessible book on the history of the natural sciences, covering topics as diverse as cosmology, quantum physics, paleontology, chemistry and other subjects that have bedeviled a science dolt like me through high school and beyond. Yes, it’s true, I failed BOTH chemistry and physics in high school. I can't judge how accurate Mr. Bryson represents the sciences in this book, but it surely beats being bogged down in A Brief History of Time and their ilk.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Bryson's dead serious: this is a history of pretty much everything there is -- the planet, the solar system, the universe -- as well as a history of how we've come to know as much as we do. A book on science written by a non-scientist, this a perfect bridge between the humanities and the natural sciences. A course in the history of science should be mandatory for every teenager, and this should be the textbook. Yes, it's a big, chunky book. No, it can't be trimmed down any further: when you're ad Bryson's dead serious: this is a history of pretty much everything there is -- the planet, the solar system, the universe -- as well as a history of how we've come to know as much as we do. A book on science written by a non-scientist, this a perfect bridge between the humanities and the natural sciences. A course in the history of science should be mandatory for every teenager, and this should be the textbook. Yes, it's a big, chunky book. No, it can't be trimmed down any further: when you're addressing cosmology, earth science, ecology and zoology, with healthy doses of chemistry and physics, plus the historical development of each, you're going to end up with a doorstop of a text, no matter how smoothly written. The wonder of Bryson's writing is that the reader doesn't get lost in these sweeping surveys. When name-dropping, Bryson always gives a short description of the person in question; if mentioned earlier in the book, he drops in a quick reminder to the reader. This is fabulously effective at giving the names some context, not to mention a little personality. And indeed, isn't that what science education needs most: more humanity and less intimidation? Those science-phobes out there who freely admit their near-complete ignorance of the subject should do themselves a favor and buy a copy of this book. No, don't get it from your library. There's so much here you'll want to have a copy on hand to refer to later. To those nerds in the audience -- myself included -- don't think your degrees mean you can pass this one over. As hyper-specialized as science has become, it's refreshing as hell to step back and take a look at things with new eyes. While there's not a lot here I haven't encountered before, there's a lot of information about how our current theories were developed that I didn't know. (Also? It's heartening to read about the social ineptitude, blind spots, and how utterly incompetent many of these scientist were in other aspects of life. Makes me feel better about never finishing that PhD -- at least I have a life.) Thorough, humorous, engaging, and educational: what's not to like?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mohammed-Makram

    يحكى أن يهوديا قرر الذهاب إلى دمياط للتجارة و حينما وصل إليها أراد اختبار أهلها قبل أن يبدأ مشروعه فأشار للصبى الذى أستأجره ليكون دليلا له خذ هذا القرش فاشتر لنا غداء و شراب و حلوى و لا تنسى طعام للحمار و شيئا أتسلى به فى طريقى كان القرش لا يشترى بالكاد وجبة طعام لشخص واحد الا ان الشاب الدمياطى - و الدمياطى لمن لا يعرف كالخليلى فى الأدبيات الفلسطينية – ذهب إلى السوق و اشترى بطيخة بنصف قرش و أعاد لليهودى النصف الأخر قائلا له هى غداء لنا و فى نفس الوقت تحلية و شراب و نعطى للحمار قشرها و نتسلى بلبها ط يحكى أن يهوديا قرر الذهاب إلى دمياط للتجارة و حينما وصل إليها أراد اختبار أهلها قبل أن يبدأ مشروعه فأشار للصبى الذى أستأجره ليكون دليلا له خذ هذا القرش فاشتر لنا غداء و شراب و حلوى و لا تنسى طعام للحمار و شيئا أتسلى به فى طريقى كان القرش لا يشترى بالكاد وجبة طعام لشخص واحد الا ان الشاب الدمياطى - و الدمياطى لمن لا يعرف كالخليلى فى الأدبيات الفلسطينية – ذهب إلى السوق و اشترى بطيخة بنصف قرش و أعاد لليهودى النصف الأخر قائلا له هى غداء لنا و فى نفس الوقت تحلية و شراب و نعطى للحمار قشرها و نتسلى بلبها طوال الطريق أدار اليهودى حماره عائدا و قال قوم مثل هذا لا يرجى من ورائهم مكسب. فلنترك هذه الحكاية و سأقص عليكم حكاية أخرى تخص بطيخة أخرى ندخل فى الموضوع - طلبك عندى يا سيدنا الأفندى قالها أمين المكتبة الكهل و هو يعدل وضع نظارته ذات الغطاء السميك و ينظر بدهشة إلى هذا الفتى المتأنق الذى كان طلبه غريبا و مربكا بعض الشىء - أريد شيئا عن الكون و بدايته .. الإنفجار الكبير و المنظومة الشمسية ... النجوم و المستعرات الضوئية و النيازك .. المذنبات و تاريخها و كيف يمكن أن تهدد الأرض .. أريد أيضا أن أعرف كيف يقيسون هذه المسافات الشاسعة المقدرة بعشرات السنوات الضوئية. - عندى كتاب هيعجبك قوى بتاع هاوكينج. حاجه كده من الأخر - ألديك أيضا شيئا عن الأحافير و المسحاثات يكون سهل و شامل و فى نفس الوقت يشرح كيف انقرضت الديناصورات و كيف نقدر أعمار المستحاثات و فترات معيشتها و عصورها و التاريخ الجيولوجى للأرض - عندى كتاب هيعجبك و كمان مجموعة مقدمة قصيرة جدا فيها شوية كتب معقولين و خد كمان التحفة العلمية السمكة داخلك - طيب بالنسبة للكيمياء و الجدول الدورى للعناصر و اكتشاف اسرار المادة - لا دى بقى تاخد لها فيلم فيديو من ثلاث أجزاء https://youtu.be/jQmyR0hnd9c?list=PLg... - آينشتين و نيوتن و أساطين الفيزياء أسمع عنهم كثيرا فهل أجد لديك شيئا من أعمالهم و تأثيرهم فى العلم - عندى طبعا مجموعة كتب كويسة بس للأمانه بعضها لسه هقرأه بس بيشكروا فيها جامد - حسنا ماذا عن الذرة و تاريخها و الكواركس و ميكانيكا الكم و نظرية الأوتار الفائقة - عندى كتاب الثورة العلمية و كتاب الفيزياء المسلية هاجيبهم لك - أريد كتاب أيضا عن التلوث و حماية البيئة و كيف ساهم الإنسان فى ذلك و أيضا البراكين و الزلازل و الألواح التكتونية و تكون الجبال و الجزر أيضا أنا مهتم بها و بطريقة معرفتنا لها و توقعها و لو توفر لديك شىء فى طبقات الجو و علوم الأرصاد الجوية و تأثيرات البحار و المحيطات على المناخ العالمى - لا دى صعب تلاقيها هنا - ماذا عن الخلية و الكائنات الدقيقة من ميكروبات و فيروسات و متعضيات و تكوينها و طريقة عملها و تصنيفها و تطورها - عندى كتب كتير هتعجبك من لويس باستير لتشارلز دارون للجينوم هتحتاج حوالى خمس كتب علشان تغطى الموضوع ده. كنت بالمصادفة جالسا فى نفس المكتبة بانتظار تغليف مجلد ميكى و منشغلا بقراءة عدد خاص من سلسلة رجل المستحيل و رغم ذلك تابعت الحوار الذى انتهى بأمين المكتبة الذى جهز حوالى خمسة عشر كتابا لهذا الشاب اعتدلت قليلا و حييت الشاب و خاطبته قائلا - بقولك ايه يا معلم .. الكتب دى كتير جدا و شكلك لسه جديد فى السكة دى ما تاخد موجز تاريخ كل شيء تقريبًا كتاب رائع و ممتع و مكتوب بإسلوب أدبى بليغ و هو ساخر أحيانا لدرجة الكوميديا. تجنب فيه المؤلف أى تعقيد علمى أو معادلات أو رسومات توضيحية و به كل ما تسأل عنه و زيادة فى حوالى خمسمائة صفحة من القطع المتوسط باختصار هتقرأه و تدعيلى هززت رأسى بثقة و نظرت إلى الشاب لأرى رد فعله على نصيحتى و لشدة دهشتى لم أجد لا شاب و لا مكتبة و وجدتنى ما زلت أسطر هذه المراجعة لهذا الكتاب الرائع لمدمنى البطيخ من أمثالى أهدى هذه البطيخة الحلوة المتنكرة فى صورة كتاب و أخيرا بعض الإقتباسات 1- الحياة من وجهة نظر الكيمياء 2- ماذا لو لم نكن وحدنا فى هذا الكون الشاسع 3- العلم قد لا يكون معقدا و لكن العلماء هكذا يفعلون 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9- ليس من السهل أن تكون عالما 10- لماذا وجدت الحياة 11- حتى كاميرون دياز ستجدها بين صفحات الكتاب

  7. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    It's easy to nitpick A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson, by his own cheerful admission anything but a scientist, makes a fair number of mistakes. He says that all living creatures contain hox genes; he omits Alexander Friedmann and George Gamow from his description of how the Big Bang theory was developed; when talking about Darwin and Paley, he doesn't seem to be aware that Natural Theology was one of Darwin's favorite books and had a huge influence on him. Those are just a few of the It's easy to nitpick A Short History of Nearly Everything. Bryson, by his own cheerful admission anything but a scientist, makes a fair number of mistakes. He says that all living creatures contain hox genes; he omits Alexander Friedmann and George Gamow from his description of how the Big Bang theory was developed; when talking about Darwin and Paley, he doesn't seem to be aware that Natural Theology was one of Darwin's favorite books and had a huge influence on him. Those are just a few of the glitches I happened to notice. I'm sure a real expert would have spotted many more. But so what? The author is incredibly entertaining, and I came across dozens of great stories from the history of science. He has done a fantastic job of tracking down details that you won't find in the other books! Continuing with Darwin, everyone's heard about the evolution debate between T.H. Huxley and Samuel Wilberforce; this was the dozenth time I'd seen Huxley's contemptuous reply to Wilberforce's question about whether he claimed descent from a monkey though his grandmother or his grandfather. But I'd never before read that Lady Brewster fainted, or that one of Darwin's Beagle colleagues wandered through the crowd, holding a Bible aloft and shouting "the Book, the Book!" Similarly, everyone tells you that Newton only published the Principia after Halley persuaded him to do it. But I hadn't heard that Newton intentionally made it as difficult as possible to read because he didn't want amateurs bothering him, or that Halley's reward was to be told by the Royal Society that since they could no longer afford to pay his salary in pounds sterling, he would instead be given remaindered copies of The History of Fishes. And there were numerous other stories I'd never seen at all. If you don't find plenty here to amuse and instruct, you're either encyclopedically well-read in all branches of science or you have no interest in it whatsoever.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson's summation of life, the universe, and everything, a nice little easy-reading science book containing an overview of things every earthling should be aware of. As I've repeatedly mentioned over the years, every time one of the casual-readers tells me I have to read something, like Harry Potter or the DaVinci Code, I dig my feet in deeper and resolve to never read it. This is one of the occasions I should have shaved a decade off of my stubbornne A Short History of Nearly Everything is Bill Bryson's summation of life, the universe, and everything, a nice little easy-reading science book containing an overview of things every earthling should be aware of. As I've repeatedly mentioned over the years, every time one of the casual-readers tells me I have to read something, like Harry Potter or the DaVinci Code, I dig my feet in deeper and resolve to never read it. This is one of the occasions I should have shaved a decade off of my stubbornness and caved in right away. Bryson covers a wide range of topics, from the formation of the universe to the evolution of man for our apelike forebears, and all points in between. Atoms? Cells? These are just stops along the enlightenment highway that Bill Bryson has paved! He touches upon quantum physics, geology, the size of our solar system, the year without a summer, and other topics innumerable. The writing style is so accessible that I have to think I'd be some kind of scientists if my high school and college text books were written by Bill Bryson. His easy, breezy style makes even the most complicated topics easier to digest. It's not often that I come away from a book having felt like I learned something new, criminal techniques from my usual reads excepted. Bryson has succeeded where many have failed before him. He has used chicanery to get me to read nonfiction and enjoy myself while doing it. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Picked this up on audiobook when I was on tour and listened to it in my car. I found it fascinating and informative. Kinda like a reader's digest version of the history of science. And even though I knew a fair chunk of what was mention, there was a lot of material I'd never even had a glimmer of before. Fair warning: If you are prone to worry about, say, the end of the world. This probably isn't the book for you.

  10. 3 out of 5

    Foster

    This is one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. There, I said it Bryson's book combines the best qualities of science writers like Attenborough, Diamond, Durrell, and Wilson; presenting the information with the wit he is most known for. It is an amazing achievement to condense the entire base of human scientific knowledge into 478 pages, but Bryson has done it. I completely agree with Tim Flannery, who writes on the jacket that "all schools would be better places if it were the core sci This is one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. There, I said it Bryson's book combines the best qualities of science writers like Attenborough, Diamond, Durrell, and Wilson; presenting the information with the wit he is most known for. It is an amazing achievement to condense the entire base of human scientific knowledge into 478 pages, but Bryson has done it. I completely agree with Tim Flannery, who writes on the jacket that "all schools would be better places if it were the core science reader on the curriculum." I certainly would have gained much if I had read it when I was 15. This is one of the few books that has truly challenged what I had previously held to be conventional wisdom (at least in my own mind). Two main changes have come about: 1. I had always been jealous of the "true" zoologists, such as Audubon and Darwin, who were around when the world was as yet unexplored, and discovering a species was as simple as being the first to walk into a patch of forest. I left science because the idea of being tied to a sterile lab held no interest for me. However, after reading Bryson's vignettes of early scientific/zoological exploration (much of which was both comic and tragic), I realize that those days weren't quite as idyllic as I had imagined. 2. Bryson does a "good" job of scaring the hell out of you by showing just how precarious our daily existence really is. I probably shouldn't say this, but it puts such problems as global climate change into context when you read how an eruption of the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park would wipe out most of the life on earth in a painfully slow manner; especially when Bryson describes how this eruption is overdue by 30, 000 years by historical average. Combined with those two new impressions, I am left with the following conclusions, and a slightly rearranged outlook on life. First off, it is clear that science benefits from a large degree of serendipity. We as a species/civilization have been lucky to have some truly great minds working on deciphering the way our world works. Some of these are household names [Newton, Halley, Einstein], some are not [Henry Cavendish, Rosalind Franklin]. However, as with everything that us humans put our hands on, this endeavor wasn't perfect. Egregious mistakes, pathological lying, childlike rivalries and tantrums - they all occurred. On balance, whether they helped or hurt the effort isn't clear. But what is clear is that our present level of understanding was by no means assured. Secondly, the fact that life is so tenuous makes one a little more philosophical. Since I've finished the chapter about Yellowstone and similar catastrophic threats, I find myself asking "what if today is the day?" It can be rough when you get on the bus at the end of a particularly annoying workday, when the disagreements were petty and you didn't get much done, and think "is that what I did on the last day of my life?" Thankfully, that attitude only lasted for a short while, until I was able to reframe it in a more productive way. Now I tell myself not to worry about big problems that might happen in the future, because I know that we will be hit by a meteor, we will experience a supervolcano eruption. It's best to just enjoy every day, doing what you really know to be what it is that you want to do. Does that mean that I won't recycle anymore, that I will leave the tap running while I brush my teeth? No! Because doing things to reduce my impact makes me feel good, that I'm thinking about society's needs - not just my own. It's what I want to do. So, in an incredible way (that even Bill Bryson probably didn't predict) this book can really change your life.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson A Short History of Nearly Everything by American author Bill Bryson is a popular science book that explains some areas of science, using easily accessible language that appeals more so to the general public than many other books dedicated to the subject. It was one of the bestselling popular science books of 2005 in the United Kingdom, selling over 300,000 copies. عنوانها: تاریخچه تقریبا همه چیز؛ شرح مختصری از همه چیز؛ علم و سرگذشت آن؛ نویسنده: بیل A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson A Short History of Nearly Everything by American author Bill Bryson is a popular science book that explains some areas of science, using easily accessible language that appeals more so to the general public than many other books dedicated to the subject. It was one of the bestselling popular science books of 2005 in the United Kingdom, selling over 300,000 copies. عنوانها: تاریخچه تقریبا همه چیز؛ شرح مختصری از همه چیز؛ علم و سرگذشت آن؛ نویسنده: بیل برایسون؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز ششم ماه جولای سال 2005 میلادی عنوان: تاریخچه تقریبا همه چیز؛ نویسنده: بیل برایسون؛ مترجم: محمدتقی فرامرزی؛ تهران، مازیار، 1384، در 615 ص، شابک: 9645676487؛ موضوع: علوم به زبان ساده - سده 21 م عنوان: شرح مختصری از همه چیز؛ نویسنده: بیل برایسون؛ مترجم: محمود زنجانی؛ تهران، دایره المعارف ایرانشناسی، 1388، در 512 ص، شابک: 9786005204155؛ عنوان: علم و سرگذشت آن؛ نویسنده: بیل برایسون؛ مترجم: مجید عمیق؛ تهران، مهراب قلم: کتابهای مهتاب، 1390، در 171 ص، شابک: 9786001033636؛ نقل از متن: نمیدانستم پروتون یا پروتئین چیست، کوارک را از کواسار تشخیص نمیدادم، نمیدانستم زمینشناسها چگونه میتوانند نگاهی به یک لایه از توده سنگ دیواره ی یک دره بیندازند، و عمر آن را تشخیص دهند، حقیقتاً هیچ چیز نمیدانستم. یک اشتیاق آرام و خارق العاده، برای یادگرفتن، و دانستن برخی نکات، درباره ی این موضوعات، و دریافتن اینکه تاکنون چند نفر توانسته اند از آنها سر درآورند، آرام آرام بر وجودم چیره شد. این همواره بزرگترین شگفتی زندگی ام بوده است ـ دانشمندان چگونه از مسایل سر درمیآورند... پایان نقل؛ ا. شربیانی

  12. 3 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    I was never any good at science. At the grammar school I attended we were shepherded into laboratories for lessons on physics, chemistry and biology. These were scary places; I’d never been anywhere like this before. The physics lab had gas taps and Bunsen burners and the walls were filled with incomprehensible charts. The chemistry lab held rows of specimen jars, more gas taps and burners and an underlying smell of something unpleasant and vaguely dangerous. The biology lab displayed pictures a I was never any good at science. At the grammar school I attended we were shepherded into laboratories for lessons on physics, chemistry and biology. These were scary places; I’d never been anywhere like this before. The physics lab had gas taps and Bunsen burners and the walls were filled with incomprehensible charts. The chemistry lab held rows of specimen jars, more gas taps and burners and an underlying smell of something unpleasant and vaguely dangerous. The biology lab displayed pictures and diagrams of human body parts and there were constant rumours of creature dissections and other nasty things to come. Beyond the physical fears it was clear that each subject had its own language. I was fluent in none of them. I ceased study on all of these subjects at the earliest opportunity. But I left school feeling that I’d missed out on part of my core education. And I had. So I’d had my eye on this book for some time. I’ve long been a fan of Bryson’s insightful yet amusing take on the world. Surely his commentary of all things scientific couldn’t be too painful, could it? The book walks through just about every significant scientific discovery from the creation of the universe to the present day. Well, not quite the present day, given this book was published some fourteen years ago. But given the universe is currently thought to be some 13.7 billion years old, I’m comfortable it covers the mother lode. The list of sciences included is exhaustive, I spotted whole bunch but I’m also convinced I missed a few. My list comprises: Anthropology Astronomy Botany Cosmology Chemistry Ecology Geology Human Biology Meteorology Oceanography Physics Zoology It’s fascinating stuff – staggering, in fact. I’d heard of the Big Bang theory, of course, but I’d never delved into the detail of it. The explanation here is clear and concise - it’s still mind bending, but I was able to follow most of the explanation. There were some sections where the detail did become a little heavy – the account of plant life being categorised lumbered on interminably – but on the whole the pacing felt spot on. It’s also very well structured, with relevant topics being grouped together. It flowed well and told a compelling story. As I worked my way through this book, the thought that kept leaping to the fore was that these brilliant theories and discoveries came about largely as a result of scientists and non-scientists working something out via observation, association and calculation – the kicker being that nearly all of these milestone events predate computers, email and the internet. It’s incredible. In one example twenty years was spent on a calculation using pencil, paper and a slide rule. The same calculation could now be completed using a computer in a single day. Yes, because of its publication date there are a few recent finds that aren’t included - confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson particle in 2012 is one example – but I really don’t think it missed out too much of any significance. For anyone looking for a comprehensive but easy to follow history of scientific discovery, from the very beginning, look no further. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

  13. 3 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Want a whirlwind worldwide romance adventure minus the romance? This is the book for you. This book really does cover nearly everything. From the Big Bang to current life on earth, Bill Bryson does wonderful job of breaking down complex theories and concepts to their essential message: Protons give an atom its identity, electrons its personality. Though, sometimes he gets a bit wordy. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wou Want a whirlwind worldwide romance adventure minus the romance? This is the book for you. This book really does cover nearly everything. From the Big Bang to current life on earth, Bill Bryson does wonderful job of breaking down complex theories and concepts to their essential message: Protons give an atom its identity, electrons its personality. Though, sometimes he gets a bit wordy. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life's quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result -- eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly -- in you. This was such an interesting book to read and I walked away learning so much. This is the sort of book that requires two or three times reading through it to fully understand and digest everything. I can barely comprehend how much time and effort went into research. Truly a masterpiece. Audiobook Comments: While he did not narrate his own book, the Richard Matthews does a great job of reading it. Though, this is one of those books that you cannot tune out on without missing something crucial. This is a great big-picture book. For a fun microhistory, I'd recommend At Home: A Short History of Private Life also by Bill Bryson. Blog | Instagram | Twitter

  14. 3 out of 5

    Dem

    2.5 Stars This is probably going to make me sound as thick as two short planks but I didn't like it, I knew going into this book that it was going to be a challenge as Science is not really my preferred bedtime reading but I do think its good to try new things but unfortunately yes this was just hard work for me and I struggled through this one. But on the plus side I did learn some STUFF just dont ASK me to EXPLAIN it to you and it did encourage discussion with my Nerdy other half which cant b 2.5 Stars This is probably going to make me sound as thick as two short planks but I didn't like it, I knew going into this book that it was going to be a challenge as Science is not really my preferred bedtime reading but I do think its good to try new things but unfortunately yes this was just hard work for me and I struggled through this one. But on the plus side I did learn some STUFF just dont ASK me to EXPLAIN it to you and it did encourage discussion with my Nerdy other half which cant be a bad thing and there are quite a few amazing facts in the book and some entertaining stories. I will probably tell the other half that I gave it 5 stars :-) This book is extremely well written and researched and for those interested in science I am sure this is an amazing read as Bill Bryson travels through time and space to explain the world, the universe and everything. I don't regret picking it up this book and giving it a go and my rating only reflects my reaction to the book and certainly not the quality of the information or how it is presented. I would like to read something else (less challenging) by this author so perhaps I will pick up another one of his books sometime in the future.

  15. 5 out of 5

    فهد الفهد

    موجز تاريخ كل شيء تقريباً رغم الترجمة التي تكبو أحياناً، ورغم ما يقال بأن هناك فصل سقط في الترجمة!! إلا أن هذا كتاب عظيم بحق، عمل مبهر ولذيذ، وضع بيل برايسون هذا الكتاب للإجابة على الأسئلة العلمية التي يجهلها حول الأرض والطبيعة بشكل عام، هذه الأسئلة التي انهالت عليه وهو يحدق في البحر من نافذة طائرة، تحولت إلى رحلة ممتعة، له ولنا، فبرايسون لا يرهقنا بالحقائق العلمية كأنما هو موسوعة، وإنما يدسها لنا في حكايات متشابكة، عن العلم والعلماء في سعيهم للفهم، وبناء كل تلك العلوم من الجذاذات التي بين أيديه موجز تاريخ كل شيء تقريباً رغم الترجمة التي تكبو أحياناً، ورغم ما يقال بأن هناك فصل سقط في الترجمة!! إلا أن هذا كتاب عظيم بحق، عمل مبهر ولذيذ، وضع بيل برايسون هذا الكتاب للإجابة على الأسئلة العلمية التي يجهلها حول الأرض والطبيعة بشكل عام، هذه الأسئلة التي انهالت عليه وهو يحدق في البحر من نافذة طائرة، تحولت إلى رحلة ممتعة، له ولنا، فبرايسون لا يرهقنا بالحقائق العلمية كأنما هو موسوعة، وإنما يدسها لنا في حكايات متشابكة، عن العلم والعلماء في سعيهم للفهم، وبناء كل تلك العلوم من الجذاذات التي بين أيديهم، لهذا تشعر بالاهتمام والتواطؤ ومن ثم بالامتنان لكل تلك الجهود التي قام بها العلماء، ويتحول العلم بالنسبة لك من مادة ثقيلة إلى مادة حية، مشبعة بالإنسان، طموحاته وآلامه وسعيه للحقيقة والمعرفة، هذا الكتاب رحلة ممتعة، لا تفوتوها.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    A fascinating history of science. Ever curious how everything we know about the world came to be - read this! I loved reading about what old greats like Darwin thought about the world - they were all right about most things, but also very wrong about some things - makes you wonder how much we are wrong about today! Another interesting piece was how many of the world's prominent scientists had the time to do their research because they came from rich families. Very different from todays notion of A fascinating history of science. Ever curious how everything we know about the world came to be - read this! I loved reading about what old greats like Darwin thought about the world - they were all right about most things, but also very wrong about some things - makes you wonder how much we are wrong about today! Another interesting piece was how many of the world's prominent scientists had the time to do their research because they came from rich families. Very different from todays notion of 'trust funders'.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Amir

    از عنوان شروع کنیم عنوان کتاب تقریبا گویای همهچیز هست. نویسنده نزدیک سه سال به شکل حیرتآوری حجم عظیمی از کتابهای علمی توی رشتههای مختلف رو خونده و به جاهای مختلف سر زده و تقریبا توی تمام شاخههای اصلی علم روز دنیا حداقل سی چهل صفحهای نوشته آیا این کتاب ارتباطی به ما دارد؟ خوب. این یه سوال جدی برای من بود. چون شخصا هیچ ارتباطی با کتابهای علمی نداشتم و ندارم. اما خیلی وسوسهانگیزه که کتابی رو بخونی که توش عصارهی همهی علوم گنجونده شده باشه. کتابهایی که به این شکل وجه دایرهالمعارفی دارن این فرصت رو به خو از عنوان شروع کنیم عنوان کتاب تقریبا گویای همه‌چیز هست. نویسنده نزدیک سه سال به شکل حیرت‌آوری حجم عظیمی از کتاب‌های علمی توی رشته‌های مختلف رو خونده و به جاهای مختلف سر زده و تقریبا توی تمام شاخه‌های اصلی علم روز دنیا حداقل سی چهل صفحه‌ای نوشته آیا این کتاب ارتباطی به ما دارد؟ خوب. این یه سوال جدی برای من بود. چون شخصا هیچ ارتباطی با کتاب‌های علمی نداشتم و ندارم. اما خیلی وسوسه‌انگیزه که کتابی رو بخونی که توش عصاره‌ی همه‌ی علوم گنجونده شده باشه. کتاب‌هایی که به این شکل وجه دایره‌المعارفی دارن این فرصت رو به خواننده‌هاشون میدن که با یه مطالعه‌ی مختصر راجع‌به این شاخه‌ها حوزه‌ی مورد علاقه‌ی خودشون رو پیدا کنن آیا کتاب خوبی است؟ توی مرورهایی که روی کتاب نوشته شده ایرادهایی رو بهش وارد کردند. با همه‌ی این احوال قطعا تاریخچه‌ی تقریبا همه چیز کتاب خوبیه. نویسنده انسان شوخ و دوست‌داشتنی‌ای هست و سعی کرده جا به جا از اتفاق‌های جالب علمی بگه که شاید توی متون "رسمی" علمی هیچ‌وقت ازشون صحبتی به میون نمیاد [بخش‌هایی از همین تیکه‌ها رو تو استتوس‌هام می‌تونید پیدا کنید]. دیگه این‌که نویسنده یه نیم‌نگاه خیلی جدی داشته به تاریخ غیررسمی علوم مورد بحث و سعی کرده از کسایی هم اسم ببره که در اثر بی‌توجهی مردم روزگارشون یا دزدیده شدن طرح یا ایده‌شون به شهرت واقعی و درخور فعالیت‌شون نرسیدن. دنیای دانشمندها اون‌قدرها که فکر می‌کنیم دنیای اخلاقی‌ای نبوده ... آخر کار کتاب دوست‌داشتنی و خوش‌خونی هست با یه ترجمه‌ی خوب. هرچند که انتظار داشتم بخش مربوط به حیات موجودات زنده‌ش جذاب‌تر از این باشه. اما در کل یکی از بهترین گزینه‌ها برای یه آدم غیرمتخصص [مثل من] هست که ببینه بالای سرش، زیر پاش و توی بدنش چه دنیاهایی هست ...

  18. 3 out of 5

    Dave Gaston

    First off, this is a huge departure from Bryson's breezy, excellent travel logs. Secondly, this book should be read with some frequency. It is so densely packed with valuable insight, and sound bites of discovery that you could not possibly absorb it all with one pass. This is my second time reading it and I plan on doing it again next year. The organizational structure is a wonderful series of loosely connected cameos covering several essential and enlightened discoveries of man. As an added bo First off, this is a huge departure from Bryson's breezy, excellent travel logs. Secondly, this book should be read with some frequency. It is so densely packed with valuable insight, and sound bites of discovery that you could not possibly absorb it all with one pass. This is my second time reading it and I plan on doing it again next year. The organizational structure is a wonderful series of loosely connected cameos covering several essential and enlightened discoveries of man. As an added bonus, the book actually attempts to pay off on the cheeky title. Bryson's light, common man’s writing style “scats” from universal, to global, to biological with a loosely constructed cause and effect outline. His books (thankfully, including this one) are all peppered with wit and charm and a heavy snatch of sarcasm. Further and maybe more importantly, he has the good sense to skip over heavy deep dives into mathematics, theories or anything at an ivy graduate level. I love this guy. I feel like he wrote this book for me and I hope he writes 10 more just like this. 10/4/07 I abhor cliches, but in honor of Bryson's incredible achievement I'll indulge in one. I might very well choose "A Short History" as the ONE book I'd choose over all others ...if ...I was stranded on the proverbial desert island. Bryson has created a true encyclopedic kaleidoscope. Imagine the fun he had writing this book as he allowed his mind to logically wormhole through and across time!

  19. 3 out of 5

    Obied Alahmed

    "تبارك الله أحسن الخالقين" هذا ما ستنطقه شفتاك حين تنتهي من كل فصل من فصول هذا الكتاب ستشعر بكم العجز الذي نحن فيه ليس لنصنع أو نبتكر انما فقط لنفهم كيف تسير الأمور في هذا الكون ستجد من بين السطور مقولات كهذه " إنه عالم يتجاوز الفهم بالنسبة لمعظمنا " وبالنسبة للكتاب فهو كتلة من الابداع غزارة المعلومات ودقة التفاصيل ولو قرر المؤلف أن يسترسل بكتابته 6000 صفحة بدلا من 600 لاستطاع ذلك من قوة الامتاع في السرد والمؤلف أكاد أجزم أنه كان عبارة عن موسوعة متحركة من المعلومات فمن يكتب هكذا كتاب يجب أن يكون مو "تبارك الله أحسن الخالقين" هذا ما ستنطقه شفتاك حين تنتهي من كل فصل من فصول هذا الكتاب ستشعر بكم العجز الذي نحن فيه ليس لنصنع أو نبتكر انما فقط لنفهم كيف تسير الأمور في هذا الكون ستجد من بين السطور مقولات كهذه " إنه عالم يتجاوز الفهم بالنسبة لمعظمنا " وبالنسبة للكتاب فهو كتلة من الابداع غزارة المعلومات ودقة التفاصيل ولو قرر المؤلف أن يسترسل بكتابته 6000 صفحة بدلا من 600 لاستطاع ذلك من قوة الامتاع في السرد والمؤلف أكاد أجزم أنه كان عبارة عن موسوعة متحركة من المعلومات فمن يكتب هكذا كتاب يجب أن يكون موسوعة وليس كاتب ومؤلف فقط و كم من الكتب والابحاث والمراجع قد قرأ ليصل لهذا الكم من المعلومات وسأحرص أن أتتبع بقية مؤلفاته لعلي أجد ما فقدته حين أنهيت هذا الكتاب أنصح الجميع به

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Ashleigh

    The best thing about this book is that it introduces other books you would like. It showed me that I should probably read more about Newton and Einstein, and that astronomy is something that I am still interested in. I did find myself scanning through certain sections because I already understood them well (the vastness of the universe) or I don't think I will ever understand them (complicated aspects of biology). Like all science book, they get outdated fast but this one is still holding up, at The best thing about this book is that it introduces other books you would like. It showed me that I should probably read more about Newton and Einstein, and that astronomy is something that I am still interested in. I did find myself scanning through certain sections because I already understood them well (the vastness of the universe) or I don't think I will ever understand them (complicated aspects of biology). Like all science book, they get outdated fast but this one is still holding up, at least for now.

  21. 3 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    Stunning in scope and execution. Loved every page of it, even geology was made exciting. That really is some feat.

  22. 3 out of 5

    Greta

    A short history of nearly everything This is a remarkable accomplishment. From the author, of course, but also from me, to have read it. I'm not a scientist, so when I started reading this book, I expected that I would skip some parts. But I didn't ; I read every single page of this highly readable and enjoyable book. I won't bother you with all the scientific stuff I learned. Instead, I compiled a top 5 list of the frightful fates of some scientists. 1. Max Planck (1858-1947) was a German theore A short history of nearly everything This is a remarkable accomplishment. From the author, of course, but also from me, to have read it. I'm not a scientist, so when I started reading this book, I expected that I would skip some parts. But I didn't ; I read every single page of this highly readable and enjoyable book. I won't bother you with all the scientific stuff I learned. Instead, I compiled a top 5 list of the frightful fates of some scientists. 1. Max Planck (1858-1947) was a German theoretical physicist whose work on quantum theory won him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1918. Max Planck had to deal with many tragedies in his life. His beloved first wife, Marie, died at a young age in 1909, probably from TBC. They had four children (with his second wife Magda he had a fifth child Hermann). During the first world war, his son Erwin was taken prisoner by the French in 1914, while his other son Karl was killed in action at Verdun. His daughter Grete died in 1917 while giving birth to her first child, and two years later her twin sister Emma died the same way, after having married Grete's widower. In February 1944 his home in Berlin was completely destroyed by an air raid, annihilating all his scientific records and correspondence. In 1945, Erwin was sentenced to death by the Nazi Volksgerichtshof and executed, because of his participation in the failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in july 1944. His death destroyed much of Max Planck's will to live. Tragic 2. Doctor Thomas Midgley Jr. (1889 – 1944) was an American mechanical engineer and chemist. He was a key figure in a team of chemists that developed the lead additive to gasoline (TEL) as well as some of the first CFCs. His work led to the release of large quantities of lead into the atmosphere as a result of the large-scale combustion of leaded gasoline all over the world. Thomas Midgley Jr. died three decades before the ozone-depleting and greenhouse gas effects of CFCs in the atmosphere became widely known. Bill Bryson remarked that Midgley possessed "an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny". In 1940, at the age of 51, Midgley contracted poliomyelitis, which left him severely disabled. This led him to devise an elaborate system of strings and pulleys to help others lift him from bed. This system was the eventual cause of his own death when he was entangled in the ropes of this device and died of strangulation at the age of 55. Horrible 3. Gideon Mantell (1790 – 1852) was an English obstetrician, geologist and paleontologist. He and his wife discovered several large teeth of an Iguanodon in 1822, but they were dismissed as belonging to a fish or mammal or rhinoceros, by other scientist. Mantell was mocked by his peers, and especially sir Richard Owen (the coiner of the word "dinosaur") made his life a hell. Mantell became financially destitute and his wife left him in 1839. His son emigrated to New Zealand that same year, and his daughter died in 1840. In 1841 Mantell was the victim of a terrible carriage accident in London. Somehow he fell from his seat, became entangled in the reins and was dragged across the ground. Mantell suffered a debilitating spinal injury. He became bent, crippled and in constant pain. Richard Owen took advantage from this and tried to ruin Mantell's reputation as an important contributor to the science of paleontology. In fact, Owen even transferred claim of a number of discoveries from Mantell to himself. Mantell could no longer bear the pain of his spine and the burden of Owen’s hatred and on 10 November 1852, Mantell took an overdose of opium and later lapsed into a coma. He died that afternoon. An anonymous obituary appeared shortly afterwards in the Literary Gazette, which denigrated Mantell’s achievements and claimed his scientific work was no more than mediocre at best – although anonymous, the style of the obituary quickly identified it as coming from Owen’s pen. Then, as a final act of indignity, Owen had a section of Mantell's spine removed and displayed his pickled spine in a jar in his museum. Dreadful 4. Alfred Wegener (1880-1930) was a German polar reseacher, geophysicist and meteorologist. Today he is most remembered as the originator of the theory of continental drift by hypothesizing in 1912 that the continents are slowly drifting around the Earth. Wegener's fourth and last Greenland expedition was in 1930. The 14 participants under his leadership were to establish three permanent stations from which the thickness of the Greenland ice sheet could be measured and year-round Arctic weather observations made. Success depended on enough provisions being transferred from West camp to Eismitte ("mid-ice") for two men to winter there, and this was a factor in the decision that led to his death. On 24 September, although the route markers were by now largely buried under snow, Wegener set out with thirteen Greenlanders and his meteorologist Fritz Loewe to supply the camp by dog sled. During the journey, the temperature reached −60 °C (−76 °F) and Loewe's toes became so frostbitten they had to be amputated with a penknife without anesthetic. Twelve of the Greenlanders returned to West camp. On 19 October the remaining three members of the expedition reached Eismitte. There being only enough supplies for three at Eismitte, Wegener and Rasmus Villumsen took two dog sleds and made for West camp. They took no food for the dogs and killed them one by one to feed the rest until they could run only one sled. While Villumsen rode the sled, Wegener had to use skis, but they never reached the camp: Wegener died and Villumsen was never seen again. Wegener died probably of a heart attack (Bill Bryson wrote he froze to death). Villumsen buried Wegener’s body in the snow and marked the grave with skis. Villumsen then resumed his journey, but did not complete it. His body was never found. In May 1931, after a search, Kurt Wegener discovered his brother’s grave. He and other expedition members built a pyramid-shaped mausoleum in the ice and snow, and Alfred Wegener’s body was laid to rest in it. The mausoleum has now, with the passing of time, been buried under Greenland’s ice and snow. Terrible 5. Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) was an American astronomer who is known for playing a vital role in the development of extragalactic astronomy. What became of Edwin Hubble after his death at his home on the 28th of September 1953, is a mystery. The whereabouts of his body were known only to his widow. It is not known whether he was buried or cremated or where his remains now lie. This secret his widow took to her own grave. His wife who adored him, devoted years of her life to writing an almost mythical account of her husband's life, much of which is evidently false. Creepy 9/10

  23. 3 out of 5

    Diane

    I must admit that science is not my strong suit -- I've always been more of a Humanities gal. In high school, I had to work harder in my biology and chemistry classes, whereas English, history and social studies always came more easily to me. Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is a good overview of all the science classes I didn't take (or don't remember) in college. It's like Intro to Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Astronomy all in one wonderfully droll book. Since I read very I must admit that science is not my strong suit -- I've always been more of a Humanities gal. In high school, I had to work harder in my biology and chemistry classes, whereas English, history and social studies always came more easily to me. Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is a good overview of all the science classes I didn't take (or don't remember) in college. It's like Intro to Physics, Chemistry, Geology and Astronomy all in one wonderfully droll book. Since I read very few books about science, this was an enjoyable departure for me. Here is how the book begins: "Welcome. And congratulations. I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn't easy, I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize. To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and curiously obliging manner to create you. It's an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once. For the next many years (we hope) these tiny particles will uncomplainingly engage in all the billions of deft, co-operative efforts necessary to keep you intact and let you experience this supremely agreeable but generally under-appreciated state known as existence." Some of my favorite sections were about the Big Bang, the debate about the age of the universe, plate tectonics, Darwin's research, and the extinction of different species. After sharing various stories of how humans have killed off who-knows-how-many species, Bryson interjects: "I mention all this to make the point that if you were designing an organism to look after life in our lonely cosmos, to monitor where it is going and keep a record of where it has been, you wouldn't choose human beings for the job." Sadly true, but also worth a HA! I listened to this on CD read by the author, and if you've been following my reviews for a while, you'll know that I have a brain crush on Bryson and his narration. Seriously, I wish I could invite him over for tea and scones and just listen to him read all afternoon. (Bryson is from my home state of Iowa, but he's lived in England for so long that he's adopted a charming accent. It's adorable.) I was also able to look through a copy of the special illustrated edition, which includes dozens of photographs and prints. If you can find it, I highly recommend reading the illustrated edition. "A Short History" was first published in 2003, and at the time, it was a big change from Bryson's previous travelogues. Since then, Bryson seems to have abandoned travel books and has been writing on different topics in history, such as the wonderful "At Home", "Shakespeare" and "One Summer: America 1927." While I enjoy his wry, humorous takes on history, I do miss his travel writing. If you're reading this, Bryson, please, take a trip somewhere. Have an adventure. Jot down a few notes and write another whip-smart travel book. Your fans will love it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    A really interesting book. Bryson succeeds in explaining some complex topics in such a way that they can be understood by the layman. I enjoyed this one a great deal. If I had one complaint it would be that some of the tangents were allowed to run on a bit too long, to the point where I almost forgot what the author was talking about in the first place.

  25. 3 out of 5

    Roberto

    Battaglia per la Terra Sono sempre stato convinto che non sia necessario utilizzare tante parole complicate per illustrare concetti complessi a chi non li conosce. Bisogna solo comprenderli bene prima di accingersi a spiegarli. Ecco, Bill Bryson è uno che non solo ha capito bene i fenomeni che spiega, ma ha anche capito come comunicarceli efficacemente. Con ironia, con aneddoti interessanti, con la capacità di sottolineare le cose più curiose e che destano curiosità riesce, in un libro che tutto è Battaglia per la Terra Sono sempre stato convinto che non sia necessario utilizzare tante parole complicate per illustrare concetti complessi a chi non li conosce. Bisogna solo comprenderli bene prima di accingersi a spiegarli. Ecco, Bill Bryson è uno che non solo ha capito bene i fenomeni che spiega, ma ha anche capito come comunicarceli efficacemente. Con ironia, con aneddoti interessanti, con la capacità di sottolineare le cose più curiose e che destano curiosità riesce, in un libro che tutto è fuorché "breve", a coinvolgere nonostante i contenuti scientifici e spesso ostici. Nozioni e concetti di alto livello ma comprensibili anche a chi non ha specifiche conoscenze scientifiche, che siano ragazzi o adulti, non importa. E raccontando la scienza, come fosse davanti al camino davanti ai nipotini in ascolto, riesce a parlarci di atomi, di neutrini, della storia della Terra, di dinosauri, di glaciazioni, di tettonica, di vulcanologia, di evoluzione, di Darwin, di chimica, di biologia, di geologia, di terremoti e di stelle. Semplice, chiaro, pratico, divertente. Concetti e fenomeni che avevo visto, ascoltato e letto tante volte, ma che rivisti tutti insieme prendono vita e luce nuova. E c'è pure una morale, nel libro (sempre a caccia di messaggi e morali, io...). La vita dell'umanità come la conosciamo noi, se rapportata alla vita della Terra, ha una durata praticamente inesistente. "Se immaginiamo di comprimere i quattromilacinquecento milioni di anni di storia della Terra in un normale giornata di 24 ore, la vita compare molto presto, intorno alle quattro del mattino, con l'emergere dei primi semplici organismi unicellulari. Poi, però, non fa altri progressi per le sedici ore successive. Fino alle otto e mezzo di sera la Terra non può mostrare all'universo che un'irrequieta pellicola di microbi. Poi, finalmente, compaiono le prime piante marine seguite, venti minuti dopo, dalle prime meduse e dall'enigmatica fauna di Ediacara scoperta da Reginald Sprigg in Australia. Alle nove e quattro minuti, i trilobiti irrompono sulla scena seguiti più o meno immediatamente dalle eleganti creature degli scisti di Burgess. Appena prima delle dieci, dal terreno cominciano a spuntare le piante. Subito dopo, quando rimangono solo due ore, compaiono le prime creature terrestri. Grazie a una decina di minuti caratterizzati da un clima mite, alle dieci e ventiquattro la Terra è coperta dalle grandi foreste del Carbonifero dai cui residui deriva tutto il nostro carbone, e sono evidenti i primi insetti alati. I dinosauri arrancano sul palcoscenico un po' prima delle undici e tengono banco per circa tre quarti d'ora. Quando mancano ventuno minuti alla mezzanotte, si estinguono e comincia l'era dei mammiferi. Gli esseri umani compaiono un minuto e 17 secondi prima della mezzanotte. Su questa scala, tutta la nostra storia non coprirebbe che qualche secondo. Una vita umana, forse, neanche un istante." Ebbene, in questo "brevissimo" periodo "magico" di vita (il famoso minuto e 17 secondi...) ci stiamo impegnando molto a distruggere tutto, con lo sfruttamento delle risorse, con l'inquinamento, con l'uso sconsiderato di prodotti nocivi. Dobbiamo cercare di cambiare atteggiamento nei riguardi del nostro pianeta, cercando di conoscerlo (e il libro serve anche a quello) e di salvaguardarlo. Se non proprio per noi, almeno per i nostri discendenti.

  26. 3 out of 5

    D'Argo Agathon

    Oh my gods, what a waste of perfectly good paper! I am flabbergasted that this has such consistently high reviews... Three problems with this tripe: 1. falsity of the science (most blatantly around cosmology, but not limited to any one field) and misunderstanding of scientific principles; 2. a focus more on "biography" rather than on real "history"; 3. trivial worthlessness of the information. Number 1 is briefly chronicled below. Within just the first 20 pages or so, there are ridiculous factual er Oh my gods, what a waste of perfectly good paper! I am flabbergasted that this has such consistently high reviews... Three problems with this tripe: 1. falsity of the science (most blatantly around cosmology, but not limited to any one field) and misunderstanding of scientific principles; 2. a focus more on "biography" rather than on real "history"; 3. trivial worthlessness of the information. Number 1 is briefly chronicled below. Within just the first 20 pages or so, there are ridiculous factual errors and misrepresentations of scientific knowledge. Even in 2003 when the book was published, these errors would have been unforgivable. Where the bloody hell were the editors?! Apparently the author came out later to mention his "lack of scientific chops," or the like. How can a book about the history of science fuck up the science?! Number 2 is just downright sad. Apparently the author felt that if he could spend about a page per scientist, he would make the material more interesting. No, man, I want science and history, not abbreviated and hackneyed biography. He doesn't even move smoothly between people... it's just a meandering of random scientific endeavors, somewhat brought into chronology. Number 3 is a difficult criticism, because with this kind of book, it is hard to get away from misc. trivia. And I'll even acknowledge that I learned a lot of trivia... and that the book does a great job of showing us just how much we don't know. But as I reached page 360 and realized (for the fifth or so time) that this was info that I could get in a quick google search, I just couldn't do it anymore. What a gods awful waste. What's more disappointing than the book though, is the overwhelming praise the book has gotten. I don't even want to sell this book back, but throw it away (and I thought I would never say something like that)! I'd rather have someone go slightly ignorant than have them be fed this mess of misinformation and dredge. Below were reactions I had when reading was "in progress." Start (05/08/11): Okay, so the "approachable textbook"... does it live up to the hype? Every review I have seen is about how great this book is. Let's see. So far, this book shows its 2003 date by providing currently inaccurate data; I also did not realize the author would assume zero scientific knowledge on the part of the reader... this could be interesting. Finally, the Introduction is full of annoying straw men and non-sequitors that really make me wonder if the author has learned much about scientific inquiry at all. He really doesn't understand probability. Eh, I'm only on page 16. Let's see if this improves. (05/09/11) Oh, bloody frak. "In the long term, *gravity* may turn out to be a little too strong, and one day it may halt the expansion of the universe and bring it collapsing in upon itself, till it crushes itself down into another singularity... On the other hand it may be too weak and the universe will keeping racing away..." (emphasis mine) NOTHING about those statements is correct. Gravity has nothing to do with the expansion of spacetime. Ugh, I thought this book had fantastic reviews! The term he is talking about here is "dark energy," NOT gravity. "Astronomers these days can do the most amazing things. If someone struck a match on the Moon, they could spot the flare." ... You have got to be fucking kidding me. A redox oxidation in a vacuum. Dude... Oh my frak. He just lost all respect from me. "...even with the most conservative inputs [in the Drake equation] the number of advanced civilzations... always works out to be somewhere in the millions." Fucking no. Dude, how the hell did this even get published?!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maciek

    This is an immensely readable book with a truly monumental amount of information. While reading it, one might wish to remember all its content, but it's written in a way allowing the reader to pick up the volume and start reading at any point, according to his interests, though Bryson relays all subjects in captivating and available way, with a big dose of humor. This is a weighty book - 600 pages - but Bryson's not joking. He really tries to cover everything, from the beginning of the universe a This is an immensely readable book with a truly monumental amount of information. While reading it, one might wish to remember all its content, but it's written in a way allowing the reader to pick up the volume and start reading at any point, according to his interests, though Bryson relays all subjects in captivating and available way, with a big dose of humor. This is a weighty book - 600 pages - but Bryson's not joking. He really tries to cover everything, from the beginning of the universe and the nature of our solar system and planet, through biological evolution of our species and the effects of us being here, both on nature and other creatures. Needless to say, he does an extremely good job of captivating the reader's attention from the first page and has no difficulty laying out complex concepts in a way that every reader will understand. Also, aside from all the facts, the book is also full of trivia and anecdotes about the experiments and the scientists who performed them. In the introduction, Bryson recalls his childhood and remembers how he was fascinated by the image of a cross-section of our planet, but at the same time put down by the nature of the book that contained it. The dry presentation of the facts, that were accompanied only by a set of exercies to test the gained knowledge, puzzled him. How did these people know how our planet looks from the inside? And who exactly were they? In his book, he accomplishes an important thing, one of the most important things - he presents the data while at the same time never letting go of the terribly exciting feeling of discovery, and presenting information about the discoverers themselves. It's obvious that he did a lot of research, but it's also obvious that these things fascinated him, and he grabs the reader's hand and runs headlong into the unexplored. And it is a world full of wonders. If schoolteachers shared Bryson's joy and flair we might have ended up with a whole lot more of biologists, physicists, chemists and geologists. I don't know if it's the best book of it's kind, but it is certainly an achievement worth re-reading.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Mimi

    Hands down my favorite science text written by a non-scientist, although I should mention I don't make a habit of seeking out science books written by non-scientists for kicks. Like most (sensible? pragmatic? responsible?) people, I prefer to read about science from people who actually practice science. Bill Bryson is the only exception though because he's an exceptionally gifted writer who just happens to share my sense of humor--that the end is nigh and that maybe is not necessarily such a ter Hands down my favorite science text written by a non-scientist, although I should mention I don't make a habit of seeking out science books written by non-scientists for kicks. Like most (sensible? pragmatic? responsible?) people, I prefer to read about science from people who actually practice science. Bill Bryson is the only exception though because he's an exceptionally gifted writer who just happens to share my sense of humor--that the end is nigh and that maybe is not necessarily such a terrible thing. Terrible for humanity, sure, but not for the planet. We have worn out our welcome about a few thousand years ago, and now we're just too stubborn to admit our time is over. Just kidding...? But... If you don't walk away from this book believing humanity is doomed, because how can we possibly fix all we've ruined, then you are much more optimistic than I am. I read this book last year and liked it so much that I picked up the audio for a reread.

  29. 3 out of 5

    David

    I am a scientist, and I found much of this book quite fascinating. The book certainly isn't comprehensive in any sense of the word--in fact it seems to roam in a semi-random sort of way; but the author's sense of humor and attention to colorful historical facts kept my interest from beginning to end. One of the themes of this book, is that when someone comes up with with a new discovery, there are three stages before it is accepted: 1) Nobody believes it. 2) Nobody thinks it is important 3) It gets I am a scientist, and I found much of this book quite fascinating. The book certainly isn't comprehensive in any sense of the word--in fact it seems to roam in a semi-random sort of way; but the author's sense of humor and attention to colorful historical facts kept my interest from beginning to end. One of the themes of this book, is that when someone comes up with with a new discovery, there are three stages before it is accepted: 1) Nobody believes it. 2) Nobody thinks it is important 3) It gets attributed to the wrong person. These three stages come up again and again in this book. I guess it can be attributed to the fact that most scientists--and most people--are, at heart, conservative in nature.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mohamed al-Jamri

    هذا الكتاب رائعٌ حقًا واستطيع بلا تردد وصفه بواجب القراءة لكل شخص يريد أن يخرج من الأمية العلمية. منذ البداية يسحرك الكتاب بمقدمته الشاعرية التي تجعلك لا تريد التوقف عن قراءته. ينتقد الكاتب في البداية صعوبة فهم الكتب العلمية وكأن هناك مؤامرة خفية لتنفير الناس عن قراءتها أو فهمها، فهي لا تخبرنا كيف اكتشف العلماء هذه النظرية أو تلك كعمر الأرض أو تكوين طبقاتها وإنما تقدم لنا المعلومات بصورة جافة تحول روعة العلم إلى موضوع ممل لهذا قرر الكاتب البدء في هذا المشروع الجبار والذي حصر فيه أجزاء كبيرة جدًا م هذا الكتاب رائعٌ حقًا واستطيع بلا تردد وصفه بواجب القراءة لكل شخص يريد أن يخرج من الأمية العلمية. منذ البداية يسحرك الكتاب بمقدمته الشاعرية التي تجعلك لا تريد التوقف عن قراءته. ينتقد الكاتب في البداية صعوبة فهم الكتب العلمية وكأن هناك مؤامرة خفية لتنفير الناس عن قراءتها أو فهمها، فهي لا تخبرنا كيف اكتشف العلماء هذه النظرية أو تلك كعمر الأرض أو تكوين طبقاتها وإنما تقدم لنا المعلومات بصورة جافة تحول روعة العلم إلى موضوع ممل لهذا قرر الكاتب البدء في هذا المشروع الجبار والذي حصر فيه أجزاء كبيرة جدًا من العلوم الطبيعية من علوم الفيزياء والفلك والكونيات إلى الكيمياء والجيولوجيا والبيولوجيا. يقدم الكاتب كل ذلك بطريقة سردية جميلة جدًا ومبسطة بدون معادلات أو مصطلحات معقدة ولكنها دقيقة وعميقة في نفس الوقت. إذا قررت قراءة هذا الكتاب فاستعد للانبهار بتاريخ الاكتشافات العلمية والاستماع لقصص العلماء وعبقريتهم وأخطائهم القاتلة وبعض الحقائق المضحكة، بل وحتى بعض قصص المنافسة غير الشريفة. نشر الكتاب في عام 2003 ولذلك فهناك تطورات علمية حصلت اذكر منها التالي: 1. يذكر الكتاب أن عمر الكون هو بين 12 و13.5 مليار سنة، آخر النتائج العلمية تضع عمره في خانة 13.799 مليار سنة مع هامش خطأ بمقدار 21 مليون سنة 2. تم العثور على جسيم هيجز 3. تم العثور على مئات الكواكب 4. بلوتو لم يعد كوكبًا، بل تم اعادة تصنيفه إلى كوكب قزم 5. تنبأ الكتاب بانتشار وباء انفلوزنا الخنازير كما حدث بعد الحرب العالمية الأولى وهذا ما وقع عام 2009 ولكن لحسن الحظ لم يكن بنفس السوء 6. قام الكاتب بالتحذير من مجموعة من الأوبئة ومن ضمنها فيروس إيبولا والذي ازدادت حالات الإصابة به مؤخرًا 7. لم يذكر الكاتب دور "آر إن إي" في الفرضيات التي تتناول ظهور الحياة

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