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A Short History of Nearly Everythingby Bill Bryson
Synopses & Reviews
One of the world's most beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey — into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.
In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trail — well, most of it. In In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to 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.
"Hefty, highly researched and eminently readable." Simon Winchester, The Globe and Mail
"Wonderfully readable. It is, in the best sense, learned." Winnipeg Free Press
"To those acquainted with the popular-science writing Bryson has digested, his repackaging is a trip down memory lane, but to his fellow science-phobes, Bryson's tour has the same eye-opening quality to wonder and amazement as his wildly popular travelogues." Booklist
Book News Annotation:
Popular writer Bryson turns from geographical to temporal realms to summarize what has happened from the time of the Big Bang to now, especially as it pertains to items of local interest, such as the solar system, earth, life, and humans. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
One of the world's finest and funniest writers goes on a quest to discover the mysteries of the universe and comprehend the fascinating, eccentric people who devote their lives to unraveling those big questions.
Bill Bryson is one of the world's most beloved and bestselling writers. In A Short History of Nearly Everything, he takes his ultimate journey?into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer. It's a dazzling quest, the intellectual odyssey of a lifetime, as this insatiably curious writer attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization. Or, as the author puts it, "how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since." This is, in short, a tall order.
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, as only this superb writer can render it. Science has never been more involving, and the world we inhabit has never been fuller of wonder and delight.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 517-527) and index.
What does E=mc2 really mean? What is DNA? What was the big bang? These scientific concepts have changed our perception of the world but for many of us they remain mysteries, bits and pieces of information retained from classroom lectures but never truly understood.
Now we can finally grasp the grandeur and complexity of these ideas, and their significance in our lives. Revised and updated to include the latest discoveries that are changing the way we view the world and the universe, this new edition of The Science Class You Wish You Had will take you on a journey through space and time—from the subatomic to the universal. It explains in a lively, accessible way what these milestones of scientific discovery mean and what direct impact they have on our lives today and will have in the future.
For everyone interested in science, history, and biographies of extraordinary people—or anyone who wants to understand the workings of the physical world—this thorough and authoritative book is a perfect introduction to sciences most profound discoveries, and a testament to the triumph of human knowledge.
Newton: Gravity and the Basic Laws of Physics
Rutherford and Bohr: The Structure of the Atom
Einstein: The Principle of Relativity
Hubble: The Big Bang and the Formation of the Universe
Darwin: Evolution and the Principle of Natural Selection
Flemming and Mendel: The Cell and Genetics
Watson and Crick: The Structure of the DNA Molecule
About the Author
Bill Bryson's bestselling books include A Walk in the Woods, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, In A Sunburned Country, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words, Bill Bryson's African Diary, and A Short History of Nearly Everything. He lives in Norfolk, England, with his wife and children.
Table of Contents
Lost in the cosmos: How to build a universe; Welcome to the solar system; Reverend Evans's universe — Size of the earth: Measure of things; Stone-breakers; Science red in tooth and claw; Elemental matters — New age dawns: Einstein's universe; Mighty atom; Getting the lead out; Muster Mark's quarks; Earth moves — Dangerous planet: Bang!; Fire below; Dangerous beauty — Life itself: Lonely planet; Into the troposphere; Bounding main; Rise of life; Small world; Life goes on; Good-bye to all that; Richness of being; Cells; Darwin's singular notion — Road to us: Ice time; Mysterious biped; Restless ape; Good-bye.
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