A Short History of Nearly Everything

544 pages

English language

Published Aug. 26, 2004 by Broadway Books.

ISBN:
978-0-7679-0818-4
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4 stars (169 reviews)

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.

A Short History deviates from Bryson's popular travel book genre, instead describing general sciences such as chemistry, paleontology, astronomy, and particle physics. In it, he explores time from the Big Bang to the discovery of quantum mechanics, via evolution and geology.

Bill Bryson wrote this book because he was dissatisfied with his scientific knowledge—that was, not much at all. He writes that science was a distant, unexplained subject at school. Textbooks and teachers alike did not ignite the passion for knowledge in him, mainly because they never delved in …

38 editions

Review of 'A short history of nearly everything' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

"Geologists are never at a loss for paperweights.”

A wide ranging lesson on the natural sciences and their pioneers. It can be lengthy, brief, funny, boring, interesting, tedious, and enjoyable at any moment. Instead of remembering a lot of specific facts, I finished with a better understanding of how science makes progress. Hearing the stories of so many scientists you realize how controversial, competitive, and petty the fields can be. Time and place were huge factors as well, as Bryson summed up: "Ocean rocks lasted only as long as it took them to travel ashore. It was a beautiful theory that explained a great deal. Hesse elaborated his ideas in an important paper, which was almost universally ignored. Sometimes the world just isn’t ready for a good idea."

This was read in anticipation for Bryson’s new book on the body. He does massive amounts of research and is able to …

Review of 'A short history of nearly everything' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

A slightly more accurate title for this book would have been "A Short History of Many Fields of Science". When I originally got this book, I thought it was going to be more about things like ancient Egypt and the Roman empire. Instead it talked about things like the history of chemistry and geology. Really interesting stuff, just not what I expected. One surprising thing about the book was how quickly some of the information was. For instance, there was a whole section on the "planet" Pluto. Overall I would recommend the book, especially as a book that you can quickly pick up whenever you have a few moments to read.

Review of 'A short history of nearly everything' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Dobra książka na prezent - dla osób niekoniecznie już wiedzących co nieco więcej o nauce.
Autor ma bardzo lekkie pióro - pisze świetnie i z humorem.
Książka zaczyna się od fizyki, potem przez geologię trafiamy do biologii, antropologii. Naukę poznajemy nie poprzez czyste zjawiska, ale raczej poprzez naukowców, którzy je odkryli. W książce opisane są również spotkania autora z obecnie żyjącymi naukowcami.
Także i ja, osoba dość zapoznana z popularnonaukowymi recenzjami, dowiedziałem się paru ciekawostek.

Review of 'A short history of nearly everything' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

A short history of nearly everything.
Just finished four chapters a mere 100 pages or so. But quite fun.

Travelling across the seas and beyond the mountains and spending years at some lonely lands, just to make observations.WOW!! This blows my mind.

And as far as the book- it's pretty amazing.
This is how science should be taught.
It is like a story.

Review of 'A short history of nearly everything' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Disguised as a book about science, this is actually a book about people attempting to make sense of the universe while fighting among themselves. Having gone to school several decades earlier, I now know that much of what I learned, facts that they were so sure of at the time, turned out to be wrong or incomplete or simply the fashion of the time. And even those facts which didn't change were explained to me in the wrong way so as to give me the impression that I understood when I actually didn't. I now feel simultaneously smarter and stupider and have more of a sense of wonder.

Review of 'A short history of nearly everything' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

A good general overview of the history of the discoveries of our planet. Having read other works of primary sources that covered some of this book's subject matter, I found that the information and/or intonation can, at times, be troublingly dubious, but it does have a great narrative, and I recommend it if you're interested in a quick overview of the history of earth's sciences.

Review of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' on Goodreads

4 stars

1) ''At McGill University in Montreal the young New Zealand-born Ernest Rutherford became interested in the new radioactive materials. With a colleague named Frederick Soddy he discovered that immense reserves of energy were bound up in these small amounts of matter, and that the radioactive decay of these reserves could account for most of the Earth's warmth. They also discovered that radioactive elements decayed into other elements---that one day you had an atom of uranium, say, and the next you had an atom of lead. This was truly extraordinary. It was alchemy, pure and simple; no one had ever imagined that such a thing could happen naturally and spontaneously.''

2) ''At all events, thanks to the work of Clair Patterson by 1953 the Earth at last had an age everyone could agree on. The only problem now was it was older than the universe that contained it.''

3) ''Yet we …

Review of 'A short history of nearly everything' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

It was well liked all around. Carolyn read it once and nearly finished it a second time. Bruce read it four times. Jenna picked it up and read random chapters from time to time. The humor was appreciated (although sometimes the glibness was distracting). He made the science pretty clear, with analogies and tricks to visualize the vast expanses of time and distance involved. There was wonderment at how much he managed to cram into the book, and on how he decided what to leave out. (There's a suspicion that he only picked the most colorful characters to give antedotes about - or maybe he just picked the most colorful antedotes.)

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