A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale
A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale__right
A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale__after
A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale__below

Description

Product Description

One of the world’s most beloved writers and New York Times bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body 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 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.

Review

“Stylish [and] stunningly accurate prose. We learn what the material world is like from the smallest quark to the largest galaxy and at all the levels in between . . . brims with strange and amazing facts . . . destined to become a modern classic of science writing.”
The New York Times

“Bryson has made a career writing hilarious travelogues, and in many ways his latest is more of the same, except that this time Bryson hikes through the world of science.”
People

“Bryson is surprisingly precise, brilliantly eccentric and nicely eloquent . . . a gifted storyteller has dared to retell the world’s biggest story.”
Seattle Times

“Hefty, highly researched and eminently readable.”
—Simon Winchester, The Globe and Mail

“All non-scientists (and probably many specialized scientists, too) can learn a great deal from his lucid and amiable explanations.”
National Post

"Bryson is a terrific stylist. You can’ t help but enjoy his writing, for its cheer and buoyancy, and for the frequent demonstration of his peculiar, engaging turn of mind.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Wonderfully readable. It is, in the best sense, learned.”
Winnipeg Free Press

About the Author

Bill Bryson''s bestselling books include  A Walk in the WoodsThe Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, and  A Short History of Nearly Everything (which won the Aventis Prize in Britain and the Descartes Prize, the European Union''s highest literary award). He was chancellor of Durham University, England''s third oldest university, from 2005 to 2011, and is an honorary fellow of Britain''s Royal Society.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1 HOW TO BUILD A UNIVERSE

NO MATTER HOW hard you try you will never be able to grasp just how tiny, how spatially unassuming, is a proton. It is just way too small.

A proton is an infinitesimal part of an atom, which is itself of course an insubstantial thing. Protons are so small that a little dib of ink like the dot on this i can hold something in the region of 500,000,000,000 of them, rather more than the number of seconds contained in half a million years. So protons are exceedingly microscopic, to say the very least.

Now imagine if you can (and of course you can''t) shrinking one of those protons down to a billionth of its normal size into a space so small that it would make a proton look enormous. Now pack into that tiny, tiny space about an ounce of matter. Excellent. You are ready to start a universe.

I''m assuming of course that you wish to build an inflationary universe. If you''d prefer instead to build a more old-fashioned, standard Big Bang universe, you''ll need additional materials. In fact, you will need to gather up everything there is--every last mote and particle of matter between here and the edge of creation--and squeeze it into a spot so infinitesimally compact that it has no dimensions at all. It is known as a singularity.

In either case, get ready for a really big bang. Naturally, you will wish to retire to a safe place to observe the spectacle. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to retire to because outside the singularity there is no where. When the universe begins to expand, it won''t be spreading out to fill a larger emptiness. The only space that exists is the space it creates as it goes.

It is natural but wrong to visualize the singularity as a kind of pregnant dot hanging in a dark, boundless void. But there is no space, no darkness. The singularity has no "around" around it. There is no space for it to occupy, no place for it to be. We can''t even ask how long it has been there--whether it has just lately popped into being, like a good idea, or whether it has been there forever, quietly awaiting the right moment. Time doesn''t exist. There is no past for it to emerge from.

And so, from nothing, our universe begins.

In a single blinding pulse, a moment of glory much too swift and expansive for any form of words, the singularity assumes heavenly dimensions, space beyond conception. In the first lively second (a second that many cosmologists will devote careers to shaving into ever-finer wafers) is produced gravity and the other forces that govern physics. In less than a minute the universe is a million billion miles across and growing fast. There is a lot of heat now, ten billion degrees of it, enough to begin the nuclear reactions that create the lighter elements--principally hydrogen and helium, with a dash (about one atom in a hundred million) of lithium. In three minutes, 98 percent of all the matter there is or will ever be has been produced. We have a universe. It is a place of the most wondrous and gratifying possibility, and beautiful, too. And it was all done in about the time it takes to make a sandwich.

When this moment happened is a matter of some debate. Cosmologists have long argued over whether the moment of creation was 10 billion years ago or twice that or something in between. The consensus seems to be heading for a figure of about 13.7 billion years, but these things are notoriously difficult to measure, as we shall see further on. All that can really be said is that at some indeterminate point in the very distant past, for reasons unknown, there came the moment known to science as t = 0. We were on our way.

There is of course a great deal we don''t know, and much of what we think we know we haven''t known, or thought we''ve known, for long. Even the notion of the Big Bang is quite a recent one. The idea had been kicking around since the 1920s, when Georges Lem tre, a Belgian priest-scholar, first tentatively proposed it, but it didn''t really become an active notion in cosmology until the mid-1960s when two young radio astronomers made an extraordinary and inadvertent discovery.

Their names were Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. In 1965, they were trying to make use of a large communications antenna owned by Bell Laboratories at Holmdel, New Jersey, but they were troubled by a persistent background noise--a steady, steamy hiss that made any experimental work impossible. The noise was unrelenting and unfocused. It came from every point in the sky, day and night, through every season. For a year the young astronomers did everything they could think of to track down and eliminate the noise. They tested every electrical system. They rebuilt instruments, checked circuits, wiggled wires, dusted plugs. They climbed into the dish and placed duct tape over every seam and rivet. They climbed back into the dish with brooms and scrubbing brushes and carefully swept it clean of what they referred to in a later paper as "white dielectric material," or what is known more commonly as bird shit. Nothing they tried worked.

Unknown to them, just thirty miles away at Princeton University, a team of scientists led by Robert Dicke was working on how to find the very thing they were trying so diligently to get rid of. The Princeton researchers were pursuing an idea that had been suggested in the 1940s by the Russian-born astrophysicist George Gamow that if you looked deep enough into space you should find some cosmic background radiation left over from the Big Bang. Gamow calculated that by the time it crossed the vastness of the cosmos, the radiation would reach Earth in the form of microwaves. In a more recent paper he had even suggested an instrument that might do the job: the Bell antenna at Holmdel. Unfortunately, neither Penzias and Wilson, nor any of the Princeton team, had read Gamow''s paper.

The noise that Penzias and Wilson were hearing was, of course, the noise that Gamow had postulated. They had found the edge of the universe, or at least the visible part of it, 90 billion trillion miles away. They were "seeing" the first photons--the most ancient light in the universe--though time and distance had converted them to microwaves, just as Gamow had predicted. In his book The Inflationary Universe, Alan Guth provides an analogy that helps to put this finding in perspective. If you think of peering into the depths of the universe as like looking down from the hundredth floor of the Empire State Building (with the hundredth floor representing now and street level representing the moment of the Big Bang), at the time of Wilson and Penzias''s discovery the most distant galaxies anyone had ever detected were on about the sixtieth floor, and the most distant things--quasars--were on about the twentieth. Penzias and Wilson''s finding pushed our acquaintance with the visible universe to within half an inch of the sidewalk.

Still unaware of what caused the noise, Wilson and Penzias phoned Dicke at Princeton and described their problem to him in the hope that he might suggest a solution. Dicke realized at once what the two young men had found. "Well, boys, we''ve just been scooped," he told his colleagues as he hung up the phone.

Soon afterward the Astrophysical Journal published two articles: one by Penzias and Wilson describing their experience with the hiss, the other by Dicke''s team explaining its nature. Although Penzias and Wilson had not been looking for cosmic background radiation, didn''t know what it was when they had found it, and hadn''t described or interpreted its character in any paper, they received the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics. The Princeton researchers got only sympathy. According to Dennis Overbye in Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, neither Penzias nor Wilson altogether understood the significance of what they had found until they read about it in the New York Times.

Incidentally, disturbance from cosmic background radiation is something we have all experienced. Tune your television to any channel it doesn''t receive, and about 1 percent of the dancing static you see is accounted for by this ancient remnant of the Big Bang. The next time you complain that there is nothing on, remember that you can always watch the birth of the universe.

Although everyone calls it the Big Bang, many books caution us not to think of it as an explosion in the conventional sense. It was, rather, a vast, sudden expansion on a whopping scale. So what caused it?

One notion is that perhaps the singularity was the relic of an earlier, collapsed universe--that we''re just one of an eternal cycle of expanding and collapsing universes, like the bladder on an oxygen machine. Others attribute the Big Bang to what they call "a false vacuum" or "a scalar field" or "vacuum energy"--some quality or thing, at any rate, that introduced a measure of instability into the nothingness that was. It seems impossible that you could get something from nothing, but the fact that once there was nothing and now there is a universe is evident proof that you can. It may be that our universe is merely part of many larger universes, some in different dimensions, and that Big Bangs are going on all the time all over the place. Or it may be that space and time had some other forms altogether before the Big Bang--forms too alien for us to imagine--and that the Big Bang represents some sort of transition phase, where the universe went from a form we can''t understand to one we almost can. "These are very close to religious questions," Dr. Andrei Linde, a cosmologist at Stanford, told the New York Times in 2001.

The Big Bang theory isn''t about the bang itself but about what happened after the bang. Not long after, mind you. By doing a lot of math and watching carefully what goes on in particle accelerators, scientists believe they can look back to 10-43 seconds after the moment of creation, when the universe was still so small that you would have needed a microscope to find it. We mustn''t swoon over every extraordinary number that comes before us, but it is perhaps worth latching on to one from time to time just to be reminded of their ungraspable and amazing breadth. Thus 10-43 is 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001, or one 10 million trillion trillion trillionths of a second.

Most of what we know, or believe we know, about the early moments of the universe is thanks to an idea called inflation theory first propounded in 1979 by a junior particle physicist, then at Stanford, now at MIT, named Alan Guth. He was thirty-two years old and, by his own admission, had never done anything much before. He would probably never have had his great theory except that he happened to attend a lecture on the Big Bang given by none other than Robert Dicke. The lecture inspired Guth to take an interest in cosmology, and in particular in the birth of the universe.

The eventual result was the inflation theory, which holds that a fraction of a moment after the dawn of creation, the universe underwent a sudden dramatic expansion. It inflated--in effect ran away with itself, doubling in size every 10-34 seconds. The whole episode may have lasted no more than 10-30 seconds--that''s one million million million million millionths of a second--but it changed the universe from something you could hold in your hand to something at least 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times bigger. Inflation theory explains the ripples and eddies that make our universe possible. Without it, there would be no clumps of matter and thus no stars, just drifting gas and everlasting darkness.

According to Guth''s theory, at one ten-millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, gravity emerged. After another ludicrously brief interval it was joined by electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces--the stuff of physics. These were joined an instant later by swarms of elementary particles--the stuff of stuff. From nothing at all, suddenly there were swarms of photons, protons, electrons, neutrons, and much else--between 1079 and 1089 of each, according to the standard Big Bang theory.

Such quantities are of course ungraspable. It is enough to know that in a single cracking instant we were endowed with a universe that was vast--at least a hundred billion light-years across, according to the theory, but possibly any size up to infinite--and perfectly arrayed for the creation of stars, galaxies, and other complex systems.

What is extraordinary from our point of view is how well it turned out for us. If the universe had formed just a tiny bit differently--if gravity were fractionally stronger or weaker, if the expansion had proceeded just a little more slowly or swiftly--then there might never have been stable elements to make you and me and the ground we stand on. Had gravity been a trifle stronger, the universe itself might have collapsed like a badly erected tent, without precisely the right values to give it the right dimensions and density and component parts. Had it been weaker, however, nothing would have coalesced. The universe would have remained forever a dull, scattered void.

This is one reason that some experts believe there may have been many other big bangs, perhaps trillions and trillions of them, spread through the mighty span of eternity, and that the reason we exist in this particular one is that this is one we could exist in. As Edward P. Tryon of Columbia University once put it: "In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time." To which adds Guth: "Although the creation of a universe might be very unlikely, Tryon emphasized that no one had counted the failed attempts."

Martin Rees, Britain''s astronomer royal, believes that there are many universes, possibly an infinite number, each with different attributes, in different combinations, and that we simply live in one that combines things in the way that allows us to exist. He makes an analogy with a very large clothing store: "If there is a large stock of clothing, you''re not surprised to find a suit that fits. If there are many universes, each governed by a differing set of numbers, there will be one where there is a particular set of numbers suitable to life. We are in that one."

Rees maintains that six numbers in particular govern our universe, and that if any of these values were changed even very slightly things could not be as they are. For example, for the universe to exist as it does requires that hydrogen be converted to helium in a precise but comparatively stately manner--specifically, in a way that converts seven one-thousandths of its mass to energy. Lower that value very slightly--from 0.007 percent to 0.006 percent, say--and no transformation could take place: the universe would consist of hydrogen and nothing else. Raise the value very slightly--to 0.008 percent--and bonding would be so wildly prolific that the hydrogen would long since have been exhausted. In either case, with the slightest tweaking of the numbers the universe as we know and need it would not be here.

Product information

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Videos

Help others learn more about this product by uploading a video!
Upload video
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who bought this item also bought

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
8,800 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A most unusual but extremely interesting book!
Reviewed in the United States on March 18, 2017
A friend of mine recommended this book knowing that I like science. I''m used to reading about the sciences in single topics. This book surprised me in the amount of effort the author took to go through book after book of different sciences, both old and new, and proceeded... See more
A friend of mine recommended this book knowing that I like science. I''m used to reading about the sciences in single topics. This book surprised me in the amount of effort the author took to go through book after book of different sciences, both old and new, and proceeded to connect the dots into several cohesive stories about our home, planet Earth, and its residents. The biggest surprise is how little we truly know about both and just how much luck was involved that both exist in their present form. This book is an easy read and should be understandable to anyone who has a basic interest in science.

Be prepared though to being overwhelmed because there is a lot of information in this book, with references to other works. This book is best read in sections allowing yourself some time to think about what you have learned; and I''m sure you are going to learn at least a few things.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to understand what an amazing place our planet is and life that exists on it.
228 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
MJ
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Nearly the Best Book I Have Ever Read
Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2017
I have just completed Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” for the second time. I am quite certain it will not be my last reading. I cannot think of any other single-volume book I have ever read that was as informative, entertaining, and broad in scope as... See more
I have just completed Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” for the second time. I am quite certain it will not be my last reading. I cannot think of any other single-volume book I have ever read that was as informative, entertaining, and broad in scope as this classic. Not having excelled in science, nor been much interested in it when I was younger, this gem is a massive refresher course on everything I ever learned about science, and then some.

Bryson moves seamlessly from one sweeping topic to the next with great ease. Whether he is expounding upon thermodynamics, paleontology or cosmology, he helps us to grasp, to the extent that seems possible, the interrelatedness of all physical phenomona. He is particularly skillful at putting into perspective concepts of size and dimension within the universe, whether mind-bogglingly vast expanses or minuscule marvels of life’s building blocks. He not only teaches us what is known, but humbles us by emphasizing how much we do not know.

Bryson also brings us biographical sketches of the greatest names in science as only an enormously talented humorist could do. Intellectual giants like Newton, Einstein, and many others, are brought to us with all their eccentricities. So many brilliant individuals were quite odd, which makes them much more human and accessible to the Bryson’s reader.

There is also a moral underpinning to Bryson’s book which becomes most evident in the final chapter. Our species has, in essence, become the extinction event for so many others with which we have shared the planet. Beginning with the unsuspecting and gentle dodo bird, Bryson outlines how we have systematically brought about the termination of thousands of creatures, intentionally or through ignorance. This sobering reality makes one a bit more respectful of current efforts to save endangered species.

No species, and indeed no human being, is anything other than a miracle of chance, a reality in which Bryson rejoices from his opening chapter. He congratulates each of us for surviving the cut and coming into existence against all odds. His book is humbling and thought-provoking, leaving one with a sense of awe at the grandeur of, well, nearly everything.
123 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Dan Shaffer
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Short History of Life
Reviewed in the United States on December 1, 2017
Well written and entertaining this is not a textbook, rather Bryson attempts to create a story. The story of Earth and the people who made the critical advancements. The story of Marie Curie, Einstein, Darwin. This is a book that would make Carl Sagan proud. The... See more
Well written and entertaining this is not a textbook, rather Bryson attempts to create a story. The story of Earth and the people who made the critical advancements. The story of Marie Curie, Einstein, Darwin. This is a book that would make Carl Sagan proud.
The book is organized into 6 parts: Lost in the Cosmos; the Size of the Earth; A New Age Dawns; Dangerous Planet; Life Itself; and The Road to Us.
The first part: Lost in the Cosmos is about the big bang and the elemental beginnings of the Universe. Part 2 The size of the Earth discusses the early attempts to determine the size of the Earth in the 17th century. Part 3 A New Age Dawns is about is about Einstein’s universe and the atom and plate tectonics. Part 4 Dangerous Planet is about the interior of the planet and what lies below the surface. Chapter 5 Life Itself is the largest section comprising 161 pages. It covers the rise of life beginning after the formation of the Earth up through the Cambrian explosion. The chapter also discusses Darwin’s work on Evolution. The final chapter The Road to Us is about the rise of humans.

My only issue with the book is that is a bit dated. The history sections are great, but the discussion on current events and science are out of date. This book needs an update.
122 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
OslerWannabe
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Entertaining, but error-riddled
Reviewed in the United States on October 26, 2018
First, I ''d like to establish that I''m not a crank. I''m a physician, have been practicing for 40 years, I have (now ancient) undergraduate degrees in chemistry and math from the University of California, and my recreational interests are things like history and cultural... See more
First, I ''d like to establish that I''m not a crank. I''m a physician, have been practicing for 40 years, I have (now ancient) undergraduate degrees in chemistry and math from the University of California, and my recreational interests are things like history and cultural anthropology. So I have an understanding of science that is broad but often shallow, but occasionally deep. I thought I''d try out something by Bill Bryson. I admire his breadth of interest; he seems willing to tackle almost any subject. He has a following, and an enviable reputation as a writer, so how could I lose? Oh boy. First, he''s a decent enough writer, but occasionally he falls into sinkholes of drivel that make no sense, syntactically or factually. I''d give examples, but they tend to be paragraph size. As a story teller, he wants to weave a good tale, but he often seems to dwell on the personal peculiarities of historical scientific figures to the point of downplaying the science or the process. I half expected to learn that Einstein was a necrophile who had a couple of interesting insights. For the lay reader, this is probably all OK, because Bryson ultimately provides a reasonably coherent overview of the evolution of scientific thought in selected areas. But for a scientifically savvy reader, this book is going to be a hair-pulling exercise. It''s riddled with factual inaccuracies, errors and misinterpretations of varying significance. Here''s an example that is probably more indicative of sloppy writing than factual misunderstanding, but it gives a sense of the numerous inaccuracies in the book: "Hydrogen gas ... is extremely combustible, as the dirigible Hindenburg demonstrated on May 6, 1937 ... when its hydrogen fuel burst explosively into flame, killing thirty six people." I''m sure most of you see the error, but for those who don''t -- the Hindenburg''s hydrogen provided buoyancy, not propulsion. It''s a minor failing, and he still makes his point about hydrogen, but it''s typical of numerous other errors in his writing, and some of them ARE significant.
In summary, this book is pretty good as a drive-by overview of how and why scientific understanding has progressed over time. It''s more a look at the process, rather than fact. If you don''t hold him to complete historical and factual accuracy, you''ll get an entertaining sense of how our understanding of the world has progressed. If you already know enough to be jarred by errors, this book will provide as much frustration as enlightenment.
54 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Panache
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Pictures Enhance
Reviewed in the United States on February 10, 2017
I read the hardcover version first, all the while wishing there were pictures, diagrams, maps, etc. I then heard of this illustrated version and ordered it right away. This adds so much to the text. Written in Bryson''s easy, slightly ironic style, this book tackles... See more
I read the hardcover version first, all the while wishing there were pictures, diagrams, maps, etc. I then heard of this illustrated version and ordered it right away. This adds so much to the text. Written in Bryson''s easy, slightly ironic style, this book tackles subjects that are often difficult to fully grasp. Great fun and much improved with pictures!
85 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Jay
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Humanity''s bedtime story
Reviewed in the United States on April 21, 2017
I''ve owned this book in three versions: big and illustrated, paperback (when I left the big one with my ex-wife) and Kindle (when I realised I never wanted to be unable to open this book). I''ve read it twice and I open it every now and then, on my phone or Paperwhite,... See more
I''ve owned this book in three versions: big and illustrated, paperback (when I left the big one with my ex-wife) and Kindle (when I realised I never wanted to be unable to open this book). I''ve read it twice and I open it every now and then, on my phone or Paperwhite, sometimes to remind me of something I enjoy knowing and feel the bursting pride of being a participant in humanity''s great journey and sometimes to just escape the world outside and be soothed listening to the telling of a favourite story like a child at bedtime.
It’s short – although it’s actually quite long, but Bryson writes so fluidly. It’s a history – Bryson tells us what he knows or believes happened, but doesn’t hesitate to point out what he doesn’t know. It’s nearly everything – okay it’s really not nearly everything but it gets into astronomy, Neanderthals and volcanoes. Some information may have been revised in the decade since the book went into print and some science may eventually be proved shaky, but I have not come across a better rough guide to essential human knowledge.
62 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Roland
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Coma Inducing. An Exercise in Tedium.
Reviewed in the United States on November 15, 2018
So the title of the book intrigues you and the reviews are glowing. Maybe you enjoyed Brian Greene''s Elegant Universe, or Stephen Hawking''s A Brief History of Time. How could you possibly dislike a book by Bill Bryson that promises "a short history of nearly everything"? It... See more
So the title of the book intrigues you and the reviews are glowing. Maybe you enjoyed Brian Greene''s Elegant Universe, or Stephen Hawking''s A Brief History of Time. How could you possibly dislike a book by Bill Bryson that promises "a short history of nearly everything"? It is, after all, a book about some of the most important scientific discoveries ever made, right? No, not really. This is a book about people, a sea of people, a mind numbing, unrelenting, staccato listing of people. You''ll hear about every single solitary "nearly was" and "also ran" that made the slightest contribution to the discoveries you bought the book to learn about. Bryson will tell you how quirky they were, what hobbies they enjoyed, even what they were fond of wearing (how interesting). You may eventually make it to the "science" but, guess what? You''ll be too exhausted to care anymore. Bryson''s book will win, and you will lose, and you''ll add it to the very short list of books you''re glad you never finished.
35 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
wag
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Plenty of numbers for perspective, but many of them are dead wrong--read skeptically
Reviewed in the United States on January 8, 2018
A most interesting read with plenty of numbers for perspective, but unfortunately many of the numbers are grievously wrong. As examples, the distance to the star Betelgeuse is not "fifty thousand light years away"--less than 700 is more correct; Bryson''s discussion... See more
A most interesting read with plenty of numbers for perspective, but unfortunately many of the numbers are grievously wrong. As examples, the distance to the star Betelgeuse is not "fifty thousand light years away"--less than 700 is more correct; Bryson''s discussion of the New Madrid earthquakes, and earthquake magnitudes in general, is utter nonsense. (PS: The New Madrid was not a "random as lightening" earthquake of unknown cause that will never happen again, it is a fault zone remnant of continental drift that will most certainly shake in a devastating manner again one day.
44 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report

Top reviews from other countries

williamcani
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Bryson should rewrite all textbooks in the curriculum - the ideal non-fiction balance: informative, interesting, amusing!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 10, 2017
I assume most people like me, are used to learning about science by fixating on one topic at a time, and becoming immersed (and very often lost) in the technical jargon and intricacies. This book surprised me in the amount of effort Bryson took to go through book after book...See more
I assume most people like me, are used to learning about science by fixating on one topic at a time, and becoming immersed (and very often lost) in the technical jargon and intricacies. This book surprised me in the amount of effort Bryson took to go through book after book of different sciences, both old and new, (from physics, chemistry, geology and many more) and connect the dots into several cohesive stories about our home, planet Earth, and its residents. The book''s title is very apt.The breadth of history covered by this book is massive (as well as weighty!) – from the first fraction of a second of the Universe’s existence to the recent discoveries of the 20th century. Obviously there are certain gaps (hence the "nearly"), but Bryson readily points out what he does not know. It is an honest history of the scientific accomplishments since the earth''s inception. It is a must read for every human, as it hands you a feeling of bursting pride - being a participant in humanity''s great journey. Although the most surprising feature is the balance between the roles played by chance in many of these discoveries, and the unyielding human determination to identify a grey area, and seek knowledge accordingly. The book’s strength lies in its ability to convey the wonder (and complexity) of science to the average layman - mainly because Bryson, himself, has no scientific background and only recently familiarised himself with these wonders. More than just a condensed text of salient, factual information - Bryson brings this to life whilst describing the surrounding imperfect scientific process (why the information was sought after, how scientists honed their approaches from producing wildly incorrect estimations to the precisely calculated figures we use today, and why information or possibilities lie outside our grasp), as well as amusing anecdotes. The other strength of this book is that by approaching it from the POV of a non-scientist, Bryson nourishes our wonderment and understanding to grow as information fluidly disguised in Bryson’s energetic, quirky, familiar and humorous prose seep out each chapter, letting us journey alongside some of the most prominent (and some of the less prominent but equally brilliant) scientists in their obsessive pursuits. In fact, I found information that I loosely remembered from my schooldays and now find that the little bit of context and intrigue that Bryson adorns them with has left them impressed in my mind forever. [...]
68 people found this helpful
Report
David Roberts
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fast food of the mind.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 25, 2019
Bryson’s writing is addictive but not at all nourishing, it deadens the mind in a haze of anticipation of “what comes next?”, like a pulp detective novel. The book is less about the history, meaning and amazing potential of human understanding, than it is about the author’s...See more
Bryson’s writing is addictive but not at all nourishing, it deadens the mind in a haze of anticipation of “what comes next?”, like a pulp detective novel. The book is less about the history, meaning and amazing potential of human understanding, than it is about the author’s ability to tell entertaining anecdotes. Bryson ambles the pathways of science, observing the remarkable scientific phenomena along the way, without feeling particularly deeply about anything, as he searches out more anecdotes of human discovery. The whole thing washes over him without ever really getting passionately engaged. Of course, the facts are pretty amazing, so there’s definitely a sense of “TA DAAAAA!”, like watching a magician pull more rabbits out of hats. However, the general sense of detachment leaves the book feeling shallow and uninspired. There’s a stream of interesting facts is one thing after the other without anything really grasping our guide on a personal, emotional level, beyond a blip. He’s never inspired to look for something new within himself, only to observe and move on. It’s as if he is casually observing scenes through a train window, without ever really caring about what is taking place, beyond a simple “well, that really is amazing, isn’t it.”, then moving on to the next “really interesting” thing. One day, AI will write books like this. Or maybe it already did. I thought I would finish the book, the way one finishes a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, but now I’m not sure I can face ever picking it up again, in case my brain turns to mush.
23 people found this helpful
Report
Crusty
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Required reading for everyone, everywhere
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 2, 2017
Quite simply this book is the single best book I have ever read. I have two well worn paperback copies and the kindle version. If you want your children to grow up with even a modicum of appreciation for our planet, then get this book and read it to them every night -...See more
Quite simply this book is the single best book I have ever read. I have two well worn paperback copies and the kindle version. If you want your children to grow up with even a modicum of appreciation for our planet, then get this book and read it to them every night - again, and again, and again. In my view this book should replace the free bible on Desert Island Discs!
48 people found this helpful
Report
Karl Strobl
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Perhaps one of the best popular science books (if that was the intention), and entertaining too
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 3, 2017
I am a particle physicist and cosmologist by training. I really enjoyed how Bill Bryson, better than most scientists themselves, can put things into language that speaks to real people. I will be using this myself when preparing for public science education events, as I am...See more
I am a particle physicist and cosmologist by training. I really enjoyed how Bill Bryson, better than most scientists themselves, can put things into language that speaks to real people. I will be using this myself when preparing for public science education events, as I am doing just right this minute!
36 people found this helpful
Report
Martin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is what high school should be like
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 28, 2018
The book is a fun overview of topics like biology, physics and ask a lot of questions your high school teachers probably didn''t: How and when did people first measure the earth? How did people figure out what DNA is? Surprisingly, a lot of the discoveries we now take for...See more
The book is a fun overview of topics like biology, physics and ask a lot of questions your high school teachers probably didn''t: How and when did people first measure the earth? How did people figure out what DNA is? Surprisingly, a lot of the discoveries we now take for granted were very controversial at their time. Some were so far ahead of their time that nobody cared much and the facts were re-discovered a century later. For me, the book was a great way to appreciate the existence of the universe, the earth and life. It was also very inspiring to see that over the centuries, there were always a few people with focus and dedication. Some spent decades on a problem until they finally made a breakthrough. We owe a lot to these people. Also recommend the book if you have a kid in high-school, around the age of maybe 15. The book might make school more interesting.
12 people found this helpful
Report
See all reviews
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who viewed this item also viewed

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Pages with related products.

  • history of english literature
  • history of physics
  • human form
  • quality service
  • history and science books
  • non-fiction historical books




Product information

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale

A 2021 Short high quality History of Nearly Everything online sale