- Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (May 6, 2002)
- ASIN: B00824LJGK
- Package Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 2,650 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,109,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By Bill Bryson: A Short History of Nearly Everything Hardcover – May 6, 2002
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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.
"Smith's revelation regarding strata heightened the moral awkwardness concerning extinctions. To begin with, it confirmed that God had wiped out creatures not occasionally but repeatedly. This made Him seem not so much careless as peculiarly hostile....God, it appeared, hadn't wished to distract or alarm Moses with news of earlier, irrelevant extinctions."
"We are each so atomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that a significant number of our atoms - up to a billion for each of us, it has been suggested - probably once belonged to Shakespeare. A billion more each came from Buddha and Genghis Khan and Beethoven, and any other historical figure you care to name. (The personages have to be historical, apparently, as it takes the atoms some decades to become thoroughly redistributed; however much you may wish it, you are not yet one with Elvis Presley.)"
This book is chock-full of homages to famous scientists and many who were less lauded. There are some wild theories (and bad science) discussed, but always illustrated with surprising examples:
"When you sit in a chair, you are not actually sitting there, but levitating above it at a height of one angstrom (a hundred millionth of a centimetre), your electrons and its electrons implacably opposed to any closer intimacy."
Placing the human species within the context of the history of our planet, Bryson does end on a sobering note:
"Most of what has lived on Earth has left behind no record at all....It is a curious fact that on Earth species death is, in the most literal sense, a way of life....99.99 per cent of all species that have ever lived are no longer with us. `To a first approximation,' as David Raup of the University of Chicago likes to say, `all species are extinct.' For complex organisms, the average lifespan of a species is only about four million years - roughly about where we are now."
A thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating book which does not pretend to be scientific, but is more about scientists and how they have changed the way we look at, and live in, our world.