File Size: 82746 KB
Print Length: 692 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books; Ill Spl Re edition (November 30, 2010)
Publication Date: November 30, 2010
End up being 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 some time to think about what you have discovered; 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 know what an amazing place our earth is and life that exists on it., Superb, highly readable short background of science. I failed to think it could be done but Bryson is a superbly understandable writer. Greatest part was seeing how venal and often whacko experts can be, yet they can produce great things almost despite themselves. Of which is both disturbing and reassuring, and it reminds the one that greatness is where you find it, sometimes in very distasteful places. Best take-home: scientific " fact" is merely the current majority thoughts and opinions of experts as reported by the press, certainly nothing more substantial or reliable than that. We always know much less than we think we do, and it is essential to bear in mind it, especially when reading the present party line on food, health and medicine., This book, in common with just about everything Bill Bryson writes, is absolutely wonderful. Costly entertaining romp through, well, just about everything, as the title implies. It is a potted history of science, mostly, which describes the way you have studied this planet of ours and some of the astonishing conclusions that can be drawn from that study. Bryson's prose style is fluid and wickedly humorous. To cite simply a two examples:
"Smith's revelation regarding strata increased the moral awkwardness with regards to extinctions. To start with, it confirmed that God had wiped out beings not occasionally but repeatedly. This made Him seem to be not so much sloppy 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 thus vigorously recycled at death that a considerable quantity of our atoms - up to a billion for every of us, it has been suggested - probably once hailed from William shakespeare. A billion more each came from Buddha and Genghis Khan and Mozart, and any other historical figure you care to name. (The personages have to be historical, seemingly, 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 experts and many who were less lauded. There are several outrageous theories (and bad science) discussed, but always highlighted with surprising examples:
"When you sit in a chair, you are not actually sitting there, but levitating above it at a level of one angstrom (a hundred millionth of the centimetre), your electrons and its electrons implacably opposed to any closer intimacy. "
Placing the human being species within the circumstance of the history of our planet, Bryson really does ending on a sobering note:
"Most of what has lived on Earth has still 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 each cent of species which have ever lived are no longer with us. `To an initial approximation, ' as David Raup of the University of Chicago likes to say, `all varieties are extinct. ' For complex organisms, the average lifespan of a varieties is only about four million years - roughly about where we are now. "
A new thoroughly enjoyable and rousing book which does not pretend to be medical, but is more about experts and how they have transformed the way we look at, and live in, our world., Some components aren't quite as exciting as others, and there's even the very occasional, small mis-statement of truth (Don't take the thing about glass flowing down within the centuries as gospel, because it's not). Nevertheless as a whole: This book is GREAT. It's so good, I actually, like many people, immediately read it a second time and took notes on all the stuff I actually found super-fascinating. Bryson not only gives the directly dope on the nature of the universe and life's background in it, he offers you a lot of compelling human interest stories on the folks who made the major discoveries and how they came about (Let me just say: Many, many scientists are at least as strange, vain, vindictive, stubborn, unethical, or crazy as people in general. And many, often, the chief roadblock in the way of scientific progress has already been the united front of a face-palmingly hidebound medical establishment). I love anecdotal stuff, and Bryson's retailing of the chain of events that led to the publication of Newton's "Prinicipia" (involving a forty-shilling bet, the astronomer Edmond Halley, and a worst-selling book called "The Background Of Fishes") is, to me, worth the price of the book all by itself. And that is just one of dozens and dozens of fascinating stories. By the time you finish this book, you almost can't fail to have the picture of certain aspects of the universe (like, for example, how mind-blowingly big it really is), as well as the understanding of how even the greatest scientists and thinkers can be, at times, amazingly mistaken. Is it a perfect book? No. Nevertheless the only people I actually WOULDN'T recommend it to are people who just have no interest at all in science or medical history., I found the style breezy and very interesting. It was a great summary of a broad range of things of interest of which any informed person should have at minimum a passing awareness! Really enjoyable and thought provoking., Awesome book. I wish i had read this book in high school. I may have turned out to be a completely different person. The creator has a talent for making areas of study i previously thought incomprehensive seem to be like just another step forward.
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