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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bryson is an author who is knowledgeable and entertaining at the same time – a combination not to be taken for granted! As stated in the title this book gives a general overview of the history of the world, scientifically speaking, and includes glimpses into a wide variety of subjects – chemistry, physics, geography, lots of -ologies, but in a way that they are comprehensible. Bryson talked with a large number of specialists, visited them, learned from them, asked lots of questions. And we get his summaries.

One of the best parts of the book is the stories about various characters. Many of them incredibly strange. Brilliant – but strange. One Oxford professor that I remember reading about was extremely absent-minded. Upon returning home one evening, his wife told him to go upstairs and change for their dinner party that evening. He got undressed, but then couldn't remember what he was doing, so he changed into pajamas and got into bed. His wife was duly exasperated when she found him shortly thereafter. Or the chemist who insisted on tasting all of his experiments, something which clearly aided his death in arriving sooner. Or the fact that if a meteor were to actually hit earth, it wouldn't be visible to the naked eye until one second before it hit earth, and the impact could easily damage a whole continent and most likely throw the whole ecosystem wildly off-kilter. In the process of reading this book, two facts became more clear to me:

1) we often take for granted things for which the margin of error (or possibility) is actually incredibly narrow.

2) there must indeed be a Creator!

Title:A Short History of Nearly Everything
Author: Bill Bryson
Date published:2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Number of pages: 478
Notes: from c. knapp


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