A Short History of Nearly Everything

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A Short History of Nearly Everything is a popular science book by American author Bill Bryson that explains some areas of science, using a style of language which aims to be more accessible 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 UK, selling over 300,000 copies.[1]

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.
Bryson tells the story of science through the stories of the people who made the discoveries, such as Edwin Hubble, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein.
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Bill Bryson
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As is the fanciful notion of palaeontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott chancing on the fossil-rich Burgess Shales after his horse slipped on a wet track.
So much for clarity and local colour. What about romance? For Bryson this clearly lies in nature's infinitudes. The sheer improbability of life, the incomprehensible vastness of the cosmos, the ineffable smallness of elementary particles, and the imponderable counter-intuitiveness of quantum mechanics. He tells us, for example, that every living cell contains as many working parts as a Boeing 777, and that prehistoric dragonflies, as big as ravens, flew among giant trees whose roots and trunks were covered with mosses 40 metres in height. It sounds very impressive. Not all readers will consider it sublime, but it's hard to imagine a better rough guide to science.
· John Waller is research fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine and author of Fabulous Science: Fact and Fiction in the History of Scientific Discovery (OUP)

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A Book Review of

A Short History of Nearly Everything
by Bill Bryson
Broadway Books, 2003
Prepared by the staff of Jupiter Scientific
What has propelled this popular science book to the New York
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