Only if there was more early history references and how they modified society, transportation, farming, construction, war, society, city evolutions etc......
I want more than a layman's version of history.
Amazing account of the history of major scientific discoveries and how they were regarded by society in their time. Well researched and written, there is a surprise at every turn with powerful insights into the psyches and tribulations of the personalities attributed to these world changing ideas. Great narration. Easy to pick at any point and every listen reveals new terrain.
Quite frankly, this was like listening to a long series of "Nature" programmes on the radio, except - amazingly enough - extremely entertaining. It ranged from completely disparate topics such as vulcanology (did you know that Yellowstone Park, all of it, is a huge volcano overdue for a massive blowout?), atoms and molecules (did you know we know there is mass, but not how?), viruses and bacteria (there was once a plague that gave everyone a kind of terminal apathy), and all the way to evolution and back with every sort of stop between.
If you at all enjoy science and nature shows, then this is a book for you. If you find them remotely boring, or flat, then maybe not. This was certainly some of the most fun I've had with science, but in such a scattershot way as to appeal to my "trivia" nature. If the section on cells had gone on much longer, for example, my iPod would have had a bit of a hard time skipping fast enough for my thumb-pressing.
It was fascinating (the places life manages to form and prosper), terrifying (we'd really not notice an extinction level impact heading our way until it was pretty much here), horrifying (upon being asked what he felt now that he'd just shot the last bird in an entire species, one fellow said, "joy"), and a little bit overwhelming (the names, dates, titles, and repetitious use of "we don't know"). At times, the various intrigues of the science community were by far more fascinating than what the scientists were studying themselves (who knew that Darwin liked to electrocute himself? Or that a 300 pound man who stayed in the same nursery wing of his estate and the same nursery bed his entire life - and never left home - wiped out species all over Hawaii - a place he never went?)
Is it "everything"? Well, of course not. But I daresay that my absolute amateur level of most scientific knowledge bases have improved a smidgeon. And really, how can it not be fun to tell children browsing in my store that the old-style diving suit on the cover of the Lemony Snicket book was originally intended to be used fighting fire? If nothing else, you'll get a real sense of just how much life (and I'm using the big-L life here, not just we homo sapiens) is sort of a grand series of really lucky coincidences. And how much we're mucking it up.
Listen. Learn. WOW!
FANTASTIC! This is a one of those books that, for me at least, would be very hard to read. Many foreign names, places, scientific words and phases..so much easier to just listen and enjoy. Matthews has a charming voice; loved hearing him read.
There is so much in this book; it is hard to listen to it all in, say a long airplane trip. I found it overwhelming at times to learn so much in an hour, no sometimes, in 10 minutes, I was gleaning information so fast, I often had to stop and rewind. However; that is what I enjoy about the book. One can listen for hours; put it away and come back to it, no problem with trying to remember a plot; it is all new and entertaining.
This book has got to be one of my favorite books ever! The only thing I didn't like about the unabridged version was that I prefer hearing Bill Bryson read his own books. It just seems funnier to me. However, that was the only real complaint I had.
The best thing about this book is that it attempts (and succeeds in my opinion) to give the average non-scientist, everyday, regular person a brief explanation about basically everything that makes up the world around us.
I have always been a curious person but whenever I sat down to read about any of the sciences I could barely get past the first few chapters due to the book being way to dry or the fact that I couldn't understand most of the technical jargon. A friend of mine recommended this after I was ranting to her one day about the difficulties I was having. She told me that it would be perfect for me. A book about the sciences told from someone who had no experience in those fields. "He's normally a travel writer." she said. I told her that I would give it a try.
After a few more books that I attempted but couldn't finish, I picked this one up. Boy was I surprised! It was excellent! It's told by an author who has absolutely no background in sciences and so spent three years attempting to write a book for people like himself who had no real understanding of the world around them. Bryson talks about the history of science and the people who made the discoveries including some interesting quirks. There's nothing like receiving a Nobel prize for accidentally discovering cosmic radiation after you spent months trying to get rid of it so you could conduct your own experiments like Penzias and Wilson in 1964. Or discovering the first dinosaur bone, not recognizing that it was special and then losing it 100 years before the next one came around like the Reverend Plott.
Bryson succeeds in simplifying complex explanations down to something easily understood by the average person. If you have ever been interested in any of the sciences but can't bring yourself to read any of those mini-textbooks don't hesitate to pick up Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything. I doubt you will be disappointed and you may even want to continue on to other books to find out more information.
Good Luck and Happy Reading!
Yes. It is very informative and interesting.
The discussion of Yellowstone and volcanoes.
When I fully realized that humans have been present on Earth for a relatively short period of time.
Its an amazing experience to ride from the 13.8 Billion years old nothingness to today.
Absolutely ! Laugh and shiver.
I really enjoyed this book, it wasn't too technical and not too fluffy either, it was just right :)
Since I took chemistry and physics 20 years ago, it was good to catch up and refresh my brain on what has happened in our history.
Note this covers history of the universe, physics, chemistry, evolution, etc, all the sciences.
It doesn't cover human history other than evolution, which was kind of nice not to have it but if Bill does a book on human history, I would like to listen to that as well.
Bill Bryson really DID give a short history of nearly everthing . It was interesting, not too complicated and had many light-hearted moments.
I enjoyed the stories about the scientists, their personalities, quirks and ideas.
No but he was just marvelous. Loved his inflections, speed and interpretations.
Earth, You've Come A long Way Baby.
always like to learn something new....mostly like study of philosophy, religion and history, not only the western side of the story, but also like to investigate the other shades.
This book explains science in lay man's language, and tells the story of scientific development in a very lucid language and weaves the L...ONG story in such a intriguing way that we care compelled to finish the whole book once we start reading it