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A Short History of Nearly Everything

Bryson, Bill - Finished Aug 06, 2016

Run-on Sentence Summary

Humorist Bill Bryson gives a broad overview of science and its history from the perspective of an amateur enthusiast.

Impressions

This book is an impressive achievement by Bryson, covering the fundamentals of nearly all of the major fields of science, as well as their history, in a fun and accessible way. The best thing about it is how he brings color to scientific history by sharing anecdotes and descriptions of the people involved. For instance, apparently Newton, when experimenting on optics, stuck a pin in his eye and scrambled it around just to see what would happen (nothing permanent, surprisingly.)

Another awesome one was my homie Jack Haldane, "who experimented on himself as well as his friends and family using a decompression chamber. Although he ended up somewhat deaf due to perforating his eardrum, he considered himself fortunate to have gained the ability to blow smoke out of his ear, which he called a “social accomplishment.”" One thing that surprised me about this book to me was how much of the science I already knew from school. It is strange to think how even an average educated person in today’s world knows more than geniuses of the past.

Bryson’s writing is easy and funny, and at times moving. Though it was quite long a bit of a slog in the middle, by the end I was left with a feeling of awe of the human legacy.

Final Thoughts

An impressively fun, accessible science book. I wish I had been exposed to this when I was younger: I’d probably be a scientist now.

Favorite Quote

“There are three stages in scientific discovery. First, people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.”