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HCAU Reviews: A Short History of Nearly Everything

HCAU Reviews: A Short History of Nearly Everything


Learning about science and the history of the most important discoveries of the world can seem daunting. Understanding one scientific discovery seems to rest on knowledge of all the successes and failures that came before. However, Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything takes on that challenge, covering topics from the background radiation of the big bang in your TV screen to the aftermath of volcanoes, and then a little bit extra. The book takes it all in its stride, from the simple to the complex. Not only this, but Bryson writes engagingly and creatively, constructing an easily followed narrative to take readers through all the seminal moments in the history of science. Along the way, readers are introduced to well-known scientist of various ages, such as Newton and Einstein. Also making an appearance are those who feature less in the retellings of history, but who are just as important, including Mary Anning and James Christy.




This is a staple book which belongs on everyone’s shelves, whether you loved science in school or couldn’t stand it. This fresh approach to science writing opens up the genre to anyone and everyone, and in a book such as this there will be something for you, whether it’s particle physics or human evolution. This account of the history and development of science explores the early development of the discipline, taking readers from primary measurements of the solar system right through to considering how our scientific knowledge may affect the future. For instance, the super volcano which constitutes Yellow Stone national park is long overdue an eruption, but are we prepared for the aftermath?


The book also explores more light-hearted areas of science, particularly discoveries of fossilised life forms, such as dinosaurs.  

Bryson’s enthusiasm and wonder for the world of science permeates every chapter of this book and is desperately infectious. Bryson reminds readers of all ages why we should care about science, and that, unlike school textbooks, learning about science should be fun and invigorating. With so much already out there in the world to learn about, and all that is left to discover, it is a wonder that we aren’t all champing at the bit to know more about our little world and what lies beyond. Bryson reignites that spark, taking readers on a whirlwind adventure through the world of science, from humble beginnings through to the future.




Images: Google Images

Fourth year studying English and Sociology.
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