Bill Bryson “A Short History of Nearly Everything”
I bought this book on my way back to Oz in the hellhole that is terminal 3 at Heathrow. I ended up with 6 “bargains” – I shouldn’t be left alone in a bookstore EVER! Anyway, as a lover of interesting and mindless facts and a regular user of Wikipedia just to find out stuff, I thought this book would be great. Even after reading the synopsis on the back I reckoned I was in for all sorts of cool stuff, learning about ancient civilisations, maybe even a bit of Braveheart and Robin Hood! And lets not forget all the cool facts!
“A short history” did not turn out to be like this at all, only in the last chapter do we learn of Homo erectus and all his cousin’s then eventually Homo Sapiens. Bill Bryson does an exceptional job of tell the tale of how the universe was created and how we have came about, primarily due to a large helping of luck by the way.
Although not what I expected it was not a disappointment. Still interesting if sometimes a little too technical for me after a hard day of playing PhD student. It is phenomenal the amount of research that would have gone into such a book and the structure in which it has been composed makes it easy to follow what is an amazing journey full of complex contradictions, complications and a lot of crazy rich people.
As for interesting facts? How about: you have more than 20 billion kilometres of DNA bundled inside of you? Using Avogrado’s principle, chemists were able to work out that a typical atom had a diameter of 0.00000008 centimetres or if you were to draw a diagram of the solar system to scale, with the Earth reduced to the size of pea, Jupiter would be 300m away and Pluto would be 2.5km away!
Jeez I sound like a complete geek! Apologies but you can’t beat a good old useless fact! Overall a good read with some entertaining anecdotes along the way, now looking forward to finishing off Gladwell’s collection of articles in “What the Dog Saw”.