Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly EverythingOutlineI. How to build a universeA. What is the size of the proton?1. The size of the proton is unimaginably small, which makes it too microscopic2. The small dot of an ‘i’ could contain hundreds of billions of protonsB. What was the size of singularity that is known to begin the universe and what existed outside the singularityC.
How long did it take from when there was nothing existing in the universe to there being stuff and how did it all start?D. How long has the universe been in existence or how old is it since it formed?E. How is the Big Bang related to the static on a blank television station?F. What makes the universe seem unlikely considering space is part of the universe, is not infinityG.
Is there anything that exists outside the universe?II. The measure of thingsA. What is the size or how big is the earth?B. What made a group of scientists from France choose to go to Peru in a quest to measure the earth?C. Triangulation1. Measuring size of earth using triangulation2. Measuring the distance of the earth from the sun using triangulationD. The use of trigonometry in measuring the earth as well as its distance from the sunE. How a betting led to the writing of the greatest mathematical book ever writtenF.
Is the earth perfectly spherical and does have any significance?G. The transit of VenusH. Measuring the distance between the earth and the sunI. Weighing the earth and weighing other planetsJ. What made Newton, Cavendish and Gibbs secretive about their discoveries and a comparison to Watson who was not secretiveIII. The stone breakersA. The age of the earthB. How the ancient fossil clamshells are found in mountaintopsC. How 18th century geology explained the clamshells in the mountaintopsD. Theories of plutonism and neptunismE. Theories of catastrophism and uniformitarianismF. Lyell1. Who was he2. Why was he named father of geometryG. Geologic time division and classificationH. Attempts aimed at determining the age of the earthI. Undermining of geology by Lord KelvinJ. Why measuring of earth’s age was more difficult compared to measuring its mass and sizeIV. Elemental mattersA. The periodic table of elements and why it is known as the most elegant organization table to be devisedB. What elements are there and how their discoveries occurredC. How a Swedish pharmacist that is unheard of discovered eight elementsD. AlchemyE. Elan vital and what it wasF. How a French noble founded chemistry and later got beheadedG. Drug of choice in the early 19th century1. What was it2. How it led to the death of a famous chemistH. The size of the Avogadro’s numberI. How a Russian card player chemist turn order into chaosJ. Breaking of chemistry into organic and inorganicK. Radioactivity1. Its relation to age of earth2. How radioactivity undermined lord Kelvin’s age of the earth3. The current age of earth estimatesV. The mighty atomA. The size of the atomB. All things are made of atomsC. Why Rutherford was awarded for something different from what he was looking forD. The quantum leap and why it is considered strangeE. Why our brains are not able to understand the smallest thingsF. Why rules concerning the smallest things are different from the things we can seeVI. BangA. How the dinosaurs went extinctB. Relationship between the impact of comet on Jupiter and mass extinction here on earthC. What the meteor crater in Iowa does tell about dinosaur extinctionD. What could be the result if a meteor hit the earth1. Would it be dangerous?2. Is there anything that could be done?E. The number of species that went extinct after the Cretaceous Tertiary boundaryF. The resistance of connection between impacts and the extinctionVII. The rise of lifeA. Miller’s experiments and what it has to do with the origin of lifeB. The problem of making proteins1. What is protein2. Strangeness in protein synthesisC. What turns something into lifeD. Living things as collections of moleculesE. The beginning of life on earth and what makes it miraculousF. Theory of panspermia and its issuesG. Why Ridley states that all life is oneH. StromatoliteI. Early life1. How was it like2. Does evidence exists to show that it still exists3. How scientists study the early life4. How long did life begin and how long did the current complex life begin5. How was the world about 3.5 billion years agoJ. Mitochondria1. What it is2. Where they come from3. The strangeness in mitochondriaVIII. CellsA. What a cell isB. What cells doC. The size of the cell and how they multiplyD. What are the constituents of a cellE. How the nitric oxide that is poisonous help our cellsF. Hooke and Leeuwenhoek1. Who were they2. How did they contribute to our understanding of the cellIX. Darwin’s singular notionA. How Darwin spent his lifeB. Darwin’s best idea that anyone has ever had and why it was given the name it hasC. The results of Darwin’s voyage on the BeagleD. Why Darwin did not produce his ideas concerning evolution immediately after discoveringE. Alfred Russell Wallace1. Who he was2. His contribution to the evolutionary theoryF. Problems of Darwin’s ideas about the origin of speciesG. Mendel1. Who he was2. His contribution to biologyH. Passing of genetic traitsI. Benefits that could have been realized if Mendel and Darwin knew about each other’s workJ. How ideas of Mendel and Darwin explain evolutionX. The stuff of lifeA. Why DNA is a molecule without life in itself and mostly does nothing in the bodyB. The human genome and what it isC. The odds of being alive,1. How one might probably not be alive if their parents had not bonded at the time they did even with a difference of a second.2. The number of ancestors it would require for a person to be in existence3. Incest and how it has contributed to existence of many people and how it makes almost all of us relativesD. The DNA1. Why is considered one of the most non-reactive2. Chemically an inert molecule within the living world3. Why scientist though it was too simple to have any importance in life4. How DNA is similar to Morse codeE. Genes1. What is gene2. The discovery of the DNA structure3. Similarity of your genes to other organisms4. How the gene worksF. The human proteomeG. Why ‘All life is one’ as Bryson puts it and why this is the most profound statementPersonal Opinion Upon reading this book, one realizes that there are many questions that one cannot answer, which science seeks to answer. So many scientists have tried to understand the nature of life as well as how it came into being and what shapes it. What resulted were many theories that explain some of the greatest phenomenon of life. However, no one can claim to be certain about life considering most of these theories and ideas are criticized while new ones continue to emerge to discredit older ones. However, majority of these ideas and theories explain a lot of things that are unanswerable and why it is hard to understand them.
Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything
The information provided in this book explains quite well what science is all about. The information talks about principles that exist to explain life or the natural laws that govern life and matter or how the universe and earth come into existence. Therefore, science is not about technology as one would think. Rather, it is some of these principles that were discovered by some of the greatest scientists that drive technology. For instance, the discovery of the elements is quite crucial today in making some of the things we enjoy. This was a result of the science discovered many years ago. However, the main issue in this book is how almost everything in the whole universe came into existence including the stars, other planets and the earth in which we exist. Science in this book is presented as a series of questions that scientists in the past had thought they had fully answered while the truth is that some of their ideas continue to be discredited with new discoveries and studies. One of the major themes in this book is the resistance of new scientific ideas although there is evidence for some of the ideas including the Big Bang, evolution, plate tectonics, a likely connection between meteor impact and extinction and atoms amongst others. Bryson not only seeks to answer some of these questions by referring to the works of the great scientist, but also talks about how they came to know what they know such as how they discovered some of the most important principles of life today. In an interesting way, he is able to present a sphere of science in each part of the book while every chapter has addressed interesting questions that any person reading would be interested in knowing. It makes understanding of science easier and a lot more interesting. It further makes it look like a study of some logical thoughts such as the odd of our existence, where he shows that almost everybody is related. Holistically, Bryson presents science in a way that anybody can study and even seek to discover things on their own through asking several simple questions about the things that we see daily or most of the natural phenomenon that surrounds us such as why we do not fall off the earth as it rotates no its axis.