A Short History of Nearly Everything [Book Review]

So this is the first book review  in my blog where I actually didn’t finish the book…..yet. The book is quite large. And despite it being quite the entertaining read, I find myself wanting to move onto other novels rather than actually wanting to finish this work.

While I only first started reading this book sometime last year, I’ve known about this novel for a while. It’s one of those works that has gotten a lot of attention from the public and media, and it’s already been reviewed off the wall more than necessary due to this popularity. Thus, this review will be fairly brief.

A Short History of Nearly Everything (ASHONE), by Bill Bryson (an author who has stated that he didn’t have the clearest idea behind any workings of science before writing this book), is almost a breed between a science history novel and a satiric comedy. While it discusses the science of our environment (with the main sections [roughly] based on the universe, earth, evolution of life, and emergence of the human race) the book strongly emphasizes on how humans discovered these underlying workings and natural progressions that led us to “now.” And like most things human, there’s plenty of strife and tension that has occurred along this path.

For example, the first chapter is about the big bang and how the remnants from this occurrence should have some sort of “evidence.” In this case, it’s microwave radiation from every direction of the universe [I don’t know exactly why, but it has something to do with a massive doppler shift from the expansion of the universe and a few other details about the “edge of space” (even this is debatable…..I think the last work I read stated that the universe is circular in a 3D-4Dish fashion..)].

So there’s scientist A, who comes up with an idea that maybe this radiation might exist if there was a “big bang.” Then scientist B, who made a detector for microwaves for “no relevant reason,” contacts scientist A  and explains that he’s getting some weird “noise” independent of the direction of measurement, which he has detailed in a publication (of course). When hearing this “glorious news,” scientist A basically says ” ……F@ck” and hangs up the phone. Spoiler alert, the Nobel peace prize is eventually awarded to scientist B a few years later.

And ASHONE shows how common this occurrence of personal conflicts is in all fields of science history. Note: the feud over the discover of the “dinosaurs” goes on for almost an entire chapter.

Note: I have heard bits and pieces of this novel through an audio-book recording. And it’s done in a splendid fashion! The Narrator has quite the talent in bringing out the author’s sarcasm and dark humor present in the history or science. I would definitely recommend this work for long car trips.

Thus, a short review as promised. I hope to finish it sometime in the next couple years (like my other book “On Food and Cooking,” which I’ve had for > 5 years), but I’ve felt like I’ve heard most of it all before. It’s a book that glosses over all of natural sciences, and the only element that kept me going was the political humor behind it all. But even that factor starts to repeat itself in due time…….

I guess the secret to a good book is similar to the success towards an enjoyable like….. always aim to keep it interesting!