Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything


Bill Bryson introduces his book, ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything”, saying in the introduction: “Welcome. and congratulations, I am delighted that you could make it. Getting here wasn’t easy, I know. In fact, I suspect it was a little tougher than you realize.".

“To begin with, for you to be here now trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you. It’s an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once.”.

Bryson continues in the book to discuss the size of the universe, the history of geology and biology and the development of man.  He sought the help and advice of numerous scientists when he wrote this book. He said of what he wrote: "Just because something is important doesn't mean people will read it ... you have an obligation to entertain as well as instruct."

I did find some humor in the overview of the introduction, where it said: “The physicist Leo Szilard once announced to his friend Hans Bethe that he was thinking of keeping a diary: “I don’t intend to publish. I am merely going to record the facts for the information of God.” “Don’t you think that He knows the facts?” Bethe asked. “Yes,” said Szilard. “He knows the facts, but He does not know this version of the facts.”

The book has six sections and related chapters including: LOST IN THE COSMOS, THE SIZE OF THE EARTH, A NEW AGE DAWNS, DANGEROUS PLANET, LIFE ITESELF and THE ROAD TO US.

The last chapter of section six is titled GOOD-BYE, and appropriately ends saying: “We really are at the beginning of it all. The trick, of course, is to make sure we never find the end.”


“When you sit in a chair, you are not actually sitting there, but levitating above it at a height of one angstrom (a hundred millionth of a centimeter), your electrons and its electrons implacably opposed to any closer intimacy.” 

“Incidentally, disturbance from cosmic background radiation is something we have all experienced. Tune your television to any channel it doesn’t receive, and about 1 percent of the dancing static you see is accounted for by this ancient remnant of the Big Bang. The next time you complain that there is nothing on, remember that you can always watch the birth of the universe.” 

"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." 

"Consider the Lichen. Lichens are just about the hardiest visible organisms on Earth, but the least ambitious."

"Geologists are never at a loss for paperweights."


There is more life under the Earth than on Top of it. ...........“We now know that there are a lot of microbes living deep within the Earth… Some scientist now think that there could be as 100 trillion tons of bacteria living beneath our feet in what are known as subsurface lithoautotrophic microbial ecosystems… Thomas Gold of Cornell has estimated that if you took all the bacteria out of the Earth’s interior and dumped it on the surface, it would cover the planet to a depth of five feet. If the estimates are correct, there could be more life under the Earth than on top of it.”