Laurie's Reviews > A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
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's review
Jun 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, 2011, history
Read in June, 2011

Enjoyable and interesting. If you're a Science/Discovery/etc. Channel junkie, (or a long time science junkie in general) good chunks of the book won't be too new to you. I was surprised at how much I was already familiar with. One bit he didn't know: he indicated we have zero clue what causes intraplate earthquakes. Actually, a very plausible theory is out that they originate from plate uplift still occurring after the last ice age depressed the plate.

I listened to this audiobook version and then part way discovered that the original book was 550+ pages and that the measly 5 cds in this edition would obviously not cover that volume. Turns out, if it's read by the author, it's an abridged copy. I always check abridgement in the listed info at my library, but this one didn't indicate that. :( I'm annoyed I spent 6 hours on this and will have to rehash it if I want the full 18 hour version I just found in their eAudiobooks.

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Carrieuoregon Thanks for the info. I'd love to hear if the audio book that is unabridged is safe for children. If my kids are going to learn swearwords, I'd prefer it to be in a science free context!

Laurie I can't imagine there would be swearwords in it anymore than there were in the abridged version (there were none) and they seem wholly out of place in this book. The material is rather advanced for young kids though. Instead, he actually has a kids version of the book called A Really Short History of Nearly Everything. It's only ~170 pages and I believe has illustrations. Our library does have copies of that book. I'll definitely be looking to check it out for my boys. :)

Carrieuoregon I have read Bill Bryson before, and there is the occasional blue word, so I thought I'd check. The children's version sounds terrific! I'll be getting that myself.

Kenny Bell Another question though, how do they know that their method of dating a substance is reliable and not just some random numbers that pop up. Here's an excerpt from the book about how we got radioactive dating used to date the earth:

"He noticed that in any sample of radio active material, it always took the same amount of time for half the sample to decay- the celebrated half-life-and that this steady, reliable rate decat could be used as a clock.By calculating backwards from how much radiation a material had now and how swiftly it was decaying, you could work out its age. He tested a piece of pitchblende, the principal ore of uranium, and found it to be 700million years old."

How do they know this is accurate?

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