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Bill's own fascination with science began with a battered old schoolbook he had when he was about ten or eleven years old in America. It had an illustration that captivated him - a cutaway diagram showing Earth's interior as it would look if you cut into it with a large knife and carefully removed about a quarter of its bulk. And he very clearly remembers thinking: "How do they know that?" Bill's story-telling skill makes the "How?" and, just as importantly, the "Who?" of scientific discovery entertaining and accessible for all ages. In this exciting edition for younger readers, he covers the wonder and mysteries of time and space, the frequently bizarre and often obsessive scientists and the methods they used, the crackpot theories which held sway for far too long, the extraordinary accidental discoveries which suddenly advanced whole areas of science when the people were actually looking for something else (or in the wrong direction) and the mind-boggling fact that, somehow, the universe exists and, against all odds, life came to be on this wondrous planet we call home.
Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can't contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization - how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson's challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn't some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, A Short History of Nearly Everything is the biggest-selling popular science book of the 21st century, and reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.
One of the world's most beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey -- into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer. In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trail -- well, most of it. In In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand -- and, if possible, answer -- the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world's most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining. From the Hardcover edition.
ABOUT THE BOOK In his introduction to A Short History of Nearly Everything, author Bill Bryson describes a childhood experience common to many of us: a brief infatuation with science, with all its potential and possibility. For Bryson, it was inspired by a textbook’s cut-away illustration of the interior strata of the Earth, with the molten core at the center. For myself, it was a children’s biography of Jacques Cousteau. Excited by the nearly endless prospects of science, the questions that could finally satisfy a child’s curiosity, we both reached for more books, and found our budding passions firmly squashed by an impenetrable wall of unfathomable writing. As Bryson writes in his introduction, “there seemed to be a mystifying universal conspiracy among textbook authors to make certain the material they dealt with never strayed too near the realm of the mildly interesting.” Bryson wrote A Short History of Nearly Everything as an antidote to the dry-as-dust science tomes that weigh down students’ backpacks. It is a layman’s love song to science, to its strange history and stranger characters. Published in 2003, it has been become a popular addition to the popular science genre. MEET THE AUTHOR Nicole Cipri is a restless wanderer and passionate writer. A graduate of the Evergreen State School in Olympia, WA, Nicole has since written about such varied topics as modern urban farming, the role of glitterbombing as political theater, and the economic impacts of natural disasters. You can follow her adventures on Twitter, @nicolecipri. EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK Drama abounded in the 19th century. After the discovery of the first dinosaur fossil in 1784, and with subsequent uncovering of massive bones that belonged to other extinct species, there was an uncomfortable public debate concerning extinctions. Why, after all, would an omniscient God create species of animals only to casually wipe them out? Throughout history, the sciences have routinely butted heads with the Church, a trend that continues today. From geology and paleontology, Bryson moves to chemistry. With its origins in the enigmatic studies of alchemy, chemistry evolved along its own strange path. Bryson tells one exemplifying story, in which an amateur alchemist became convinced the he could distill gold from human urine. “The similarity of color,” Bryson explains, “seems to have been a factor in his conclusion.” In an attempt to prove his hypothesis, the man collected fifty buckets of human urine, which he kept in his cellar. After a few months, the man noted, the substance in the buckets began to glow or explode into flames when exposed to air. He had failed in distilling gold from urine, but he had succeeded in creating phosphorous. Buy a copy to keep reading!
There are few stories more remarkable than the evolution of life on earth. This Very Short Introduction presents a succinct guide to the key episodes in that story - from the very origins of life four million years ago to the extraordinary diversity of species around the globe today. Beginning with an explanation of the controversies surrounding the birth of life itself, each following chapter tells of a major breakthrough that made new forms of life possible: including sex and multicellularity, hard skeletons, and the move to land. Along the way, we witness the greatest mass extinction, the first forests, the rise of modern ecosystems, and, most recently, conscious humans. Introducing ideas from a range of scientific disciplines, from evolutionary biology and earth history, to geochemistry, palaeontology, and systematics, Michael Benton explains how modern science pieces the evidence in this vast evolutionary puzzle together, to build up an accessible and up-to-date picture of the key developments in the history of life on earth. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Teachers recognize that frequent independent reading increases student knowledge on a wide range of topics, enhances vocabulary, and improves comprehension. Ban the Book Report inspires teachers to go beyond narrow and analytical book reports by exploring the potential of book talks, alternate book covers, identifying features of informational books, newspaper headlines and articles, talk-show interviews, diary entries for characters and letters to authors. This remarkable resource offers more than twenty specific assignments with its own rubric written in student-friendly language along with student response exemplars from real classrooms. Tips to help teachers launch and manage an independent reading program complement this timely book.
InAt Home,Bill Bryson applies the same irrepressible curiosity, irresistible wit, stylish prose and masterful storytelling that madeA Short History of Nearly Everythingone of the most lauded books of the last decade, and delivers one of the most entertaining and illuminating books ever written about the history of the way we live. Bill Bryson was struck one day by the thought that we devote a lot more time to studying the battles and wars of history than to considering what history really consists of: centuries of people quietly going about their daily business - eating, sleeping and merely endeavouring to get more comfortable. And that most of the key discoveries for humankind can be found in the very fabric of the houses in which we live.This inspired him to start a journey around his own house, an old rectory in Norfolk, wandering from room to room considering how the ordinary things in life came to be. Along the way he did a prodigious amount of research on the history of anything and everything, from architecture to electricity, from food preservation to epidemics, from the spice trade to the Eiffel Tower, from crinolines to toilets; and on the brilliant, creative and often eccentric minds behind them. And he discovered that, although there may seem to be nothing as unremarkable as our domestic lives, there is a huge amount of history, interest and excitement - and even a little danger - lurking in the corners of every home.

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