The title of this book by best-selling author and noted American-with-a-British-accent Bill Bryson might be amended to A Short History of Science. While Bryson does indeed investigate everything from the Big Bang down to the machinations of mitochondrial DNA and all stops in between, alongside everything are the stories of the men and women who have brought this knowledge to light. Primarily, in fact, what we have is a short history of modern science, with most of the science coming from no earlier than the mid-17th century.
In any event Bryson’s Short History is a very enjoyable book, wherein he presents his complex subjects in a manner readable to the lay person (i.e., me), without dumbing anything down. Early in the book he states that much of science deals with figures both infinitely large and infinitesimally small, and that his aim is to deliver it to the reader in a digestible way, spelling things out rather than using scientific notation whenever possible, and using analogies rather than bald numbers (Bryson thankfully never uses “football fields” as a unit of measurement, but he does tell you for example that if you wove all the DNA in a single cell out in one continuous thread it would stretch from the Earth to the Moon multiple times).
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