Thursday, 17 May 2007

Eventual Scientific Enlightenment Comes Ten Years Late

In case you were wondering if this is still a book blog, I shall now attempt to blog about this book I just read. It's called A Short History of Nearly Everything. And it's a Science book.

NO, not a Science FICTION book. It really IS about SCIENCE, and it's a non-fiction book.

Heck, it's pretty much my favorite non-fiction book so far. Even though I haven't exactly read THAT many non-fiction books.

Anyway, the book touches on the creation of the universe, physics, chemistry, biology, orgiin of species, atoms, protons, dinosaurs etc etc.

I remember when I was a kid I used to flip through all our Encyclopedias and read about dinosaurs, planets, the solar system and what not. I loved reading about the solar system and dinosaurs, and how things work and all that crap. It was fun!

Then when I grew up, went to school and had to take EXAMS on all that shit, it just didn't seem so fun anymore. And I lost interest.

To tell the truth, this is actually the first science related non-fiction book that has actually captivated me enough to finish it. Even Stephen Hawkings' A Brief History of Time and Terry Pratchett's Science of Discworld books didn't interest me as much as Bryson's book did.

I think it's the way Bryson writes. I read his past books before - and I loved his travel books like the one on the UK and America. I liked the way he wrote - very entertaining, some dry sarcastic humour and tongue in cheek moments. He writes this book in pterry much the same style, but you could tell that he actually did a whole lot of research for it. Like he says in the introduction, he thanks the people who managed to put up with him asking over and over again, "Excuse me, can you repeat that part again?"

I can imagine how hard it would be to write a book like this, with so much history, science and so much to cover. It's to his great credit that he actually covers A LOT OF GROUND, and manages to keep it all very interesting by injecting humour, some sarcasm, and even a lot of anecdotes about the people and historic figues he writes about. I'd type out some of my favorite passages here, but there were too many of them.

I also like how he doesn't sound too technical or too stuffy when talking about heavy subjects like physics, chemistry and what not. In fact, he makes it very easy to understand, and I learnt A LOT from this book, a lot of which I always wondered about.

Someone who saw me reading the book told me that they were actually using it at colleges, and she was wondering WHY THE HELL I would want to read a book as BORING as that.

Well, it's not boring. I actually LOVED this book. And I regret not buying the illustrated version on sale last time. It's all I ever wanted in a book about science, and it brought back all those memories of poring through encyclopedias and oohing and ahhing over all those pretty pictures of dinosaurs, rockets and the solar system.

Heck, I wish they'd written all our secondary school science text books the way Bryson writes in this book, because if they had, I'd have scored straight A's in the exams because I'd have finished reading the ENTIRE book.

As it is, I'll have to be content with only finding out about how the Theory of Relativity actually WORKS, and what how that funny looking chemistry table was invented almost ten years AFTER I actually had cause to use that sort of information. Bah.

Oh well, good thing I didn't decide to be a scientist, huh?

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