Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rating : 3.0/5
Reason for Reading : Something About Me Challenge and Book Awards Reading Challenge

Bill Bryson is mostly known for his travel writing, but in this book he takes a turn at popular science. It covers everything from research into the Big Bang, how the measurements for the earth were derived, plate tectonics, the evolution of humans from apes, Darwin's theories of natural selection, the discovery of DNA to extinction. It crams in a lot of information about the main scientific discoveries into a managable book.

It's interesting that a lot of scientists who put forward theories that are now celebrated as genius and essential, were ridiculed and disbelieved at the time. A lot of the time they were ignored due to petty jealousies between the scientists themselves... It seemed a mostly unbiased look at the ideas and the people making the discoveries themselves which was interesting (usually you only hear about Watson and Crick in the discovery of the structure of DNA but this included Wilkins and Franklin).

I enjoyed half of this book. The chapters between 14-26 andthe final chapter were the most interesting to me. I am not so into physics or geology and it didn't really hold my interest. The notes at the end of the novel were interesting citing where the references came from in the main text. My problem with it though was that they were not referenced in the main text. A lot of books will put a superscript number where citations are so you can check the notes at the back.


Mei said...

I love Bryson. I'm currently reading The Mother Tongue, about the history of English, and it is FASCINATING.

Lightheaded said...

I'm looking forward to reading this actually; it's part of my Book Award Reading Challenge pool.

I've read Bryson before and he made me laugh a lot as I've read two of his works - the one where he tried to hike that long trail in the US and then the one about England. Sorry, couldn't remember the titles.

I'd like to see how he presents science though.