A Short History of Nearly Everything | Study Guide

Bill Bryson

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Course Hero. "A Short History of Nearly Everything Study Guide." January 18, 2018. Accessed November 20, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Short-History-of-Nearly-Everything/.

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Course Hero, "A Short History of Nearly Everything Study Guide," January 18, 2018, accessed November 20, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Short-History-of-Nearly-Everything/.

A Short History of Nearly Everything | Introduction | Summary

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Summary

Bryson begins with a discussion of how everything is made of atoms. He notes atoms are "fickle" and as a result, 99.99% of the species that once existed on Earth "are no longer around." Thus, the existence of a species is, in part, an artifact of luck. Bryson explains his goal is to describe how life "went from there being nothing at all to there being something," culminating in the appearance of Homo sapiens, and what happened in between. He states his own scientific education "wasn't exciting at all." As a result, his goal in writing A Short History of Nearly Everything is to provide an interesting and engaging work on the myriad theories, discoveries, and works of science that also provides a sense of mystery about its workings.

The introduction also sets up the structure of the book. Its six parts will discuss the universe, Earth, the particles that create life, the dangers to planet Earth, the creation of life, and the rise of the human species.

Analysis

With this introduction Bryson contextualizes why he wrote A Short History of Nearly Everything. He explains the history of science is important to understanding both the context of different scientific discoveries and why we know certain facts and not others. The first word of the introduction, welcome, and Bryson's approachable tone support his stated goal of engaging the reader.

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