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 July 22, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Short-History-of-Nearly-Everything/.

A Short History of Nearly Everything | Chapter Summaries

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Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Introduction Bryson begins with a discussion of how everything is made of atoms. He notes atoms are "fickle" and as a result, 99.99% ... Read More
Part 1, Chapter 1 The chapter begins with a discussion of the creation of the universe with the sudden expansion of an infinitesimally com... Read More
Part 1, Chapter 2 Bryson moves from the universe to a discussion of the edges of the solar system. Percival Lowell postulated the existenc... Read More
Part 1, Chapter 3 Bryson opens the chapter with a description of an amateur Australian scientist, the Reverend Robert Evans. In his spare ... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 4 Bryson explains how scientists came to understand, almost as an accident, the shape, dimensions, distance from the sun, ... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 5 Bryson next discusses how scientists determined the age of Earth. He begins with amateur scientist James Hutton, who "cr... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 6 In this chapter Bryson describes the rise of paleontology in the late 18th century. The fossil craze at this time was in... Read More
Part 2, Chapter 7 In this chapter Bryson shows how the advancement of chemistry as a field ultimately led to the correct determination of ... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 8 According to Bryson, many people at the close of the 19th century believed all of the major scientific discoveries had b... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 9 Bryson begins by discussing the composition of an atom and the molecule, "the basic working arrangement of atoms." The f... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 10 Bryson begins and ends Chapter 10 with a discussion of American geochemist Clair Patterson and his calculations of the a... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 11 Following a discussion of the atom, Bryson focuses on even smaller particles. In 1911 British scientist C.T.R. Wilson wa... Read More
Part 3, Chapter 12 This chapter details the history behind the acceptance of the theory of plate tectonics. Early geologists posited theori... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 13 Bryson begins the chapter with a discussion of the impact crater of the largest meteor to hit the mainland United States... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 14 Bryson discusses the potential for natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in order to contextualiz... Read More
Part 4, Chapter 15 Bryson introduces the idea Yellowstone National Park is a giant volcanic caldera, the pit left behind after a volcanic e... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 16 In this chapter Bryson discusses the conditions on Earth that both destroy and create life. He notes one of the inherent... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 17 Bryson moves from the subject of the land and sea to discuss the atmosphere. It is useful, he points out: keeping us war... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 18 In this chapter Bryson illustrates how little science knows about the largest portion of the outer layer of Earth: the o... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 19 In this chapter Bryson discusses the conditions necessary for the rise of life on Earth. He notes in 1953, graduate stud... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 20 In this chapter Bryson discusses the world of bacteria. He starts by making the point there are immense numbers on the p... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 21 Bryson introduces the chapter by explaining how fossils form. Fossils are rare and dependent upon multiple factors for t... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 22 Bryson begins the chapter with a discussion of lichen, a hardy organism that thrives in areas, such as the Antarctica, w... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 23 To begin explaining why there is still more life to be discovered, Bryson provides a history of plant and animal collect... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 24 Bryson begins the chapter by describing the properties of cells. Cells are extremely complex, controlling all of the ope... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 25 In this chapter Bryson chronicles the history of the rise of evolutionary theory. Beginning with Darwin, he relates how ... Read More
Part 5, Chapter 26 Bryson points out about 99.9% of the genes of all human beings are the same, and "this is what makes us a species." It i... Read More
Part 6, Chapter 27 A volcanic eruption in Indonesia in 1815 threw ash and dust into the atmosphere, "obscuring the Sun's rays and causing t... Read More
Part 6, Chapter 28 Bryson details the discovery of hominid fossils. Prior to 1891, only a few fragmentary fossils had been found. Then Dutc... Read More
Part 6, Chapter 29 The chapter begins and ends with a discussion of axes, the first advanced tool, to examine human movement. It begins wit... Read More
Part 6, Chapter 30 Bryson ends the book with a chapter discussing the extinction of numerous animal species both in the past and present. H... Read More
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