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  1. #1
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    A Short History Of Nearly Everything

    I just finished this book by Bill Bryson and I have to write about it. This is a great book!

    Right off the bat, Bryson admits that he didn't know much about almost everything. So he set out to meet experts in various fields of geology, chemisty, paleontology, astronomy, and particle physics etc and at the same time, read as much as he could and then aim to put that in a readable format that the Average Joe could understand.

    And this book seems to be a success in that regard. Also, the guy has a great writing style, quite funny throughout the book.

    Some of the things that he talks about in the page-turner are:

    -Did you know that if Earth was the size of a pea, Jupiter would be 30 meters away. And Pluto would be 16 kilometers away. In his words, "So the idea that aliens come from outer space to scare some farmer on a lonely dirt road late in the evening or to make crop circles seem pretty remote."

    -The amount of fosilized bones that have been found and that we base our knowledge of evolution on would fit into the back of a pick-up truck (probably a Chevy, not a Thai Toyota.)

    -Even if we could hit an Earth-bound meteorite with a missle powerful enough to blow it to pieces, those pieces would still follow pretty much the same trajectory and still slam into Earth...

    -Yellowstone National Park is a ticking time bomb that when it goes, and it will someday, will kill everyone within 1,000 miles of it and will eventually lead to the deaths of most of the people on the planet.

    The book goes on and on with stuff like this and is VERY readable. It's not a science reference book and it might not be for everyone. But I think most people will be glues to it. I almost started reading it again just after I finished it.
    Everybody needs money, that's why they call it money.

  2. #2
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    I love his writing and this one seems great! On my list now.

  3. #3
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    I agree up to a point.
    It was a real curatres egg.

    the book is huge and there were some chapters that i loved.
    But even in layman's terms some of the chapters had me not listening and flipping forward.

    I did though, recommend it to friends with more patience than me.

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    I enjoyed it as I'm a big Bryson fan. But, it's the least favourite of all the books of his I've read.
    Having to explain stuff slowed his usual fast and witty pace. Still a good book, though.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyZ View Post
    ...
    -Yellowstone National Park is a ticking time bomb that when it goes, and it will someday, will kill everyone within 1,000 miles of it and will eventually lead to the deaths of most of the people on the planet...
    Er, can you explain this one please?

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    Yellowstone - A Ticking Time-Bomb?

    For those of us who were fortunate enough to catch Discovery Channel's latest spine-gripping, docudrama, SuperVolcano this past weekend, we were made aware of the chance that Yellowstone National Park's Super Volcano could be a literal, explosive and catastrophic time bomb.

    Though many common, external traits of volcanos are viewed as Mountainous peaks and regions like that of Mount St. Helens Yellowstone's 'supervolcano' is unique. It is one of the world's largest active volcanic systems. In the last few million years, it has spawned several, massive volcanic eruptions; and relatively, it is likely to occur again. Because of its possible danger, the US Geological Survey, the University of Utah and the Yellowstone National Park combined forces to create the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory This observatory keeps a vigilant watch of regional activity.

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    RDN
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    Quote Originally Posted by daveboy View Post
    Yellowstone - A Ticking Time-Bomb?

    For those of us who were fortunate enough to catch Discovery Channel's latest spine-gripping, docudrama...
    Oo-er! And I bet the Discovery Channel didn't play it up at all!

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    I liked his book on walking The Appalachians and the book on Australia, but I recall throwing this encyclopedia in the bin in disgust.

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    I have the Ebook if anyone wants a copy. I've even corrected some of the spelling mistakes that the scanning software introduced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyZ View Post
    -The amount of fosilized bones that have been found and that we base our knowledge of evolution on would fit into the back of a pick-up truck (probably a Chevy, not a Thai Toyota.)
    I sincerely doubt this one - there are tons of fossils found very day.
    Last edited by Whiteshiva; 18-09-2006 at 12:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteshiva View Post
    I sincerely dubt this one - there are tons of fossils found very day.
    You're SO negative, sometimes! :P

    Actually, I meant human bones, not the dinosaurs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyZ View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteshiva View Post
    I sincerely dubt this one - there are tons of fossils found very day.
    You're SO negative, sometimes! :P

    Actually, I meant human bones, not the dinosaurs.
    Well then you should have said so, you nincompoop.

    Besides, you don't need human bones to prove evolution.......

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    Evolution has been contested by a lot more people than the creationists and intelligent design people. I'm an atheist myself, and while I always side on the side of science, I am also well aware that it takes time for scientific theories to be overthrown, and the fervour with which some people defend them much resembles the zeal of religious fanatics.

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    Yeah, you never hear scientists saying, "After years of further research, I've disproved my earlier theory." It may be the only theory/finding that they ever come up with in their whole career.

    At least they don't bomb abortion clinics, trains or crowded markets...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skulldigger View Post
    I'm an atheist myself...
    I'll admit, I'm wasn't sure what the difference between athiest and agnostic was. So I looked it up on dictionary.com and found this:

    –noun a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    While reading this book, the space and particles part, I couldn't help but think, "Could there be someone, something bigger than all of us? He might not be called God or Allah, but maybe Professor. Like we're all in a lab."

    Reading further on at the web site I this:
    —Synonyms Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic refer to persons not inclined toward religious belief or a particular form of religious belief.
    -An atheist is one who denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings.
    -An agnostic is one who believes it impossible to know anything about God or about the creation of the universe and refrains from commitment to any religious doctrine. -Infidel means an unbeliever, especially a nonbeliever in Islam or Christianity.
    -A skeptic doubts and is critical of all accepted doctrines and creeds.

    Really, it's possible to be all 4 at the same time, isn't it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyZ View Post
    Reading further on at the web site I this:
    —Synonyms Atheist, agnostic, infidel, skeptic refer to persons not inclined toward religious belief or a particular form of religious belief.
    -An atheist is one who denies the existence of a deity or of divine beings.
    -An agnostic is one who believes it impossible to know anything about God or about the creation of the universe and refrains from commitment to any religious doctrine. -Infidel means an unbeliever, especially a nonbeliever in Islam or Christianity.
    -A skeptic doubts and is critical of all accepted doctrines and creeds.

    Really, it's possible to be all 4 at the same time, isn't it?
    An atheist has taken a religious standpoint, and is therefore committed to a religious doctrine (i.e that there is no God). An agnostic leaves room for doubt.

    I guess you can be an agnoistic and a sceptic, but neither one is compatible with being an atheist. IMHO, that is......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skulldigger View Post
    Evolution has been contested by a lot more people than the creationists and intelligent design people. I'm an atheist myself, and while I always side on the side of science, I am also well aware that it takes time for scientific theories to be overthrown, and the fervour with which some people defend them much resembles the zeal of religious fanatics.
    I fully agree that some scientists will defend their theories with a passion, but the very fact that scientific theories can be proposed, tested and found faulty is to me proof that the system works. The theories that are not found faulty at the time being are assumed to be valid, at least until someone comes up with an alternative theory and the means to test it.

    Try that approach with religious folks, and you get nowhere.

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