Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Short History Of Nearly Everything

This post is dedicated to Clair Patterson – who devoted his entire life in convincing people about the ghastly effects of 'Lead' on human body.

We live in a universe whose age we can't quite compute, surrounded by stars whose distances we don't altogether know, filled with matter we can't identify, operating in conformance with physical laws whose properties we don't truly understand.

A short history of nearly everything is a very interesting book. It is about scientific discoveries and inventions. There might be many books on this topic but the way Bill Bryson has written it, is astounding.

While reading each and every chapter I felt as if I am actually witnessing it. For example while reading the first chapter I thought I am actually watching the birth of universe and then in the next chapter I was sitting on Pluto and watching everything in the universe pass by…

There are lots of interesting stories about scientists. It was fun to read about their dedication, struggle, weirdness and sometimes politics.
Scientists get all sorts of ideas, sometimes it perplexed me on why would anyone get those ideas. For example someone actually worked to find out 'how much the earth weighs?'
I am too worried about my own weight all the time to think about Earth's weight.
And yes, there is no doubt that Earth's sex is female… she has taken measures to hide her age…

The book is fast paced. It is as thrilling as any Sidney Sheldon story and full of happenings may be more than 'Bold and the beautiful'.
Almost all of my questions were satisfactorily answered in the book.
It covers everything from universe, cells, chemistry, dinosaurs, birds, evolution, volcanoes to earth's inner layers and the list goes on….

I didn't know that there is a science of clouds and there is an International cloud atlas too!
Just by looking at the shape of the cloud you can tell its height, moisture etc. Clouds are divided into 10 basic types out of which the plummest and most cushiony looking was number nine and hence the expression 'to be on cloud nine'

Excerpts from the book:

Atoms are fantastically durable. Because they are so long lived, atoms really get around. Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. We are each so atomically numerous and so vigorously recycled at death that a significant number of our atoms-upto a billion for each of us, it has been suggested probably once belonged to Shakespeare. A billion more each came from Buddha and Genghis Khan and Beethoven, and any other historical figure you care to name.
(The personages have to be historical, apparently, as it takes the atoms some decades to become thoroughly redistributed; however much you may wish it, you are not yet one with Elvis Presley :))

Modern human beings have existed for only about 0.0001 percent of Earth's history. We really are at the beginning of it all. The trick of course, is to make sure we never find the end. And that, almost certainly, will require a good deal more than lucky breaks.


karyzma said...

how can you eat so many book so quickly? I just cant get on to reading!!

JAy said...

one of the excerpts that you have added about atoms is compelling me to write about the String theroy..

you might have heard that 5 different versions of the string theory that these theoriests have come up with explain almost everything.. the string theory answers the genesis of universes as being just collisions of sheets of universes (existing in the multiverses -i.e. the multiple universes)..so also its destructions... It refutes the notion of itom .. itstead it says that the indestructable , tinniest form of anything is a string which is nothing but a ovuler strand of energy..
it talks about some 21 odd dimensions that the universe exists in.. so also almost a dozen of different new particals including graviton that escape into different universes.. thus explaining why gravitation (one of the significantly basic force of nature) is soooo weak as compared to other forces- electromagnetic energy and something else....

yeah .. physists are really kewl and wierd guys at the same time. :-)