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Monday 2 May 2005

Another book you should read immediately [Am]

I went to school at 6 at this place called Milbourne Lodge which was a pretty good school for academic results. Now I could decline the Latin verb for going to war at 6 but science at this august institution was slighty different. Many kids got it but many of those without parents from a mathematic or scientific background utterly floundered because we had one of those teachers whose approach to science was to repeat formulae and concepts rote without a single piece of explanation of why they were useful or a plain english explanation of what it meant. Even worse, the master was a grade A shitbag who pulled rank and made life very unpleasant on all these extremely powerful 6-12 year olds. So Mike Reid, Milbourne Lodge school in the 1980's - if you're reading this - go fuck your own arse you inadequate piece of fucking shit.
Anyway, tooling around Canterbury this week (on holiday) I popped into our local book shop to buy a few bits and pieces. The one that caught my eye was Bill Bryson's latest work. Now Bryson's written a number of pieces of travelogue which are extremely popular and entertaining - fair's fair - but I would not have bought another until I noticed the title "Brief History of Nearly Everything".
The long and the short is that on a 'plane ride over the pacific the very experienced (and propably quite wealthy) writer realised he had no idea why seas were salty and some lakes not and then he realised he had naff all idea about science fullstop.
The product after 3 years of serious investigation with many tens of world-leading academics that you can get to co-operate with you when you have Bryson's rep is a total guide to well the brief history of nearly everyting. Even if you've got a decent grounding in all science I find it impossible to believe this book wouldn't be a total delight. For those of us educated by fucktards, it's an absolute revelation. To paraphrase Bryson, here for once and for all is a book about the fundamental facts (so far established) of life, geology, history, chemistry, physics, the world, our solar system and the universe by someone who can write in an engaging way that meets with normal brains. It is brilliantly written and totally engaging.
A really ace book - I suggest you buy it now -


  1. If you liked that then you'll also like Schrodinger's Cat, Schrodinger's Kittens, Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy & not forgetting Hawking. I didn't get on well with Kaku's stuff though.

  2. Well the only one I've read there is Brief History of Time Spiny and while it's no doubt a good next step, I wouldn't want anyone to think that A Brief History of Nearly Everything reads remotely like that. Hawking did a fine job for an academic - Bryson's piece is LOADS more accessible and far reaching. It really is the science education I never had. The Times Literary Supplement has suggested, no less, that it should be the core book on the science curriculum to get kids interested in *why* science matters.

  3. One of the interesting things that Bryson's book does is to really hammer home how much time was lost by pointless disputes between scientists in the form stubborn clinging to old ideas, personality clashes or plain old bloodymindedness.
    Am is right though. This book should be on school science syllabuses all over the world. Nothing has sparked my personal interest in science more than this book. I reckon that if everyone could read it, then we might not be plagued by ridiculous notions like treaching creationism in science lessons.

  4. True, true. It does a really good job of making the subjects interesting (even moss!) S'pose I was quoting the others going off on a popular science tangent, as I've always been fascinated by the physical sciences. I'd have probably done a physics first degree if my maths was good enough, which it wasn't. So I plumped for comp sci & just nicked equations instead :)I'm sure the world would be a much better place if people had a better grounding in this stuff. My particular pet hate is people remarking on how one of my daughters is blond (me & wifey are brown haired) finishing their sentence with "...". I just want to scream "YOU KNOW HER GRANDMA'S BLOND, GO AND GOOGLE FOR MENDEL AND STOP TALKING CRAP YOU RETART!!!!"Or something :)

  5. Surely, to invoke the spirit of Electric Death, the accurate answer is cos your missus was banging the hell out of teh posteh? :)

  6. Yeah, i mean, the only thing her blond grandma has passed on is the slutgene :]
    Btw, say hi to your wife, its been a while!

  7. Agree, this is an ace book. Very accessable for anyone. I read it over christmas, just could not put it down.
    Bryson really is one of my favourite writers. His travel books are brilliant.

  8. Trust Vaggabond to lower the tone of the conversation