What I’m reading…

“A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson.   What a fantastic book.   Bill Bryson walks you through most of what is now understood in science in a more accessible language.

The book is quite long and if you don’t have much time, I strongly recommend that you read the   first 10-20 pages of every chapter that delve with the science itself.  It is highly entertaining and  enriching.  If you have more time (or simply can’t stand not reading a book in its entirety), the balance of each chapter describes the history of how the science was discovered (quite insightful).

But what I’ve loved most was Bill’s way of putting things and numbers into perspective.   My favorite example describes the scale of our solar system:

[…] Such are the distances, in fact, that it isn’t possible, in any practical terms, to draw the solar system to scale.  Even if you added lots of fold-out pages to your textbooks or used a really long sheet of poster paper, you wouldn’t come close.  On a diagram of the solar system to scale, with the Earth reduced to about the diameter of a pea, Jupiter would be over 300 meters away and Pluto would be two and a half kilometers distant (and about the size of a bacterium, so you wouldn’t be able to see it anyway).   On the same scale, Proxima Centauri, our nearest star, would be 16,000 kilometers away.  Even if you shrank down everything so that Jupiter was as small as the full stop at the end of this sentence, and Pluto was no bigger than a molecule, Pluto would still be over 10 meters away. […]

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2 Comments

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