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Showing posts from March, 2004

Aventis (Royal Society) Prize 2004

Read more about the 2004 Aventis (Royal Society) Prize, arguably a summary of the best popular science books published in 2003. Here are the results: Winner A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson Shortlist Backroom Boys – Francis Spufford In the Beginning was the Worm – Andrew Brown Magic Universe – Nigel Calder Mutants – Armand Leroi Nature via Nurture – Matt Ridley Longlist A Brief History of Infinity – Brian Clegg After the Ice – Steven Mithen Freedom Evolves – Daniel Dennett Galileo’s Finger – Peter Atkins How to Clone the Perfect Blonde – Sue Nelson & Richard Holligham Sex, Botany and Empire – Patricia Fara The Essential Difference – Simon Baron-Cohen and here are our favourites that didn’t make the long list: Einstein’s Refrigerator – Gino Segre Plus the Junior Prize shortlist: Forces & Motion – Sally Hewitt In the Rainforest – Peter Riley The Beginning: Voyages through Time – Peter Ackroyd Really Rotten Experiments – Nick

A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson ****

A while ago John Gribbin wrote  Science: A History , which attempted to cover all of the development of science in a single volume. The trouble is, it fell between two stools – itwasn’t readable as a narrative, nor was it a comprehensive encylopedia. Travel writer Bill Bryson has now done the same thing, but with significantly more success as he has very clearly abandoned any attempt to be comprehensive – the result is a much easier read. If (like me) you are a Bryson fan you may find the book a slight disappointment. His genius is as a humorous raconteur of everyday events that have happened to him, and although he includes many enjoyable anecdotes, his style doesn’t work anywhere near as well when talking about a historical event. Despite this and a decided lurch towards the biological and earth sciences that leaves the rest a little under-covered, this is the best attempt yet to cover pretty well everything in a readable way. Bryson is perhaps at his best when coming up with