A Short History of Nearly Everything

by

Bill Bryson

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A Short History of Nearly Everything Themes

Themes and Colors
Science, Discovery, and Mystery Theme Icon
Writing, Wonder, and Inspiration  Theme Icon
Progress, Sexism, and Dogma Theme Icon
Existence, Awe, and Survival  Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Short History of Nearly Everything, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

In A Short History of Nearly Everything, author Bill Bryson claims that scientists often believe they have figured out all there is to know about a particular topic before realizing they are wrong. Most scientific discoveries, in fact, imply that we only know a tiny fraction of what there is to know, which prompts Bryson to conclude that the more humans learn—about the universe, life on Earth, and the planet itself—the more we realize…

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In A Short History of Nearly Everything, author Bill Bryson argues that scientists who are plagued with poor communication skills often fail to successfully engage people with their ideas, even if those ideas have profound scientific potential. Bryson finds that the wonder of scientific discovery is often masked by dull and technical writing, rendering it inaccessible to amateurs like himself. More importantly, valuable insights can be overlooked within the professional research community if they…

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In A Short History of Nearly Everything, author Bill Bryson shows how throughout history, scientists have let their prejudices stand in the way of scientific progress. Bryson argues that although certain practical obstructions to scientific progress (like the availability of technology) can’t be helped, social barriers unnecessarily limiting scientific progress can—and should—be eradicated. Notably, these barriers include sexism (which undermines potential contributions by women to scientific progress) and dogmatic religious views (which make scientists…

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In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson argues that life on Earth is essentially a long shot. The slightest differences in cosmic, geological, and biological events throughout Earth’s history would have prevented life from being created at all. Moreover, the perpetually high odds of obliteration (from asteroids, natural disasters, and biological threats) mean that life’s continued presence on Earth is an unimaginable stroke of luck. Yet, despite hanging on a perilous “knife-edge,”…

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