A Short History of Nearly Everything (Paperback/ Reprint Edition) [Paperback]
One of the world's most beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey-into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.
In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trail-well, most of it. In In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand-and, if possible, answer-the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world's most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.
이 책에 쏟아진 찬사는 너무 호화롭다. "스티븐 호킹의 <시간의 역사> 이래 최대의 화제가 된 과학교양서", "「뉴욕 타임스 북리뷰」베스트셀러 목록에 22주 동안 랭크!", "영국과 미국의 아마존닷컴에서 자연과학 서적으로는 이례적으로 출간후 판매순위 1위". 이런 과학책은 흔치 않다.
모든 과학의 역사와 현재를 담고 있는 책이다. 과학지식 전반을 파악할 수 있다는 점, 어려운 도표나 수식이 없다는 점이 특색있다. 빌 브라이슨은 어린시절 과학교과서에 크게 실망한 뒤로 과학이 "어떻게" 현재에 이르렀는가를 밝히고 싶었다.
그래서 이 책을 쓰고자 3년간 세계의 여러 과학자를 찾아가 설명을 듣고 현장을 답사했다. 많은 사람들이 지루하게 느끼고 두려워했던 지질학, 화학, 화석학, 천문학, 입자 물리학과 같은 분야들을 총망라해서 스스로 공부를 시작한 것이다.
책 제목 '거의 모든 것의 역사'는 거짓말이 아니다. 생물과 인류의 역사를 재밌고 쉽게 알고 싶은 사람은 <나를 부르는 숲>의 그 활달한 입심을 믿고(그렇다! 그 빌 브라이슨이다) 이 책을 사라. 전문가를 위해서라면 빌 브라이슨이 이 책을 쓰지도 않았다.
Part I: Lost in the Cosmos
1. How to Build a Universe
2. Welcome to the Solar System
3. The Reverend Evans's Universe
Part II: The Size of the Earth
4. The Measure of Things
5. The Stone-Breakers
6. Science Red in Tooth and Claw
7. Elemental Matters
Part III: A New Age Dawns
8. Einstein's Universe
9. The Mighty Atom
10. Getting the Lead Out
11. Muster Mark's Quarks
12. The Earth Moves
Part IV: Dangerous Planet
14. The Fire Below
15. Dangerous Beauty
Part V: Life Itself
16. Lonely Planet
17. Into the Troposphere
18. The Bounding Main
19. The Rise of Life
20. Small World
21. Life Goes On
22. Good-bye to All That
23. The Richness of Being
25. Darwin's Singular Notion
26. The Stuff of Life
Part VI: The Road to Us
27. Ice Time
28. The Mysterious Biped
29. The Restless Ape
1 HOW TO BUILD A UNIVERSE
NO MATTER HOW hard you try you will never be able to grasp just how tiny, how spatially unassuming, is a proton. It is just way too small.
A proton is an infinitesimal part of an atom, which is itself of course an insubstantial thing. Protons are so small that a little dib of ink like the dot on this i can hold something in the region of 500,000,000,000 of them, rather more than the number of seconds contained in half a million years. So protons are exceedingly microscopic, to say the very least.
Now imagine if you can (and of course you can't) shrinking one of those protons down to a billionth of its normal size into a space so small that it would make a proton look enormous. Now pack into that tiny, tiny space about an ounce of matter. Excellent. You are ready to start a universe.
I'm assuming of course that you wish to build an inflationary universe. If you'd prefer instead to build a more old-fashioned, standard Big Bang universe, you'll need additional materials. In fact, you will need to gather up everything there is-every last mote and particle of matter between here and the edge of creation-and squeeze it into a spot so infinitesimally compact that it has no dimensions at all. It is known as a singularity.
In either case, get ready for a really big bang. Naturally, you will wish to retire to a safe place to observe the spectacle. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to retire to because outside the singularity there is no where. When the universe begins to expand, it won't be spreading out to fill a larger emptiness. The only space that exists is the space it creates as it goes.
It is natural but wrong to visualize the singularity as a kind of pregnant dot hanging in a dark, boundless void. But there is no space, no darkness. The singularity has no "around" around it. There is no space for it to occupy, no place for it to be. We can't even ask how long it has been there-whether it has just lately popped into being, like a good idea, or whether it has been there forever, quietly awaiting the right moment. Time doesn't exist. There is no past for it to emerge from.
And so, from nothing, our universe begins.
In a single blinding pulse, a moment of glory much too swift and expansive for any form of words, the singularity assumes heavenly dimensions, space beyond conception. In the first lively second (a second that many cosmologists will devote careers to shaving into ever-finer wafers) is produced gravity and the other forces that govern physics. In less than a minute the universe is a million billion miles across and growing fast. There is a lot of heat now, ten billion degrees of it, enough to begin the nuclear reactions that create the lighter elements-principally hydrogen and helium, with a dash (about one atom in a hundred million) of lithium. In three minutes, 98 percent of all the matter there is or will ever be has been produced. We have a universe. It is a place of the most wondrous and gratifying possibility, and beautiful, too. And it was all done in about the time it takes to make a sandwich.
When this moment happened is a matter of some debate. Cosmologists have long argued over whether the moment of creation was 10 billion years ago or twice that or something in between. The consensus seems to be heading for a figure of about 13.7 billion years, but these things are notoriously difficult to measure, as we shall see further on. All that can really be said is that at some indeterminate point in the very distant past, for reasons unknown, there came the moment known to science as t = 0. We were on our way.
There is of course a great deal we don't know, and much of what we think we know we haven't known, or thought we've known, for long. Even the notion of the Big Bang is quite a recent one. The idea had been kicking around since the 1920s, when Georges Lem tre, a Belgian priest-scholar, first tentatively proposed it, but it didn't really become an active notion in cosmology until the mid-1960s when two young radio astronomers made an extraordinary and inadvertent discovery.
Their names were Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. In 1965, they were trying to make use of a large communications antenna owned by Bell Laboratories at Holmdel, New Jersey, but they were troubled by a persistent background noise-a steady, steamy hiss that made any experimental work impossible. The noise was unrelenting and unfocused. It came from every point in the sky, day and night, through every season. For a year the young astronomers did everything they could think of to track down and eliminate the noise. They tested every electrical system. They rebuilt instruments, checked circuits, wiggled wires, dusted plugs. They climbed into the dish and placed duct tape over every seam and rivet. They climbed back into the dish with brooms and scrubbing brushes and carefully swept it clean of what they referred to in a later paper as "white dielectric material," or what is known more commonly as bird shit. Nothing they tried worked.
|출생지||미국 아이오와 주 디모인|
‘세상에서 가장 재미있는 여행 작가’라는 별명을 가진 그는, 미국 아이오와 주 디모인에서 태어나 영국에서 『타임스』와 『인디펜던트』의 기자로 일했다. 유럽을 여행하다 영국의 매력에 빠져 스무 살부터 20년을 거주, 미국으로 돌아가 15년을 살다가 다시 영국으로 돌아와 영국 시민권을 취득하고 제2의 국적을 갖게 됐다.
빌 브라이슨 발칙한 여행기 시리즈부터 『바디: 우리 몸 안내서』 『거의 모든 것의 역사』 『나를 부르는 숲』 등 빌 브라이슨 특유의 글맛과 지성이 담긴 그의 책들은 전 세계 30개 언어로, 1,600만 부 이상 판매되었고 국경을 초월하여 독자들의 뜨거운 관심과 지지를 받았다.
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