The Narratives of Science Part I

Our Universe

“In France, a chemist named Pilatre de Rozier tested the flammability of hydrogen by gulping a mouthful and blowing across an open flame, proving at a stroke that hydrogen is indeed explosively combustible and that eyebrows are not necessarily a permanent feature of one’s face.” 
 Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

If you stop by my blog OnTheRoad you will find that I have included Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” in my 2013 Reading Program.  Each year, I choose one book with a scientific flair as a way to stretch my mind beyond my obvious love of all things poetic, musical, and artistic. Bill Bryson cleverly weaves the stories of the great scientists with the most difficult and perplexing questions of the universe. It truly is pure entertainment all the way through.  I will be providing a more thorough review via a post on OnTheRoad.

But for this week, I want to look more closely at the men and women of science.  “A Short History of Nearly Everything” was stuffed with names that, I am loath to confess at my lofty age, I never heard of before.  A week is not enough time to do justice to these great men and women; there will be other series throughout the coming year.

Of one thing I am certain:  I will find plenty of things poetic, musical and artistic in the Narratives of Science.

When the poet Paul Valery once asked Albert Einstein if he kept a notebook to record his ideas, Einstein looked at him with mild but genuine surprise.”Oh, that’s not necessary,” he replied. “It’s so seldom I have one.” 
Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

30 thoughts on “The Narratives of Science Part I

  1. Gotta love Einstein’s quotes.🙂 What a genius he was. Oh my goodness, imagine losing one’s eyebrows in a scientific experiment! Glad I’m a musician. It’s much less risky.🙂

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    • These scientists were courageous – even risk-takers. Their search for the “why” “when” “who” ‘what” and most of all “how” became a obsession. They were made of “sterner stuff” than me.

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  2. Interesting! i look forward to reading more. Einstein does not need a notebook but Leonardo da vinci has one. Perhaps that is why Einstein is a scientist, and da Vinci is a scientist and an artist! Both are genius.

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    • Yes, they were!!! We owe a great deal to the geniuses of this world. Most did not live a peaceful existence, yet they continued with their calling. Maybe we should all carry a notebook with us…

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  3. I’ve only read one travel book by Bill Bryson and he really rubbed me the wrong way, so I haven’t read anything by him since. Maybe this book is good in that it makes history and science accessible for the regular person.

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    • While I’m not through with “A Short History” I can understand your position. The book that you would enjoy is Leonard Mlodinow’s “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives.” Remarkable book. In fact, I think that I’ll take a few moments to review it again. His focus is mathematics, with emphasis on statistics. What I liked most about his writing was his genuine appreciation for the stories of the men and women behind the numbers. It was a sad day for me when the book came to an end.

      “Science has revealed a universe that is vast, ancient, violent, strange, and beautiful, a universe of almost infinite variety and possibility one in which time can end in a black hole, and conscious beings can evolve from a soup of minerals.” Leonard Mlodinow

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  4. Oh my goodness ! This is so bright and brilliant. What beautiful flowers you have found. I really can’t believe the amount of work you put out every day with all of your blogs. You must spend all your time on this ‘stuff.’🙂

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    • I have been a little remiss of late – I must go back to my original blog – Clanmother. I want to continue my series on benchmarks. Thank you for all of your support and encouragement – much appreciated.

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    • This was my first Bryson book! I’m listening to an audio book which uses his voice so it has a different flavour than just reading it from a book. It was a little different than I thought it would be…

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