This was a mind-blowing book. The study and exploration of space is something that almost hurts to think about – the size and scale of things is so beyond my day-to-day world. The book was written in such a way that these very complex and sometimes abstract topics were entertaining. What was also interesting is that the book bounces through several topics – so we go through space, then we’re talking through some major issues in archaeology, then anthropology, and finally going through chemistry research.
Bryson covers each of those areas in pretty sufficient detail – it’s amazing to hear about all these esoteric topics that some folks spend their life working on, and I can barely describe what the field is like at a 30,000 ft level.
5/5 stars for me.
A few of my favorite passages below:
The upshot of all this is that we live in a universe whose age we can’t quite compute, surrounded by stars whose distances we don’t altogether know, filled with matter we can’t identify, operating in conformance with physical laws whose properties we don’t truly understand.
Nobody knows how many stars there are in the Milky Way—estimates range from 100 billion or so to perhaps 400 billion—and the Milky Way is just one of 140 billion or so other galaxies, many of them even larger than ours.
Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you.
The core of a neutron star is so dense that a single spoonful of matter from it would weigh 200 billion pounds.