There's a page dedicated to the errata, so not everything you will read in Bill Bryson's book, A Short History Of Nearly Everything, is accurate, but the book is otherwise a very interesting document that charts the journey from the Big Bang to the Rise of Civilization.
Consider this quote taken from the book:
The Big Bang theory isn't about the bang itself but about what happened after the bang. Not long after, mind you. By doing a lot of maths and watching carefully what goes on in particle accelerators, scientists believe they can look back to 10-43 seconds after the moment of creation when the universe was still so small that you would have needed a microscope to find it.Scientists, thus can go back in time as far as one ten million trillion trillion trillionths of a second after the Big Bang took place (that is 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds) after time began, before which there was nothing - no time, no universe, no matter. The rest of the book is an interesting story of numbers, figures, scientific biographies charting major discoveries, hurdles and theories of the rise of life on earth. One major consideration is how life is said to have appeared on Earth around 3.85 billion years ago.
Considering the Earth is generally considered to be 4.54 billion years old (4.54 × 109 years ± 1%) and the surface is said to have cooled around 3.9 billion years back, life appeared early.
I feel that I must mention that as a Muslim I strongly believe that ultimately Allah is all knowing and that what we put together as knowledge here is ever-changing and only a fraction of the truth. Bill Bryson himself notes that 99.9% of life that ever crossed the surface of this planet did not leave behind fossil evidence and whilst I think this is completely possible, how does anyone know, for example that this figure is 99.9%?
The book however got me thinking about a number of things, some of which I will return to in future posts, InshAllah.
Listen to the Bill Bryon interview here.