Because we humans are big and clever enough to produce and utilize antibiotics and disinfectants, it is easy to convince ourselves that we have banished bacteria to the fringes of existence. Don't you believe it. Bacteria may not build cities or have interesting social lives, but they will be here when the Sun explodes. This is their planet, and we are on it only because they allow us to be.
The number of people on whose cooperative efforts your eventual existence depends has risen to approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, which is several thousand times the total number of people who have ever lived.
Consider the Lichen. Lichens are just about the hardiest visible organisms on Earth, but the least ambitious.
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.
Geologists are never at a loss for paperweights.
There are three stages in scientific discovery. First, people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.
It is a curious feature of our existance that we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.
There seemed to be a mystifying universal conspiracy among textbook authors to make certain the material they dealt with never strayed too near the realm of the mildly interesting and was always at least a long-distance phone cacll from the frankly interesting.
It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you.
We are so used to the notion of our own inevitability as life's dominant species that it is hard to grasp that we are here only because of timely extraterrestrial bangs and other random flukes. The one thing we have in common with all other living things is that for nearly four billions years our ancestors have managed to slip through a series of closing doors every time we needed them to.
Life just wants to be; but it doesn't want to be much.
Our instinct may be to see the impossibility of tracking everything down as frustrating, dispiriting, perhaps even appalling, but it can just as well be viewed as almost unbearably exciting. We live on a planet that has a more or less infinite capacity to surprise. What reasoning person could possibly want it any other way?
Physics is really nothing more than a search for ultimate simplicity, but so far all we have is a kind of elegant messiness.
Protons give an atom its identity, electrons its personality.
Strange as it may seem,? wrote Richard Feynman, ?we understand the distribution of matter in the interior of the Sun far better than we understand the interior of the Earth.
Taxonomy is described sometimes as a science and sometimes as an art, but really it's a battleground.
More Bill Bryson Quotations (Based on Topics)
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More Bill Bryson Quotations (By Book Titles)
- A Short History of Nearly Everything
- A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
O. Henry - Robert Louis Stevenson - Mitch Albom - John Grisham - Ivo Andric - Henry Lawson - Henry Drummond - Bram Stoker - Antiphanes - Agatha Christie