This is a wonderfully-engaging survey of the sciences. Starting out the the Big Bang, Bryson proceeds to explore the founding of the modern sciences by describing not only the intellectual ideas and debates (and the occasional feud) but also the men and women behind those ideas. In fact, some of the more fascinating parts involve those more eccentric characters of 19th century science. Take, for example, the Reverend William Buckland. He wasn't simply an English geologist and founding father of paleontology.