The Origin of (Almost) Everything

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UK hardcover, 1st edition.

The Origin of (almost) Everything is a popular science book by Graham Lawton and published on 2016-10-25. It gives a brief account of the origin of over 50 different topic, from the universe and atoms, to dogs and penicillin.


Always eager to learn more about science, I started listening to this as an audio book. I finished it on 2020-10-16 and enjoyed it.


I don't own this book, but I've listened to the audio book read by David Thorpe.



  • As the title suggests, the author describes the origin of a myriad of things, which is interesting, and he does so in an enjoyable manner, which is even more interesting.
  • The book dispels several common myths about the history of science and technology. For example, the Wright brothers didn't build the first powered aircraft, and Alexander Fleming, though he discovered it, wasn't responsible for turning penicillin into a useful antibiotic.


  • Some of the origins don't go into nearly enough depth. For example, in the chapter on the origin of the universe, the author explains that quantum mechanics teaches us that the universe has a net value of zero, and that "nothing" is unstable, and always breaks into something. This is presented without any evidence or data to back it up.
  • There are occasional claims that sound very suspect. For example, in the section on possessions, the author claims that animals don't keep possessions, not because they're not intelligent enough to do so, but because they don't have language. No evidence is given for why, if we were to breed a highly intelligent animal without language, it couldn't possibly keep possessions, or why all animals with language must keep possessions.


  • Nothing.




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