Reviews Book

A Short History of Nearly Everything

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 23 October 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:994
  1. Christopher Martyn, associate editor (
  1. BMJ

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    Bill Bryson

    Doubleday, £20, pp 528

    ISBN 0385408188

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    In 1993, when there was a Tory government in the United Kingdom, the then minister for science, William Waldegrave, issued a challenge to physicists who were lobbying him for money to pay for their colossally expensive experiments. Could they answer, on a single page of A4, the questions: “What is the Higgs boson, and why do we want to find it?” As it happened, they could, as you can see by going to But the incident prompts questions about the way the United Kingdom decides priorities in funding its research. Might it not be better to have a minister who knew something about his portfolio? And it reminds us …

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