Obsessed with the origins of things, ideas, and ways of life, Charles Panati has dug up enough root causes and beginnings for any barroom sage or academician to fend off the most troublesome trivia queries. Ranging from the beginnings of the universe, the emergence of bacteria and bony fish, to soap, loaded dice, ethnic slurs, hypnosis, comic strips, and much more, The Browser's Book of Beginnings is a fascinating read sampled randomly or digested whole. Here are some of the questions answered by our most renowned expert on origins: what prompted the first ballet performance?; who made the first successful parachute flight in 1797?; what Italian Renaissance man created the first barometer?; who were the first brewers of beer?; where was the first plumbing system designed over 10,000 years ago?; and who invented aspirin? Illustrated with more than 100 drawing, diagrams, and archival photographs, and including comprehensive bibliographies and an index, The Browser's Book of Beginnings is the most readable and thorough quick reference book of trivia.