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Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays Paperback – September 1, 1994

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (September 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553374117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553374117
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 14 pieces, the author of A Brief History of Time examines astrophysics, current events and his own life.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Hawking is quite probably the most admired and recognizable figure in science today. His A Brief History of Time ( LJ 4/15/88) was a surprise best seller that stimulated a public fascination with this man who, although stricken with a debilitating neurological disease, is widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein. This new collection of essays and lectures will no doubt attract a large readership, but it is somewhat unbalanced. The biographical pieces are digressive and not particularly enlightening. Most pointless is the concluding piece, an interview in which Hawking expounds upon the eight records he would want if he were shipwrecked on a desert island. The scientific essays are much stronger and offer insight into a variety of cutting-edge issues in contemporary physics, though much of what is presented can be found in Brief History. Readers interested in Hawking's life are better advised to read John Gribbin and Michael White's Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science ( LJ 5/1/92). Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/93.
- Gregg Sapp, Montana State Univ. Libs., Bozeman
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Stephen Hawking's ability to make science understandable and compelling to a lay audience was established with the publication of his first book, A Brief History of Time, which has sold nearly 10 million copies in 40 languages. Hawking has authored or participated in the creation of numerous other popular science books, including The Universe in a Nutshell, A Briefer History of Time, On the Shoulders of Giants, The Illustrated On the Shoulders of Giants, and George's Secret Key to the Universe.

Customer Reviews

Love Stephen Hawking - I read everything he writes.
For the theory of black holes and baby universes, though, I suggest you go elsewhere.
Abigail Nussey
Overall this is a good read with some interesting ideas.
Spider Monkey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By J. Stuart Buck ( on March 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
As a Cambridge professor who occupies the same chair as Isaac Newton once did, Stephen Hawking is probably the most well-known scientist in the world. His book A Brief History of Time has sold millions of copies, a rare feat for a work of theoretical physics. Hawking's perennial appeal is driven by his theoretical brilliance, his ability to explain difficult concepts to lay audiences, and his heroic, wheelchair-bound struggle with Lou Gehrig's disease.
To be sure, Hawking's reputation is not confined to popular acclaim. Other noted scientists, not known to be motivated by sympathy for Hawking's physical condition, have shown the greatest respect for Hawking's work. As Dr. Kip S. Thorne, a physics professor at CalTech, recently said in a New York Times article, "Stephen can see much farther and much more quickly what nature is likely to be doing than most of the rest of us poor mortals. Very few have his level of understanding and insight, or his ability to ask the right questions that trigger others to work on problems in ways they might never have thought of."
Hawking's book Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays continues his attempt to popularise the findings of cosmology and theoretical physics. The book is composed of one interview and 13 essays, most of which were originally given as lectures. Several of the essays are autobiographical. Hawking recounts, for example, his family history, his birth on the 300th anniversary of Galileo's death, his childhood fascination with electric trains, and his marriage and three children.
Of all the segments of the book, it is the interview that gives the most insight into Hawking's personality and tastes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Rouse on July 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
I immensely enjoyed A Brief History of Time, and had high hopes for this book as well. Unfortunately I was disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it is a good book full of interesting things, but there is far too much repitition, both with A Brief History of Time and withing this book itself. It seemed that he explained his "the only boudary conditition is that there is no boundary" theory in every essay. Good material, but you won't find much in here that you didn't already know if you read A Brief History of Time. I would recommend skipping this and going straight to The Universe in a Nutshell, a more recent Hawking book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brent S Budden on April 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
This particular book by Hawking explores his personal life as well as the physicist side of life. I become interested in how a man like Hawking came to be after reading his "A Brief History of Time." This book answered all of my questions as he goes farther into depth about how he grew up, and lives with ALS. This book is a composite of many essays, so the reader will find that Hawking repeats himself more than twice. This is a good book, but not quite to the standard as his previous book was. I gave a rating of 4 stars because the title of this book was somewhat deceiving, as an aspiring physicist looking for an educational book might choose this one, little realizing that it focuses much on Hawking's life, instead.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on November 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
An event horizon is the boundary of a black hole, defined by the light that can reach out that far and no further. Hawking himself sometimes uses pictorial metaphors to illustrate abstruse mathematical concepts, and this one occurred to me by way of an analogy of the brilliant illumination that I am trying to persuade to shine out far enough to reach my own dim wits hovering hopefully in the outer darkness.

The whole `feel' of Hawking's discourses reminds me of the stories I have read about Einstein at work - placid, orderly and without excitement (or should I say `perturbation'?). Genius of this kind seems to be a kind of glorified knack - such minds just operate naturally with concepts of this kind, and there is no sense of effort or struggle. Sandwiched between some biographical material and a radio interview, the main material in this book is a collection of essays and lectures. They include Hawking's inaugural lecture at Cambridge where he occupies the chair of mathematics once held by Newton, and all are intended in the first place for an audience of his peers. On the other hand, where Newton and Einstein did not try to address the general public, Hawking, like Russell, seeks to do just that, and he does it superbly. The style of writing is both literate and unpretentious, and the occasional jokes are very good. Readers who, like myself, are intensely interested in the subject-matter but entirely lacking in natural aptitude for it, ought to find this book enormously helpful. There is a certain amount of repetition inevitably, but the more of that the better so far as I'm concerned. Any amateur trying to get a handle on mathematical concepts like these has to get into a mathematician's way of thinking as best he can and stop thinking as a layman.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michele L. Worley on May 28, 2005
Format: Audio Cassette
The essays are drawn largely from various lectures delivered by Hawking over the years; the occasion of each is mentioned as it comes up. Since they were designed to be spoken, it's worth getting a good recording of these as well as the book itself. I recommend the audio edition narrated by Simon Prebble over that read by Connor O'Brien, although the Prebble recording omits "DESERT ISLAND DISCS". (O'Brien's reading is very stilted, while Prebble conveys Hawking's sense of humour properly.)

The first 3 essays, "Childhood", "Oxford and Cambridge", and "My Experience with ALS" are autobiographical, drawn from talks presented to various Motor Neurone Disease Societies in 1987, with material added in 1991. Much of this (particularly "My Experience with ALS") should be familiar to anyone who watched Errol Morris' A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME or read the transcript (STEPHEN HAWKING'S A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME: A READER'S COMPANION, edited by Gene Stone). To me, this material is most interesting taken together with the film and with Jane Hawking's MUSIC TO MOVE THE STARS. For example, the filmmakers followed up the professor's childhood friends who once bet a bag of sweets on whether he'd ever amount to anything, while Jane Hawking in her book discussed her theory that the professor (like their sons) is probably dyslexic, explaining why he learnt to read relatively late.

"Public Attitudes Toward Science" (October 1989) isn't a history of science, but instead (after pointing out the drawbacks - and impossibility - of putting the clock back to a 'simpler' age) a talk about the need for basic scientific literacy for the general public to be able to make informed decisions. Hawking is careful to make clear that understanding the concepts, not the math, is fundamental.
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