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.
I think I understood about 4.7% of these books (The Universe in a Nutshell is basically the same book as A Brief History of Time, only slightly more accessible, briefer, and slightly more focused on things such a time travel, extraterrestrial life, and human evolution, that is, the stuff of "science fiction"). From what I gather, it all boils down to this line from Doctor Who: "Most people think that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but, really, from a nonlinear, nonsubjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbley wobbley timey wimey stuff." Fascinating, mind-warping book that explains the nature of the universe, from the cosmos to the microcosms, the nature of black holes, light, and time itself. But, as I said, not exactly accessible to the lay person. Without the illustration, impossible to understand. Grade: B+
I read this book for a physics class and I was really scared that I wouldn't understand anything. I also did not know how physics would be applied to things in outer space. I was very happy to find out that it lacked complicated equations and attempted to explain in simple terms things like black holes, the p-brain, galaxies, the possibilities for extraterrestrial life and other physics related topics. Simple language was used for the most part and when more complex things were introduced, many pictures were shown. In fact the pictures make the book. The author has a sense of humor with several jokes that lighten up the reading as well.
One of my favorite parts of the book was probably the first chapter that gives a biography of Einstein. He then references Einstein and Newton throughout the book explaining their different theories and discoveries. The black hole section was also very interesting learning the physics of how they exist and work. Now I understand a little better the physics behind Star Wars and other sci-fi movies.
It was a fun book to read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a lighter physics read where they want to learn a little more about things that they have always heard about, but were afraid to research because they might only find things that were over their head.
I had meant to get the full version but ended up with the "nutshell" version instead. As someone who has a degree in physics this book represents nothing new to me, but presents the findings of modern cosmology in a logical, accessible way that I am sure everyone can benefit from. The book is aimed at the lay person (there are no fancy equations) who may not know what scientists currently have found about the universe.
If you're only going to get one book on the astro world, want to find out if the field is interesting enough to persue further or want to learn what seems like quite a lot of knowledge, this is the book to get.
Improved over previous versions. Excellent pictures. Expensive looking. Amateur appeal; pro content.
I'm not formally educated in this subject at all, so I can attest to it's accuracy, but having read other books by Greene, Tyson, etc, I'd say this book through the use of explanations in words and pictures, is able to explain a pretty good chunk of what might be going on in the "outer" world.
Personally... i think it's all about spinning magnets.