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A Brief History of Time Paperback – Unabridged, September 1, 1998
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Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to help nonscientists understand the questions being asked by scientists today: Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how? Hawking attempts to reveal these questions (and where we're looking for answers) using a minimum of technical jargon. Among the topics gracefully covered are gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, the nature of time, and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory. This is deep science; these concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to cause vertigo while reading, and one can't help but marvel at Hawking's ability to synthesize this difficult subject for people not used to thinking about things like alternate dimensions. The journey is certainly worth taking, for, as Hawking says, the reward of understanding the universe may be a glimpse of "the mind of God." --Therese Littleton --This text refers to the School & Library Binding edition.
“[Hawking] can explain the complexities of cosmological physics with an engaging combination of clarity and wit. . . . His is a brain of extraordinary power.”—The New York Review of Books
“This book marries a child’s wonder to a genius’s intellect. We journey into Hawking’s universe while marvelling at his mind.”—The Sunday Times (London)
“Masterful.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Charming and lucid . . . [A book of] sunny brilliance.”—The New Yorker
“Lively and provocative . . . Mr. Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher’s gifts—easy, good-natured humor and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life.”—The New York Times
“Even as he sits helpless in his wheelchair, his mind seems to soar ever more brilliantly across the vastness of space and time to unlock the secrets of the universe.”—Time
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Top Customer Reviews
This time around, my son and I read a chapter a day and discussed it, first with each other then including my husband, the resident Big Brain. Talk about rewarding! My experience with reading this book with my son has been so positive that we are looking forward to reading the Feynman Lectures together, this time with my husband, this fall. Who knows, I might become an accidental physicist. LOL
It was similar to when I was reading the Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson; I found I really enjoyed the discussion on how discoveries were made and how the scientists with their quirky personalities interact with each other. I often find the later more interesting than the discoveries themselves. The difference of course with Bryson’s work is that Hawking is an actually player in his field so it creates a more personal involvement.
I greatly enjoyed the parts of the book when he would discuss how his personal life challenges and odd ball personality would impact his work. One example is when his disability makes an ordinary task such as going to bed long and boring, as Hawking has to let others assist him for such things, so he puts his mind to something else and makes tremendous discoveries. One of my favorite things I learned about him was that he places bets with other scientists against his own theories being true. This way if he was wrong about the science he would at least have won something.
I highly recommend this book it is a good eye-opener into how universe works.
Hawking's book is a history of the scientific theories about the universe; how it came to be, how it works, and how it will end. Starting with the theories of Aristotel and Copernicus, he discusses their theories and the advancement on those theories made by other scientists up to and even beyond Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity. The ultimate goal of all the scientists is to provide one unified theory that explains everything (but not quite the day Douglass Adams would imagine it).
I found this book to be a challenging read, which is to be expected, because it is a book dealing entirely with science and the advancement of scientific theory. Hawking did a good job of putting much of it in terms easy to understand, but I think it would be impossible to cover this subject that way in its entirety. One thing I did find very interesting is the way theories are proposed and then models are developed to test them. Then further theories are developed to correct flaws and science progresses.
Three key takeaways from the book:
1. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!
2. The universe is expanding by between 5 - 10% every thousand million years.
3. The police make use of the Doppler effect to measure the speed of cars by measuring the wavelength of pulses of radio waves reflected off them.