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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 Hardcover 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
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.
Perhaps I like this book as much for how forthright he is about his life, how it has gone, and how its not necessary to be dealt the right "cards" to take advantage of what you have. The book is probably worthwhile for the one point he makes about how its been a blessing for him to be non-communicative (or rather severely communication challenged). He says straight up people leave him alone so he has time to think and prepare his hypotheses and write about them, something that he didn't have time to do when he could easily communicate. He's a very interesting human and has profound observations about the universe that do explain in greater detail than I ever previously understood. His descriptions of Black Holes are thought provoking.
I know it was written quite some time ago, but a few 'tones' seemed discordant with modern scientific writing to me. Firstly, why does Professor Hawking eschew scientific notation when describing very large or small numbers? Does he feel the target audience incapable of grasping the concept? I found it unnecessarily cumbersome and ludicrous to have to parse "ten thousand million million" into a digestible format. The other, more worrisome, flavor to his writing is the frequent nods toward and mentions of "God", or the intentions of "God" in "creating" the universe and its underlying physical laws upon which the book is based. In doing so, some of the material came across as woo instead of proper scientific discourse. I can't help but think I am missing an underlying aspect to this, but there it is.