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A Briefer History of Time: A Special Edition of the Science Classic Hardcover – September 27, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In the 17 years since the publication of A Brief History of Time, Dr. Hawking's bestselling exposition of physics, new data from particle physics and observational astronomy have shed light on efforts to find a Grand Unified Theory of Everything that Hawking and Mlodinow use to enhance and update their answers to basic questions about the universe: where it's going and how it began. Discussed at length are the mysterious dark matter and dark energy-both of which can only be observed by their gravitational effects and are believed to make up 90 percent of the universe. Another area of research that has exploded in the past 20 years is string theory. Hawking and Mlodinow provide one of the most lucid discussions of this complex topic ever written for a general audience. Readers will come away with an excellent understanding of the apparent contradictions and conundrums at the forefront of contemporary physics. Recognizing that much of their audience will also be science fiction buffs, they include a chapter on the possibility of time travel. "Don't bet on it," the authors advise. Throughout these discussions, the authors maintain the same wry, lively tone that made the original Brief History such a delight. They close with a discussion of where physics ends and philosophy begins, "Why does the universe exist at all?" They cannot provide the answer, but they do provide an immense amount of food for thought. Highly recommended.
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From Scientific American
Hawking's A Brief History of Time, published in 1988, was a surprise best-seller but a tough read for most people who tackled it. Hawking received many requests for a version that would make his discussion of deep questions about the universe more accessible. This book does that. Hawking and Mlodinow, a physicist turned science writer, proceed by small and careful steps from the early history of astronomy to today's efforts to construct a grand unified theory of the universe.
Editors of Scientific American
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To me, this is a great book for anyone interested in the universe and not very knowledgeable on it. It's a great overview to help you dive into everything going forward. And I'm reading this while watching Tyson's Cosmos series and the combination of the two is really great.
I attended a presentation by Dr. Stephen Hawking of the content of "A Briefer History of Time", (through video hookup instead of in person due to medical problems of the author) recently before receiving and reading the book itself.
Having a little knowledge of theoretical physics, the book was an easy read for me. I was impressed with the way the authors used simple, everyday examples to illustrate the basic and foundation concepts such as Einstein's theories of special and general relativity, and how the theories regarding time, space, and the shape of the fabric of the universe interact to provide insight into the reality of the universe in which we reside.
Some have complained about the minimal discussion in this book of current topics such as string theory and M theory, but these are still being studied and developed -- I'm sure Dr. Hawking understands all of the current theories but is not yet willing to commit his extraordinary credibility to any specific theory among those available at this time.
I believe that anyone who has ever even slightly wondered how the stars got there or how our universe was formed should read this book. It is worth the effort to think about the simple examples presented until you understand the concepts being illustrated (especially in the relativity sections).
Although I have the original "A Brief History of Time", I have not read it all the way through, choosing other books instead, such as a somewhat more technical but extremely well-written and edited book by Brian Greene, "The Elegant Universe", (a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction), or a perhaps more readable but slightly out of date (1994) book, "Hyperspace", by Michio Kaku. I have read and highly recommend both of these for the more technically inclined readers.