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A Briefer History of Time Hardcover – September 27, 2005
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I thought the book was exceptionally well written, and it was outstanding in places. It was certainly a very fun read, and I think it achieves a very lofty goal -- making liberal arts grads like me understand both the desirability and potential implications of reconciling general relativity and quantum physics. But, overall, I thought it tried to walk too fine a tightrope between discussing complex subjects and at the same time attempting to be as conversational and accessible as possible. That is a lofty goal -- hard to achieve I think. The reality is that some of these concepts are very very difficult to the uninitiated, so the cursory treatment the authors sometimes give them, in their attempt to make the book accessible and to live up to the "briefER" in the title, actually at times makes the book harder to understand, not easier. It is most acute in the book's introduction to uncertainty, quantum physics, and understanding the implications of interference experiments. More detail, not less, was needed here to reach the authors' goal of accessibility. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't seeking a text heavily laden with mathematics or equations. I just think the overriding editorial doctrine with this book was to condense wherever possible, and that is just not always possible or desirable.Read more ›
"In this book are lucid revelations on the frontiers of physics, astronomy, cosmology [the study of the universe as a whole], and courage [Dr. Stephen Hawking has ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease or motor neuron disease contracted when he was young and now is wheelchair bound]. This is also a book about God...or perhaps about the absence of God. The word God fills these pages. Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Einstein's famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe. Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God. And this makes all the more unexpected the conclusion of the effort, at least so far: a universe with no edge in space, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do."
These are the words in the last paragraph of the introduction to Hawking's very first or original book "A Brief History of Time" (1988). These words were written by the late, great Dr. Carl Sagan. (In his introduction, Sagan calls Hawking a "legend.")
Nothing has changed with this new book with respect to what Sagan says above. But as a reader of Hawking's first book, I did notice welcome changes.
First, this new book is more concise. This does not mean this book is drastically shorter than the original. This new book is about twenty pages less than the original. Also this new book contains one more chapter than the original! What this book does is cut out extraneous technical detail from the original and focuses only on the most important concepts but still maintains the essence of the original. Thus, the book seems much more concise.
Next, and this is very important, this book is more accessible.Read more ›
That is what makes Hawking's attempt to simplify his original one-syllable-less A Brief History of Time such a beguiling reader for a non-specialist like me. Call it metaphysical speculation or call it a daring attempt to translate the astrophysicists' language into yours and mine without losing the power of asking us to imagine a world nearly completely different than the one we thought we lived in. Call it what you want, it's still a read well worth the effort it requires.
Don't shy away from finishing this book if you don't understand it all. Allow it the chance to paint an impressionistic portrait of what physicists--many of them justly awe-struck by the object of their inquiry--believe that they see `out there' when some of humanity's best minds ask the fundamental questions and follow the theories (theirs is a theory-rich pursuit) where they lead. Many of those theories, as Hawking describes them, will sound like nonsense. Unless sense is different than we thought.
When I was at Cambridge, I used to bicycle past the severely disabled Stephen Hawking in his wheelchair, followed by his personal nurse, as he wheeled between home and office, his mind no doubt drifting far from the concrete course of his wheelchair across the Commons. One wonders whether paragraphs of Briefer History and other of his works were taking shape as our paths crossed.
Metaphysical speculation for those who dare to imagine things they may not fully understand. Things like wormholes, peabrains, and a universe curved so severely that words almost fail in the explaing of it.
If that sounds provocative enough to justify the effort, this book is for you.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hawking starts with an eye toward the common reader, but as the chapters evolve, the work gets too deep for anyone that does not have a BS degree.Published 9 days ago by CamCollins
A good book which attempts to make clear some complicated concepts without the necessity of having a strong mathematical background.Published 18 days ago by Ed Walach
Bought this because I couldn't get through the original, this one is almost as intense, but with colored pix. Best to go do a PhD in astrophysics instead - or watch the movie!Published 19 days ago by galfromdownunder
Well written in a language that most anyone can understand. There were a few statements that didn't seem to follow logically from previous declarations or knowledge, but overall a... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Michael G. DuPuis
A great book. I guess I was just hoping for more pictures and illustrations.Published 1 month ago by flyfish4226
My mind likes to wander and think about physics and this book was perfect for me.Published 3 months ago by Texas Tiger