- Hardcover: 248 pages
- Publisher: Bantam; Updated, Subsequent edition (October 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553103741
- ISBN-13: 978-0553103748
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.7 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,264 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition Hardcover – October 1, 1996
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A new edition?with pictures?for those who couldn't fathom the original.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"He can explain the complexities of cosmological physics with an engaging combination of clarity and wit—His is a brain of extraordinary power."—New York Review of Books
"Hawking has succeeded in writing two intertwined books, one a highly readable and popular account of the role of time in physics, the other an in-depth review—What makes all this so interesting is Hawking's ability to convoy the essential physics in words alone."—Physics Today
"In his first work of popular science, Stephen Hawking proves himself to be a master of vivid clarity—It's difficult to think of anyone else living who could have put these mathematically formidable subjects more clearly."—Chicago Tribune
"A masterful summary of what physicists now think the world is made of and how it got that way."—Wall Street journal
"This book marries a child's wonder to a genius's intellect. We journey into Hawking's universe while marvelling at his mind."—Sunday Times, London
"The famous theoretical physicist best known for his inquiries into the nature of black holes—turns out to be as skilled a popular writer as he is a mathematician—The result is probably the best single book on astrophysics for the common reader. Thank you, Dr. Hawking!"—Booklist
"Lively and provocative—Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher's gift—easy, good-natured humor and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life."—New York Times
"Charming and lucid—gives the general reader an opportunity to learn some deep science directly from the source—[A book of] sunny brilliance."—New Yorker
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I have read the first edition when I was a high school student around 1990, and this book is the revised version (revised in 1998). Compared to the first version, there are little changes. But there is one noticeable change in his point of view on the ultimate theory. According to him, recent findings on "dualities" seem to indicate that it would not be able to express an ultimate theory in a single fundamental formation. Instead, we may have to apply different theories to different situations, but in the areas which they overlap, they must coincide.
The book has a lot of merits. Firstly, non-native English users including myself would feel comfortable and find it easy to read. He doesn't use difficult words and his writing style is clear. In the sense, he is better than other English scientific authors like R. Penrose, J. Gleick and I. Stewart. Secondly, the level of the book is well-chosen for general readers and the total page number is just less than 200 pages. If they read the book, at least, they would be able to learn more about how the universe began, how the stars have been formed, and how we have come here as the result of the evolution of the universe. More than that, the book contains interesting stories of some Nobel Prize winners in physics with their results related to the mentioned fundamental questions. This will help readers understand the 20th century's progress in physics.
Thirdly, among the physicists who have contributed in searching an ultimate theory, the author himself is distinguished. He showed that a black hole radiates light, so we can say that a black hole is not completely black. Up to the time he presented this theory, everyone believed that a black hole can only absorb everything around it, but radiates nothing. To find the ultimate theory, we have to consolidate general relativity and quantum mechanics, but the two theories are inconsistent in many cases. But Hawking skillfully applied both of them to black holes, and obtained the result. The physicist, L. Smolin regards his finding as a starting point toward the ultimate theory. That we can read a book where Hawking himself explains about his theory for general readers is thrilling.
As I mentioned above, this is my second reading of the book. When I first read the book as a high school student, it was impressive for him to explain that at the beginning of the universe, there was a singularity where the energy density is infinite, and so the law of physics including general relativity, cannot hold. But at the second reading, I found out that what Hawking really wanted to say was not that we cannot know the beginning of the universe, but that we need another theory that can explain the beginning by considering both general relativity and quantum mechanics. Actually, in the book, he introduces his "no boundary" theory which explains it without the singularity. But this theory has been neither verified nor disproved by experiments until now.
Here is my advice for a reader. Don't think that you have to understand every word and sentence. Less than 200 pages, the book contains a lot of things and the author does his best in explaining them easily. For example, its explanation about the history from the beginning of the universe to the first living things on earth is outstanding. And about time travel, its arguments are ever clear and reasonable for me. But, in a few parts, the explanations are just sketchy, so if a reader is not already an expert, he could not fully understand them. When you meet such parts, just move forward. The most important thing is to learn some things and enjoy the reading.
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
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.