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A Brief History of Time

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In the ten years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking's classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than nine million copies in forty languages sold worldwide. That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the te In the ten years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking's classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than nine million copies in forty languages sold worldwide. That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic worlds. These observations have confirmed many of Professor Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book, including the recent discoveries of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE), which probed back in time to within 300,000 years of the universe's beginning and revealed wrinkles in the fabric of space-time that he had projected. Eager to bring to his original text the new knowledge revealed by these observations, as well as his own recent research, Professor Hawking has prepared a new introduction to the book, written an entirely new chapter on wormholes and time travel, and updated the chapters throughout.


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In the ten years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking's classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than nine million copies in forty languages sold worldwide. That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the te In the ten years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking's classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than nine million copies in forty languages sold worldwide. That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic worlds. These observations have confirmed many of Professor Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book, including the recent discoveries of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE), which probed back in time to within 300,000 years of the universe's beginning and revealed wrinkles in the fabric of space-time that he had projected. Eager to bring to his original text the new knowledge revealed by these observations, as well as his own recent research, Professor Hawking has prepared a new introduction to the book, written an entirely new chapter on wormholes and time travel, and updated the chapters throughout.

30 review for A Brief History of Time

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This book puts me in mind of the story about how a Harvard number theorist, through some malfunction of the scheduling computer, got assigned to teach an introductory course in pre-calculus. Being one of those individuals to whom math came so easily that they couldn't grasp how difficult others found it, the professor had no idea what to cover in such a course. So, he went to the chair of the department, who told him: "You'll want to start with the real number-line and then progress to inequalit This book puts me in mind of the story about how a Harvard number theorist, through some malfunction of the scheduling computer, got assigned to teach an introductory course in pre-calculus. Being one of those individuals to whom math came so easily that they couldn't grasp how difficult others found it, the professor had no idea what to cover in such a course. So, he went to the chair of the department, who told him: "You'll want to start with the real number-line and then progress to inequalities; from there, move on to quadratic equations, then trigonometry and the wrapping function, Cartesian and polar coordinate systems, and, if time permits, conic sections." The professor thanked the chairperson and went off to meet with his first class. Next week, he was back. "What should I teach them now?" he said. A Brief History of Time is like that -- Professor Hawking doesn't seem to notice when his treatment progresses from the obvious to the arcane, ending with his concept of "imaginary time" (very nearly incomprehensible in this overly brief presentation). Fun nonetheless.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    It is not clear to me who is in the target audience for this book. At times it tries to explain basic concepts of modern physics in simple language, and at other times it assumes a familiarity with the same subject. For the first time I think I "understand" why absolute time is not consistent with relativity theory or that space-time curvature supplants the notion of gravity, and for that I thank the author. There are a few other things I believe I have a glimpse of having (finally) slogged thro It is not clear to me who is in the target audience for this book. At times it tries to explain basic concepts of modern physics in simple language, and at other times it assumes a familiarity with the same subject. For the first time I think I "understand" why absolute time is not consistent with relativity theory or that space-time curvature supplants the notion of gravity, and for that I thank the author. There are a few other things I believe I have a glimpse of having (finally) slogged through the book. On the other hand, there are many places where he writes as if it were clear what he is talking about even though it would require a good deal of background knowledge. To give but one example, he starts talking about summing up over possible world histories (I cannot locate the quotation) without explaining what that would mean. Trained in statistics, I have some idea that he is talking about mathematical expectation in the context of quantum mechanics, but I don't know how another reader might make any sense of it (and I certainly don't have more than a vague notion). There are irritating writing practices that could have used some editing, e.g., the use of the naked pronominal adjective "this" when in the middle of a dense explanation of an abstruse concept(e.g., "This had serious implications for the ultimate fate of massive stars."). My biggest complaints, however, are about his philosophical opinions. Obviously he is entitled to think as he wishes about the ultimate questions, but his assertion that his hypothesis of a finite world without beginning or end would leave no place for God seems beside the point. The classic divide has not changed: some folks look around and say stuff just is, and other folks say there's a power behind the stuff that has at least as much going for it as we do. That argument hasn't changed with his theories. At one point in the book he claims that the late John Paul II told gathered scientists that they mustn't inquire into the Big Bang because that was God's territory. I would wager with anyone reading this comment that such an assertion is just plain false. JPII was a flawed mortal, to be sure, but he was no dope; it certainly sounds to me like someone hearing what he thinks the pope would say. (And the Galileo jokes are pretty dumb -- does anyone think that JPII, who apologized for the embarrassing Galileo fiasco, would go after this guy? It must be all that influence the Vatican has had in Britain over the last 400 years that has him scared.) Other philosophical complaints involve his use of entropy (he defines it first within closed systems and then uses it to explain why the "thermodynamic arrow of time" and the "personal arrow of time" must run in the same direction -- leaping from a box of molecules to the entire universe!), his droning on about what black holes are like when he doesn't know for sure they exist, his statements about "random" and being 95% certain a theory is true (does that mean about 95 out of 100 theories like that are true??). His opinions may be very rich, deep, though-provoking, but how would I (or most general readers) know? You can't really evaluate a judgment unless you know something in the field. And so that is why I ultimately cannot recommend this book: if you know physics inside and out, you might find his opinions interesting. If you don't, you can only walk around parroting what he says about black holes as if you had a clue what you were talking about. What we all really need is a remedial course in physics!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Isn't it amazing that a person can read a book like A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and come away feeling both smarter and dumber than before he started? What a universe we live in! It's quite short and generally a quick read. Not every page is filled with mind-blowing/numbing theories and brain-busting equations. Some of it is just history, say on Newton and such. However, there were a few pages worth of passages where my wee brain felt like it was getting sucked into a black hole...m Isn't it amazing that a person can read a book like A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and come away feeling both smarter and dumber than before he started? What a universe we live in! It's quite short and generally a quick read. Not every page is filled with mind-blowing/numbing theories and brain-busting equations. Some of it is just history, say on Newton and such. However, there were a few pages worth of passages where my wee brain felt like it was getting sucked into a black hole...mainly during the black hole segment. I've forgotten so much since I left school, and since school was such a long time ago, some of what was taught back then is now outdated, it was nice to read this refresher/cleanser. I came away with a better understanding of the Big Bang theory and why it's plausible (Not the tv show. Its existence is not plausible). I'm trying to sort out the time/space quantifiability thing. That's going to require a reread...and probably further study elsewhere. Surprisingly, I also came away with the idea that God and science can coexist. I didn't expect that. I figured someone like Hawking would be like, "God? Pssh, whatever." But that's not his take at all, or at least that not the impression this book left me with. A Brief History of Time was written with accessibility in mind, knowing full well idiots like me wouldn't buy it, read it or recommend it if it were impossibly dense. Hawking's sense of humor even comes through on occasion, which is always appreciated in these sciencey texty thingies. So, I'll probably move on to his Briefer History... next and I'd be quite willing to read others as well!

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Things I learnt from Stephen Hawking 11 October 2014 Ever since I took up physics in year 11 I have had a love affair with the subject, which is odd since I went on to study an arts/law degree (but that probably had something to do with the fact that I would not have had the staying power to pour all of my energy into helping human knowledge advance towards establishing a unified theory). I still wonder where I ended up getting this book, and it had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while (pro Things I learnt from Stephen Hawking 11 October 2014 Ever since I took up physics in year 11 I have had a love affair with the subject, which is odd since I went on to study an arts/law degree (but that probably had something to do with the fact that I would not have had the staying power to pour all of my energy into helping human knowledge advance towards establishing a unified theory). I still wonder where I ended up getting this book, and it had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while (probably because I was too busy listening to people tell me why I shouldn't read this book), but it wasn't until John Lennox said that it was the most unfinished book (that is people start reading it but do not have the staying power to get to the end) ever written (I'm sure there are other books that beat this book though). There are quite a few things that I have discovered while reading this book, and it is these discoveries that I wish to share with you: 1) This is not an anti-God book One of the impressions that I got from certain people was that this was a book that an atheist wrote to try to argue that God does not exist, in much the same way that Richard Dawkins does in his books. However, that statement could not be further from the truth. In fact, throughout the book the question of the existence of God perpetually hangs in the background. Granted, Hawkings does suggest that if the concept of a infinite bounded universe (don't ask) turns out to be true then it would undermine God's existence, however he does not actually say that this may be the case. In fact his final sentence in this book is that the reason we study physics and try to find a unified theory is because we, as a race, seek to understand the mind of God. 2) Stephen Hawkings is actually a really good writer This probably goes without saying, especially since the cover of my book says that it is a 'record breaking best seller'. While he is involved in some very serious and complicated research he is able to write in a way that many of us who have probably studied physics up to a year twelve level (that is the end of High school) can understand. Okay, I probably have an advantage over most other people since my Dad is a theoretical physicist that we have regular conversations about some of these high level concepts (such as by having any more than three dimensions would cause the orbits of the planets to collapse), but I still found that he was very easy to follow and he explained many of these high level concepts in a way that many of us could understand. 3) Scientists have a strange way of viewing the universe Many of us would be familiar with this guy: but as it turns out, after reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that a lot of theoretical physicists seem to live in the same world that he does. Okay, they probably don't spend their time at the comic book store, or arguing whether Babylon Five is better than Star Trek (actually, one of my primary school friends is a theoretical physicist, and we did have such an argument), but they do seem to see the world in a way that we ordinary people would consider strange. For instance, we see space as flat, meaning that if we look at a star, as far as we are concerned the star is in that direction. However physicists see space as being curved and that a straight line is not necessarily straight. We would see a brick wall as being a solid object and that the idea of walking through one would result in a sore nose. However physicists see it as being made up of mostly space, and the only reason we can't walk through it is because the nuclear forces (forces that exist inside an atom, not the force that can level an entire city) prevent us for doing so. Then there is the concept of dimensions: to us there are only three dimensions, however some scientists (and Hawking is not one of them) see that there are in fact ten, or even more, dimensions. 4) Why are so many scientists atheists While reading this book I could not get past about how complex this universe is and it made me wonder why it is, with the mathematical precision of the universe, and the complexity that lies therein, that so many scientists seem to argue that it all came about by chance. Even Hawking argues, using the second law of thermodynamics, that the universe cannot move from a state of disorder to a state of order – a broken plate simply cannot mend itself. However, the argument also goes that with the Big Bang Theory (not the television show) that the universe began in a state of disorder and moved to a state of order, however the laws of physics seem to suggest otherwise because what the big bang did was sent in motion a series of laws that caused the universe to come about to what we have at the moment. However, to go into details would require some intense theoretical physics, something which I have do desire to delve into at the moment. 5) Scientists assume the speed of light is a constant The truth is that it is not. Okay, if light were travelling through a vacuum where there are no external forces acting upon it, then it is a constant, but that is very rarely the case. Take for instance this phenomena: The reason light behaves thus is because when it hits the prism it SLOWS DOWN, and when it slows down it refracts. Thus my point is proven, the speed of light is only a constant when there are no external forces acting upon it. So, what external forces may act upon light in space. Well, first of all there are black holes. When light hits a black hole the force of gravity is so strong that it will actually prevent light from escaping. Thus, gravity is a force that effects light and slows it down. Then there is the concept of dark matter, which are clouds of matter that do not emit light and float between the star systems. Okay, we know very little about the stuff (and it is also a theory, so it has not been proven) but my hypothesis is that if this stuff exists then would it not have an effect upon light, namely by slowing it down, which means that there is a possibility that our calculations as to the distance of stars from our own Sun could actually be wrong? 6) Scientists do not know as much as we think they know One of the things that Hawking stresses in this book is that theories are not actually proven. A theory is an idea that has some foundation based on mathematical calculations and empirical evidence. Therein lies the problem. Much of our understanding of the universe is based upon mathematical calculations, and it appears that if an event comes about which causes this mathematical calculation to break down, they immediately set out to try to find another mathematical equation to plug the hole. Take light for instance. For years we believed that light acted as a wave and suddenly it was discovered that it also behaves like a particle (a particle of light is called a photon). The same goes with matter – for years we believed that they were particles when all of the sudden we discovered that they can also behave like waves. As such, our understanding of the universe suddenly breaks down (meaning that we are not necessarily made up of atoms, but have wavelike properties as well). Mathematical equations have been very destructive in out modern world. Take the Global Financial Crisis for instance. A bunch of apparently really smart people create complex mathematical equations to determine when to buy and sell shares and how to make billions of dollars. However what these equations did not take into account was the fact that people could not simply continue to accumulate debt without having to pay it back and when people began to default on their loans enmass, the whole concept broke down and we were taken to the brink of financial armageddon. Another point goes back to Ancient Greece. Here we have the theory of Democritus, namely that matter was not infinitely indivisible (the smallest piece of matter is an atom), and then the theory of Aristotle, that is that matter is infinitely divisible. Scientists preferred Democritus' theory, however they soon discovered that you could break down the atom into protons and neutrons, and you could even break them down to quarks. So, maybe Aristotle was right after all. 7) We accept their theories because our gadgets work It goes without saying that their research and discoveries have lead to the computer that I am writing this on, the energy that powers our devices, and the bombs that can level entire cities. We know how to make a nuclear bomb, as well as a smart phone, so we don't question what they say, because it obviously works. However, as a friend of mine once said, it is still all based on theory, and just because something works does not necessarily mean that the theory is correct. Remember that penicillin was discovered by blind chance. 8) Nobel Prizes are simply shiny baubles that have no merit Okay, maybe the people that win these prizes are actually really smart, but then again, the guys who set up Long-Term Capital Management also won a Nobel prize, which proves my point. 9) Nobody really knows how gravity works Gravity is one of those odd forces that doesn't seem to connect with any of the other forces in our universe. As Hawking points out, there are four forces that have been identified: electro-magnetic, strong nuclear, weak nuclear, and gravity. Out of those four forces (five if you divide electric and magnetic, but since electricity will create a magnetic force, they are effectively combined) only gravity stands out. This is probably why Hawking spends so much time talking about black holes because black holes are where the gravitational pull is so strong that not even light can escape from its grasp. The other thing is that gravity does not, at least in our knowledge, have an opposing force. Gravity basically sucks, and that is all it does – it doesn't repulse as the other forces can. It is interesting that in some texts that I have read (maybe it is speculative science-fiction but I simply cannot remember off the top of my head) some people have suggested that gravity is actually a force from another universe that affects our universe and what it is effectively doing is sucking our universe into their universe. However, as I have said, that is incredibly speculative, and since I am not a theoretical physicist I can't really say any more on the subject. 10) The God of the Gaps is a cop-out The idea of the God of the Gaps is that where there are gaps in our knowledge we simply say 'oh, God did that' and think nothing more of it. This goes back to the days of paganism (and Medieval Europe) where all of the unknown forces, such as the weather, was attributed God (or the gods) and we could not know anything beyond that fact. However I am arguing that it is a cop out. Creation scientists who resort to this argument are at best lazy and at worst dangerous. The reason I say that is that it discourages research into areas that we do not understand. Okay, we may never be able to control the weather, or predict earthquakes, but that does not mean that we should throw our hands up in the air and say 'this is too hard'. While I may be taking a swipe at creation scientists here, I would also take a swipe at the atheists who claim that there is no God. The reason I say that is because there seems to be a fear within the scientific community that suggests that we may not be able to know everything, or that our understanding of the universe may be wrong. The problem that arises is that if we throw the idea of God out of the window and claim that the universe came about by chance, then we deny the fact that we live in an incredibly ordered universe that we can learn and understand through the development of mathematical formulae. If a formulae turns out to be wrong, that does not mean that the universe will collapse in on itself – it won't – it just means that we have to go back to the drawing board and start over from scratch. 11) Why are Creation Scientists so dogmatic Why is it that some members of the scientific community insist that we must take the Bible literally? The Bible is not a scientific text, and it was never meant to be a scientific text. It is a theological text that tells us how we should live with one another and how we should view God. Science exists beyond the Bible, and neither contradicts the other. Okay, granted, God has intervened in this world and done things that break the laws of science, but doesn't he have a right to do that – he created the universe? However, what the Bible tells us is that God is a god of order, and if he is a god of order then does it not make sense that the universe that he created is an ordered universe? So, maybe you are looking for a whiz bang conclusion to my exposition on this book, but all I can say is that what I have written above pretty much sums up what I have learnt from this book. In a nutshell (hey, this is me in a nutshell), all I can say is that what I have learnt from this book is that the world is an amazingly ordered place in which we live, and having now completed this book I am just as committed to my Christian faith as I ever was. However, if theoretical physics fascinates you, then this is certainly a book that you should give a read (though you have probably done that already). This review also appears on my blog. I have also commented on this book in my review on Interstellar.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes What is it that our eyes do that could possibly affect things? Stephen Hawking A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes is a popular-science book on cosmology (the study of the universe) by British physicist Stephen Hawking. It was first published in 1988. Hawking wrote the book for nonspecialist readers with no prior knowledge of scientific theories. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه مارس سال 1996 میلادی عنوان: تاریخچه زمان A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes What is it that our eyes do that could possibly affect things? Stephen Hawking A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes is a popular-science book on cosmology (the study of the universe) by British physicist Stephen Hawking. It was first published in 1988. Hawking wrote the book for nonspecialist readers with no prior knowledge of scientific theories. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه مارس سال 1996 میلادی عنوان: تاریخچه زمان : از انفجار بزرگ تا سیاهچالها؛ نوشته: استیون هاوکینگ؛ مترجم: محمدرضا محجوب؛ نشر: تهران، انتشار، چاپ نخست 1369، مشخصات ظاهری: 231 ص، مصور، نمودار، چاپ سوم: زمستان 1369؛ ‏چاپ پنجم: 1375؛ چاپ ششم: 1378؛ چاپ هفتم: 1380؛ ‌شابک: ایکس-964573519 ؛ این کتاب به عنوان پرخواننده‌ ترین کتاب کیهان‌ شناسی شهرت یافته و به بیش از سی و سه زبان دنیا تا سال 1993 میلادی ترجمه و چاپ شده‌ است. هاوکینگ در این کتاب با زبانی ساده به بازگویی داستان جهان پرداخته است. ا. شربیانی

  6. 4 out of 5

    Simon Clark

    This is an absolutely magical book, both objectively and for me specifically. I first read it when I was about 9 or 10, and ever since I've assumed that I didn't understand a thing, and read it as a childish boast. Fast forward nearly twenty years, degree and PhD in physics in hand, and I decided to give it a proper read. Much to my surprise I found that the book had permeated my brain! I remembered a huge number of the explanations, and the book resonated with the way I've thought about physics This is an absolutely magical book, both objectively and for me specifically. I first read it when I was about 9 or 10, and ever since I've assumed that I didn't understand a thing, and read it as a childish boast. Fast forward nearly twenty years, degree and PhD in physics in hand, and I decided to give it a proper read. Much to my surprise I found that the book had permeated my brain! I remembered a huge number of the explanations, and the book resonated with the way I've thought about physics my entire academic career - I think I took in a great deal more than I first thought! As a primer to physics (I would say modern physics, but the book is a little out of date) you really couldn't ask for anything better than this. Especially when it comes to cosmology, this is possibly the best popular physics book that I've ever read. It really is a classic for a reason. It's such a concise, understandable introduction to the field that I'm determined to get my girlfriend (a linguist with no real interest in physics) to read it. Not just because I think she'll understand it, but because I think she will enjoy it! One peculiarity of the text is Hawking returning to the concept of God (with a capital G) over and over again. In some ways this feels like a transitional text, marking the passing of the public generation for whom the church determined the order of all things, and the coming of the current, secular generation. Unlike other authors (looking at you, Dawkins) Hawking always does so in a way that feels respectful while also forcefully stating his scientific case. It's quite feat of writing, much like the rest of the work. You really should read this, it's fantastic.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “The universe doesn't allow perfection.” ― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time I know. I know. I both loved and hated this book. I definitely should never have read this book, cut the pages, opened the box, etc.. Somehow Stephen Hawking has written a book that gently fluffs the tail on Schrödinger's cat (or perhaps Schrödinger's cat is fluffing Dr. Hawking). Look, no doubt the guy is a genius and has a fantastic story (ALS, computer voice, nurses, Black Holes, strippers, movies, etc). My pro “The universe doesn't allow perfection.” ― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time I know. I know. I both loved and hated this book. I definitely should never have read this book, cut the pages, opened the box, etc.. Somehow Stephen Hawking has written a book that gently fluffs the tail on Schrödinger's cat (or perhaps Schrödinger's cat is fluffing Dr. Hawking). Look, no doubt the guy is a genius and has a fantastic story (ALS, computer voice, nurses, Black Holes, strippers, movies, etc). My problem is the wussification of a large scientific narrative by one of Big “P” Physics primary scientists. Let someone else write a pop-GUT/Blackhole/Big Bang story. Let another writer do the pop-up Children's book with the scratch-n-sniff singularity, the rotating black hole, the pull-out universe. I want Dr. Hawking doing smart stuff. Let Bill Bryson write the summary science. But it is too late for me. I already crossed the damn event horizon. I've just become entangled with his book, so my "observer state" now corresponds to the damn book and the damn book review being both five stars and 1 stars is no longer a possibility; my reader state is entangled or linked now with my own review so that the "observation of the book review's state" and the "review's state" correspond with each other. I am finished. Hey, now to go see some movies about blackholes and wormholes and assholes.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    Apparently this book tops the world list of "bought but not read", which may explain why it's so universally acclaimed as a work of genius. If you know anything much about relativity or cosmology, it comes across as a potboiler, admittedly a well-written one with a great final sentence. I wasn't impressed. But... without it, we would never have had MC Hawking. If you haven't come across him, start with the lyrics to "E = MC Hawking". Then buy A Brief History of Rhyme.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    I've had this on my shelf for years, but somehow I've never got round to actually reading it. Time to see what it's all about!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Hawking is a brilliant physicist and a true expert in explaining highly complex aspects of our physical universe in terms that can be understood by most lay people. Where Hawking fails, in my opinion, is his hubris. He proceeds in to the realm of metaphysics and religion in several portions of this book. For instance, in his chapter on the "arrow of time", he states that, essentially, the universe can only move in one direction of time. It cannot go backwards. He also states that this limits the Hawking is a brilliant physicist and a true expert in explaining highly complex aspects of our physical universe in terms that can be understood by most lay people. Where Hawking fails, in my opinion, is his hubris. He proceeds in to the realm of metaphysics and religion in several portions of this book. For instance, in his chapter on the "arrow of time", he states that, essentially, the universe can only move in one direction of time. It cannot go backwards. He also states that this limits the powers of God himself. Now, Hawking never qualifies those statements by defining "God". However, if he is talking about the Biblical God, how can you honestly think you're so intelligent as to place limits on a limitless being? If God is so powerful as to have created the universe and all the physical laws, why wouldn't he be powerful enough to change those laws any time he chooses? It is the same concept as a scientist creating a computer simulation of the universe. The scientist can, at any time during the simulation, alter the underlying framework of the simulation, effectively changing the physical laws that simulated universe operates under. Now, whether you believe in God or not, the mere fact that Hawking has the audacity to think he can assign limits on a limitless being should cause you some concern. Hawking, because of his fame and brilliance, is a man that people listen to when he speaks. That gives him immense power over the minds of his readers. He should be more careful in choosing his words. When Hawking sticks to his strengths, however, the book is second to none. Hawking truly has a gift of explaining the powerful forces that shape our lives in ways anyone can understand. If this book had been edited better, it would have received a few more stars from me, but I can't reward stubborn scientific pride resulting in false assumptions.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Manny says this book is in the "bought but not read" category for most people. Well, I'm proud to say that I bought and read it, that too in nearly one sitting - back in my geeky days, when I used to get a sexual high just from solving a hard maths puzzle. Unfortunately, I don't remember much of it (time for a re-read!) but I remember taking away the idea that time is a sphere. Being Indian, I loved this - because we are strong champions of cyclical time. Also, if time and space are both curved, Manny says this book is in the "bought but not read" category for most people. Well, I'm proud to say that I bought and read it, that too in nearly one sitting - back in my geeky days, when I used to get a sexual high just from solving a hard maths puzzle. Unfortunately, I don't remember much of it (time for a re-read!) but I remember taking away the idea that time is a sphere. Being Indian, I loved this - because we are strong champions of cyclical time. Also, if time and space are both curved, it creates the possibility of jumping from one place and time to another; which is just delicious. (I bought a pirated edition of this book for 25 rupees from the roadside at Connaught Place in New Delhi. The vendor asked for 50, I said 25, and the bargaining was just starting when he spied a policeman approaching - so he let me have it for whatever I was offering! "Time" was on my side.)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    The main idea to take away from this book is that time has a clear direction. Entropy is the idea that the universe moves from highly ordered states to less ordered states. If you take the lid off a bottle of perfume, and leave it off for a few days the perfume will go from being highly ordered (all in the bottle) to highly disordered (all over the room). Hawking uses this idea to explain why travelling back in time is impossible. It requires very little energy to knock a glass over and smash it The main idea to take away from this book is that time has a clear direction. Entropy is the idea that the universe moves from highly ordered states to less ordered states. If you take the lid off a bottle of perfume, and leave it off for a few days the perfume will go from being highly ordered (all in the bottle) to highly disordered (all over the room). Hawking uses this idea to explain why travelling back in time is impossible. It requires very little energy to knock a glass over and smash it - but think of how much energy it would take to make the glass jump back into place - all of the bits perfectly back where they were prior to the glass breaking. It would be impossible - and that impossibility is what gives time its clear direction. Philosophically, I tend to feel that the book makes far too much of the Uncertainty Principle. But that is another story. This isn't the easiest book to read in the world and is probably the most bought science book of all time while also being the one most likely gave up on after a chapter or two - but it is a fascinating read all the same.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. On Horse-Flies: "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking (Original Review, 1987) Will having read Hawking's book help me understand the way a horse-fly "grasps" the arrow of time? For starters, I'm great at killing horse-flies by hand. Should I get some black pyjamas and a balaclava and become a ninja? And there was me thinking that the horse-fly's all round vision and short nerve pathway had something to do with their reaction speed. If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. On Horse-Flies: "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking (Original Review, 1987) Will having read Hawking's book help me understand the way a horse-fly "grasps" the arrow of time? For starters, I'm great at killing horse-flies by hand. Should I get some black pyjamas and a balaclava and become a ninja? And there was me thinking that the horse-fly's all round vision and short nerve pathway had something to do with their reaction speed. Being a horse-fly-killing-ninja, what do I need Hawking’s book for? Move aside Hawking!

  14. 4 out of 5

    amy ☂︎

    stephen hawking has always been my favorite person on this planet and his recent passing has finally inspired me - after years and years of putting it off - to pick up his most famous work. i‘m excited to learn more about space, the love of my life. rest in peace, stephen hawking. what an honor to have lived at the same place and time as you. 💫

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shine Sebastian

    Without a doubt a masterpiece! It's just incredible how Hawking explains to us the complex and mindboggling secrets and concepts of physics and our universe, with amazing wit , clarity, and simplicity. The questions that we all used to ask to ourselves and to our parents, about god, about time, life and it's meaning, the sky, stars, about who created our universe and about it's beginning, about our fate...... we had that unique quality called curiosity when we were children, but then, as we grew up Without a doubt a masterpiece! It's just incredible how Hawking explains to us the complex and mindboggling secrets and concepts of physics and our universe, with amazing wit , clarity, and simplicity. The questions that we all used to ask to ourselves and to our parents, about god, about time, life and it's meaning, the sky, stars, about who created our universe and about it's beginning, about our fate...... we had that unique quality called curiosity when we were children, but then, as we grew up , we somehow lost that ability to ask and question, we no longer felt the same thirst for knowledge and a deeper understanding of things as we reached adulthood, those questions we abandoned as our busy lives got in our way.. But there are quite a few people, whose curiosity and desire to find out more, to explore the truths of this vast universe, never dies. They are always always on the lookout for answers to questions deemed unanswerable , and then to ask new questions , that one by one, fills the gap between us and the truth and makes our understanding of this universe and it's secrets a bit more clearer and deeper, Stephen Hawking is one such blessed genius! In this book, Hawking familiarise us with the possible beginning of the universe or space-time , which is called the Big Bang Singularity, the Black Holes with extremely strong gravitational force so that even light can't escape from it, the reasons why we are at this time and space of the universe [ this might be because that the present condition, universe ( if there are other universes), and dimensions are the only configuration which allows the existence of intelligent beings like us who can observe and ask these questions], the long quest for a Grand Unification Theory ( that will explain the whole universe completely ) which still continues, and so many more fascinating and incredible stuff. The writing style is highly enjoyable, Hawking is a great teacher and a wonderful writer, his wit and engaging writing makes me forget that I'm reading a scientific book! Highly recommended to everyone who wants to know a little more about this universe and it's secrets. 5 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Stephen Hawking's book is easy to read, but harder to comprehend. In every chapter came a point where my brain couldn't hold another permutation of a theory, and as the book progressed, I ended up taking the same approach as I do when reading a Norse saga for the first time. With sagas, I just read, even if my brain doesn't seem to retain all the information about who is related to who and what they named their horse. Inevitably, at the end, I have a reasonable basic grasp of the saga, and then Stephen Hawking's book is easy to read, but harder to comprehend. In every chapter came a point where my brain couldn't hold another permutation of a theory, and as the book progressed, I ended up taking the same approach as I do when reading a Norse saga for the first time. With sagas, I just read, even if my brain doesn't seem to retain all the information about who is related to who and what they named their horse. Inevitably, at the end, I have a reasonable basic grasp of the saga, and then I have to read it over again to fit more information into that basic understanding. I don't know if the same will hold true here, but it's a nice hope.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael Finocchiaro

    A classic text where the amazing Stephen Hawking explains string theory and quantum mechanics "for dummies." Highly readable and even comical, it is a superb read. I need to go back and read this one again myself!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Miquel Reina

    Oh, this is definitely one of my favorite books of science and my favorite one of Stephen Hawking. I love the way Hawking explains concepts so abstract and difficult to understand as time or black holes. It's a science book for the general public; you don't need to know math or physics to understand the amazing concepts about the Universe he tries to explain us. I totally recommend A Brief History Of Time to everyone, not only the lovers of science. Spanish version: Éste es sin duda uno de mis lib Oh, this is definitely one of my favorite books of science and my favorite one of Stephen Hawking. I love the way Hawking explains concepts so abstract and difficult to understand as time or black holes. It's a science book for the general public; you don't need to know math or physics to understand the amazing concepts about the Universe he tries to explain us. I totally recommend A Brief History Of Time to everyone, not only the lovers of science. Spanish version: Éste es sin duda uno de mis libros favoritos de ciencia y mi favorito de Stephen Hawking. Me encanta la manera como Hawking explica conceptos tan abstractos y de difícil comprensión como el tiempo o los agujeros negros. Es un libro de divulgación científica para todos los públicos, en los que no hace falta saber de matemáticas o física para comprender los increíbles conceptos que nos cuenta del universo. Lo recomiendo a todo el mundo, no solo a los amantes de la ciencia.

  19. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    All I can really tell you with certainty is 'A Brief History of Time' is very logically organized, but as each chapter described a series of linked discoveries and what it all meant, unfortunately it mostly was still opaque to me. Topics are introduced logically as Stephen Hawking describes in plain English the discoveries of scientists. He usually begins with observable phenomena which have led to verified maths (not actually detailed) demonstrating very likely how the Universe, and presumably All I can really tell you with certainty is 'A Brief History of Time' is very logically organized, but as each chapter described a series of linked discoveries and what it all meant, unfortunately it mostly was still opaque to me. Topics are introduced logically as Stephen Hawking describes in plain English the discoveries of scientists. He usually begins with observable phenomena which have led to verified maths (not actually detailed) demonstrating very likely how the Universe, and presumably Time with it, came into existence. Hawking does not detail the math in 'A Brief History of Time', but he tries to explain the significance of the observations. The Universe operates in a manner which can be predicted once the math formulas are sussed out from the objects being observed, or at least the side effect of an unseen act can be observed. Each discovery builds on older discoveries, which leads to more knowledge. I can tell I grasped only the surface of how each discovery led to a more holistic understanding of many separate ideas from many separate pieces. I do understand the bare bones of Hawking’s description of an experiment or observation, and I see vaguely how scientists have ultimately fitted it into the narrative of astrophysics. To me, it seems like each scientist was figuratively designing a personal knitted pattern for an afghan square (observation, experiment and math), which is ultimately tried on to fit into a larger, but incomplete, afghan of many other formerly disparate squares, placing it where to the scientists' best judgement the square seems to work out (or sometimes not, and sometimes the mismatched piece has to be unraveled and redesigned, or moved elsewhere). But I have difficulty in understanding some of the individual designs of the pieces, and I don't know sometimes why scientists have decided this piece must fit there in that location; however, I understand the ultimate description of conclusions reached which have been the result from the fit of the pieces. I can see Astronomy is where everything learned since the Ancient Greeks, but especially from the discoveries of Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, has been like adding cars to a train engine, delivering more and more understanding about the size of the universe, its age, its chemistry and its elements, and how stars and galaxies came into being from a variety of small elemental particles responding to forces; all of which shockingly behave in a manner which can be mathematically described and reproduced. Sadly, I understood only half of the book despite reading it cover to cover and studying the included illustrations, and referring again and again to the included glossary and index in back. Kidding! No, not. Actually I'm not kidding. Reading this did not cause my brain to fizz, or jizz. (Give me a break gentlemen readers and other Goodreads reviewers! This book gave some of you guys the same mental thrills of, quote, “hard ons”!?!? Really. REALLY? And here I am, my brain being juiced into images of knitting afghan squares! I missed something huge in my understanding, for sure.) Instead, for me, thinking about the material was like being in a state of inebriation and working hard to connect sentences into a coherent communication, but it was worth the read somewhat as it filled in some blanks far more clearly than I have seen before! Hawking has a gentle humor throughout, especially in including God's absence after the winding of clocks and universes. But I think without having taken significant science and math studies in high school, or better yet, in college, this book is not simple or complete enough. It is sort of a partial introduction to astronomy, and it discusses a few physics concepts - the bits that lead to a discussion of gravity, the Big Bang, black holes, dimensions, time travel, wormholes, the 'arrow of time' which is also about boundaries and the shape of the Universe (I got lost in the theoretical concept of a round surface of a ball shaping the direction of Time like the moon orbiting the earth) and unifying the two major sciences of physics (classical and quantum) through string theories - so the book often was over my head in describing astrophysic concepts and discoveries. I know I could not pick out which concepts are supposed to be describing actual physical shapes or processes from otherwise imaginary thought concepts but impossible to reproduce in physical form. For example, the discussion on Time - Time is not something any human can see, so I don't get the Time arrow discussion in the book hardly at all. Time is possibly some kind of force going in a circle, maybe, or maybe not, depending on what is ultimately the Universe's 'boundary'? Frankly, I was completely lost in this chapter! I estimate I understood 70 pages out of 200, gentle reader.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Farebrother

    I've read this book twice, and for a brief instant, when reading about event horizons, I got it. But don't ask me to explain it now. The book explains in lay terms what several decades ago was only understood by a handful of people. Surprisingly, it is not devoid of humour, and is actually very readable. The remarkable author leads the reader on a journey from the earliest premises of the ancient astronomers right up to black holes and white dwarves, and the latest thinking on the future of the u I've read this book twice, and for a brief instant, when reading about event horizons, I got it. But don't ask me to explain it now. The book explains in lay terms what several decades ago was only understood by a handful of people. Surprisingly, it is not devoid of humour, and is actually very readable. The remarkable author leads the reader on a journey from the earliest premises of the ancient astronomers right up to black holes and white dwarves, and the latest thinking on the future of the universe. He appears to have escaped the vast egos that led the likes of Isaac Newton to discredit their rivals, and gives credit to the work of others where due. At a time when more information is available to more people than ever before, reading a book like this reminds you that understanding still requires effort, and that passive access to information is of only relative worth by itself. Priceless.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف

    Rest In Peace Mr. Hawking, and Thank You During my time with this text, I made a comment alongside the percentage update I have for books I'm reading on goodreads. I said it was a strange experience to be reading an important and well loved book, only to have the author pass away during the time of said reading. To add to this, I was actually given this book years ago by someone close, and I never made a full start on it until now. So it was as equally saddening as it was surreal when I woke up Rest In Peace Mr. Hawking, and Thank You During my time with this text, I made a comment alongside the percentage update I have for books I'm reading on goodreads. I said it was a strange experience to be reading an important and well loved book, only to have the author pass away during the time of said reading. To add to this, I was actually given this book years ago by someone close, and I never made a full start on it until now. So it was as equally saddening as it was surreal when I woke up on the 14th March 2018 to hear Steven Hawking had died. I immediately looked at my copy of A Brief History of Time and settled on finishing it as soon as possible (it had been slow going until then). Although I intend to be honest about my experience with this title, I actually want to make a separate statement regarding whether the average persons decision making process should lean more toward the positive end of the spectrum when considering this book. Having just finshed A Brief History of Time, I personally believe it's everyone's duty to pick this text up, engage with it, and carry through with it until the last page. Coming from the position of a lay person with no background in Science (unless you include working on a fundraising team at the Institute of Cancer Research for two months. . . I personally think that's scraping the barrel) or Psychics, I found this hard to comprehended in places. In fact, the chapter on elementary particles murdered me. So much so, that my reading really slowed down toward the end of the book, even after learning of Mr. Hawkings death. Not only this, but just conceptualising some of the topics being explained was a nightmare for me at times. Believe me, you don't realise how much you rely on the above ability to carry you through a book, until you come across one that requires you to abandon said ability altogether and just 'role' with the topic at hand, knowing full well you're completley out of your imagination processing league. Yet, despite the above said, I simply cannot lessen my high level of recommendation toward this book. I wish I'd read it when I was younger, as it provides some of the most important foundations to understanding our universe, and, as Mr. Hawkings mentions in the final chapter, science moves so fast that it's next to impossible for the many uninitiated individuals such as myself to understand what's new. So having books like this that really try to make the basic foundations of these huge topics understandable is a gift. For that I am immensely grateful toward the author, and I look forward to presenting this to my child when they're old enough to being to grasp these concepts (I mean, It's not really like any of us really can, but I won't tell him/her that). On a side note, there are moments where the ideas broached upon in this book might mess with your head. Case and point: at times, I found myself staring deeply into my hand- followed by my book- on multiple occasions, trying to comprehend that whilst I was staring at two completely different objects, they were ultimatley made up of the same stuff (at the micro level of course). It caused some odd stares on the tube more than once. Especially whenever my eyes widened at the thought I might also be staring at a different dimension I'm simply unable to comprehend or see. Something I'm sure you'll inevitably do as well if you really drink the quantum kool aid.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Archit Ojha

    One of most famous and well written books on Physics. Recommended to the Science enthusiasts.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kat Kennedy

    Stephen Hawking has reaffirmed my understanding that the earth sits on the shell of a tortoise and that it is, indeed, turtles all the way down. Jolly good show though, chap!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nawal

    This is a review of a non-technical reader. A very readable and entertaining introduction to recent developments in physics and cosmology, Hawking attempts to deal with questions that bothered the cosmic physics community 20 years ago: Is the universe finite or infinite in extent and content? Is it eternal or does it have a beginning? Was it created? If not, where did it come from? ? What governs the laws and constants of physics? Why is the universe the way it is? etc. Glossing over the key aspect This is a review of a non-technical reader. A very readable and entertaining introduction to recent developments in physics and cosmology, Hawking attempts to deal with questions that bothered the cosmic physics community 20 years ago: Is the universe finite or infinite in extent and content? Is it eternal or does it have a beginning? Was it created? If not, where did it come from? ? What governs the laws and constants of physics? Why is the universe the way it is? etc. Glossing over the key aspects of quantum physics and relativity, the eminent physicist managed to address gracefully concepts of gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, wormholes, the nature of time and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory, the M-theory. His explanations are simple, accurate, well-illustrated, and peppered with dotted humor and insights. It goes without saying that Stephen Hawking is one of the greatest scientists in history. Nevertheless when Hawking ceases to be a scientist, I'm bound to have some areas of disagreement, the book takes provocative and irrational jabs at both philosophy and religion in my opinion. for the very simple reason that Science, by its very nature, is never capable of proving the non-existence of anything. And Hawking can never accurately claim that science has proven God doesn't exist (or exist), that's a misuse of the discipline, and his opinion remains unjustified. And unless the argument is purely philosophical, his conclusion is bound to end up going nowhere. Hawking does not believe that the universe really came from nothing since gravity was there to do the creating, but where did gravity come from?! It seems that Hawking simply replacing one transcending cause (God) for another (gravity)! And if the universe came into being spontaneously from nothing, it could have had any sort of conceivable spatio-temporal configuration, since nothingness, has no properties or constraints and is governed by no physical laws?! This very particular spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, neither gravity nor any other law of physics provides a mechanism by which universe can be spontaneously created. The question Hawking never answered was why those laws of physics exist?! “So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. but if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?” “[allowing] the possibility that space-time was finite but had no boundary, which means that it had no beginning, no moment of creation… If the no boundary proposal is correct, [God] had no freedom at all to choose initial conditions” Hawking simply fails to grasp the point when he thinks a lack of creation has any effect on the existence of God. Even if the universe has no beginning and no ending "no boundaries at all and is entirely self-contained" It still fails to account for how it came to be. Who’s making up stories now? (view spoiler)[ Some scientists (Hawking included) define the range of questions that science is permitted to ask in such a way that God is excluded from the start, and then they claim that God is unnecessary, and doesn't exist for the simple reason that their science cannot answer that question. It seems to me that much of Hawking's rationale lies in the idea of a deep-seated conflict between science and religion, But my truth is that science, philosophy and spirituality, rather than addressing similar ground, speak to very different realms of human experience and have the potential to coexist in peace, complementing rather than constantly battling each other. (hide spoiler)] And regarding "God having no free will" in choosing the initial conditions, Hawking clearly dismisses the fact that if God is the one who designed the rules it is illogical to state that he is confined by a certain limit. One may observe a universe in which it appears as though God is limited by certain conditions, and yet we only perceive this to be the case because God instituted those specific conditions. Our understanding of physics Is not really sufficient to conclude that we know everything necessary to explain the existence of everything!

  25. 5 out of 5

    mali

    It was while reading this that I finally had an "aha" moment about why it is that observation can change what you're trying to observe. I was always kind of skeptical of this, because I was wondering "what is it that our eyes do that could possibly affect things?" Stephen Hawking set me straight: it's the tiny speck of light that you have to shoot at what you're trying to observe that affects it. Light bulb is on! I have an interest in physics, and I have read quite a few books for the layman abo It was while reading this that I finally had an "aha" moment about why it is that observation can change what you're trying to observe. I was always kind of skeptical of this, because I was wondering "what is it that our eyes do that could possibly affect things?" Stephen Hawking set me straight: it's the tiny speck of light that you have to shoot at what you're trying to observe that affects it. Light bulb is on! I have an interest in physics, and I have read quite a few books for the layman about recent physics and cosmology - string theory, the big bang, hyperspace. So I wasn't sure whether I would end up learning something new when I finally got the chance to read this. But it was full of light-bulb moments like the one above - things that I had been wondering about but had never been described in a low-level, concrete sort of way that would make sense for me. Hawking's writing style made this book a wonderful experience, with a friendly, interested tone that brings the reader in while also expressing his own excitement about the topics. It's a good mix of historical notes, explanations of what exactly went on in the experimental work of science, and also what the implications of those developments are in the big picture - not just the big picture of physics and science, but what developments in physics mean for us as human beings and our understanding of the world around us. The only weak part of this book, that left me scratching my head and unable to visualize instead of visualizing and getting it for the first time, were the chapters on subatomic particles. Concepts like spin and what exactly antiparticles ARE in a concrete sense (and how they interact with the particles we are familiar with), are still beyond me after this book, but I'm not sure if that's a weakness in Hawking's great power of explanation, or if it's inherent in those ideas themselves to be difficult! I would recommend this book to absolutely everyone with an interest in the world - you don't have to be a science specialist (I sure am not) or mathematically-inclined to follow it, and it is full of ideas that will make you think (and also understand a lot more of what people are talking about when they reference scientists and concepts from the past).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mustafa Ahmad

    I've always liked science. But, it has never really been easy to distinguish my favorite subject, as I really like them all, so science is on par with history and math and literature for me. But, after reading this book and the works of Brian Greene, as well as numerous other popular books on physics, I have seen science in an entirely different light. If people could still produce intelligent books such as this one, then our world might actually be a fairly pleasant one. I'm not saying that we'r I've always liked science. But, it has never really been easy to distinguish my favorite subject, as I really like them all, so science is on par with history and math and literature for me. But, after reading this book and the works of Brian Greene, as well as numerous other popular books on physics, I have seen science in an entirely different light. If people could still produce intelligent books such as this one, then our world might actually be a fairly pleasant one. I'm not saying that we're all geniuses and can come up with our own mathematical theorems, but we should get a fairly good grasp of scientific ideas. This book, in short, takes a look at various positions on time throughout scientific history, ranging from Aristotle and Newton's idea of absolute time and space to Einstein's general theory of relativity. It's a bit of a dense read, so you'll have to read it carefully.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pink

    Wow, what a book. So comprehensive, yet written in laymens terms and cranking up the technical information with each chapter, so you don't feel completely lost. By the time you reach quantum mechanics and string theory you almost feel like you know what's happening. Okay, so you still have no idea how any of it works, but that's alright. I've never felt compelled to read this. A book about space and physics is not my go to reading material and all of it sounds way over my head. However, it's suc Wow, what a book. So comprehensive, yet written in laymens terms and cranking up the technical information with each chapter, so you don't feel completely lost. By the time you reach quantum mechanics and string theory you almost feel like you know what's happening. Okay, so you still have no idea how any of it works, but that's alright. I've never felt compelled to read this. A book about space and physics is not my go to reading material and all of it sounds way over my head. However, it's such a well known science classic that I think a lot of people still have it on their tbr list. One for later. I wish I'd read this before and hadn't been so afraid of the science. It was easily digestible, broken into smallish chapters and often recapped previous topics, to help them really sink in. I still don't understand how black holes work, or how the universe was made, but neither does anyone for sure. I'm glad that others do the hard work to try to find out though.

  28. 5 out of 5

    7jane

    Finally managed to finish this; I think having a reading space quiet enough helped. Here, Hawking talks about such things as the beginning of time, black holes, string theories, dimensions, wormholes and time-travel - things of the universe, and where things are going. There is no Carl Sagan introduction in my version, but there are some newer things included that weren't in the original but have been 'found' since then, like a flavor of quark (top), and new findings in string theory, which are Finally managed to finish this; I think having a reading space quiet enough helped. Here, Hawking talks about such things as the beginning of time, black holes, string theories, dimensions, wormholes and time-travel - things of the universe, and where things are going. There is no Carl Sagan introduction in my version, but there are some newer things included that weren't in the original but have been 'found' since then, like a flavor of quark (top), and new findings in string theory, which are easy to notice because of the time mentioned. (what's with God popping up here and there? 8) ) Throughout there are some helpful figure-pictures, though some would benefit for being made a bit sharper (more readable). And at the end there is glossary plus three short biographies (Einstein, Newton, Galilei - learned something new things about each in there). This has been a huge seller of a book, and I can see why. It is said in pretty understandable language for many average person's to understand, though no doubt some of it might go over one's head, at least for someone of average intelligence-level, like me (haha). But I feel that I got more out of it than when I first started it (leaving it unfinished until this moment). Some of it reminded me on the "Interstellar" movie (I liked it, so...), and I feel like watching it again. I did learn many interesting things from my reading, let some whoosh over my head, and consider this a good reading adventure.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annalisa

    Disclaimer: I love math and physics and books that make me feel stupid, as in they are that intelligent. It was interesting learning about the development of science as it refers to the way we think about the universe and how scientific discoveries have been influenced and influence the way people think about God. My favorite section was the discussion of black holes and antimatter. At times Hawking lost me. He wants to explain theory to the masses, but as he draws near to his own theory, he got Disclaimer: I love math and physics and books that make me feel stupid, as in they are that intelligent. It was interesting learning about the development of science as it refers to the way we think about the universe and how scientific discoveries have been influenced and influence the way people think about God. My favorite section was the discussion of black holes and antimatter. At times Hawking lost me. He wants to explain theory to the masses, but as he draws near to his own theory, he got excited and zoomed along, forgetting that us simpletons haven't memorized the ten theories he's building upon that he's given us a brief overview about. When I had to listen to a theory a few times or try to remember exactly what the uncertainty principle or thermodynamic arrow of time is, it was harder to take a mental pause in audio form, but had I been reading a physical book, I would have fallen asleep every few minutes. It's a book to make your brain hurt, maybe less so if you've recently taken an advanced physics class. Nevertheless, it was fascinating and gives you much to mull over, especially about how little man knows about the laws governing the universe when he can only observe effects and describe them. The further theories develop, the more I am left to question the givens they take from other theories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    I've owned this book for some time, and with Hawking's death last month, it seemed appropriate to finally crack it open to see if I could understand any of it. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was able to digest maybe 75 percent of it, which is pretty good for me and astrophysics. Hawking does an excellent job of breaking down some of universe's hardest concepts to grasp, and if I still couldn't wrap my mind around the notion of imaginary time and remembering the future, it's not his fault. I I've owned this book for some time, and with Hawking's death last month, it seemed appropriate to finally crack it open to see if I could understand any of it. I was pleasantly surprised to find I was able to digest maybe 75 percent of it, which is pretty good for me and astrophysics. Hawking does an excellent job of breaking down some of universe's hardest concepts to grasp, and if I still couldn't wrap my mind around the notion of imaginary time and remembering the future, it's not his fault. I'm sure there are more updated versions of the story Hawking tells – the history of the cornerstone theories of gravity and relativity and the discovery of black holes and rise of quantum mechanics – but this is clearly a foundational text, a standard those other books must attempt to meet. I feel I now appreciate much better not only Hawking's impact as a scientist but his impact as a writer and ambassador of science. Well worth reading.

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