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A Brief History of Time

A book by Stephen Hawking

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A great theoretical physicist shows that he is also a great writer

  • Jan 11, 2007
  • by
Universally hailed as the greatest theoretical physicist since Einstein, Dr. Hawking serves as both an intellectual and physical inspiration. His disability - Lou Gehrig's disease- serves to make his every endeavor a slow and tedious affair, and yet his professional output remains very high, both in quality and quantity. This book is no exception.
Written at the level of the layperson, it is clear, concise, and through. As the title suggests, he begins with the origin of the universe and progresses through the theoretical foundation for, and the evidence in favor of, the existence of black holes. Of particular interest is his thermodynamic analysis of black holes, showing that they too, obey the second law of thermodynamics. Combining the ideas of general relatively and quantum mechanics, he was able to show that a black hole is really not totally black; it does leak radiation at a rate inversely proportional to its mass. This debunking of the supposed "final fate of matter" once again shows that the universe "is stranger than we can possibly imagine."
The only sad note occurs in the acknowledgements when Dr. Hawking explains the lack of equations by stating that every equation that appears in a book will cut its sales in half. This is an unfortunate comment on the degree of intellectual sophistication of the reading public.

Published in School Science and Mathematics, reprinted with permission.

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review by . November 19, 2003
The author ponders some very deep questions in theoretical and  practical physics and the universe. He covers space, time,  the expanding universe, uncertainty, black holes and a unifying  theory of physics and all matter. Einstein first postulated that  matter could neither be created nor destroyed. Ptolemy's model  predicts positioning of heavenly bodies. Galileo proved that  each body increased speed at the same weight despite it's own  weight …
review by . March 27, 2002
. . .to the science of cosmology. Please note that I don't fault the depth of the book at all, Dr. Hawking has done his best to remove the mathematics and esoteric theorizing. Nevertheless, unless the reader has a prior basic knowledge of astronomy or cosmology, it's easy to get lost.Dr. Hawking is arguably one of the three greatest physicists of the last 500 years (Newton and Einstein being the others). In this book, he has skillfully attempted to bridge the gap between the world of the highly …
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Charles Ashbacher ()
Ranked #76
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classicA Brief History of Timeto 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 isdeepscience; 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 theHardcoveredition.
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ISBN-10: 0553380168
ISBN-13: 978-0553380163
Author: Stephen Hawking
Genre: Science
Publisher: Bantam
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