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A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes Paperback – May 1 1990

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; Twenty First Printing edition (May 1 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553346148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553346145
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 22.2 x 14.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (324 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #196,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to 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 is deep science; 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 book marries a child's wonder to a genius's intellect. We journey into Hawking's universe, while marvelling at his mind" The Sunday Times "A Brief History of Time: 'It is the publishing sensation of the past decade'" Spectator --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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4.5 out of 5 stars

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By William Franklin Jr. on July 3 2004
Format: Paperback
A Brief History of Time is 3 things at once:
First, it is a chronology of the various important scientists and discoveries over the centuries, all leading to where we are now.
Second, it explains, between the beginner and intermediate levels, an understanding of concepts such as black holes, worm holes, the beginning and potential end of time, particles and waves, quantum mechanics, and other issues in science.
Third, it is almost an autobiography of Dr. Hawking's scientific life. He interjects wonderful bits of humor and explains the concepts carefully and as simply as he can.
He is also respectful of religion, briefly interjecting his ideas about how religion does not have to be incompatible with the rapidly expanding ideas of science, and that religion should embrace science more.
One part I found humorous was his explanation of a bet he lost with a colleague (he seems to have a lot of long-standing bets going). He owned up to being wrong, and paid the penalty, which was a "one-year subscription to Penthouse, to the outrage of [his colleague's] liberated wife."
This book is for physics experts as well as people who know nothing about science and just want to learn some of the basic concepts. Like the universe, expand your mind.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel L. Tao on Dec 6 2001
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hawking is one of if not the most prominent physicist on the planet today, and works like A Brief History of Time make it easy to see why. Hawking knows just about everything about modern physics, hence the lofty title. From time travel to black holes to general relativity, quantum mechanics and even string theory, he never fails to captivate and galvanize.
The strongest sections in the book are probably those on black holes and time travel, so if you are interested in either of those areas, you would be doing yourself a favor by buying it. The whole book is highly stimulating, though, so even just a casual interest in science would be well-fed by any chapter. In fact, for those of you who are only mildly involved with or intrigued by modern scientific theories, A Brief History of Time just might push you over the edge and make a fanatic out of you.
With the addition of literally dozens of illustrations per chapter, Hawking has made his book extremely readable and colorful, both comprehensive and comprehendable. Yet there are some topics covered inside that are simply too complicated for many people to understand. How black holes can emit radiation even though nothing can escape their surfaces is discussed, for example. (The answer: a particle and its antimatter counterpart can, according to quantum physics, spontaneously emerge out of nothingness very near to the black hole's event horizon--anywhere else they would collide and erupt into pure energy, but near the event horizon one is sucked into the black hole and the other escapes. In this sense black holes are like "matter factories", causing new matter to enter the universe out of nowhere. Pretty weird and confusing stuff.)
The only other quibble I have with this book is that it is too short! That just attests to the quality of the book, though. It was a very worthwhile read for me; it will be for you, too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Giant Panda on Oct. 14 2003
Format: Paperback
This perhaps the masterpiece of all science books aimed at general readers. I highly recommend everyone reads it at some point of their lives. Stephen hawking is one of the most brilliant scientists of our time, and in this book he demonstrates how he is equally one of the best science writers. At first I was so intimidated by the reputation of Hawking as a leading physicist I dared not open the book, expecting to find bulky equations and unintelligible discussions of exotica. I couldn't have been further from the truth.
"A Brief History of Time" defies the majority of science books in how easily it is accessible to the general readers. Instead of equations, one finds very simple diagrams beautifully explaining some of the strangest physical phenomena: space-time, relativity, black holes, the Big Bang. It is all in here, and a glossary is provided to remind readers of the meaning of some of the more exotic terms. Best of all, Hawking himself has played major roles in discovering and understanding some of those phenomena, so this book is an autobiography of sorts from one of the people who actually founded modern cosmology.
One of the best things about this book is its brevity, making it possible for one to finish this book in an amount of time such that one remembers the beginning and does not lose sight of the big picture throughout. This is a major advantage over some of the other books like the thick "Black Holes" book by Kip Thorne. What this book lacks, though, is a bibliography to direct interested readers to other books on the topic. Perhaps this is a product of this book being a pioneer - very few other introductory books on science existed when it first appeared.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Wolfman on Jan. 25 2010
Format: Paperback
Like some other reviewers, it took a few tries spaced a few years apart to finally get through it. If you try this book keep in mind that it's targetted to give someone with little more than highschool math and physics a gereral understanding of some pretty complex topics; relativity, quantum mechanics, black holes, etc. This book actually does a pretty good job off doing that. For some it will fly over their head, others will want more detail, but Hawking has sold millions of copies of this book because the level of detail and complexeity of discussions are about right.
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