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A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes [Paperback]

Stephen Hawking
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1 1990 0553346148 978-0553346145 Reissue
Stephen Hawking has earned a reputation as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein. In this landmark volume, Professor Hawking shares his blazing intellect with nonscientists everywhere, guiding us expertly to confront the supreme questions of the nature of time and the universe. Was there a beginning of time? Will there be an end? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? From Galileo and Newton to modern astrophysics, from the breathtakingly cast to the extraordinarily tiny, Professor Hawking leads us on an exhilarating journey to distant galaxies, black holes, alternate dimensions--as close as man has ever ventured to the mind of God. From the vantage point of the wheelchair from which he has spent more than twenty years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Stephen Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. Cogently explained, passionately revealed, A Brief History of Time is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge: the ongoing search for the tantalizing secrets at the heart of time and space.

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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


"'Master of the Universe...One scientist's courageous voyage to the frontiers of the Cosmos'" Newsweek "'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 "'He can explain the complexities of cosmological physics with an engaging combination of clarity and wit...His is a brain of extraordinary power'" Observer "'To follow such a fine mind as it exposes such great problems is an exciting experience'" The Sunday Times "'One of the most brilliant scientific minds since Einstein'" Daily Express --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
This book, in a casual and everyday person's tone, explains cutting edge theories about our universe. As Carl Sagan mentioned in the book's Introduction, usually the only people who wonder about the universe are young children. Everybody else is too involved with their lives and have little time for this kind of thing. As a young child, I was no exception. I would always ask "why?" for just about everything there was around me, and sometimes, my parents would not be able to come up was good answers. Unlike many, I have never lost that interest, and stopped asking my parents, and focused more on reading to find those answers (or good theories that that attempt to answer them, anyway).
For everybody else, I recommend that you do take some time and read this book. It is worth your time, even if you believe that physics (and perhaps all of science!) is dry and boring, or you have never been "good" at it in your education.
I have read the original edition, and I just ordered the new Tenth Anniversary edition -- I am excited to learn about the new developments since the ten years he wrote the original.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easily digestible physics July 31 1998
By A Customer
For someone like me, who is lazy, but interested in physics, this book is superb. It does away with all the mathematical nitty-gritty to leave the mind-bending ideas intact. In this way, one can get a grip on how the universe works without needing to know hard maths which would take years to learn.
Reading this book gives you a powerful insight into the most fundamental aspects of existence, such as what is the universe's eventual fate, and does there need to be a god to create it? If you're interested in big issues like this, Stephen Hawking gives you ample food for thought. He is like a supplier of hard fact into the realm of philosophy, which is otherwise completely theoretical. With these hard facts and well thought out scientific theories, big questions like the meaning of life and the existence of god can be more meaningfully discussed; actual scientific evidence can be cited to support arguments about whether a Creator God is needed in this universe. With the t! heories Hawking writes about, maybe one day the creation of the cosmos could be attributed to a natural force, say, like gravity. A creative force. But then, that leads onto the question, what created the creative force?.....
Whatever, A Brief History of Time is a brilliant achievement, containing fascinating large-scale science that piques the reader to think of 'higher things'. Absolutely fantastic!
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By A Customer
As Hawking mentions in his introduction, both he and his editor have taken great pains to ensure that the level of intricacy of some of the more technical issues do not escape the layman reader -- and he has been largely successful. Concepts are presented clearly and concisely, and Hawking has a wonderful way with simile that provides the reader with wonderful everyday analogies to complex theoretical phenomena.
The reader will be surprised to find that Hawking has a wonderful sense of humor, bringing to the reader his own sense of the comical and the ironic. More surprising, however, is the humility of the man recognized world over as the universal laureate of astrophysics. Hawking frankly and unabashedly admits his own errors. The book, in addition, is liberally sprinkled with the names of so many others - Nobel laureates, scientists, engineers - who have made great contributions to the field. The book is not in any way a vehicle for self-accolade.
The read! er finishes the book with an understanding not only of the scheme of the universe in the eyes of the scientist, but of Hawking the human being as well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book that explains everything brilliantly. June 23 1998
By A Customer
The book is a masterpiece. It sold over 9 million copies. Prof. Hawking discusses general relativity, quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle, particles and forces, black holes and how they are not really black (two full chapters on black holes), the origin and fate of the universe and the nature of time. Scientists are hoping to combine general relativity with quantum mechanics to form one single unified theory - the quantum theory of gravity. This is extremely difficult and Prof. Hawking discusses some of the things the theory will need to have. The book takes us on a fascinating journey through the universe. It also gives us an insight into the mind of a great thinker. The best thing about this book is that its very clear and for people who don't like books with equations, you have gotten lucky - this book has just one equation - Einstein's famous energy=mass times the speed of light squared - which shouldn't be much of a problem. Once again, this is the best book you will find today on the topic.
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By A Customer
After reading Prof. Hawking's writings, my friends and I argued many theories only to return to "The Book" (A Brief History of Time) and finding that the answer therein was much more comprehensive and plain right in contrast with ours. Being that our brains are only capable of thought in three dimensions, it is often hard for the masses to imagine concepts such as multiple dimensions all curled up into a tiny little ball. Further, and even harder to grasp is the possibility presented by Stephen (may I call you 'Stephen') that the universe has no beginning and no end; the universe just is.
This is a wonderful book. It is highly reccommended by this reader, though it would be helpful to have more advanced math skills than this fifteen year old, Advanced Algebra Honors student. However, do not feel that it is needed. This book, by a man considered to be the best theoretical physicist in the second half of this century, will expand, and even Big Crunch (if you will), your mind, as it did my own.
Anyone wanting to share comments and theories on this book, please e-mail me at the posted address.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I chose the hard cover and was given the soft ...
I chose the hard cover and was given the soft cover. It was important to have the hardcover, but not so much to go through sending it back.
Published 19 days ago by Christine De Vuono
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but tough reading
Have you ever thought how everything started? This is what Hawking explains by describing the current theories about the universe. Read more
Published on May 30 2004 by Diego Zlotogora
5.0 out of 5 stars The best!!!
When i first got this book, I thought i would never understand a single word he is saying but at last i realise that his book was so simple yet so powerful. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars A book anybody will enjoy
Stephen has a great ability to describe things without losing you in technical terms, nor does he bore you, he throws in interesting facts in the book.... Also often amusing!
Published on Oct. 11 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars the greatest book in the theoritical physics
There are no limit. Journey with the story of time will begin with the brain of Hawking.
Published on Oct. 6 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Iam a college student and I have just completed my diploma in hospitality studies,I come from the South Pacific Island country of Vanuatu. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to know more about the world, don't miss this.
I'm a student of Physics and Astronomy, and when I first read this book, I decided that I want to become a theoratical physicist, as it was so extremely fascinating. Read more
Published on Oct. 4 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST-READ for aspiring physicists
I first read this when I was about 10 or 11 and thought that must realy not get it because it seemed like such easy reading. I later learned that I understood it completely. Read more
Published on Sept. 21 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Simplifing the most complex of subjects
I am a college student, well versed in mathmatics and physics, and I stand in awe of the manner in which Hawking presents the most difficult concepts of science in a way that a... Read more
Published on Sept. 21 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Gave me a whole new perspective on the universe around us
When I started reading the book I had a vague idea of the concepts he was discussing. As I read on, with his humor and good writing, I was completely indulged in the book. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 1998
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