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A Brief History of Time [Paperback]

Stephen Hawking
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 1998 0553380168 978-0553380163 UPDA


A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?

Told in language we all can understand, A Brief History of Time plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.

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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 text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“[Hawking] can explain the complexities of cosmological physics with an engaging combination of clarity and wit. . . . His is a brain of extraordinary power.”—The New York Review of Books

“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 (London)
“Masterful.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Charming and lucid . . . [A book of] sunny brilliance.”—The New Yorker

“Lively and provocative . . . Mr. Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher’s gifts—easy, good-natured humor and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life.”—The New York Times

“Even as he sits helpless in his wheelchair, his mind seems to soar ever more brilliantly across the vastness of space and time to unlock the secrets of the universe.”—Time

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A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's not THAT good, nor is it THAT easy to read. Jan. 30 2003
By A Customer
I don't care what anyone says, that book was not easy to get through. I have a degree in Math, and he does not give this stuff in layman's terms. Most of it, will eventually make sense if you can wrap your head around the hard to grasp principles, but he keeps adding more, and more to the theories and he will definitely lose you at some point.
Now don't get me wrong, it's obvious that we are dealing with complicated stuff, and he needs to discuss these things, but I just don't want you to think that this is an easy read. It's a necessary read, and I DO recommend you buy it, but don't think it will be easy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Condition - Great Book! May 9 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Came just as expected, and book itself is a wonderful insight into the complex world of the cosmos. Highly recommended!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Summary of what you learned in school Feb. 21 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I think how you rate this book may depend on your background. Although I hate to give this classic book a mediocre rating, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I was fresh out of university, so I found that most of the book was a summary of things I had learned in class, and not really telling me anything new. I did enjoy the chapter on black holes though. Overall, A Brief History of Time is worth reading but not as exciting as reading newer books on string theory.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must! Nov. 29 2012
By Jmacd24
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For anyone who is even remotely interested in the origins of the universe, this is a must have. The writing is spectacular and no previous knowledge is required to grasp the concepts being put forward. I've recommended this to all my fellow space interested friends.
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For those of us curious enough to actually open the covers of this remarkable exposition of very sophisticated scientific concepts laid simpler and comprehensible in Professor Stephen Hawking's disarmingly straightforward style, this original version of the now updated text is indeed a veritable treasure trove of layman's explanations for some wondrous scientific phenomena. Hawking, who is still a Lecturer in Physics at Cambridge University despite an progressively debilitating neuro-muscular disease, has a rather unique capability to eschew anything other than the bare minimum of all the otherwise stupefying scientific mumbo-jumbo as he explains various aspects of the expanding universe as black holes, the nature of time, the so-called "big bang", and of course, gravity itself.
Hawking addresses the fundamental nature of physics as he proceeds to sift through these fascinating and long enduring mysteries of the universe. As a result, then, his somewhat rhetorical questions are presented for the single purpose of elucidating some interesting, provocative, and fairly indisputable answers to the nearly timeless ponderings we all seem to harbor about this wider world we all inhabit. Still one's consciousness seems to struggle in vain to consider the sheer scale of such conceptual configurations, with concepts that appear to be so immense and so dislocated to anything within our common experience while absorbed in our ordinary day-to- day time-space continuum as to give any among us a reeling and recurring case of vertigo. Of course, such a realization merely serves to magnify the sheer scope of the author's accomplishment in conceptualizing and executing such an approachable and accessible text, one that so vividly describes the origins and nature of our universe. This is a marvelous book, and one I can heartily recommend. Enjoy!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Skating the Edge of the Incomprehensible June 14 2004
My science background is virtually nil, but I found this book to be an interesting and relatively easy read in light of the difficult subject matter. For anyone who has pondered how it all started, how it will all end, or such ideas as whether the universe has a boundary, this book offers a fascinating discussion of our current understanding of these matters.
Hawking first explores how our view of the universe has changed since ancient times, then explains the revolutionary theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. Einstein developed the idea that space-time is "curved" and exists in four dimensions with his theory of relativity. Quantum mechanics was especially interesting-- the idea that matter can be viewed as either a wave or a particle, that matter and forces consist of the same particles with different "spin," or that all forces might be different incarnations of the same absolute force, was especially interesting.
Hawking also explores the most cutting-edge issues in astrophysics. He shows how the universe can be considered like the earth, with time beginning at the North Pole and ending at the "big crunch" at the South Pole. The question of "what happened before the big bang" thus becomes immaterial, as space-time was infinitely curved and "time" as we know it did not exist. He also suggests that space-time may be curved and therefore "finite without a boundary," a fascinating idea that I found difficult to visualize. Hawking asks what role a Creator might have if the universe is a "closed system" like this.
This book packs an enormous amount of information into few pages, but it is not as difficult a read as your average physics textbook. I highly recommend it to anyone concerned with the eternal issues confronting humankind.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brief History of Time
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sean
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brief History of Time: And Other Essays
This is a historical overview of cosmology is told by one of the most celebrated physicist in the world. Read more
Published 13 months ago by champinn
4.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Shipped on time. It was a good price. It is a very interesting read, touching on many different topics. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2011 by Denysse
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brief History of Time
A brilliant dissertation, as it has to be expected by Stephen Hawking. In a very detailed and at the same time concise way, the author gives a fascinating explanation of the... Read more
Published on Oct. 22 2010 by Giusy Oddo
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Time
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... Read more
Published on Jan. 25 2010 by Wolfman
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This book provides an excellent description of the history of physics and the current status of physics. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2008 by Eric Boyer
5.0 out of 5 stars a pleasure to read
Many years after its initial release, this book is still a great pleasure to read. Written in a conversational tone, much of it is probably readily understandable to most readers. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2007 by Paul J. Fitzgerald
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Summary of Scientific and Intellectual History Leading to...
Dr. Hawking takes the reader gently through some of the most complex thoughts and theories that have ever "sprung [alive] from the mind of man". Read more
Published on June 3 2007 by Patrick J. Perschke
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction for the Curious Mind
For anybody who does not have sufficient knowledge to read some of Hawking's more complex writings, this is the perfect book to get started on. Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by Ryan Malkin
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