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The Universe in a Nutshell Hardcover – Nov 6 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (Nov. 6 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055380202X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553802023
  • Product Dimensions: 25.8 x 19.9 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 880 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (151 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
ALBERT EINSTEIN, THE DISCOVERER OF THE SPECIAL AND general theories of relativity, was born in Ulm, Germany, in 1879, but the following year the family moved to Munich, where his father, Hermann, and uncle, Jakob, set up a small and not very successful electrical business. Read the first page
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brian on June 23 2004
Format: Hardcover
In The Universe in a Nutshell, the amazing scientist Stephen Hawking takes the reader on a journey of all the various theories concerning the nature of our vast universe. These theories are so fantastical that they really stretch the limits of your imagination, yet they are grounded in real research by some of the best minds in the world.
Hawking addresses topics such as the quest among much of the physics community to unite Einstein's theory of relativity with quantum mechanics, which would describe the universe on scales of lightyears all the way down to the atomic level. He introduces amazing concepts such as imaginary time and the possibility of our universe consisting of up to 10 or 11 dimensions. He even addresses the possibility of time travel and alien life.
The book has wonderful illustrations which help one to grasp the profound concepts with which Hawking deals. Also, the book is written in such a manner that each chapter can basically stand on its own. If you liked A Brief History of Time, I'm sure you'll like this.
This is a really great book and if you have any interest in getting a glimpse into the most incredible, yet compelling theories of the universe this book would certainly be for you.
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By Big Willy on March 1 2002
Format: Audio CD
Stephen Hawking attempts to answer, for the second time, the question "can the world's most brilliant physicist explain the most complex issues of physics to the average layperson?" The answer is, once again, "well...sort of". I must immediately separate my criticism of the book from any perceived criticism of the man. Dr. Hawking's intellect is immense, and his accomplishments are all the more astonishing considering his physical impairment. However, expertise in a given area does not automatically confer the status of "great teacher". In fact, it is not uncommon for world class experts to be less than world class in the art of teaching and explaining their areas of expertise. Alas, this is my summation of Dr. Hawking's latest effort. I thought for some time that any book on such a difficult subject must of necessity consist of significant compromises; mere mortals cannot hope to understand cutting edge physics. I thought this until I read "The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene (Random House 1999). Dr. Greene's intellect no doubt cannot compare to Dr. Hawking's, however he has an uncanny ability to teach and explain the most difficult subjects. With an absolute minimum amount of illustration, he anticipates the reader's questions and offers a clear and concise explanation. Dr. Hawking's tome, on the other hand, covers much the same material but is much less accessible. The book reads like a "USA Today", with annoying explanatory vignettes and illustrations on almost every page, making for a very disjointed reading. One can almost hear the publisher saying " Steve - baby - they crucified us when the first book had no illustrations. We need to punch this one up with color charts and graphs!".Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hawking occupies the Lucasian chair at the University of Cambridge, which was once held by Isaac Newton before its motorization as Hawking writes humorously. Hawking is also regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Albert Einstein. His previous book, "A Brief History of Time," was sold an estimated 25 million copies world over, but was notorious for mostly not being read beyond the earliest chapters. "The Universe in a Nutshell" is a sequel to it, including many illustrations and telling in a more readable style about the major breakthroughs that have occurred in the field of theoretical physics after the release of the first book.
The author writes in the foreword that the structure of the book is like a tree, the first two chapters forming a central trunk from which the other chapters branch off. Thus, after reading two introductory chapters on the theory of relativity and "the shape of time," the reader can jump to any of later five chapters on the development of the universe, black holes, the possibility or impossibility of time travel, our future, and the future journey of discovery.
Many scientists tried to avoid addressing a question about the beginning of the universe. In chapter 3, however, Hawking states the necessity of trying to understand it on the basis of science for the following reason: If the laws of science are suspended at the beginning of the universe, they might fail also at other times.
The universe is considered to have begun in a big bang, a point where the whole universe was scrunched up into a single point of infinite density. At this point Einstein's general theory of relativity cannot be used, because when the universe is small the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics is important.
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Format: Hardcover
Earlier attempts to formulate an answer that takes into account existing theories and observations have failed because of obstacles posed by gravity. The Nature of Space and Time pitts two heavy weights trying to provide a loop quantum gravitational model that successfully merges current ideas, and which may enable us to overcome such difficulties. Stephen Hawking shot to fame in the world of physics when he provided a mathematical proof for the Big Bang theory. This theory showed that the entire universe exploded from a singularity, an infinitely small point with infinite density and infinite gravity. Hawking was able to come to his proof using mathematical techniques that had been developed by Roger Penrose. These techniques were however developed to deal not with the beginning of the Universe but with black holes.

Science had long predicted that if a sufficiently large star collapsed at the end of its life, all the matter left in the star would be crushed into an infinitely small point with infinite gravity and infinite density...a singularity. Hawking realized that the Universe was, in effect, a black hole in reverse. Instead of matter being crushed into a singularity, the Universe began when a singularity expanded to form everything we see around us today, from stars to planets to people. Hawking realized that to come to a complete understanding of the Universe he would have to unravel the mysteries of the black hole.

Hawking and his fellow physicists embarked on an extraordinary intellectual expedition to tame the black hole. Slowly physicists were coming to understand this most destructive force of nature. But Hawking realized that there was something missing from the emerging picture.
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