Stephen Hawking, science's first real rock star, may be the least-read bestselling author in history--it's no secret that many people who own A Brief History of Time have never finished it. Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell aims to remedy the situation, with a plethora of friendly illustrations to help readers grok some of the most brain-bending ideas ever conceived.
Does it succeed? Yes and no. While Hawking offers genuinely accessible context for such complexities as string theory and the nature of time, it's when he must translate equations to sentences that the limits of language get in the way. But Hawking has simplified the origin of the universe, the nature of space and time, and what holds it all together to an unprecedented degree, inviting nonscientists to share his obvious awe and love of the unseen forces that shape it all.
Yes, it's difficult reading, but it's worth it. Hawking is one of the great geniuses of our time, a man whose life has been devoted to thinking in the abstract about the universe. With his help, and pictures--lots of pictures--we can seek to understand a bit more of the cosmos. --Therese Littleton
Adult/High School-Writing in a lighthearted, personal, often humorous style and with colorful and entertaining graphics on every page, Hawking succeeds in communicating his love and enthusiasm for science. Without seeming to condescend, he makes a valiant attempt to clarify many fascinating and elusive topics such as relativity and time; multiple universes and dimensions; black holes and dark matter; prediction of the future; and the possibility of time travel. Those usually daunted by scientific texts might enjoy puzzling over the graphics; many of them, together with excellent captions, fully restate the content of the text in an alternative (and, for some, more understandable) manner. Also, Hawking enriches readers' vocabularies with many of the sometimes-playful words, phrases, and acronyms essential to an acquaintance with modern physics-supergravity and supersymmetry, "p-branes" and proto-galaxies, MACHOS and WIMPS. Among teens, Universe might well prove to have appeal beyond its obvious audience of science students and readers of popular science and science fiction.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
A very good book. I'm impressed with how he explains theoretical concepts with the aid of diagrams (and with dry sense of humour). Read morePublished on Dec 8 2011 by starjunkie
It was a great read, Stephen Hawking explains theories with wit and clarity. He also uses pictures to help the reader better understand concepts. Read morePublished on Dec 4 2011 by Ryan
Excellant read. Stephen Hawking's books are always a great academic challenge. You will not be disappointed!Published on Nov. 10 2009 by Marie C
Although the book isn't 100% layman, there are a number of revelations about our universe that have completely blown my mind. Read morePublished on May 26 2009 by M. Brisson
"Curled Dimensions" or Just Mimicking the Usual Three?
The claims by Hawking (The World in a Nutshell) and Greene (The Elegant Universe) to be close to a theory of... Read more
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. Read morePublished on June 23 2004 by Brian
Inspite of all the negative reviews for this book I love it, it all depends what you want out of this book. If you want to get familiar with Mr. Read morePublished on May 26 2004