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The Universe in a Nutshell Hardcover – Nov 6 2001
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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
From School Library Journal
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Thanks to stunning color illustrations and fascinating questions and ideas gracing almost every page, THE UNIVERSE IN A NUTSHELL accesses both the rational and intuitive hemispheres of the reader's brain. It's the perfect book to unwind with after a long day -- allowing the exotic images and ideas to percolate in your mind like a delicious cup of your favorite hot beverage -- opening your mind to whole new worlds of possibility.
Those seeking mathematical equations to accompany their theoretical physics will likely be disappointed by this coffee-table masterpiece, as will readers who prefer to read ground-breaking books which describe entirely new theories in physics. Pretty much everyone else will be thrilled to take a peek at the "big" questions and ideas being contemplated by the world's most famous physicist.
The many graphics in the book serve as valuable aids to the reader for clear comprehension of difficult concepts. Hawking uses a modicum of humor to keep the proceedings fun. The text is easy to read, and Hawking spends time on fun concepts such as time travel which are sure to interest the layman. There is an emphasis on the known as opposed to the theoretical, which is perfect for a general summation of physics such as this offers. To learn about superstrings and the cutting edge of theoretical physics, read Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe. To catch up on the hundred years that predate that theory, this book will serve you well.
Most recent customer reviews
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
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