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The Universe in a Nutshell Hardcover – Nov 6 2001

3.9 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews

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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: 20.3 x 2.3 x 25.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 921 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 155 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #24,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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

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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Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hawking's book, THE UNIVERSE IN A NUTSHELL, succeeds in making some of the newest theories in physics understandable to everyday people. Until reading this book, I hadn't considered what conditions would be necessary in order for our night-time sky to look completely white with stars, nor had I seen such a gorgeous depiction of the micro and macro-cosmic universe in a nutshell (cover illustration). Hawking carefully examines time-travel, predicting the future, and the shape of time after starting the book with an overview of the theory of relativity. Hawking saves his biggest question for last, to leave readers wondering "Do we live on a brane, or are we just holograms?" (A brane is something like a membrane.)
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hawking has a way of turning deep thoughts into intelligible sentences, and knowing how difficult it is for him to actually form sentences, due to his illness, this book is all the more impressive. Hawking explains the state of modern physics, from relativity to superstrings, spending time on major points with clear and concise explanations for how we figured it out and what it tells us about our universe.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Because the earth is not the only planet, and much of what occurs on earth affects our survival within the planetary system of the universe we call home, it is helpful to know something about how the universe is made so that we can fulfill the obligation we have to preserve it, rather than destroy it. In a universal sense, out of sight is usually out of mind, and is often absolute with something as large as the universe, difficult for mankind to comprehend, and even more difficult to remember to include in his individual choice making. Remote objects or people make the probability of wrong decisions greater than if there is familiarity we can sense, and remember. Familiarity, therefore, breeds not contempt but mutual responsibility for things seen and unseen. Because we do not prefer to live in isolation, and it becomes increasingly difficult for us to do that (even if we preferred to), a greater vision of the universe contributes to the body of knowledge that allows humans to live peaceably with the planet and in harmony with the universe. To make the universe a logical place is much of what the responsibility of teaching generations is all about and helps to increase both the prosperity of all people, the fairness with which we deal with each other, and increases the happiness of all creatures dependent upon each other for survival while insuring a sustainable environment where life flourishes rather than awaiting their destruction. There is no conscientious objectivity in a universe of which each person is a part from birth to death. It is an impossibility logically. Doing well what we must do to survive well is as natural as breathing and the most honorable of altruistic values to embrace. Because we each choose to either help or hurt the universe, doing so consciously is, or should be, a joy of life rather than a burden upon which the survival of the universe depends.
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