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A Briefer History of Time

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En 1988 apareció un libro que iba a cambiar de arriba abajo nuestra concepción del universo y que se convirtió en uno de los mayores best-sellers científicos: Historia del tiempo, de Stephen Hawking, el mayor genio del siglo XX después de Einstein. Pese a su éxito colosal, aquel libro presentaba algunas dificultades de comprensión para el público menos familiarizado con lo En 1988 apareció un libro que iba a cambiar de arriba abajo nuestra concepción del universo y que se convirtió en uno de los mayores best-sellers científicos: Historia del tiempo, de Stephen Hawking, el mayor genio del siglo XX después de Einstein. Pese a su éxito colosal, aquel libro presentaba algunas dificultades de comprensión para el público menos familiarizado con los principios de la física teórica. Ahora, casi veinte años después, el profesor ha escrito este libro maravilloso y sencillo que pone al alcance del común de los mortales los grandes misterios del mundo de la vida.


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En 1988 apareció un libro que iba a cambiar de arriba abajo nuestra concepción del universo y que se convirtió en uno de los mayores best-sellers científicos: Historia del tiempo, de Stephen Hawking, el mayor genio del siglo XX después de Einstein. Pese a su éxito colosal, aquel libro presentaba algunas dificultades de comprensión para el público menos familiarizado con lo En 1988 apareció un libro que iba a cambiar de arriba abajo nuestra concepción del universo y que se convirtió en uno de los mayores best-sellers científicos: Historia del tiempo, de Stephen Hawking, el mayor genio del siglo XX después de Einstein. Pese a su éxito colosal, aquel libro presentaba algunas dificultades de comprensión para el público menos familiarizado con los principios de la física teórica. Ahora, casi veinte años después, el profesor ha escrito este libro maravilloso y sencillo que pone al alcance del común de los mortales los grandes misterios del mundo de la vida.

30 review for A Briefer History of Time

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cait Poytress

    There's nothing like the contemplation of the universe for making one feel simultaneously awe struck and incredibly insignificant. Kind of random, but I loved Hawking's frequent use of the exclamation mark. For example:: "However, when an antiparticle and a particle meet, they annihilate each other. So if you meet your antiself, don't shake hands - you would both vanish in a great flash of light!" and "The supermassive black hole has a star orbiting it at about 2 percent the speed of light, faster t There's nothing like the contemplation of the universe for making one feel simultaneously awe struck and incredibly insignificant. Kind of random, but I loved Hawking's frequent use of the exclamation mark. For example:: "However, when an antiparticle and a particle meet, they annihilate each other. So if you meet your antiself, don't shake hands - you would both vanish in a great flash of light!" and "The supermassive black hole has a star orbiting it at about 2 percent the speed of light, faster than the average speed of an electron orbiting the nucleus in an atom!" His pure excitement regarding the subject matter and specific points being made is almost palpable. I wanted to yell "Preach it, Mr. Hawking! Science is awesome!" I also learned, much to my surprise, that the world apparently doesn't revolve around me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    An exceptionally good, concise look at physics for the layman. The explanations were just super. Simple, yet not stupidly so for me with my high school & Sunday supplement level of education on the subject. There are some tough concepts to understand. For instance, wave-particle duality is pretty weird, so be prepared to stop the book & think about what he says at times. Maybe even repeat his explanation. I found most became fairly clear, even time travel, but maybe not string theory. Th An exceptionally good, concise look at physics for the layman. The explanations were just super. Simple, yet not stupidly so for me with my high school & Sunday supplement level of education on the subject. There are some tough concepts to understand. For instance, wave-particle duality is pretty weird, so be prepared to stop the book & think about what he says at times. Maybe even repeat his explanation. I found most became fairly clear, even time travel, but maybe not string theory. That still seems a bit far out to me. (I've read that it might not be the correct path after all & now they're just ditching time completely since it might not exist at some levels.) And, I'm still not sold on such huge quantities of dark matter. He did a great job debunking determinism & many of the older theories of the universe, but gently. He showed how they were stepping stones towards refining what we know today & things that we're still struggling to understand. He points out how the educational & social systems suffer from a lot of lag which I struggled with in school due to the contradictions with newer theories. My teachers made little sense in distinguishing between them & they never showed the growth nearly as well. He really is a genius to be able to dumb down such a complex subject so well. He looks forward to the day when we all understand the refinements of Einstein's equations & their consequences well enough that they're second nature. If everyone were to read & understand this book, we would. Best of all, he makes it clear that many of the theories I was taught might be wrong in extremes, but are perfectly acceptable in my observable, living universe, so I don't feel like a complete idiot. Time varies with the observer, but the fractions of a second difference that my GPS uses are of intellectual interest only. I know the the rough basics of how the gadget works, so it isn't magic & that's all that really matters. Whew! I was a bit surprised at his references to god since I thought he was an atheist. Apparently this was his way to explain in terms that he thought most people would understand. I found this on the web: Hawking now explained: "What I meant by 'we would know the mind of God' is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God. Which there isn't. I'm an atheist." He added: "Religion believes in miracles, but these aren't compatible with science." That makes more sense. After listening to this, I'm glad I read it rather than A Brief History of Time. I don't need any more detail & doubt I could integrate an equation any more since I've had no need of anything beyond logic, simple algebra, & Euclidean geometry since I got out of school. (I haven't even bothered with trig since I find geometric constructions quicker & more accurate for woodworking.) Use it or lose it. I lost it & don't really miss it, but it also means I'm not going to be one of those ferreting out the secrets of the universe we are still struggling with. They're interesting, but of no practical value to me and, as he points out, science has progressed so much that no one can understand it all any more. So, this was a nice glance at a very interesting, if odd area.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Markus

    If you're thinking of reading A Brief History of Time, read this first. At least if you're a total civilian, which I am. My son and I read this together. We did have to hit the Internet pretty hard a few times to get clarification on some critical points; but all in all, this is a well-written, accessible introduction to some pretty heady stuff. I would recommend having the basics of atomic structure and the life cycles of stars under your belt before giving this a go. Also, it really helped my s If you're thinking of reading A Brief History of Time, read this first. At least if you're a total civilian, which I am. My son and I read this together. We did have to hit the Internet pretty hard a few times to get clarification on some critical points; but all in all, this is a well-written, accessible introduction to some pretty heady stuff. I would recommend having the basics of atomic structure and the life cycles of stars under your belt before giving this a go. Also, it really helped my son and me to resign ourselves to not being able to visualize certain concepts. Wave-particle duality is just plain weird, and I think it helps to do the best you can and ultimately just go with it, rather than struggling to fit this contradictory idea into a conventional kind of "making sense." And now: on to The Illustrated A Brief History of Time (expanded and updated edition)!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Briynne

    Wow and wow. I am not by nature a science person. The largely-repressed memories I have of high school chemistry still make me feel a little ill. But this, friends, is more like reading poetry than it is like reading a textbook. I am officially in awe of Stephen Hawking - the man can actually make you feel about subatomic particles and forces of nature. It's nothing short of amazing, really. I don't pretend to understand 99% of what the book discusses beyond an extremely superficial level, but I Wow and wow. I am not by nature a science person. The largely-repressed memories I have of high school chemistry still make me feel a little ill. But this, friends, is more like reading poetry than it is like reading a textbook. I am officially in awe of Stephen Hawking - the man can actually make you feel about subatomic particles and forces of nature. It's nothing short of amazing, really. I don't pretend to understand 99% of what the book discusses beyond an extremely superficial level, but I was moved by the beauty and grandeur Hawking breathes into his subject. Don't be put off, fellow arts majors. This is a phenomenal book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anto

    I began watching Neil Degrasse Tyson's Cosmos last year and it rekindled my interest in learning about physics and astronomy. It began when I watched Carl Sagan's Cosmos, which I loved. So Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time caught my eye. While I excelled in other subjects, my physics teacher in school didn't exactly make the topic interesting so I was never really good at it. No enthusiasm engendered there. When I learned that there was a Briefer History of Time, I opted for that one bec I began watching Neil Degrasse Tyson's Cosmos last year and it rekindled my interest in learning about physics and astronomy. It began when I watched Carl Sagan's Cosmos, which I loved. So Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time caught my eye. While I excelled in other subjects, my physics teacher in school didn't exactly make the topic interesting so I was never really good at it. No enthusiasm engendered there. When I learned that there was a Briefer History of Time, I opted for that one because of my relative ignorance in the subject. In the first chapters, I feared I should have chosen the Brief version instead, because it was kind of 4 Dummies and I didn't need that much explaining to understand it. I was still learning new concepts though, so it kept me going. Later on it gradually gained complexity with every passing chapter, but the preceding chapters prepare you well for them. There's a certain satisfaction in knowing you wouldn't have gotten all of what you're reading if you had skipped the preceding chapters. When you think of how you would share this with other people, you realize that it would take some time because you'd need to explain from beginning to end. It's not an over-complicated book you have to waddle through and put down every 30 minutes to digest. The concepts are engaging enough and the path to them is easy and smooth. In the end it is not at 4 dummies, you need to have read the preceding chapters to understand it if you're new to the subject. Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow wrote this in a really enthusiastic way so as a reader you will be excited too. Well, to summarize this, as someone who started out being pretty ignorant in physics, I'm glad I had a pleasant, fun experience out of becoming better informed on a fascinating subject, including topics like Special and General Relativity, Quantum Theory, and String Theory. I recommend it to pretty much anyone over the age of 12 who doesn't know much about these subjects. This is for beginners. If you're thinking of buying this for someone who has already been enthusiastic about this subject for a while, even if they're 13, chances are they won't get so much out of this and you should get a recommendation for the next step of depth.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    In an attempt to prove to some recent mega-brainiac friends (not that they asked me) that I was capable of some limited understanding of physics, I picked up this slim volume. The result: my brain hurts, I learned a few things, and I humbly submit that I will stay in the humanities. Although I think I got most of it, I nonetheless find it hard to accept certain things. I need some time-travel pills, as I am queasy. A lot of this material I learned in school or absorbed over time in media (and St In an attempt to prove to some recent mega-brainiac friends (not that they asked me) that I was capable of some limited understanding of physics, I picked up this slim volume. The result: my brain hurts, I learned a few things, and I humbly submit that I will stay in the humanities. Although I think I got most of it, I nonetheless find it hard to accept certain things. I need some time-travel pills, as I am queasy. A lot of this material I learned in school or absorbed over time in media (and Star Trek), though the advance of years washed away much of it, but this book was easy enough for a proto-geek like myself (that is like a cro-magnon scientist compared to the smarts of people I know) to have some limited understanding and to enjoy, though there are still sections that are blank in my mind. Did I read them? I am not sure. I think Hawking is just playing with me, like a mega-brain cat swatting around an insignificant cricket. Luckily, I don't think he plans on crushing me. And it was somewhat comforting to understand that, like me, the universe is still expanding. I was disheartened to learn we cannot achieve light-speed. Now, I think I will return to previously scheduled fiction (maybe some fantasy).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nərmin

    "A briefer history of time" is briefer and simpler version of "A brief history of time". However I wish explanations to some theories made sense to me. I still feel unfullfilled about string theory and multi dimensions. In addition, the language was a bit dry, or so I thought. After Carl Sagan's flowing poetry-like language, I am unimpreed by Stephen Hawking. Still humor wasn't absent. Apart from those, I liked this book. Got good deal of information and understanding of theories. After reading sc "A briefer history of time" is briefer and simpler version of "A brief history of time". However I wish explanations to some theories made sense to me. I still feel unfullfilled about string theory and multi dimensions. In addition, the language was a bit dry, or so I thought. After Carl Sagan's flowing poetry-like language, I am unimpreed by Stephen Hawking. Still humor wasn't absent. Apart from those, I liked this book. Got good deal of information and understanding of theories. After reading science themed books, especially ones dealing with cosmos, you can't help but feel smaller and meaningless. However it also fuels your curiosity about universe and science. I really like popular science books and how they are great ways to understand science and even got even deeper. 3.5☆

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rusty

    To begin, I am not….scientifically inclined. But I would like to get a better grasp on some scientific principles, so I thought I would give this book a whirl. I didn’t grasp everything, by any means, but the book is very informative. I found it very interesting to learn how little/much physicists know about the universe, its properties, and the struggle to find natural governing laws that consistently prove true. I feel that I’ve learned a great deal from this book, and will probably read it ag To begin, I am not….scientifically inclined. But I would like to get a better grasp on some scientific principles, so I thought I would give this book a whirl. I didn’t grasp everything, by any means, but the book is very informative. I found it very interesting to learn how little/much physicists know about the universe, its properties, and the struggle to find natural governing laws that consistently prove true. I feel that I’ve learned a great deal from this book, and will probably read it again, at some future date, to try to absorb a little more. And I’m grateful that Mr. Hawking took the time to dumb down “A Brief History of Time”, because I don’t know that I’d ever tackle that one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    S.Baqer Al-Meshqab

    Imagine you are a tiny particle, one that lived throughout the universe since the beginning of time. You witnessed the dawn of creation, and within you lie the rules with which the end can be foreseen. You are fully aware of the characteristics of space-time. Relativity & Quantum Mechanics are nothing but infant struggles to identify you and your behavior. You could even be a string! But nobody can say for sure, for only you have that knowledge. You gaze at the human race along the path of t Imagine you are a tiny particle, one that lived throughout the universe since the beginning of time. You witnessed the dawn of creation, and within you lie the rules with which the end can be foreseen. You are fully aware of the characteristics of space-time. Relativity & Quantum Mechanics are nothing but infant struggles to identify you and your behavior. You could even be a string! But nobody can say for sure, for only you have that knowledge. You gaze at the human race along the path of time, laughing: They still don't know. But you praise their efforts in their quest to understand it all. Such is the magnificence of a bewildering world. Warning: For a beginner in the field of physics, going through this book may not be an easy task. (It was not, for me) In spite of being relatively short, it requires a great deal of concentration. Nevertheless, I can assure you, it is remarkably MIND BLOWING. A Briefer History of Time does not tell the story of creation, at least not entirely. It outlines, however, the scientific theories, observations, and discoveries by which one can try to understand how things are they way they are. Starting with the basic definition of the Scientific Theory, and ending with the dilemma of String Theories, the authors tackle some interesting topics regarding the nature of space and time, realized by a different set of theories initiated by different scientists; like Newton, Einstein, and Heisenberg, during a long course of human history. They will shed some light on the big bang, the black holes, the forces that govern the universe and its components, worm holes and even time travel! Despite all that is known up to date, some things still remain a mystery. Don't expect the book to give you a happy, clear ending, for nowadays theories are not able to explain everything, as they are still not completely compatible. The future, however, is a head of us, and we might, one day, find the one grand ultimate theory which can unveil the curtains to the unknown. Or can we not?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    I love Physics. And I suck at understanding Physics. But I try. I can actually identify the paragraph where I get lost. I guess that, at least at this time in my life, I'm not capable of getting my head around the concept of a unified and relative space-time and all the implications it carries (such as the bending of time near large gravitational fields, differences in aging the farther one gets from the center of a large gravitational field, and that whole section about time travel). I really w I love Physics. And I suck at understanding Physics. But I try. I can actually identify the paragraph where I get lost. I guess that, at least at this time in my life, I'm not capable of getting my head around the concept of a unified and relative space-time and all the implications it carries (such as the bending of time near large gravitational fields, differences in aging the farther one gets from the center of a large gravitational field, and that whole section about time travel). I really wish I did get it, and I am confident that someday I will. As for now, even though I read the whole book after about page 70 most of it was well over my head. This is going to motivate me, though, to find someone who might be able to explain it to me so I get it. NOTE: Hawking actually does an incredible job of simplifying these concepts. My lack of understanding has much more to do with the limits on my brain rather than on his explanation. The book itself is incredibly well-written and easy to read. His explanations of the history of the field and his wry sense of humor keep it flowing and interesting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    Very readable, and I was actually surprised to realize I'd learned most of this information in an astronomy class I took in college. Who knew I was this educated? The end of the book, where Hawking discusses the theories that scientists are currently trying to prove, started getting to be a bit above my head - in my lay opinion, I think it was a combination of Hawking getting a bit more vague and having fewer concrete facts and observations to state.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gayane

    This is ridiculous, I finished it in less than a day! Yes, it's that interesting and overwhelming, no matter if you've read the earlier version of this book - A Brief History of Time, or how many times you've watched Stephen Hawking's popular series on BBC. This is Stephen Hawking’s way of describing gravitational attraction of composite bodies. And you recognize good old Stephen Hawking humour when he introduces Isaac Newton by stating that "Isaac Newton was not a pleasant man." A Briefer History This is ridiculous, I finished it in less than a day! Yes, it's that interesting and overwhelming, no matter if you've read the earlier version of this book - A Brief History of Time, or how many times you've watched Stephen Hawking's popular series on BBC. This is Stephen Hawking’s way of describing gravitational attraction of composite bodies. And you recognize good old Stephen Hawking humour when he introduces Isaac Newton by stating that "Isaac Newton was not a pleasant man." A Briefer History of Time is much simpler than its parent. It's a tiny bit shorter, more condensed, with more accessible images than those diagrams in the earlier version. On the contrary, it contains more modern theories that weren't much developed back in the 80s. There's a chapter devoted to the string theory. Correct me if I'm wrong but there was nothing about string theory in A Brief History of Time (maybe only a slight mention but nothing more). In general I'd say this is like a children's book compared to the 1987 version, so if you're not really a science person I'd recommend to read only this one (I liked the detailed discussion of Friedmann's 3 models of the universe in the first edition, as well as singularities and possibilities of time travel). PS. I don't know why but quantum mechanics and the string theory still give me the chills (comparable to a solid chill a good Stephen King horror book would give me. I'm doing it again, aren't I?)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    This will be a shorter-than-usual review for me, but it doesn't seem necessary to add much more to the many excellent reviews of this book. This is the Hawking-Mlodinow easy-reader (because his best-seller A Brief History of Time was bought to make people seem better informed, but not actually really read. The challenge here was to comprehensively and cogently present complex concepts like relativity, quantum theory, string theory, etc. without using *any* numbers whatsoever (not even powers of This will be a shorter-than-usual review for me, but it doesn't seem necessary to add much more to the many excellent reviews of this book. This is the Hawking-Mlodinow easy-reader (because his best-seller A Brief History of Time was bought to make people seem better informed, but not actually really read. The challenge here was to comprehensively and cogently present complex concepts like relativity, quantum theory, string theory, etc. without using *any* numbers whatsoever (not even powers of ten!) and yet without coming off as patronizing. After a few initial hiccups (the first chapter's historical survey of the evolution of human understanding was a touch treacly and almost lost me), the book completely and remarkably succeeds at this. Two minor quibbles: (1) The illustrations, while very pretty (and all in color!), add absolutely nothing to the text. Rather than seek to use pictures to flesh out the more difficult-to-grasp ideas (e.g., particles vs. waves, what Feynman diagrams mean and why or how they are used, why we might view a superstring as a particle, etc.), the drawings are irrelevant window-dressing (a magnifying glass next to a telescope to show the range of scale explored by modern physics, a "Dark Side of the Moon" album cover to accompany a discussion of how starlight can be analyzed to learn what elements the star contains and how quickly it is receding from us, a cutesy drawing of Hawking being pulled toward a photograph of Marilyn Monroe to show... attractive force?). Hey, pobody's nerfect, but this really seems like a tremendous missed opportunity. Had the authors not seen NASM's "Adventures of Priscilla the Proton?" A classic. Anyway... (2) In a weird attempt to justify their life's work, the authors write at length in the opening and concluding chapters about both the place of/rationale for God in the universe (drawing no potentially controversial conclusions) and the "uniqueness" of humankind. It's ironic, considering that their consideration of Ptolemy, Galileo, LaPlace (and Occam!) had already long removed us vain and self-congratulatory Earthpeople from our place at the center of the universe. So why perpetuate the "anthropic principle" fallacy to answer the unanswerable philosophical question, "Why is the universe the way we see it?" (p. 130). Out of billions and billions of possible configurations of the whole shootin' match we call existence, this one happened to arise. Freakish coincidence? Not really. After all, if we take as our premise that *AT LEAST ONE* configuration *MUST* emerge out of billions and billions of possible configurations of the whole shootin' match we call existence (the alternative being no existence of anything), then to do otherwise is to beg the premise. Presumably the gamma-tasting collective consciousness of silicon, potassium, chlorine, and fluorine living across a ring-system near-zero-temperature orbiting a red giant in some far distant galaxy perceives the remarkableness of a universe that makes possible its best of all possible worlds? Logic doesn't appear to be Hawking's forte when it comes to seeking existential self-justification. The answer is neither "We see it this way because we exist and that's what we must expect our environment to look like for our existence to be possible," nor "If the universe were otherwise we would not exist," but because we don't know how to describe it otherwise. Our descriptions are but metadata we superimpose on the data, why conflate the two? I should hope that we are ever-more-detailed, precise, and accurate in matching our descriptions to the reality of our environment on the assumptions that (a) we are aiming at this conceit, (b) we desire consistency, and (c) we (hopefully and when we don't try to make the data fit our theories instead of the other way around) are honest enough to discard those outdated models that don't seem to gibe with what our extended senses have recorded or which others without ulterior motives can independently confirm. Not to get on my high horse here (who am I ranting at, anyway?) but except in philosophy, our later identification of a tree as a yew or a hemlock and our theoretical use of a virtual graviton has no impact on the squirrel who gets conked on the head by a falling cone. Unless we are sharing a mass delusion straight out of Philip K. Dick, the universe appears to exist independently of and without concern for our appreciation of it. The ol' Trekkie-ism, "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it," is inherently contradictory. Better to say, "It's life, Jim, but not as we knew it." God bless us, we're always learning.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Quantum mechanics, singularities, time travel, the speed of light - this is a more concise and updated version of Hawking's original Brief History of Time. It boggles the mind. I start to grasp the concepts and then they start slipping away. I did learn some very interesting things though, like what would happen to the universe if we had more than three space dimensions, how we can't seem to get beyond 99.99% of the speed of light, and that Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lawrence

    An even shorter version of a History of time... then a brief history of time and now a briefer history of time. I dont care how short he makes the next one. If it will take physics and make it digestible to the average joe then I'm all for it. It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. That was somehow lost in our information generation. So like I said, if this tiny take on life An even shorter version of a History of time... then a brief history of time and now a briefer history of time. I dont care how short he makes the next one. If it will take physics and make it digestible to the average joe then I'm all for it. It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. That was somehow lost in our information generation. So like I said, if this tiny take on life and physics gets into more hands then horray. Its a crazy world out there. Be curious. This book takes topics like general relativity, quantum theory, string theory, the universe, it;s size and expansion, black holes, time travel and microwaves that still exist from the first moments of the universe's existence and do it all with no numbers, just words :) Its a great book to ease into other Stephen Hawking books. He is one of the most brilliant minds of my lifetime in my opinion. All hail the hawk!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mohamedridha Alaskari محمد رضا العسكري

    I'm absolutely convinced that Hawking is the best man in the simple illustration of sciences especially the cosmology and physics in general. In partnership with Mlodinow created such an exceptional informative rich text. I tought in the first pages that this book is totally different than the obvious one but, in very smart characters it links with the old one " I mean a brief of history of time" I finished the last pages of this book while the power is down! I couldn't leave it until I finished i I'm absolutely convinced that Hawking is the best man in the simple illustration of sciences especially the cosmology and physics in general. In partnership with Mlodinow created such an exceptional informative rich text. I tought in the first pages that this book is totally different than the obvious one but, in very smart characters it links with the old one " I mean a brief of history of time" I finished the last pages of this book while the power is down! I couldn't leave it until I finished it. Absolutely deserves 5 stars in general and every page it contains. The more interesting think that I highlighted more than 12% as I considered it as a Valuable provisions!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kawtar Morchid

    This book has been in my T.B.R list forever but late is better than never. Rest in peace Mr. Hawking along with all the brilliant men who spent their lives trying to enlighten humans.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christine Alibutud

    "If we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God." Wow. It's nice to get inside the head of Stephen Hawking. I've got to a "If we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God." Wow. It's nice to get inside the head of Stephen Hawking. I've got to admit, it was hard trying to understand everything, especially since I basically suck at anything science-related, but it was altogether a good read. Truth be told, I only picked up this book because it was a requirement for one of our subjects and it's a relief that this one's actually interesting. One of the things I actually like about this book are the pictures relating to each chapter. I definitely got a knack out of those. This one's my personal favorite. With everything Hawking put out into this book, the one that really piqued my interest was the time-traveling. I've always been intrigued if it was possible or not, and his explanation about it boggled me to the extremes. I just wished I was more familiar with the jargons and all those science terms so I would have a better understanding of everything he was saying, but at least he managed to write his book in an interesting and appealing manner. "We have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from. Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in." 4 stars!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Stephen Hawking, famous physicist and atheist, undertakes in this book to explain to the casual reader some of the most complex and mind-bending concepts of modern physics while asking ultimate questions regarding the origin and destiny of the universe. Hawking surveys the development and revision of scientific theory regarding space and time from Aristotle to Ptolemy to Newton to Einstein and beyond, briefly and simply (as possible) elucidating concepts such as gravity, relativity, curved space Stephen Hawking, famous physicist and atheist, undertakes in this book to explain to the casual reader some of the most complex and mind-bending concepts of modern physics while asking ultimate questions regarding the origin and destiny of the universe. Hawking surveys the development and revision of scientific theory regarding space and time from Aristotle to Ptolemy to Newton to Einstein and beyond, briefly and simply (as possible) elucidating concepts such as gravity, relativity, curved space-time, parallax and dark matter. In so doing, the author recounts amazing discoveries regarding the nature and size the known universe. To describe just one example, the authors explain how Einstein’s theory of relativity abolishes the notion of absolute time. According to Einstein, if a man could travel through space at near the speed of light, he would experience time more slowly than a person on earth, and after returning to earth, the man would be younger than someone born on the same date. The book treats the newer and disputed theories of string theory, dark matter and dark energy, demonstrating just how much remains unknown about the design and function of the creation. Being a self-proclaimed atheist, Hawking does not believe the Bible’s account of creation and assumes throughout the book that science seeks a non-Theistic account of the origin and meaning of the universe. But despite his unbelief, Hawking cannot help but display glimpses of the unfathomable glory and wisdom of God as he describes the wonder and mystery of the physical world. In so doing, Hawking stirs the believing reader to amazement and awe at the Creator and the world he has made.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sina Jahandari

    The book is a simpler and an updated version of “A brief history of time”. Topics like string theory and dualities which were not fully developed at the time are also included. The language is what you find in technical articles, simple and dull, which I ironically liked a lot. The authors did a good job walking through the evolution of scientific modeling of the world from old times. It was really interesting to me to find out how people in the past figured out the facts that are well known toda The book is a simpler and an updated version of “A brief history of time”. Topics like string theory and dualities which were not fully developed at the time are also included. The language is what you find in technical articles, simple and dull, which I ironically liked a lot. The authors did a good job walking through the evolution of scientific modeling of the world from old times. It was really interesting to me to find out how people in the past figured out the facts that are well known today for the first time. Newtonian mechanics, relativity, the curved time-space, big bang, black holes, quantum theory, and singularities were explained well. However, I think, string theory and anti-particles were still confusing and I found the chapter on time travel ridiculous. Overall, the book is informative and entertaining. However, I feel the basic understanding of college-level physics is still necessary to enjoy the book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

    General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and String Theory for Dummies! This book is for all the thousands of people who bought the original edition, read 20 pages and gave up at the first differential equation, and put it on their to-be-finished-someday-in-the-far-future shelf. Well, it actually does a pretty good job of surveying the development of the cosmological and physical sciences from antiquity to the present. I thought general relativity and quantum were fairly well explained, but that s General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, and String Theory for Dummies! This book is for all the thousands of people who bought the original edition, read 20 pages and gave up at the first differential equation, and put it on their to-be-finished-someday-in-the-far-future shelf. Well, it actually does a pretty good job of surveying the development of the cosmological and physical sciences from antiquity to the present. I thought general relativity and quantum were fairly well explained, but that string theory was totally incomprehensible (hard to say if it's possible to explain something that abstract in a book like this anyway). Still, it's an entertaining book on science that liberal arts majors can tolerate.

  22. 5 out of 5

    N

    This book is now one of my all time favorites. I absolutely loved how concisely the authors explained the theories while making the reader feel real smart. Quite often the reader is urged to imagine a certain scenario to help them grasp the phenomenon that is being discussed. Personally, I appreciated these instances because I am confident in my understanding as a result. The timeline of the scientific theories is established throughout the book. In the end, a page’s worth of personal informatio This book is now one of my all time favorites. I absolutely loved how concisely the authors explained the theories while making the reader feel real smart. Quite often the reader is urged to imagine a certain scenario to help them grasp the phenomenon that is being discussed. Personally, I appreciated these instances because I am confident in my understanding as a result. The timeline of the scientific theories is established throughout the book. In the end, a page’s worth of personal information is provided on Einstein, Galileo and Newton which humanized these great scientists. This is not an easy accomplishment, since, they feel inaccessible at this point of time.

  23. 5 out of 5

    ريحانة

    This is a short, readable book about how the universe works ― or how we think it works, so far. I, however, do not understand the quest of physicists for a unified theory of the universe. I find that very limiting, what with all the existing, fascinating theories about the largeness and continuous expansion of the universe. Paradoxical much?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Noemi

    Discovering what it means to be both confused and mind blown. This is pretty amazing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    A Brief History of Time was on the London Sunday-Times best-seller list for 237 weeks and has sold about one copy for every 750 men, women, and children on earth according to Mr. Hawking in his preface to this new edition. On the moon where there is no air to slow things down, the astronaut David R. Scott performed the feather-and-lead-weight experiment, and they both landed on the ground at the same time. One interesting photo shows two Marilyn Monroes and one Stephen Hawking with his hand stra A Brief History of Time was on the London Sunday-Times best-seller list for 237 weeks and has sold about one copy for every 750 men, women, and children on earth according to Mr. Hawking in his preface to this new edition. On the moon where there is no air to slow things down, the astronaut David R. Scott performed the feather-and-lead-weight experiment, and they both landed on the ground at the same time. One interesting photo shows two Marilyn Monroes and one Stephen Hawking with his hand strategically placed. The point is to show that if the mass of a body is doubled, so is the gravitational force that it exerts. If you bounce a ping-pong ball on a train, it will seem to land in the same spot. If you observe from outside the train, it will seem like the ball lands 40 meters down the tracks. It's all relative. By the same token, if you hit the ball at 10 miles per hour, it will seem like 100 miles per hour if you are watching the train from the ground. Again, all relative. The fact that light travels at a finite but very high speed was first discovered in 1676 by Danish astronomer Ole Christensen Roemer. He did it by studying the moons of Jupiter. He came up with the value for the speed of light as 140,000 miles per second. It is actually 186,000 miles per second. Hawking wasn't impressed by the faulty value, but it impressed the hell out of me. Time also is not completely separate from and independent of space but is combined with it to form an object called space-time. Such an idea is not easy to grasp. Einstein's theory is based on the idea that gravity is not a force like other forces but a consequence of the fact that space-time is not flat. It is curved or "warped" by the distribution of mass and energy in it. Bodies such as the earth move in curved orbits because they follow a geodesic, defined as the shortest path between two nearby points. So when I flew to Vietnam from San Francisco, I went north to Alaska and around that way rather than straight across. That was the shortest route, even though it looks longer on a map. And light bends. So I think I see the sun rising, but it is actually still too low. I just see the bent rays over the earth and think it is where it is. When it really isn't. Got it? In 1962, a pair of very accurate clocks were mounted on the top and bottom of a water tower. The bottom one ran slower. Time is relative. A twin living on the top of a mountain would age faster than a twin living on the ground. If one twin went on a long trip on a spaceship, he would be much younger than a twin who lived on earth. After 1915, the idea of an essentially unchanging universe that could have existed forever, and could continue to exist forever, was replaced by the notion of a dynamic, expanding universe that began a finite time ago and might end in a finite time in the future. In 1924, Edwin Hubble discovered that the Milky Way was not the only galaxy in the universe. In fact, there are many of them with vast space between them. I can never fully grasp the immensity of that fact. We can see about 5,000 stars. That is .0001 % of just the stars in the Milky Way, which is one of more than 100 billion galaxies. That's 100 billion with a B. The Marquis de Laplace at the beginning of the 19th century believed the universe was completely deterministic. He thought there might be a set of scientific laws that could help us predict what would happen. We can do that to a great degree, but Laplace went further. He thought we might be able to find laws governing human behavior. To be honest, I am not without a similar belief. I am deterministic. I believe we can at least understand why we do the things we do. The classic science fiction books about this would be the Foundation books by Isaac Asimov. However, in 1926, the German scientist Werner Heisenberg formulated his famous uncertainty principle. Contrary to Laplace's belief nature does impose limits on our ability to predict the future using scientific laws. The tiny number known as Planck's constant is another example of a trade-off. In the 1920's, Heisenberg, Edwin Schrodinger, and Paul Dirac reformulated Newton's mechanics into a new theory known as quantum mechanics, based on the uncertainty principle. Einstein always doubted that the universe was governed by chance, even though he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to quantum theory. He famously said, "God does not play dice." There was the problem of "wave/particle duality." Richard Feynman suggested a particle going from point A to point B would follow every possible path. It is possible for a time machine to travel into the future. It would have to be a space ship traveling at near the speed of light. When you return, you would not have aged as much as the earth and its inhabitants. Kurt Godel believed you could travel a great distance away from earth and return before you set out. That upset Einstein who did not believe in time travel. There was a young lady of Wight Who traveled much faster than light. She departed one day, In a relative way, And arrived on the previous night.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shireen

    **I'm not really sure you can have spoilers in a non-fiction book and one that was extensively discussed in the press, but if so, there is a tiny bit of a spoiler four paragraphs down and on.** In preparation for my next-next novel, I decided to read the briefer (and, I assume, easier) of Stephen Hawking's books on time and space for the lay person. It's something I would've been loathe to do even six months ago because of the state of my reading ability. But Goodreads has done for me what I'd ho **I'm not really sure you can have spoilers in a non-fiction book and one that was extensively discussed in the press, but if so, there is a tiny bit of a spoiler four paragraphs down and on.** In preparation for my next-next novel, I decided to read the briefer (and, I assume, easier) of Stephen Hawking's books on time and space for the lay person. It's something I would've been loathe to do even six months ago because of the state of my reading ability. But Goodreads has done for me what I'd hoped it would: gotten me to practice, practice, practice reading. And as you know, practice makes better and gives a person the confidence to try harder material. Also my rehab team had told me when choosing books that material I was already familiar with would be easier to read than new material. Fortunately, I am familiar with all of the physics discussed in this book up until about the 1980s and Feynman's work. I just didn't recall it all that well. Hawking and his co-author Leonard Mlodinow (of Star Trek: The Next Generation) do a nice job of building the physics story from centuries ago up to the present day. You get a good sense of how laws and theories progressed and of the obstacles the various physicists faced, whether from within their own theories, from their rivals, or from the politics of the day. By the time you get to the meat of the book -- Einstein -- you've received a good background. But that's when I ran into problems. The language was as simple as could be. They used effective illustrations, for the most part, to help you visualize what they're talking about. I liked how they inserted Hawking into some of the images. They also came up with examples people could relate to to help explain these mind-bending concepts. Unfortunately, when they got to the good stuff on time, their language broke down. Maybe the editor had a brain cramp or something because a key example was rather imprecise. "Suppose that one twin goes to live on the top of a mountain while the other stays at sea level. The first twin would age faster than the second. Thus, if they met again, one would be older than the other." (pg 43) OK, so twin #1 is at the top and is older than twin #2 at the earth's surface, right? I assume that based on logic sequence -- the first twin mentioned is the one on the mountain, and so must be "first twin." However, I did have to assume, and that's the trouble, for then came this passage: "...if one of the twins went for a long trip in a spaceship in which he accelerated to nearly the speed of light. When he returned, he would be much younger than the one who stayed on earth." Um, isn't the one in the spaceship like the one on the mountain? This confusion could've been avoided with some judicious editing. It happens again elsewhere, but only this one made me really go spare. Luckily, I have an engineer friend I could confer with, and I decided to forget the mountain man example and focus on rocket man. In a way, this is a small quibble except for the fact that this book is aimed at a lay audience, whose physics knowledge is low and thus will need the authors to connect the dots for them with clear, precise language. The chapter on going back in time was interesting. I learnt something new physics-wise although Hawking's philosophizing against backward time travel was not new as his stance has been discussed many times in the popular press or on television. Physics is, in a sense, about philosophy because to get to a new theory you have to think about the possibilities and the whys and wherefores of both sides of the equation. Still, Hawking focuses on the reasons against backward time travel to such an extent that his ending statement that "the possibility of time travel remains open" comes as a bit of a surprise. I like their little bios at the end, especially of Newton. I had no idea he was a man such as that! All in all, a good read, and it has given me a few ideas too for my novel.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Great book, easy to read. Explains soberly the search for a "unified theory of everything". Here are my reading notes. # To Remember - Photons are massless - The speed of light is the maximum speed for anything (except shadows or other things that do not really carry information) - Light travels at the same speed for all possible observers (no matter the speed of the source of the acceleration of the observer) - E = mc2 is saying that mass can be equivalent to energy # Newtonian or Classical Physics - Great book, easy to read. Explains soberly the search for a "unified theory of everything". Here are my reading notes. # To Remember - Photons are massless - The speed of light is the maximum speed for anything (except shadows or other things that do not really carry information) - Light travels at the same speed for all possible observers (no matter the speed of the source of the acceleration of the observer) - E = mc2 is saying that mass can be equivalent to energy # Newtonian or Classical Physics - Approximates very well the movements of planets - Predicts infinite blackbody radiation - Removes the idea of absolute speed > The lack of an absolute standard of rest has deep implications for physics: it means that we cannot determine whether two events that took place at different times occurred in the same position in space. # Special Relativity Based on two postulates: 1. The laws of physics are invariant (i.e., identical) in all inertial systems (non-accelerating frames of reference) 2. The speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers, regardless of the motion of the light source. - It is called special because it applies the first postulate only in inertial systems - Time is a fourth coordinate in spacetime - Removes the idea of absolute time - E = mc2 # General Relativity - Generalizes special relativity - Principle of equivalence: gravity can be seen as equivalent to the force exerted in an accelerated frame of reference - Talks about spacetime as curvature of a flat surface - Approximates even better the movements of planets # Quantum Mechanics - There is a duality between waves and particles - Photons store quanta of energy depending on wavelength (i.e. color) - Electrons can only move around nuclei on fixed orbits - Explains blackbody radiation better # String Theories > String theories, however, have a bigger problem: they seem to be consistent only if space-time has either ten or twenty-six dimensions, instead of the usual four! > Why don’t we notice all these extra dimensions if they are really there? Why do we see only three space dimensions and one time dimension? The suggestion is that the other dimensions are not like the dimensions we are used to. They are curved up into a space of very small size, something like a million million million million millionth of an inch. This is so small that we just don’t notice # The Next Theory - Unifies quantum mechanics and general relativity > The theory of gravity—general relativity—is the only one that is not a quantum theory: it does not take into account the uncertainty principle. > Even if we do discover a complete unified theory, though, it would not mean that we would be able to predict events in general, for two reasons. The first is the limitation that the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics sets on our powers of prediction. > We most likely could not solve the equations of such a theory, except in very simple situations. As we’ve said, no one can solve exactly the quantum equations for an atom consisting of a nucleus plus more than one electron. We can’t even solve exactly the motion of three bodies in a theory as simple as Newton’s theory of gravity, and the difficulty increases with the number of bodies and the complexity of the theory. Approximate solutions usually suffice for applications, but they hardly meet the grand expectations aroused by the term “unified theory of everything”!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    In an effort to understand more about life and the universe I find myself in, I read this. I do believe that an educated person should know the basics of the current scientific paradigms of how the universe works and is structured, and this book can provide that. This is a shorter, lighter version of A Brief History of Time. Hawking became famous in the wake of that release, and now probably most of the educated world is familiar with the images of this brilliant man in his wheelchair, his body In an effort to understand more about life and the universe I find myself in, I read this. I do believe that an educated person should know the basics of the current scientific paradigms of how the universe works and is structured, and this book can provide that. This is a shorter, lighter version of A Brief History of Time. Hawking became famous in the wake of that release, and now probably most of the educated world is familiar with the images of this brilliant man in his wheelchair, his body wasted by a devastating disease, but his mind still among the most impressive in existence, speaking throu a voice synthesizer he operates with his eyelid. Hawking provides, for the literate but not necessarily scientifically inclined individual, a rational lay-out of the current state of cosmological thinking. He spends a fair amount of time discussing big theories of how the universe functions and how matter and energy is organized. He presents the roots of current ideas and looks back at the works of Newton, Galileo, and others, but the emphasis here is not on the past. Special attention is given to Einstein and his theory of relativity, which forms the bedrock of much contemporary belief, but he also points out areas in which Einstein came up short - e.g. he never did come up with a working unified theory that explained how everything works. Particles and waves, gravity, time and its relation to movement, the big bang and the expanding universe, dark energy, matter and antimatter, and elementary particles - all of these things are discussed. A real wealth of knowledge is presented here. Really, this book (or Christopher Potter's "You Are Here", or perhaps something else) should be required reading. I made my way throu it slowly, partly because I needed to since so much significant information was being imparted in a fairly small book, and partly because I felt the need to stop and consider what was presented. I would give it 5 stars, except that I felt a couple of sections left me with too incomplete and flimsy an understanding. For some reason, possibly my ability to connect images with the ideas, the sections about big things like stars were easier to understand then the sections on small things like subatomic particles. These are difficult concepts to communicate easily and perhaps nobody could have done the job better, but finishing the sections on quantum mechanics and the possibility of multiple universes did not leave me feeling that I had fully understood what was going on. I give Hawking and Mlodinow a lot of credit for their efforts to help us non-scientists gain a better understanding of the big picture, and I do not doubt that there will be more interesting cosmological knowledge and theories to come.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter Vik

    A good layman's introduction to physics. Hawking puts concepts in understandable terms and is generally pretty honest about what scientists don't know, which is a lot. This is a good read and a nice way to celebrate a life of brilliance now ended.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    It's been about five years since I took Physics AP in high school, and, in hindsight, I can definitely say that it was one of my more favorite classes that I took back then. But when I went to college, I decided to major in a non-science or math field, mainly because I liked math for the puzzle solving element of it, rather than having to use physics on the job 24/7. Cut to present time, and I finally picked this book up. Obviously, it's not the full version, but rather the shorter, more accessi It's been about five years since I took Physics AP in high school, and, in hindsight, I can definitely say that it was one of my more favorite classes that I took back then. But when I went to college, I decided to major in a non-science or math field, mainly because I liked math for the puzzle solving element of it, rather than having to use physics on the job 24/7. Cut to present time, and I finally picked this book up. Obviously, it's not the full version, but rather the shorter, more accessible version of Stephen Hawking's classic, A Brief History of Time. I'm proud of myself for actually remembering a lot of the materiel that Hawking references in the book. But even if you have no background in math of physics, other than the rudimentary basics, then don't be afraid to pick this up. It's excactly what the title says: A Briefer History of Time. You'll be caught up with the scientific achievements of Galileo and Newton to Einstein and even today's modern scientists. It's pretty recent, so a lot of the theoies are pretty relevant, at least to a certain extent. In addition, Hawking speaks with such prose that makes the book so approachable. Don't be intimidated...in fact, after reading this book, I'm sure you'll be eager to pick up other scientific books about the history of the universe or some other puzzling mystery that plagues mankind. As for myself, I'm really interested in reading a biography of Albert Einstein after reading this one. To sum it up, this is definitely a must read book for all those out there interested in getting reacquainted with science in its most basic form. After reading it, I'm sure you'll be able to explain how scientists measure the distance of far away galaxies using the Doppler effect to your friends. It's that good.

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