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A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking (1988)

  1. 20
    Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays by Stephen W. Hawking (gandalf_grey)
  2. 32
    Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher by Richard P. Feynman (OccamsHammer)
  3. 10
    The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality by Brian Greene (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Although it's longer, Brian Greene's book is much more easily digestible. Plus, he gives you an idea of what they're hoping to discover at the Large Hadron Collider.
  4. 00
    Knowledge and Wonder by Victor F. Weisskopf (erik_galicki)
    erik_galicki: I think Weisskopf strikes a better balance between big picture and detail. Hawking provides more detail on particle physics and cosmology, but I think Weisskopf makes the connections between the two more apparent and clearer.
  5. 00
    From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll (steve.clason)
  6. 00
    Chaos and Harmony: Perspectives on Scientific Revolutions of the 20th Century by Xuan Thuan Trinh (Louve_de_mer)
  7. 17
    The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality by Dalai Lama XIV (leahsimone)
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» See also 193 mentions

English (111)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (122)
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
Too much of an autobiography, physics glossed over far too much. Very self-centred. ( )
  Alasdair.Shaw | Jul 19, 2016 |
I have to admit, this was a bit over my head, but I kept at it anyway and enjoyed it despite my confusion. ( )
  MCHBurke | Jun 22, 2016 |
I finally got around to this famous book, first published in 1988, this edition updated in 1996. Why do I bother spending time, my time so precious to me, with this summary of astrophysical ideas which are by now 20 years out-of-date: an eternity (time again – one can’t get away from time!) in contemporary research? Partly because it was such a phenomenal bestseller (although I suspect the majority of those who bought it never finished reading it) which made me curious, then also because I am interested in the development of these ideas even if many may no longer hold and may have been discarded by now (but then it is also interesting to learn why a previously proposed model is being rejected).

Hawking’s undertaking is not easy: Relativity Theory can still be imagined but Quantum mechanics defies common experience. On the whole, H. succeeds admirably to convey these ideas based on mathematical models and difficult to impossible to picture, in particular in the first 7 chapters dealing with Space and Time, Quantum Mechanics and Black Holes. His language is clear, although the little ‘pictures’ he occasionally inserts, intended as “light relief” for the reader and no doubt appreciated by many, grind on me. Two minor points to these chapters: an explanation of Fig. 6.3. is needed but missing; when H. speculates on the end of small black holes he comes to contradictory conclusions: he states (p.122 of this Bantam 2011 re-issue) that they are likely to explode (but why should they? – no reasons given) later (p.128) he says that they are likely to just disappear.

The next chapters, starting with the Origin of the Universe, are getting more difficult as he discusses various hypothetical proposals. Occasionally the text is not clear enough, e.g. when discussing the formation of deuterium and helium in the α – β – γ model (pp. 133-134): if I understand him correctly, deuterium and helium nuclei would have formed from about 100 seconds until a few hours, hydrogen and helium atoms would have only been formed when the temperature dropped to a few 1000 degrees a few million years later. Another example: the difference between the strong and weak anthropic principle (140-143) should have been stated more clearly. The weak principle does not seem to answer why fundamental numbers are so finely adjusted to make development of life possible (142) , but see Linde’s 1983 inflationary model (p.150) that may – or may not? – give a suggestion.
In the last section of Chapter 8, H. describes his proposal of a Quantum Theory of Gravity and a Universe without a boundary. I am curious to find out how this idea fared in the last 20 years up to the present.

To chapter 9 - Arrow of Time:
I encountered three problems here; 2 and 3 are of fundamental importance but are unfortunately not discussed.
1. The example p. 167, of increasing the order in a computer memory is badly expressed and confused me because the emphasis is put on “dissipated heat”. In this example, the total system may be constructed as (i) the source of electricity (potential energy/ordered state) (ii) an intermediate state (electricity) + waste heat, electricity converted to (iii) memory increase (increase in order) + waste heat (decrease in order); the entropy of this system increases but no energy is lost from it. In this system the “dissipated heat” comprises the total ‘waste heat’ of conversions (i) to (iii).
2. The use of the terms ‘smooth’ and ‘ordered’ (p.168): H. uses them to describe two qualities of the same low entropy state but does ‘smooth’ really imply ‘ordered’? For example water in gas and liquid state has a ‘smooth’ but ‘disordered’ distribution, in its crystalline ice state it is no longer ‘smooth’ but ‘ordered’.
The initial state in the ‘big bang model’ (also in Guth’ model p.144: H. writes “chaotic [i.e. disordered!] state”) I would picture as ‘smooth’ (apart from quantum uncertainty irregularities) but ‘disordered’. This needs elaboration.
3. In nature there are two cases observed of increase in order: (i) energy is set free: for example when water or magma crystallises; (ii) energy is consumed: i.e. during the formation and growth of living organisms. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics both these cases should lead to an increase in entropy. How can that be? Unfortunately H. is quiet on this.

It was and still is a stimulating but occasionally flawed attempt to bring very difficult and complex ideas to a general interested reader. (V-16)

Further developments of ideas are summarized here:
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150409-can-science-ever-explain-everything
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141106-why-does-anything-exist-at-all
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20160318-why-there-might-be-many-more-universes-b... ( )
  MeisterPfriem | Jun 8, 2016 |
Here're a few things about the book.
1 Despite the narrow possibilities, the author had, the book is like carefully crafted, so you may expect to have pleasure of fluent reading.
2 The book is very solid. It's built according to the evolution of human's knowledge about the universe, and it's like offering the reader to go the same way. The morning after finishing it you may wake up with words "I know kung fu"
3 The book is intended to give reader just general understanding of scientific ideas. That fact you'd better take into account, breaking through too sophisticated episodes. So feel free to skip some details rather than leaving the book: it's not so complicated all along.
4 Reading the book would definitely wake up in you lots of thoughts about the author. His example could make you rearrange your attitude to your life. ( )
  aheadflank | May 28, 2016 |
I read this when it was first published.
A second read enabled me to understand more.
A thoughtful, well reasoned book.
I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher Random House via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review. ( )
  Welsh_eileen2 | May 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 111 (next | show all)
Through his cerebral journeys, Mr. Hawking is bravely taking some of the first, though tentative, steps toward quantizing the early universe, and he offers us a provocative glimpse of the work in progress.
 

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hawking, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kober, HainerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kreitmeyer, JensCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, RonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sagan, CarlIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Varteva, RistoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to Jane (verso of title page)
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A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy.
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What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise. What is the tortoise standing on? You're very clever, young man, very clever, but it's turtles all the way down! (Quoted on page 1)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Sette geni della fisica, sei uomini e una donna. Socievoli e introversi, libertini e castigati, giramondo e sedentari, animati da passioni comuni: l'alpinismo, la musica e la letteratura. Una comunità giovane, piccola e perfetta, che, come ogni anno, nel 1932 si riunisce all'Istituto di fisica teorica di Copenaghen. Sono i maggiori scienziati del Novecento, i titani della fisica teorica che hanno dato vita e forma alla rivoluzione quantistica. Quell'anno in Europa si celebra il centesimo anniversario della morte di Goethe. Niels Bohr, Paul Dirac, Paul Ehrenfest, Lise Meitner, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli e Max Delbrück omaggiano l'ultimo genio universale mettendo in scena il Faust. Personaggi: Bohr-il Signore, Pauli-Mefistofele, il tormentato Ehrenfest-Faust, il neutrino-Margherita. Per la piccola brigata il 1932 è l'anno del miracolo. Questi giovani hanno scoperto, in rapida successione, il neutrone e il positrone e, per la prima volta in laboratorio, hanno indotto la disintegrazione del nucleo atomico, aprendo le porte all'era nucleare. Ma qualcosa di terribile si prepara per il mondo intero: quello è anche l'anno che prelude all'ascesa di Hitler, al cammino verso la guerra. Gli scienziati saranno costretti a essere complici della macchina bellica e a subire condizionamenti politici e militari.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553380168, Paperback)

Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to help nonscientists understand the questions being asked by scientists today: Where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how? Hawking attempts to reveal these questions (and where we're looking for answers) using a minimum of technical jargon. Among the topics gracefully covered are gravity, black holes, the Big Bang, the nature of time, and physicists' search for a grand unifying theory. This is deep science; these concepts are so vast (or so tiny) as to cause vertigo while reading, and one can't help but marvel at Hawking's ability to synthesize this difficult subject for people not used to thinking about things like alternate dimensions. The journey is certainly worth taking, for, as Hawking says, the reward of understanding the universe may be a glimpse of "the mind of God." --Therese Littleton

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:48 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

"In the ten years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking's classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than nine million copies in forty languages sold worldwide. That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic worlds. These observations have confirmed many of Professor Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book, including the recent discoveries of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE), which probed back in time to within 300,000 years of the universe's beginning and revealed wrinkles in the fabric of space-time that he had projected." "Eager to bring to his original text the new knowledge revealed by these observations, as well as his own recent research, Professor Hawking has prepared a new introduction to the book, written an entirely new chapter on wormholes and time travel, and updated the chapters throughout."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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