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A Brief History of Time - From the Big Bang…

A Brief History of Time - From the Big Bang to Black Holes (original 1988; edition 1990)

by Stephen W With An Introduction By Sagan Hawking, Carl And Illustrations By Miller, Ron (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
14,470125403 (3.9)282
Science. Physics. Nonfiction. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawkings book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe beginand what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unendingor are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?
Told in language we all can understand, A Brief History of Time plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and arrows of time, of the big bang and a bigger Godwhere the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.
… (more)
Title:A Brief History of Time - From the Big Bang to Black Holes
Authors:Stephen W With An Introduction By Sagan Hawking, Carl And Illustrations By Miller, Ron (Author)
Info:Bantam Press (1990), Edition: Highlighting
Collections:Blinkist summary, Your library, Kindle, Lloyd's Reviews
Tags:"Astronomy, Astronomy, Cosmology, Ideas, Physics, Relativity, Time, Bookcase 11

Work Information

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. 42
    Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher by Richard Feynman (OccamsHammer)
  3. 10
    Chaos and Harmony: Perspectives on Scientific Revolutions of the 20th Century by Xuan Thuan Trinh (Louve_de_mer)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 00
    From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean M. Carroll (steve.clason)
  7. 17
    The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality by Dalai Lama XIV (leahsimone)

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Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
Stephen Hawking is incredibly famous of course and I’ve always meant to read his book “A brif history of time” but the best I’ve managed so far is this Blinkist summary of the book. And this current review is based on that. Yes a cheap way to assess a book and I undoubtedly miss a great deal. Though, on the other hand, I also pick up a fair bit of what the book is about. And not sure that I will be rushing off to buy the full book.....Hmm, just checked and I already have two versions of the full book. So maybe I will do a comparison. Anyway here are a few selections from the Blinkist review that stood out for me:
Theories based on what you’ve seen in the past can help predict the future. A theory, in its most basic terms, is a model that accurately explains large groups of observations. Scientists collect data from observations they see in, for example, experiments, and use it to develop explanations of how and why phenomena happen. [I must admit, the writing is admirably clear ...not sure if that is Hawking or the Blinkist writer]
Theories have two great benefits:
1. First, they allow scientists to make definite predictions about future events.
2. Second, theories are always disprovable, meaning they’re open to reform if new evidence that doesn’t fit the theory is found.
So in effect, a single future observation can always invalidate a theory,
In the 1600s, Isaac Newton revolutionized the way we think about how objects move. It was long thought that objects didn’t move ..they were stationary unless pushed. In the 1600s, Newton thoroughly disproved this long-held belief. In its place, he introduced a theory which stated that all objects in the universe, instead of being still, were in fact in constant motion.
To describe how all objects in the universe move, Newton developed three laws:
1. The first of Newton’s laws states that all objects will continue moving in a straight line if not acted on by another force.
2. Newton’s second law states that an object will speed up at a rate proportional to the force acting on it.
3. Newton’s third law describes gravity. It states that all bodies in the universe attract other bodies with a force proportional to the mass of each object.
The fact that the speed of light is constant shows that you can’t always measure something’s speed relative to something else’s......We have seen how Newton’s theory did away with absolute rest and replaced it with the idea that the movement of an object is relative to the movement of something else. Yet, the theory also suggested the speed of an object is relative. But, one major hole developed in Newton’s theory: the speed of light. The speed of light is constant, not relative. It is always 186,000 miles per second. It doesn’t matter how fast something else is going, the speed of light remains the same......doesn’t matter who is viewing the light or how quickly they are traveling, its speed will always be the same.
How can the speed of something be constant regardless of the state of the observer?
The theory of relativity states that time itself is not fixed......The theory of relativity states that the laws of science are the same for all freely moving observers. This means that no matter what someone’s speed might be, they would observe the same speed of light. One of its central suggestions is actually very difficult for many to comprehend; it states that time is relative.......What this means is that because the speed of light doesn’t change for observers moving at different speeds, observers traveling relative to one another would actually measure different times for the same event.......this would mean that they each experience the flash event [eg. With trains passing and observers on platform] as if it happened at two different times. This is because time is determined by the distance something has travelled divided by its speed. The speed of light is the same for both observers, but as the distance is different, time is relative to each observer. [Again beautifully explained with great economy of words].....If both observers carried clocks to record when the pulse of light was emitted, these would confirm two different times for the same event.
So who’s right? Neither observer; time is relative and unique to both observers’ perspectives!.....Since one can’t make exact measurements of particles, scientists use something called quantum state to make predictions.
Bizarrely, the more precisely you try to measure the position of a particle, the more uncertain its speed becomes; and the more exactly its speed is measured, the less certain its position becomes! This phenomenon, first discovered in the 1920s, is called the uncertainty principle.
Because of the uncertainty principle, scientists had to use other ways of looking at particles, so they began to look at a particle’s quantum state instead. Quantum state combines many likely possible positions and speeds of a particle.
Since scientists cannot pinpoint a particle’s definite position or velocity, they look at the many likely positions particles might occupy and velocities they might have....To help them determine this, scientists treat particles as if they are waves.....The multitude of different positions that a particle can be in means that they appear like a series of continuous, oscillating waves......Looking at particles like this helps scientists figure out where a particle is most likely to be. The likeliest positions of the particle occur where the arcs and dips on the many waves correspond with each other, and the least likely positions are where they don't. This is called interference,
Gravity is the result of massive objects curving the universe.....when calculating an event’s position along with the three-dimensional coordinates, scientists add a fourth coordinate to indicate time.....Scientists have to take time into consideration when determining the position of an event because the theory of relativity states that time is relative. It is therefore an important factor in describing the nature of an event.....An amazing consequence of the combination of space and time is how it changed our conception of gravity. Gravity is the result of massive objects curving space-time. A huge mass, like that of our sun, curves and actually alters space-time.....Other objects then follow these curves in space-time.
When a star with a very high mass dies, it collapses into a singularity called a black hole.
A black hole occurs because the gravitational field of most massive stars is so strong. While the star is alive, it is able to use its energy to keep itself from collapsing. But when the star runs out of energy, it can no longer overcome the gravity and its decaying body collapses in on itself. Everything is pulled inwards toward an infinitely dense, spherical point called a singularity.
When a black hole forms, space-time is curved so steeply by its gravity that even light bends along it.....This raises a question: if a black hole absorbs light and anything else that crosses its event horizon, how can we know they are there?......Scientists look for stars orbiting dark and massive objects that could be black holes. They also look for the X-rays and other waves that are commonly produced by matter when it is being sucked in and torn up by a black hole.....Black holes emit radiation, which can lead to their demise through evaporation.
The universal second law of thermodynamics states that entropy, the tendency toward greater disorder, always increases. And as entropy increases, so must temperature. An example of this is the way a fire-poker, after being in a fire, glows red-hot and releases radiation as heat.......According to the second law, since black holes suck in disordered energy from the universe, the entropy of the black hole should also increase. And with this increase in entropy, black holes should have to let heat escape........Virtual pairs of particles and antiparticles near the event horizon conserve the second law of thermodynamics. Virtual particles are particles that cannot be detected but whose effects can be measured. One of the partners in the pair has positive energy and the other has negative energy.....In a black hole, gravitation is so strong it can suck the negative particle into the black hole and in doing so give its particle partner enough energy to possibly escape into the universe and be emitted as heat. This allows the black hole to emit radiation, and thus follow the second law of thermodynamics.....The amount of positive radiation emitted is balanced by the negative particles being sucked into the black hole. If its mass becomes small enough, the black hole will most likely end in a massive final explosion, as large as millions of H-bombs.
Although we can’t be sure, there are strong indicators that suggest that time can only move forwards.....There are three strong indicators that suggest time only moves forward.
1. The first indicator showing that the passage of time goes from past to future is the thermodynamic arrow of time.
2. The second indicator of forward time: the psychological arrow of time, which is dictated by memory. After that cup has broken, you can remember it being on the table; but before this, when it was still on the table, you can’t “recall” it’s future position on the floor.
3. The third indicator, the cosmological arrow of time, refers to the expansion of the universe, and this also follows along our perception of the thermodynamic arrow of time. This is because as the universe expands, entropy increases.
Intelligent beings can only exist as disorder increases.....Therefore, as long as we’re around, we will observe the cosmological arrow of time as going forward.
In addition to gravity, there are three fundamental forces in the universe.
What kinds of forces are at work in the universe?....Most people will have heard about only one: gravity. But there are three additional forces
1. The first is electromagnetic force,...This force is much stronger than gravity and dominates at the small level of the atom. For example, electromagnetic force causes an electron to orbit around the atom’s nucleus.
2. The second is weak nuclear force, which acts on all the particles that make up matter and causes radioactivity.....At higher energies, the strength of weak nuclear force increases until it matches that of electromagnetic force.
3. The third is strong nuclear force, which binds protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom, and binds the smaller quarks within protons and neutrons.....the strong nuclear force gets weaker at higher energies.
At a very high energy called grand unification energy, electromagnetic force and weak nuclear force get stronger and strong nuclear force gets weaker. At that point, all three forces reach equal strength and become different aspects of a single force: a force that might have played a role in the creation the universe.
Although scientists believe that the universe started with the big bang, they are unsure of exactly how this happened......Scientists, however, don’t exactly know how this big bang occurred......The most widely accepted theory of the universe's beginning is the hot big bang model......In this model, the universe started with zero size and was infinitely hot and dense. During the big bang, it expanded, and as it grew its temperature cooled as its heat was spread.......Its not the only model. Another model is the inflationary model. This model proposes that the energy of the early universe was so enormously high that the strengths of the strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force and electromagnetic force were equal. As the universe expanded, however, the three forces took on different strengths very quickly.
Physicists haven’t been able to unify general relativity and quantum physics.
In their desire to understand and describe the universe, scientists have developed two major theories. The first is general relativity, which concentrates on a very large phenomenon in the universe: gravity. The second is quantum physics, which describes some of the smallest known objects in the universe: particles smaller than atoms.
Currently there is no way of combining them together to make one complete unified theory of everything.......Many of the equations scientists use in quantum physics result in seemingly impossible infinite values......instead of using the equations from quantum physics to predict events, the events themselves have to be added and the equations tweaked to make them fit!
A second, similar problem is that quantum theory suggests that all the empty space in the universe is made up of virtual pairs of particles and antiparticles.....However, the existence of these virtual pairs causes difficulties for general relativity. Since there is an infinite amount of empty space in the universe, the energy of these pairs would have to have infinite energy.
This is problematic because Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 suggests that the mass of an object is equal to its energy. So the infinite energy of these virtual particles would mean that they would also have infinite mass. And if there were infinite mass, then the whole universe would collapse under the intense gravitational pull and become a single black hole. [I notice that there is no mention here of dark matter nor dark energy despite them apparently dominating the universe.....I wonder if they are mentioned in the full book?]
The main message in this book: Many people are put off physics because they see it as an impenetrable world of lengthy equations and complex theories. And, to a certain extent, this is true. But the complexity of physics shouldn’t stop us non-experts from learning how and why the universe works. There are a number of rules and laws that help us understand the mysteries of the universe around us. Rules and laws that most of us can comprehend. And once we understand them, we can begin to see the universe in a new light.
My take on the book? I thought that it would be difficult to understand but it is remarkably clear....though doesn't mention dark matter or dark energy....and apparently, Hawking was unhappy with it because he wrote a later book with Hertog with a rather different slant on the universe. (More like a holograph). But five stars from me. ( )
  booktsunami | Jul 10, 2024 |
Immediate buy at a library sale, interesting topics and fun to look up what has been discovered since the publish date 1988 and compare. Some diagram captions I had to laugh at - "WORLD-SHEET OF TWO OPEN STRINGS JOINING" ( )
  lneukirch | Feb 4, 2024 |
I don’t pretend to understand all the concepts of science or mathematics, or space. But I like it when scientific and history books make the matter they discuss more relatable and explainable for laypeople. I did giggle at some of the comments. ( )
  Elise3105 | Aug 13, 2023 |
I tried but uh I have no basic understanding of physics. A decade later and I still have no idea what the fuck he's talking about. My force of will expanded my read count to 150 pages longer than 18 year old me. I TRIED. I FAILED.
  fleshed | Jul 16, 2023 |
Partea despre timp, istoria teoriilor fizicii și univers în general (cam 2/3 din carte) a fost foarte interesantă, accesibilă de înțeles și pt nivel de fizică de liceu și suprinzător de captivantă (fizică citită ”light”, cu plăcere, cine-ar fi crezut?!).
Partea despre găuri negre (1/3 din carte) m-a plictisit și nu mi s-a părut că ar avea legătură cu restul, ci doar că-i place lui Hawkings subiectul (de aici minus un punct).
Oricum, recomandată oricui vrea să aibă un nivel basic de fizică și astronomie - și să nu se plictiseacă obținându-l. ( )
  milosdumbraci | May 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (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 (102 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hawking, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jackson, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jonkers, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kober, HainerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kreitmeyer, JensCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, RonIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sagan, CarlIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmidt, BerndConsultant (German Translation)secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Souriau, IsabelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Varteva, RistoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
עמנואל לוטםTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Science. Physics. Nonfiction. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawkings book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe beginand what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unendingor are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?
Told in language we all can understand, A Brief History of Time plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and arrows of time, of the big bang and a bigger Godwhere the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.

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Che cosa sappiamo sull'universo, e come lo sappiamo? Da dove è venuto, e dove sta andando? L'universo ebbe un inizio e, in tal caso cosa c'era prima? Il tempo avrà mai una fine?" Con questi quesiti Stephen Hawking ci introduce in una straordinaria avventura: un'emozionante cavalcata nel tempo. L'espansione dell'universo, il principio di indeterminazione, le particelle elementari e le forze della natura, l'origine e la sorte dell'universo, l'unificazione della fisica sono le grandi tappe di questo viaggio indimenticabile. Ma oltre a riassumere le conoscenze tradizionali Hawking illustra le ultime teorie sulla fisica dei buchi neri, il principio antropico, la teoria dell'universo inflazionario, l'universo contenuto in una bolla.
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