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A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes Hardcover – 1 Mar 1988

405 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Printing edition (1 Mar. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553052438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553052435
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,042,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Hawking is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time which was an international bestseller. His other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universe and The Universe in a Nutshell.

In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. Since 1979 he has held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science. Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jan. 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a truelly amazing book it has to be said. Anyone interested in space and time travel etc must buy this book. It's not one of those books you buy and then never read, you'll be hooked in no time. Before you know it you will be understanding how space really works. Explained with amazing clarity by the true master of space. A must buy for anyone.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Paul on 12 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
I started out with low expectations, i thought i was going to be overwhelmed by incomprehensible facts and figures. I would be lying if i said its an easy book to read, its not, you have to give it maximum attention or else you will miss bits, but for such a complex topic Hawking does an excellent job of making it manageable for those of us who aren't geniuses yet are mildly interested in the subject, and the illustrations make it even more so.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 April 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book explains the concepts introduced in the "Brief history of Time" more clearly with the use of outstanding illustrations and graphs. People that read the original edition will now be able to understand the somewhat cryptic notions using beautiful representations of the microcosm and macrocosm. A must for people interested in science.
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59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 18 Nov. 2003
Format: Hardcover
For anyone looking for a great, comprehensible explanation of the current state of the theories driving today's physics, this is it. Hawking has taken everything from the early history of thinking about the universe, its laws and composition, to the latest developments on black holes and string theory and placed it in a remarkably lucid set of explanations that detail the concepts behind all the mathematics that is so intimidating to most. This book is written without a single equation or a single statement on the order of "From the above, it is obvious that..." Instead, we proceed from the (comparatively) simple concepts about the everyday observable world of gravity, planets, and stars, travel carefully along the historical path of scientific observations as they modify and enhance the simple theories till we reach the world of quantum mechanics, the big bang, wormholes, and Grand Unified Field Theories. Each concept is fully explained, and with this expanded second edition, many of the concepts are beautifully illustrated with drawings and photographs.
And, possibly surprising to some people, as we enter the rarified air of today's theories, we see that the line between physics and philosophy is a very thin one, and ruminations about the origin of the Universe lead to discussions about God and fate. Here we see why Hawking is one of the premier physicists of today, as he obviously thinks in same kind of conceptual language that this book is written in, capable of looking at the meaning behind the mathematics and how it relates to us as humans.
Physics students and engineers may not find very much new here, but even they may benefit from the clear thought lines presented here, forcing a look at the meaning behind all the esoteric symbols that are their everyday working fare.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Hepburn on 18 Jun. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm a scientist, but not a mathematician or a physicist. I have, like many people, an educated layman's knowledge of the universe and am keen to learn more.

As such, I rely on popular versions of some hard thinking to access and enjoy my interests. Reading through the original version, I hit treacle about two thirds through and (from what I'm told) missed a fine climax to an excellent book.

This is different. I've often thought that a great mind can tie together complex ideas and information in a clear and simple way.

This is the result of a truly great mind. It's beautifully written, simple, concise and (although it still requires an investment of thought and time) is far more accessible.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in this area.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 20 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
The mark of a true educator, which Stephen Hawking certainly is, is that he would take time (very valuable time, in his case) away from research and contemplation of the great mysteries of the universe to write a piece that would serve to help explain to the greater number of less-scientifically-adept persons the fruits and implications of modern scientific research from the cutting edge of physics. Hawking is ranked in popular and scientific thinking on a par with Einstein, and has motor neuron disability that severely restricts his ability to move, even to type or write, so, when he takes time to write something for general consumption, it is probably going to be worthwhile. And indeed, this is.
'Someone told me that each equation I included in the book would halve sales. I therefore resolved not to have any equations at all. In the end, however, I did put in one equation, Einstein's famous equation. I hope that this will not scare off half of my potential readers.'
Hawking begins by exploring the large scale structure of the universe (time being part of the `fabric' of the universe, in spacetime), the connections of space and time as a relatively new concept in thinking of the universe, and the way the universe `acts' (cosmological dynamics). From there, he explores the universe at a very basic level, as elementary particles and forces of nature, introducing quarks.
'There are a number of different varieties of quarks: there are thought to be at least six "flavours", which we call up, down, strange, charmed, bottom and top. Each flavour comes in three "colours", red, green and blue. ...We now know that neither the atoms nor the protons and neutrons within them are indivisible.
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