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The Universe In A Nutshell [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Stephen William Hawking
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Amazon Review

The Universe in a Nutshell attempts to address the relative difficulty of Hawking's first foray into popular science, A Brief History of Time. While this sold in its millions, few readers got past the first few chapters. Helpfully, this new work is full of beautifully prepared colour illustrations and decorations, and has a "tree-like" structure, so that readers can skip from chapter to chapter without losing the thread.

In 200 highly illustrated pages, Hawking is pushing the frontiers of popular physics beyond relativity and quantum theory, past superstring theory and imaginary time, into a dizzying new world of M-theory and branes. It's a colossal venture--one Hawking is uniquely qualified to undertake--but it is crammed into far too small a space. When you consider the other rather good tomes being written on the nature of consciousness these days, the decision to limit The Universe in a Nutshell to the dictates of publishing rather than to the natural parameters of the material is an unfortunate one.

Worse, Hawking tries to paper over the complexity of his field. He rushes over the very concepts he should be helping us understand, only to belabour simple ideas, often by means of flip Star Trek metaphors. Also unfortunately, the illustrations--by turns trivial and opaque--mirror the faults of the text. The author's name alone will guarantee sales, but the book we long for--the long, ruminative, poetic celebration of Hawking's world--seems as far away as ever. --Simon Ings


A Brief History of Time has now sold an estimated nine million copies worldwide - something of a hard act for its author to follow. In what is being promoted as the 'sequel' to that book, Professor Hawking gives an account of his attempt to combine Einstein's Theory of Relativity with Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories, in order to reach the grail of a Theory of Everything - or big TOE, as it's charmingly named. This is a book about superstrings and p-branes, holography and supergravity, about how the 'cosmic seed' from which our universe derived was as small as a nut. The publishers are not yet releasing much text, but enough to see that it will be a fascinating (if challenging) read. And one enhanced throughout with 200 striking full colour illustrations and jazzed-up diagrams.

Book Description

Stephen Hawking's first full length book since the worldwide bestseller A Brief History of Time, lavishly illustrated in full colour throughout.

From the Back Cover

One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking is an intellectual icon, known not only for the adventurousness of his ideas but for the clarity and wit with which he expresses them. His phenomenal multi-million-copy bestseller A Brief History of Time introduced the fascinating world of theoretical physics to readers all over the world. Now, in a major new lavishly illustrated book, Hawking turns to the major breakthroughs that have occurred in the years since the release of his acclaimed first book. He brings to us the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, and explains in layman's terms the principles that control our universe.

Like many in the international scientific community, Professor Hawking is seeking to uncover the grail of science - the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. In The Universe in a Nutshell, he guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe - from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality. In this most exciting intellectual adventure he seeks 'to combine Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories into one complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe'. He takes us to the wild frontiers of science where superstring theory and p-branes may hold the final clue to the puzzle.

The Universe in a Nutshell is essential reading for all those who want to understand the universe in which we live.

Back Flap

STEPHEN HAWKING is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, and is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.


Back Board

Acclaim for A Brief History of Time

'This book marries a child's wonder to a genius's intellect. We journey into Hawking's universe, while marvelling at his mind.' Sunday Times

'One of the most brilliant scientific minds since Einstein.' Daily Express

'He can explain the complexities of cosmological physics with an engaging combination of clarity and wit . . . He is a brain of extraordinary power.' Observer

'It is the publishing sensation of the last decade.' Spectator

'His mind seems to soar ever more brilliantly across the vastness of space and time to unlock the secrets of the universe.' Time Magazine

'Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher's gifts - easy, good-natured humor and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life.' New York Times

'Genius unique, tragic and triumphant . . . Hawking takes us through the evolution of modern thinking on cosmology, from Aristotle and Copernicus, through Galileo and Newton, to Einstein and, indeed, Hawking himself.' Sydney Morning Herald

About the Author

In 1963, Stephen 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. For thirty years he held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees, was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science.
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