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The Universe in a Nutshell [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Stephen Hawking , Simon Prebble
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nov 2001
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5 CD's

Like many in the community of theoretical physicists, Professor Hawking is after the Grail of science-the Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. He involves us in the attempts at uncovering its secrets-from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality, and now, at the very frontiers of science, superstring theory and p-branes. He shares his eagerness to "combine Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories into a complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe."

With characteristic exuberance, Hawking invites us to be fellow travelers on this extraordinary voyage through spacetime.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group; Unabridged edition (Nov 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055371449X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553714494
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 12.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,515,858 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.

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


'One of the most brilliant scientific minds since Einstein' -- Daily Express --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
ALBERT EINSTEIN, THE DISCOVERER OF THE SPECIAL AND general theories of relativity, was born in Ulm, Germany, in 1879, but the following year the family moved to Munich, where his father, Hermann, and uncle, Jakob, set up a small and not very successful electrical business. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable but challenging book 10 April 2002
By Andrew Johnston VINE VOICE
This is the long-awaited follow-up to "A Brief History of Time". It's quite amazing how some of the ideas around the Physics of the very large and very small have developed in recent years, and Stephen Hawking is determined to communicate them to us.
He realises that this requires diagrams and analogies, since the mathematics is getting ever more forbidding. As a result, unlike a lot of books on modern Physics and cosmology, this one focuses on pictures and spatial representations. It's beautifully illustrated throughout, almost a coffee-table book. That said, Hawking hasn't neglected the text either - it's clear, concise and frequently humourous.
The book starts with the key ideas developed in the earlier part of the 20th century, Relativity and Quantum Theory, but in the context of more recent experiments and observations, which makes it feel more contemporary than more historical accounts. The second chapter explains how these developed through to the 1980s, summarising the various attempts at unified "Theories of Everything". The book's central chapter investigates what we now know about how the Universe formed and developed, presenting a lot of quite new findings and concepts.
After this, the going starts to get harder, introducing concepts like time travel through black holes, and the physics of the strangely-named "p-branes". You may need to read these several times, and understanding is by no means guaranteed, but Hawking rightly focuses on the key implications rather than the models themselves.
The penultimate chapter is a bit of a non-sequiteur, looking at the evolution of human and artificial intelligence. It's a fascinating subject, well described and clearly of great interest to Hawking, but doesn't quite fit with the rest of the book.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nutshells need Nutcrackers.... 18 Feb 2002
By A Customer
in this colourful book.
Hawking attempts to correct his heavily linguistic approach of 'a brief history' in a well thought-out attempt at presenting a more coherent image of our universe and our current level of understanding of it. In order to achieve this Hawking quickly guides the reader through some of the complex theories using careful and well-thought out language and cartoons and graphics that support the text along with reasonable summaries of the main findings. He is also keen to point out and highlight the relevance of each area in our overall understanding of the universe.
Many of these concepts are however, despite Hawkins best intentions difficult and abstract being very different from the normal classical experience of humans living in the macroscopic world. Quantum theory, P-Branes, Spin Theory, Sum of Histories, string theory are all dealt with here. Hawking avoids the use of Mathematics in explaining these concepts but it is still inevitable that some of the theories and concepts are not suited to this light approach - often complicated points that require more background comprehension in the subject remain difficult to comprehend. Occasionally one is left puzzled by abstract sections that are not well supported in the rest of the book.
However not delving too much into any one branch or area -does have its advantages; conscieness keeps the various branches connected and allow Hawkings overall image of the universe to form in the readers consciousness. This together with Hawkins frequent good humour also appear to capture the most important aspects of each area. If one can subdue the frustration of not fully comprehending some sections and trust to Hawkings guidance, one is carefully guided to a current cosmological understanding of the universe.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Summary, but Nothing New 10 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This book is said to be the inspiring sequel to "A Brief History of Time".
It starts by two chapters discussing relativity and quantum mechanics, like repeating the old book, but with clear explanation of the concepts such as spin, time curve, forces, and string. A formula on the Black Hole Entropy closes these beginning chapters. It is something like S=Akc/4hG :).
Startin on pages 67, it discusses "new" topics. The history of the universe, which is not linear. Then prediction of the future, with some other formulas, one from Schrödinger, and two others about Black Hole again :). Then it flows to the possibility for time travel to the past (and whether then the history could be changed). The next chapter discusses the future, whether it would be Star Trek or not. Also discussed are DNA, AI, mikroprosesor, etc. A discussion on the philosophy of the universe closes this book.
The chapters are linked well, but not sequential. Compared to many other popular science book published in the last 10 years, there is almost nothing new offered. But this book is a very excellent summary of all things discussed on those books (including the previous Hawking's book). We don't need to read his previous book before reading this one. The illustration is very rich, and luxurious. Many boxes discuss various topics from many other scientists, presented without making mess to the main text.
Very recommended.
(But actually I expected something more from Hawking. I mean, he's Stephen Hawking, not just another popular science writer)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not great new quality but a concise and sharp modern classic ...
Not great new quality but a concise and sharp modern classic theory book from the well known icon of science.
Published 12 days ago by James Parsons
5.0 out of 5 stars ledge book
Published 1 month ago by Kian Siabi
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent clever read. Makes a good easy lightweight read
Published 1 month ago by Lorraine J.
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe you cannot read Hawking HE IS A GREAT, ENGROSSING WRITER...
Hawking has an amazing easy style at once informative but entertaining - thoroughly recommended reading for everbody on the planet !!!
Published 1 month ago by rabatteuse
5.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Hawking Universe in a nutshell
I recommend the hardcover book as it will probably be read a thousand times, the book was in mint condition so credit to the seller. Read more
Published 4 months ago by dinger
5.0 out of 5 stars Really very good
I bought this for a friend as I already owned a copy, which I bought new and kept in excellent condition. Read more
Published 5 months ago by J Debell
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it but I don't understand all of it
I don't understand all of this but it is written for the average person. There are some good diagrams in the book to assist the reader. if you liked a 'Brief History... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Andrew Grant
1.0 out of 5 stars Read it twice
I don't pretend to understand much of this, but I do get the overall idea. Shame about the irrelevant images that pretyt it up. Overall, well worth a read.
Published 10 months ago by davidhasforsale
5.0 out of 5 stars My mind is open - but not enough for my brain to fall out
I love Stephen Hawking - such an incredible mind. To paraphrase Einstein, you don't truly understand something unless you can explain it simply; Professor Hawking does a remarkable... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amber
4.0 out of 5 stars Easier to understand than the Grand Design.
I have not long started this book but find it easier reading. Stephen Hawking is of a much higher intellect than the average person.
Published 12 months ago by Mr R.C.Demmery.
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