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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hawking's universe
Reading this book was a pleasure. I found the content presented in an understandable tongue that was story like in the way I found myself drawn into this history of the universe. Of course as a layman some of the science is beyond me, but only because i do not have the necessary background to fully comprehend the full implications of the theories discussed. However not...
Published on 1 Sep 2005 by liam

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read - but not the best on the subject
I'm reading this book 20+ years after its initial publication. I suspect that had I read it 20 years ago my reaction would have been Wow! that's incredibly interesting stuff and given it 5 stars. 20 years is a long time in quantum physics and so a lot of the material was familiar to me, and I think, Simon Singh, in the Big Bang: The Most Important Scientific Discovery of...
Published on 26 Feb 2010 by M. Hadfield

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and fascinating (for the first two thirds at least), 17 Mar 2014
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Despite being armed with a physics degree from Imperial College, I had to admit defeat about two thirds in and just accept that I wasn't going to get much out of the latter stages of the book due to the increasing level of complexity of what is being described. However, this is in no way a reflection on the book itself which was excellent up to that point.

Almost any regular reader will get something out of this book, irrespective of whether they finish it or not.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and mind boggling, 24 April 2000
By A Customer
Brilliant, intriguing, thought-provoking and scintillating, are four ways that this book could be described. On the other hand, it could also be named tedious, confusing, mind-boggling and unreadable. If you have a yearning to find out more about physics this book is truly brilliant, but if you're looking for a bedtime read with a bit of science thrown in, this is not for you. Hawking deals with the really difficult stuff: Einstein is quickly worked through in chapter two before you even hit the more advanced work in the last 8 chapters. Yet Hawking has allowed me to understand more about physics, and more in depth, than any of my school science teachers ever did. If you're looking for answers, this is the best place to find them from the man most capable of explaining.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well condensed and clear guide through complex science!, 20 Feb 1999
By A Customer
There are many layman's books on cosmology and modern scientific theories. Somethimes it can be hard to distinguish truth from misrepresentation. However, one can be sure that hearing these theories 'straight from the horse's mouth (as Hawking is responsible for the development of many of them) that one is being told the truth. He consciously presents his ideas in a non-mathematical way to make the book accesible to anyone. Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is a beginner's book only. I am a student studying theoretical physics and i gained new insight into ideas I thought i understood. A Brief History of Time displays excellently Hawking's natural humour and his brilliant teaching skills. A Brief History of Time is an essential classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hawking in real time - Review 74, 3 Sep 2011
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Reading a few other reviews, I realise the book has had a mixed reception with great strengths of feeling at either extreme, one even describing it as a "con job", others questioning Hawking's scientific credentials.
A phenomenon himself (although I am sure he would not like that description), I do not question his genius or his contributions to the world of science, especially after reading this. Theoretical physics and cosmology are "rocket-science", just not as tangible, and writing a popular, easily-accessible book on these challenging subjects must have been a real challenge in itself, trying to bring complex theories to the page, theories more often expressed in high-level mathematics.
Einstein pointed out that he rarely thought in language dealing with these subjects and that imagination was an essential tool; Hawking uses both language and his imagination effectively.
Hawking's book is an international best-seller (no recommendation itself, I know) but there seems to be more positive feedback than negative. I enjoyed the book, particularly:
2 Space and Time
3 The Expanding Universe
6 Black Holes
8 The Origins of the Universe
11 Conclusion Einstein, Galilei and Newton.

Fascinated by what I don't know and not knowing what I don't know, I found the book informative, accessible and well-written. Anyone struggling with the nature of the Universe itself in such an enthusiastic, knowledgeable way after an introduction by Carl Sagan, must be worthy of consideration. He is.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Intelligent Layman": definitely worth the mental gymnastics, 12 Sep 2006
Jack Roper (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
Approaching an edifice of modern scientific literature and publishing such as A Brief History of Time is not an easy task. For one thing, the concepts that are discussed are highly arcane and buried so deep in extra-sensory thought that it is difficult for many to get any kind of meaningful empirical handle on them; and for another, every "intelligent layman" who reads the book feels duty-bound to get some kind of edification from it. It's rather like going to see Hamlet at the Globe and worrying that any lack of understanding or sympathetic feeling makes you a Philistine.

As an "intelligent layman", I felt duty-bound to read what I expected would be a fascinating book. Fascinating it was, and definitely worth reading, even if only to see whether the fuss is justified. That's still for the jury to decide, but, in the case of scientific books like this, the jury has to be the scientific establishment, simply because there is so much here that just isn't comprehensible to anyone else. That's basically inevitable when you're dealing with a subject that isn't understood, and the basic terms of which are always under discussion.

This may seem to be the same as saying the book isn't any good, or that it somehow fails profoundly to address itself to the general public. It doesn't: one can take the view that any new information it manages to communicate makes it worthwhile, and, although Hawking's style is more laboured and less accessible than, say, Richard Dawkins', the narrative force of the book works hard to hold itself together. So we get a macrocosmic "universe" that is more enjoyable and meaningful than the microcosmic atoms, if you like.

What riled me intensely, though, and the only caveat I'd give, was Hawking's quasi-philosophical musing about the role of God in the creation of the universe. This strand, which pops up throughout the book, is incontiguous with the physics because it isn't as coherently argued as the physics and it's actually hard to see why it's relevant. Because they're not very well thought-through or well presented, Hawking's references to God seem for all the world like a slightly patronising nod to the "layman's" inherent desire for quick, empty, mythological explanations to scientific mystery (his or the reader's theism notwithstanding). It's an unattractive feature which doesn't quite ruin an otherwise compelling and seminal book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars interesting ...., 12 May 2008
A very good book. Hawking wrote this book for the common reader with little or no knowledge of Physics. This make this book different and interesting. He gives the view of different scientists about the creation of this universe and the scientific explanation of the events in the history of time which made the universe look like as it is now. He also give the view of researchers about the predictions of how the Universe may come to an end.

Overall a really good book to read. Though there are still a lot of questions he left unanswered in the book but this only adds to the beauty of this book. It forces you to think and to make your own conclusions. I gave 4 stars to this book for two reasons. First it is written by a scientist and there are still some places in the book where he could not stop himself from explaining things in a pure scientific manner which give the book an air of a scientific research paper at times, which is not interesting for me at all, and will not be of any interest to anyone with limited knowledge of Physics. Second thing is that the book is a little old and research in the areas described in this book is now far ahead then the time this book was written. This makes this book a little old and some of the theories presented in the book are now proved wrong or improved by the later researchers.

However this does not really mean that the book is outdated and should not be read any more. This is still a very good book and it bridges the gap between the hard core physics and the common people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not by chance a best seller!, 2 Jun 2009
George Spiros (Athens, Greece) - See all my reviews
Well it combines the profile of a genius with movement disabilities, something enough to draw attention, with being one of the first books to popularize science!

It is a spectacular book, emphasizing on cosmology (the birth of our universe), and it is one of the best introductions to popular science. Though i think that there are other as good or even better popular science books, this still remains a must have on everyones library. It is Stephen Hawkings best book, that established him in the public reader (his others books barely reach the level of this one)
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5.0 out of 5 stars a real page turner, 30 Nov 2014
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This is an amazing book. As someone who is interested in physics, but has no formal training in the subject above a B in GCSE sciences, this book truly amazed me. Hawking has managed to condense some extremely complex subject matter into easily digestible chapters. It is all explained so well that you finish reading it feeling like an expert and on top of the world (or indeed the universe). Not only that, but he has written it in a way that is just so readable, it almost feels like you're reading a novel, because you can't put it down. It really is like a novel, apart from the main characters are sub-atomic particles and the antagonists are black holes.

Though some of the information in the back is now outdated and has been disproven, it still gives you a fantastic basis for understanding things such as relativity, anti-matter and event horizons. He goes right from tiny quarks all the way up to the entire make-up of the universe. I did not think that Stephen Hawking was the type to be funny, but I actually laughed aloud a few times, so interesting and readable and he really uses some fantastic analogies that anyone can relate to.

I suppose if you are a PhD level physicist then you will probably not find this book particularly informative, but for me it really reignited my interest in the sciences and it is honestly one of the best books I have read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult, 15 Oct 2011
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
I've taken an interest in philosophy lately and reading it has led me inexorably to finding out more about science ,which appears to have usurped the role formerly held by philosophers. All of the big questions are now being answered by theoretical physics and biology and for that reason I purchased Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". This book tries to explain how the universe works and how it has evolved over time. It investigates the quantum realm as well as exploring the consequences of Einstein's theories upon our understanding of the universe. It is all fascinating stuff, but to be honest I found large chunks of the book very difficult to understand. I only have an average GCE O Level in Physics and to make total sense of this book, I would suggest that an A Level or degree in the subject would be required. That said Hawking does try to present simplified,accessible arguments and I was able to get the gist of a lot of what he was saying. For the interested amateur I would recommend an easier introduction to this subject ,rather than delve into this book and get lost. I intend to do that and then reread this excellent book along with Hawking's latest book "The Grand Design" at a later date.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably clear description of what is beyond all our understanding, 10 July 2008
Darren Simons (Middlesex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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There's something quite unique about this book - for all the hype it has as the book which stands out as a theoretical physicist trying to explain in layman terms what the universe is... it actuallly is!

In this, Hawking provides a bit of a history of our understanding of the universe and the Big Bang. Some of the content I expected but I was intrigued to read about the idea that before the Big Bang time didn't exist... it sounds rather fundamental to our lives really! I was also a little surprised to see how Hawking dealt with the view of creationists and in particular the way he tried to allow for the concept of a god being compatible with the notion of Big Bang.

While I found some of the book difficult to follow, overall I definitely felt I gained an albeit brief understanding into the views of the community of physicists to the origin of our universe.

There is a touch of arrogance to the writing, but then if you're one of the brightest people to have lived in our lifetime I guess that's justified!

Definitely recommended if you have the slightest interest in understanding what Big Bang is!
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A Brief History of Time
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (Paperback - 1 Mar 1989)
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