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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

versus
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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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hawking's universe, 1 Sep 2005
By 
liam "liamr_spencer" (Morley, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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 once did I feel unable to continue with the book. It was well written, well researched and fully recommend this book to anyone interested in finding out what one of themost forefront physicists of ourtime has to say about the universe are part of.
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103 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to difficult topics., 16 Sep 2005
By A Customer
This is a truly excellent book. Why? Because it covers a wide range of cutting edge physics and makes it more or less understandable to everyone.
I notice that one reviewer has called this book "A Con Job" and goes on to ask "If he [Hawking] is such a great genius why do we never come across his name in the history of science? What major breakthroughs has he made? ... One reviewer admitted that he [Hawking] did not understand more than 60% of the book. I certainly didn't understand more than 10%". Well let's answer the first part shall we? Stephen Hawking provided a mathmatical proof for the big-bang theory and has done extensive research into the workings of black-holes. Are these not major breakthroughs? I certainally think so. The fact that the reviwer understood less than 10% of the content perhaps says more about his intelligence that the quality of the book.
The book is fairly short (240 pages) and this is to its credit - it is long enough to introduce and explain difficult concepts, but short enough not to bore you.
All in all, this is an great book - give it a try!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good, 23 July 2000
By A Customer
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Physics and/or Maths. It is fair to say that this book goes into a greater amount of detail than may be desired by the general reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great content, not great style, 15 Jan 2010
By 
James Barrett - See all my reviews
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I am a first year undergraduate physics student and this book is one of the ones that really got me in to physics. The idea covered and the questions raised are deep and interesting, and the topics are covered at a fairly natural pace for somebody who is intelligent enough to be able to understand all the concepts covered.

The reason this book loses a mark is for the writing style. The paragraphs are to long and the writing doesn't really flow in the way that other good cosmology books do. Hawking also neglects to use SI form for his numbers (i.e 10^12 rather than "one thousand billion") which, in all honesty, would be fairly easily explained to somebody who is then going to go on and understand the rest of the book.

He also seems to make a special effort to include God in his theories, which would be alright if it seemed natural, but in this case it seems bolted on so as to avoid controversy.

All in all a cracking book, but let down a bit by the authors style.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening., 30 Nov 2003
Like so many, I have always said I'd read Brief History. So i bit the bullet and delved in...
Now I'm not a mathematician, or a physisist. Not since GSCE's have i pondered over the equations that were set down over the last few hundred years. Luckily Stephen Hawking knew this when he wrote A Brief History of Time. In fact that was his driving force.
It proved to be, from the start, an enjoyable read. Doesn't really say much does it? "An enjoyable read", sort of reaction you'd have to a Spot the Dog book. Well that's how it starts. But I got through that to discover mind blowing theories and genuine enjoyment in reading Hawkings.
Yes there are a lot of things to get your head round, things that are complicated and at times uncomprehensible. But this is said in terms of altering your view on our world and universe, not in terms of being far too complicated and above us.
It's not for everyone, but if it's for you its an enthralling read. Not one to be left on the coffee table.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good science for non-scientists., 25 Oct 1998
By A Customer
Ever wonder how the Universe actually works, without having to know too many equations (well, none actually)? Well, this bookyells you. It brings the reader up to date on all the complicated scientific theories concerning BIG things, and doesn't get bogged down with complicated stuff that only scientists need to know. It contains only one equation, and that's only to label a point. An informative, intelligent, and surprisingly easy-to-read synopsis of todays astrophysics.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time is of the essence, 20 Dec 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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. So the question is: What are the truly elementary particles, the basic building blocks from which everything is made?'
From this discussion Hawking proceeds to black holes (and the fact that they aren't so black and permanent as popular belief holds them to be), which circles back around to the origin and destiny of the universe (which relates back to the large-scale structure), which ultimately brings us to time. This is where things begin to get interesting.
'When one tried to unify gravity with quantum mechanics, one had to introduce the idea of "imaginary" time. Imaginary time is indistinguishable from directions in space. If one can go north, one can turn around and head south; equally, if one can go forward in imaginary time, one ought to be able to turn around and go backward.'
Hawking explains variations of the thermodynamic, psychological and cosmological laws that regulate the direction of time's arrow, which, despite the theoretical flexibility of time with regard to scientific principles, always apparently goes in one direction.
Finally, Hawking explores the most current topic in theoretical physics: unification theories, which may or may not be a wild goose on the loose. Hawking also explores what such a grand unified theory (also called sometimes the `theory of everything') would mean, and what it wouldn't mean. But Hawking assures us that the quest for understanding is worthwhile even it won't be the final word on everything.
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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, 26 Feb 2010
By 
M. Hadfield "Ammonite" (Runcorn, Cheshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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 All Time and Why You Need to Know About it covers the same territory in a much more readable and enjoyable form. Still I learned some new stuff. I found out what quarks and gluons are. I'd heard of them but had no idea what they did. I even found out they (quarks) have up and down versions and come in different colours. I also found out why strings came and went and where all those other dimensions are hiding.

I think Stephen Hawking made an admirable attempt to reach down from his lofty mental perch, he even injects a little humour from time to time. I felt that there seemed to be an undercurrent throughout the book that hinted at a possibility (or maybe probability would be a better word given the subject matter) of an uncertainty in the author's mind about the existence of God and his use of science to prove it one way or another. (God is the very last word of the final chapter)

This book is very Hawking-centric. It touches on being autobiographical. It is very much about Hawking's views, ideas, opinions, research, mistakes, and changes of mind. So although it covers the historical information about people like Newton, Einstein, and many others, it seems that that information is provided only to put Hawking's own conclusions into context. In this respect I much prefer Big Bang because Singh's position is one of observer rather than participant. Though it is quite nice to have the 'horse's mouth' version in Brief History.

If you are interested in Hawking's contribution to theoretical physics then I would encourage you to read this. If you simply want to know how quantum theory fits into the creation, existence, and evolution of the known universe - then are better books.
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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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