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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 23 October 2000
A disagree with another reviewer who insists on seeing mathematical formulae. You have missed the point, mathematics is not required for understanding principles only for proving them. I do not believe this would add anything to the content for the lay reader who it was intended for.
The importance of this book cannot be underestimated in its ability to fundamentally shift the common mans (or womans) perceptions of the world around them. You will rarely feel as close to understanding your god (whom or whatsoever it may be) and his work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 2014
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Though some of the information in the back is now outdated and has been disproven, it still gives you a fantastic basis for understanding things such as relativity, anti-matter and event horizons.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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2010
I had been reading this paperback version but found this new illustrated version made the reading of this book so much more interesting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2010
Mathematics and the distances in the univers appear abstract to most of us,at least to me.I have read many books about the topics,but this book,thanks to brilliant illustrations and Hawkings way of making complicated connections "easy" to understand,made me "see" the black holes and the space/time line.His use of comparing everyday phenomenons we all have experienced with the topic he is explaining make it possibel to understand for a layman.The scale is a bit bigger though! And there is a lot of good humor and understatements.Read it!

Lars Ruud-NORWAY
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2014
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I had this book many years ago when it was first published and failed to read it then so I thought I'd give it another go but even though I'm educated to PhD level in a science subject ( Chemistry ) I still find it difficult to get my head round the more erudite concepts. I admit that there are plenty of things in it that I do understand but some of it is too difficult to visualise unless you accept there are things that can't be understood unless you "think" in four or more dimensions and that is probably impossible. It's all very well reading it and understanding what is being proposed it's another thing believing it and the diagrams in this edition make matters more confusing not less and there's no point referring to objects in one or two dimensions because they can't exist without the third dimension , they're theoretical - or am I missing something glaringly obvious. We'll just have to wait until someone develops a theory that unites quantum theory ( the world of the magical ) with relativity.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 18 June 2007
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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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2013
I have heard many people complain that this book is impossible to read, that you'd need be a physicist to understand it. This is true in some sense as the first few chapters will be a lot more enjoyable if you have a basic knowledge of relativity and QM, but frankly you could attain this by watching youtube videos.

The book itself is truly fascinating. As someone who has read many popular physics books before, I will say the explanations of concepts such as the uncertainty principle and the curvature of spacetime are the easiest to understand that I've ever read. Refreshing. The most interesting chapter is definitely the short but nonetheless intriguing one on string theories near the end - again, a simple explanation of what is an extremely complex idea. In fact, the only parts of this book I struggled at all with were the descriptions of imaginary time and inflationary expansion of the universe.

The only complaint would be that Hawking does venture off occasionally into philosophy, and as someone who loves physics so much, this made some parts a little dull.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 24 April 2000
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2015
'An easy read and simple to understand' said the reviewers who scoffed at Stephen Hawking's poor scores at Cambridge. For my next read I shall be purchasing something that's slightly easier to comprehend - perhaps some classic works of Plato. In ancient Greek.

What I managed to do before crying myself to sleep because everything, ever is not real or how I understood it, was look for words on the pages that my tiny brain could decipher. I then filled in the blanks with the imagined ramblings of Pingu and now I can tell everyone that I understand quantum physics and recite incorrect facts.

I award this book 5 stars. Not only were the 124 words I did understand outstanding, but there's also some natty little drawings. I'm in no doubt that this is a great read and the fact that I understood so little means that a) I am a moron and b) Stephen Hawking is a genius.
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