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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars


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on 28 December 2016
This book has the capacity to amaze – on two levels. First, at the complexity and elegance of the universe; secondly, at man's confidence over centuries, always thinking that his latest set of theories has given him almost complete understanding of our amazing universe.

New readings and new theories over the last fifty years or so have taken this always changing almost complete understanding beyond the reach of the ordinary man. Here, a valiant attempt is made to simplify matters by using examples of moving trains and bouncing balls, but the basic concepts are difficult. Particularly when there is still so much we don't know, about infinity and relativity, the shape of time and space, the basic components of the universe – and their behaviour.

And of course, all current theories are based on measurements and extrapolations taken over a mere few decades in our one tiny corner of the universe. But that doesn't dent the confidence of the authors, who reckon we have an almost complete understanding of the universe and our place in it. Just like Newton, Galileo, Aristotle and the rest.

If you want to know about strings, waves, particles, black holes and the rest, this will certainly help. Or you could read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the answer to the ultimate question is much more simple – if somewhat enigmatic.
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on 7 September 2017
This book was, for me, fairly interesting but ultimately disappointing. Though I respect the sciences and the important work of physicists, I cannot help but feel that this attempt to explain this work to the 'average reader' has been slightly misjudged. That is not to say that, for the most part, the book or its explanations are unhelpful or uninteresting, but that they could be more helpful and interesting with a little more consideration.

For instance, I found the book's prose not only to be a somewhat inelegant, but, with occasional jumps and half-finished metaphors and allusions, to tend to get in the way of its explanations. Similarly, and not withstanding the title, those explanations themselves sometimes felt rushed and half-formed - the discussion of string theory felt particularly squashed and unintegrated. Most specifically, I found the book's regular mention of 'God' (as an 'He'), and the misjudged and casually sexist visual explanation of gravitational attraction outright annoying.

Perhaps I am not the intended audience, perhaps my initial knowledge was a little further advanced than that of the ideal reader (though, only by a vague interest in sciences as informed by the general media and the occasional popular science magazine or web search); certainly, I am looking for a more literary and elegantly postulated discussion and explanation of ideas.

As such, I find it difficult to judge this book. I think it is safe to say that I do understand, at least in broad terms, a fraction more of the book's subjects than I did at the outset, but I think that the following is revealing: what I found most interesting was the discussion not of the theories and their implications, but of the historical progression from one theory to the next, and learning that sometimes an older theory might be used in calculations for the sake of simplicity.

So. Mixed feelings.
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on 10 September 2017
Great value. Easy to follow and full of interest. Highly recommended. Excellent version of original for non scientists like me who nevertheless are fascinated by physics.
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on 18 August 2017
Book accessible to the general public with no expertise required. Some parts are a bit dense and require more focus but examples usually help understanding the main ideas. Good description of historical unfolding of discoveries and theories.
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on 2 March 2017
no problems
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on 18 September 2016
Good insight and easy to understand.
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on 23 June 2017
Another great read from Hawking. It goes into detail regarding topics, he hasnt mentioned in his book "A brief history of time" and I expect it to be easier for non cosmologists to read.
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on 3 August 2017
An excellent book. The coloured images used throughout the book are a nice way of making the subject-matter more understandable.
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on 3 April 2015
Instructive and entertaining, even for the layman
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on 15 August 2014
Really worthwhile read - at least twice!
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