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Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays Audio Download – Abridged

4.7 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Well i found this book very interesting. As a reader of a brief history of time this book is a must as it expands on many of the ideas introduced there leading to a better understanding of many of the concepts. Although it is only a collection of essays i think it makes the topics more digestible as subjects range from a personal account of hawking's childhood to a description of a baby universe created by a dying black hole! If you were fascinated by the brief history of time this book is definately worth the money.
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Format: Paperback
The essays are drawn largely from various lectures delivered by Hawking over the years; the occasion of each is mentioned as it comes up. Since they were designed to be spoken, it's worth getting a good recording of these as well as the book itself. I recommend the audio edition narrated by Simon Prebble over that read by Connor O'Brien, although the Prebble recording omits "DESERT ISLAND DISCS". (O'Brien's reading is very stilted, while Prebble conveys Hawking's sense of humour properly.)
The first 3 essays, "Childhood", "Oxford and Cambridge", and "My Experience with ALS" are autobiographical, drawn from talks presented to various Motor Neurone Disease Societies in 1987, with material added in 1991. Much of this (particularly "My Experience with ALS") should be familiar to anyone who watched Errol Morris' A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME or read the transcript (STEPHEN HAWKING'S A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME: A READER'S COMPANION, edited by Gene Stone). To me, this material is most interesting taken together with the film and with Jane Hawking's MUSIC TO MOVE THE STARS. For example, the filmmakers followed up the professor's childhood friends who once bet a bag of sweets on whether he'd ever amount to anything, while Jane Hawking in her book discussed her theory that the professor (like their sons) is probably dyslexic, explaining why he learnt to read relatively late.
"Public Attitudes Toward Science" (October 1989) isn't a history of science, but instead (after pointing out the drawbacks - and impossibility - of putting the clock back to a 'simpler' age) a talk about the need for basic scientific literacy for the general public to be able to make informed decisions. Hawking is careful to make clear that understanding the concepts, not the math, is fundamental.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is my favourite Hawking. I have read and re-read this book over the years and have just re-visited it after seeing the film. Each chapter a a separate essay, which means you never get stuck if one is a little difficult to understand. That said, Hawking writes about complex subjects in a way that even someone not at all versed in the subject can understand. That is a real gift. There was only one chapter I found remotely tricky, but it was all the same fascinating - I would just hate to have been asked to summarise it!
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By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Mar. 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a great book to start with if you're feeling a little intimidated by Hawkings ideas, or have tried to read 'A Brief History...' and failed, (although I'd say that book is well worth persevering with). It covers a wide selection of essays about Hawkings theories, as well as his personal life and illness. The essays are short enough to not be too heavy to enjoy and they are mostly clear and informative. Overall this is a good read with some interesting ideas.

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Format: Paperback
10/10
This is every bit as good as A Brief History of Time. Hawking once again delivers, giving us those trademark chilled out narratives which put across his view of the Cosmos is an endearing, easy-to-understand way. Hawking writes in a language which is very entertaining and readable, rather than putting across topics in a haughty, full-of-himself way, like some theoretical physicists do. And in many ways, Hawking goes into much more depth about it all in this book. The subjects discussed in A Brief History are all really elaborated on in this book, which makes this book every bit as fascinating as that one, and perhaps even more so in places. Mind, I would recommend reading A Brief History as well, as a bit of a supplement, so that you can really get a thorough bedrock of understanding.
In common with A Brief History, the best aspect of this book is arguably the chapter on black holes. This section makes for thoroughly interesting, enlightening reading. Mind, there is one aspect of it that I don't like: the chapters on Stephen Hawking as a person. They are rather boring, and completely unnecessary. And I REALLY don't like that Desert Island Disks interview script at the end of the book. That REALLY was a step too far.
This is a true gem of easy-to-understand theoretical physics, which despite having some out-of-context, rather boring chapters, is exquisitely written and thoroughly engrossing.
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By DAVID BRYSON TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Nov. 2006
Format: Paperback
An event horizon is the boundary of a black hole, defined by the light that can reach out that far and no further. Hawking himself sometimes uses pictorial metaphors to illustrate abstruse mathematical concepts, and this one occurred to me by way of an analogy of the brilliant illumination that I am trying to persuade to shine out far enough to reach my own dim wits hovering hopefully in the outer darkness.

The whole `feel' of Hawking's discourses reminds me of the stories I have read about Einstein at work - placid, orderly and without excitement (or should I say `perturbation'?). Genius of this kind seems to be a kind of glorified knack - such minds just operate naturally with concepts of this kind, and there is no sense of effort or struggle. Sandwiched between some biographical material and a radio interview, the main material in this book is a collection of essays and lectures. They include Hawking's inaugural lecture at Cambridge where he occupies the chair of mathematics once held by Newton, and all are intended in the first place for an audience of his peers. On the other hand, where Newton and Einstein did not try to address the general public, Hawking, like Russell, seeks to do just that, and he does it superbly. The style of writing is both literate and unpretentious, and the occasional jokes are very good. Readers who, like myself, are intensely interested in the subject-matter but entirely lacking in natural aptitude for it, ought to find this book enormously helpful. There is a certain amount of repetition inevitably, but the more of that the better so far as I'm concerned. Any amateur trying to get a handle on mathematical concepts like these has to get into a mathematician's way of thinking as best he can and stop thinking as a layman.
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