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On the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy Paperback – 30 Oct 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1280 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (30 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141015713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141015712
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 5.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 322,046 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

..".Hawking gives these works a setting that is elegantly simple, and in its simplicity, effectively broadening."

About the Author

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge (Newton's old position). He is the author of A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, which remained on the New York Times bestseller list for a record-breaking 237 weeks. Curiously, Hawking was born 300 years to the day after Galileo died.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Considering the importance of their contributions to human knowledge generally, and to the physical and natural sciences in particular, one might think it reasonably easy to find the works of Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein ... yet, unfortunately, it's not always a straightforward matter. Even the most important works by some of these authors are considered 'niche' (as few publishers tend to offer them - and when they do, such books are often highly priced).

Fortunately this book brings together - in a slightly abridged form - the major works by these important scientists. And so, for instance, we can browse through Newton's "Principia" and Einstein's "The Principle of Relativity" ... This is a hefty book, at over 1,200 pages - printed in a rather tiny font size.

The book is edited, and presents commentary, by Stephen Hawking - and his name appears next to the title of this work. Yet Hawking has contributed very little to the book. The texts themselves, as the book states "are based on translations of the original, printed editions." And the main introduction by Hawking is merely four and a half pages in length. The only real contribution made by Hawking is to briefly introduce each text, commenting on the life and work of the selected authors. Given such limited involvement, I suggest that potential buyers avoid being swayed by the apparent input of Hawking.

This is a book that presents some of the greatest historical works of physics and astronomy. If you're interested in such works, I thoroughly recommend this book. If you're studying the history of science, this might well be a relevant publication. Aside from the tiny font size, this is a well-presented book. Although, just to say, it lacks an index.

It appears that the hardback edition is far more reasonably priced than the paperback. As such, I suggest the former.
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Format: Paperback
As an astronomy student this is the kind of book I had always wanted: the actual texts of some of the most significant works in physics! Up to now these texts were simply not accessible -- unless, of course, you were willing to find a dusty copy from the 30's in a university library.
It is fascinating to read the ideas of Copernicus, Keppler, Galileo, and the 'Principia' of Newton.
You will certainly find a few surprises, like the use of musical notes to describe the movement of the planets!
Stephen Hawking enthusiasts beware! This book is probably not for you. The target audience is people with a background and very keen interest in physics, and those who are fascinated by the history of science, and not afraid of a bit of math.
Contents
The great works of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton are all presented in their full form; From Kepler's five volume work you will only find volume 5; Einstein's section, contains seven of what are considered to be his main scientific publications on Relativity.
About the book
* The language and illustrations are very accessible.
* Some of the tables are difficult to read.
* The font is small, but not too small.
* The table of contents is a bit too brief, especially with regard to Einstein's section
All in all, great value for money, and a unique opportunity to read these original works. For this alone it deserves its 5 stars.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fliberdy giberdy what what? I certainly aint clever enough to appreciate this book. I read the first couple of chapters and closed the book when my eyes started to bleed. I'm sure if you're a clever person and understand really long words then this is the book for you. Some wonderful quotes in there though. I'd love to have that kind of interlect.
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Format: Hardcover
What makes this Stephen Hawkin book different is that it collects together in one place the original papers of the great masters, starting with Copernicus, and ending with Einstein. A generation ago, Eric Temple Bell suggested that we begin with the classics when learning math and science. Traditionally, it was thought that modern books based on the classics offered more effective ways of introducing or presenting the material, and as a result only a few students (and teachers) took the trouble of looking at the original classics, the central papers of the great masters. The true landmark papers. All the while, they collected dust on the shelves in the back rooms of libraries. Of the giants in science, five stand out, Copernicus, Galilei, Kepler, Newton, and Einstein. A chapter is reserved to each of the five. Each chapter begins with a lively biography which also serves to place the material in the context of the history of science. This is followed with the original papers themselves in translation. With this book, readers can compare Newton's laws from Principia with the fundamental papers of Einstein. It is collected in one place with commentary. Complaint: The print reproduction of Einstein's papers is not good, and some formulas unfortunately have been truncated in the reproduction. Hopefully that will be fixed in a second edition.
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Format: Hardcover
Collecting together the classic papers that made certain scientists famous is a great idea, but only if you have a degree in physics already. The original papers in here are mostly over the head of the average reader, who will buy the book thinking it is by Stephen Hawking. And the potted biographies of the superstars are just too short and sometimes inaccurate to be worth the cost. It would be much better to have a skilled writer explaining what these papers really mean.
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