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A Brief History of Time | [Stephen Hawking]

A Brief History of Time

This landmark book is for those of us who prefer words to equations; this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space. Its author, Stephen W. Hawking, is arguably the greatest mind since Einstein. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, where he has spent the last 20 years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. A Brief History of Time is Hawking's classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas.
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Publisher's Summary

This landmark book is for those of us who prefer words to equations; this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space. Its author, Stephen W. Hawking, is arguably the greatest mind since Einstein. From the vantage point of the wheelchair, where he has spent the last 20 years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking has transformed our view of the universe. A Brief History of Time is Hawking's classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas about the cosmos. It is read here by the Emmy Award-winning host of The Michael Jackson Show on KABC-TV.

©1988 Stephen W. Hawking (P)2005 Phoenix Books, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A masterful summary of what physicists now think the world is made of and how it got that way." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Lively and provocative, Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher's gift, easy, good-natured humor, and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life." (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (2045 )
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4.0 (1178 )
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  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 09-30-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 09-30-14 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "PHYSICS REFERENCE TABLE"

    In a physics reference table, A Brief History of Time is an old book because it dates before the year 2000. However, it remains a fairly good layman’s overview of the state of physics.

    This surprise best seller is not easy to understand in spite of its brevity and avoidance of mathematics. Without additional reading, “A Brief History of Time” is less intelligible than more recent physics-for-laymen' books (see previous reviews).

    Hawking describes the relativity of time, black holes, the big bang theory, God, and string theory (the most current research subject involving unified field theory).

    The quest for a unified field theory is part of a physics reference table that began with Newton, progressed through Einstein and Dirac, and is presently stalled at string theory speculation. The search continues, passing to future generations. Finding a unified field theory, in Hawking’s opinion, would be like reading the mind of God.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aaron gilbert Pearland, TX United States 04-05-14
    aaron gilbert Pearland, TX United States 04-05-14 Member Since 2013

    Christian, Texan, electrician, lover of reading-I lean towards Sci-fi/fantasy but enjoy the classics, history, and science titles also.

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    "A brief history of all the awards Hawking has won."
    What would have made A Brief History of Time better?

    I could have done with less of the author framing everything with I wrote this book here and was accredited this there. I would have liked this book broken down into sections instead of just rambling from one subject to the next without any closing on the first.


    What was most disappointing about Stephen Hawking’s story?

    I was disappointed with how the title seems to point to better understanding however the content seems more focused on the who came up with what theory.


    What about Michael Jackson’s performance did you like?

    He did a fine job. I actually enjoyed his performance.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I unfortunately took away from this book a feel of arrogance in the author. This really got in the way of what this book could have been.


    Any additional comments?

    I also read Michio Kaku's book Physics of the Impossible. While this author puts things in the reference of pop culture he also conveys the same information as Hawking and makes it about the science not himself. Get this one instead.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John MENLO PARK, CA, United States 06-03-10
    John MENLO PARK, CA, United States 06-03-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Hmm. I waited too long I guess."

    Meant to read this for ages, but never got around to it. Having read many other books on physics written for the layman (Gleick's "Genius", etc.) I can appreciate the information in the book, and how well it is written, but with the other reading I have done, there wasn't a lot of new territory here.
    My advice then would be to read it if you are unfamiliar with the topics, or skip it if you have already read several other books on similar subject matter.
    Very respectable book, but for me personally, there weren't enough new ideas I wasn't familiar with to allow me to really enjoy it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kieu Canley Heights, Australia 11-19-09
    kieu Canley Heights, Australia 11-19-09 Member Since 2011
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    "Second to none amongst science books!"

    Science has never been shown to me as interesting as it was in this book. Apart from all the scientific details, Stephan Hawking did a wonderful job to show the whole history of science since Aristotle until modern time. So much of the book must be read again, in slower pace so I thought I shall be looking for a hard copy as well. It's true that the reader dampened the quality of this as a whole. Yet, the content was so good that I was able to forget the performance aspect of the reader.
    Would recommend the book to all age and all vocations.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 06-02-13
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 06-02-13 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

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    "Naked Singularities"

    Now that I have your attention with the catchy title, a naked singularity is a black hole like state of extremely dense matter that can be observed from outside the hole. A black hole, on the other hand, is an extremely dense state of matter that cannot be observed because the black hole absorbs light. At least, that's what I think Hawking was saying.

    When he wrote "A Brief History of Time" in 1988, Hawking didn't think naked singularities existed, but he discussed the theory anyway. He had a bet with an astrophysicist about it, and when Hawking conceded the bet almost 10 years later, I'm sure he came through with the promise he made in the book and got the guy a year subscription to Penthouse.

    I'm on my second listen of the book already. I'm not sure if I understood even a quarter of what Hawking was saying the first time I listened, but I understood some concepts. The writing/narration was so lively and entertaining, I want to learn more.

    I liked the way Hawking discussed the various theories of the Universe starting with Ancient Greece, and all the way to when the book was written. Hawking lays the foundation for physics, and especially emphasizes the importance of Newton's contribution of the concept of gravity. I also like the way he distinguishes theorems from proofs, and points out where theories aren't working.

    It only mentioned a few equations, which was good - the last time I did any calculus was 25 years ago.

    I was intimidated by this book because most of the science I read is biology , but I'm glad I took the plunge and listened.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Radish Bliss STANSBURY PK, UT, United States 12-06-08
    Radish Bliss STANSBURY PK, UT, United States 12-06-08 Member Since 2008
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    "-1 for "okay" narrator"

    Love the subject matter, but this narrator freezes up giving me the impression he has no idea what he's reading.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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    Mark Boulder, CO, USA 07-08-06
    Mark Boulder, CO, USA 07-08-06 Member Since 2014
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    "Poor Quality Recording"

    There are a few knocks, and street noise on the recording, you can also occassionaly hear a page turn. All of these noises are irregular, inconstant and not that distracting, but they should not be there at all.

    Regarding the content of the book, most of the concepts have been popularized so if you have been watching Nova or other science shows on cable, then most of this will not be new.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 11-17-14
    Darwin8u Mesa, AZ, United States 11-17-14

    "... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^

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    "A Tease of Time & A Brief History of Science"

    I know. I know. I both loved and hated this book. I definitely should never have read this book, cut the pages, opened the box, etc.. Somehow Stephen Hawking has written a book that gently fluffs the tail on Schrödinger's cat (or perhaps Schrödinger's cat is fluffing Dr. Hawking).

    Look, no doubt the guy is a genius and has a fantastic story (ALS, computer voice, nurses, Black Holes, strippers, movies, etc). My problem is the wussification of a large scientific narrative by one of Big “P” Physics primary scientists. Let someone else write a pop-GUT/Blackhole/Big Bang story. Let another writer do the pop-up Children's book with the scratch-n-sniff singularity, the rotating black hole, the pull-out universe.

    I want Dr. Hawking doing smart stuff. Let Bill Bryson write the summary science. But it is too late for me. I already crossed the damn event horizon. I've just become entangled with his book, so my "observer state" now corresponds to the damn book and the damn book review being both five stars and 1 stars is no longer a possibility; my reader state is entangled or linked now with my own review so that the "observation of the book review's state" and the "review's state" correspond with each other. I am finished.

    Hey, now to go see some movies about blackholes and wormholes and a-holes.

    12 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Holland, PA, USA 06-15-07
    Christopher Holland, PA, USA 06-15-07
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    "Hawkings best"

    This is one of Hawking's best because it is simple and easy for anyone to understand. It is also written with a good sense of humor as he speaks of how the unfortunate observer always is either torn apart or crushed by the universe. It is an unfortunate reality that man kind will hopefully have the fortune of never seeing for a few billion years.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lauren 07-20-15
    Lauren 07-20-15
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    "Beautiful"

    This book introduces you to abstract concepts in physics in a way that really cannot be found elsewhere. In this manner, it is well spoken in a way that allows people with little background in physics to understand things such as black holes, and also is intellectually stimulating enough for those who have some knowledge on the subject to be entertained--especially when it comes to the philosophical debate. The only "flaw" I can see is that conclusions are sometimes drawn by saying " the theory predicts" without any other explanation. Although, it is most likely necessary due to its complexity. All in all, this book definitely describes the beauty of the
    universe in the way it deserves

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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