This is the origin of and the reason for A Briefer History of Time: its author's wish to make its content more accessible to readers, as well as to bring it up-to-date with the latest scientific observations and findings.
Although this book is literally somewhat "briefer", it actually expands on the great subjects of the original. Purely technical concepts, such as the mathematics of chaotic boundary conditions, are gone. Conversely, subjects of wide interest that were difficult to follow because they were interspersed throughout the book have now been given entire chapters of their own, including relativity, curved space, and quantum theory.
This reorganization has allowed the authors to expand areas of special interest and recent progress, from the latest developments in string theory to exciting developments in the search for a complete unified theory of all the forces of physics. Like prior editions of the book, but even more so, A Briefer History of Time will guide nonscientists everywhere in the ongoing search for the tantalizing secrets at the heart of time and space.
©2005 Stephen Hawking; (P)2005 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Readers will come away with an excellent understanding of the apparent contradictions and conundrums at the forefront of contemporary physics....Throughout these discussions, the authors maintain the same wry, lively tone that made the original Brief History such a delight." (Publishers Weekly)
For the most part I believe, from my lesser understanding of the subject matter, that Hawking has presented much of the scientific material fairly and quite well. However, when he strays off his field of excellence he betrays a bias, in this case the old clich? of the Catholic Church suppressing science. I will not address those arguments again here but suffice it to say that Hawking knows which side of the argument he is on and he is leading somewhere with it, as his "who needs God?" conclusion demonstrates.
As each opportunity to imply that the Church squashed free scientific enquiry presented itself (and was taken) I began to expect Hawking to omit the name of the person whose theory the Big-Bang was. This would have been particularly odd as Hawking had scrupulously acknowledged everything else. To not accredit a theory as core to his text as the Big-Bang would surely be unthinkable. And yet he did.
You see in the midst of all his "objective" writings and scrupulous acknowledgement of who came up with what Stephen Hawking omits to mention that the Big Bang theory was proposed in 1927 by a Belgian priest named Georges Lemaitre. His theory was not initially well received by such lumiaries as Einstein himself, who said "Your calculations are correct, but your grasp of physics is abominable." Six year's later Einstein effectively retracted that sentiment after listening to a Lemaitre presentation and said "This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened." Meanwhile many in the scientific community still objected to the notion of a moment of creation.
To me this is interesting history and Hawking's conspicuous failure to accredit this theory or mention Einstein's reaction to it demonstrates a failure of objectivity that makes one question whether he would show the same bias towards pet theories in his science.
I thought as an graduate engineer with honors that I had a grasp of the fundementals of physics. I felt like a grade schooler in a graduate level class after the first hour. How the first book sold so many copies worldwide is beyond me. I guess it was just cool to say you were reading it. I guarantee vast majority of the people that bought the book has no clue of what he was saying. I wish I was a smart as Professor Hawkins not only for his knowledge, vision and understanding but for his ability to make money selling something few people understand what he is saying.
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