Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Length: 4 hrs and 52 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (245 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Read by Ben Whishaw and Garrick Hagon, with an afterword read by Lucy Hawking.  

The world-famous cosmologist and number one best-selling author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the universe's biggest questions in this brilliant posthumous work.

How did the universe begin? Will humanity survive on Earth? Is there intelligent life beyond our solar system? Could artificial intelligence ever outsmart us?

Throughout his extraordinary career, Stephen Hawking expanded our understanding of the universe and unravelled some of its greatest mysteries. But even as his theoretical work on black holes, imaginary time and multiple histories took his mind to the furthest reaches of space, Hawking always believed that science could also be used to fix the problems on our planet.

And now, as we face potentially catastrophic changes here on Earth - from climate change to dwindling natural resources to the threat of artificial superintelligence - Stephen Hawking turns his attention to the most urgent issues for humankind.

Wide-ranging, intellectually stimulating, passionately argued and infused with his characteristic humour, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, the final book from one of the greatest minds in history, is a personal view on the challenges we face as a human race and where we, as a planet, are heading next.

©2018 Stephen Hawking (P)2018 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

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Average Customer Ratings

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Loved it. It's inspiring. Follows current beliefs.

Loved it. I thinks this is a must read for adolescents and anyone who aspires some common good sense.

1 person found this helpful

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Last helping hand

Over the years Stephen Hawkings books have accompanies me on travels or as in this case on long walks. The subject matters were invariably difficult and at times daunting. In this book its the same, but more so. The bigest questions possible and still more than worthwhile. It is impressive to hear how well thought through and clearly stated Prof. Hawkings manages to argue and develop his answers to the questions. The relative brevity in answering the questions, in about half an hour a question, suggests a long preparation in making the case simply, and it makes the book digestible also for an average reader. A realy enjoyable and worthwhile listening and with a sad note, this being the last helping hand Stephen Hawking could give. It is a big help.

1 person found this helpful

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interesting but not deep enough

it goes through many ideas without to deep in any... that felt odd, I wish it was longer...

2 people found this helpful

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Marathoned in one sitting

I'm just really glad I get to be alive at this particular time when I get to learn about the universe from Hawking and people like him. I love this stuff, and this book is written accessibly enough that even I don't have trouble understanding the material (which I would in a school setting). It's inspirational, calming, and existential crisis-worthy at the same time. Wonderful all around.

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An amazing book. Worth every minute of listening

It takes genius to explain a complicated subject in such a simple way.

I didn't even know it will spark so much interest in me in cosmology and our universe. Totally recommend 👌

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Good teaser but not enough depth for me

It''s a nicely written book but really just a teaser. Great if this is the first book about scientific topics you are reading but otherwise it doesn't provide enough meet on the bone.

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Very interesting and sometimes emotional book

Loved to hear the opinions of one of the brightest minds of our times. The historical context of some theories is interesting as well.

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interesting and pragmatic view of life questiond

I liked how the author aboard some of the most deep questions in our existence with a very prag
matic and scientific view

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Warm and hopefull

Great book by great man, full of optimism and hunger of knowledge. Will be missed by many. Thank you!

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All you need to know on the universe

A complete map of the work of Hawking and other scientists regarding astro physics and other fields. Explained for someone who has a basic knowledge on the nature of the universe.

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  • Heisenberg
  • 10-16-18

Look up to the stars, not down at your feet.

Stephen Hawking was such a wonderful populariser of physics and cosmology, with a knack for explaining the most complicated science in such a way that even a layman like myself could begin to understand it. He was also a voice of reason in a world that often seems lacking in that quality.

This book covers a variety of questions Hawking has been asked, or addressed over the years - is there a God? What came before the big bang? Might AI develop a will of its own and become a threat to mankind? How did life begin? His answers are at once both challenging and informative. At just under five hours this is quite brief, but also fantastically enjoyable - I listened to the whole thing in a single day. I especially enjoyed the brief sections in Professor Hawking's own familiar, assisted, voice. Ben Whishaw was also excellent reading the main text.


"Remember to look up at the stars not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder what makes the universe exist. Be curious". - Stephen Hawking (1942 - 2018)

13 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 10-27-18

Awesome

Awesome and inspiring! Loved listening to the opinions and thoughts of a great mind. A must listen!

7 people found this helpful

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  • MR V P KENYON
  • 01-31-19

Science for the masses

I won't pretend I understood the content in this Audiobook, I'm a truck driver not a scientist, but I did feel as though I got the gist of what was being presented; and Mr Hawkins' way of discussing the God v Science debate is particularly comforting and helped me to realign my own beliefs. Mr Hawkins' optomism is contagious, combined with his humour, you may find this book uplifting as well as educational. A throughly recommended goodread/listen.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew Misselbrook
  • 10-16-18

One to read before you die

An incredible book by an incredible man, Stephen Hawking goes out with an incredible read. Complex issues told in an easy way. An amazing look into the forecast for the future.

5 people found this helpful

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  • EmilieWAN
  • 10-20-18

A beautiful book written by one most beautiful mind

I never read a book of Stephen Hawking before as I thought that his theories might be quite difficult to understand by a person without scientific background. Surprisingly he made everything clear, interesting and touching to read.
It’s a book about physics, and about life; Stephen Hawking’s intelligent, optimistic, brave life, and what he expected human beings would enjoy.
Beautifully read by Ben Whishaw with a clean and tender voice.
Worth listening for everyone, interested or not in Theoretical Physics. The book will make one feel that life is a bonus.

7 people found this helpful

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  • J. Handley
  • 01-01-19

Wonderful. Profound. Human

Yes, Stephen Hawking certainly made a contribution and brings perspective to our human challenges. Wonderful, thought provoking and generous

2 people found this helpful

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  • Terrence
  • 10-19-18

What to say?

There is really no reason why you shouldn’t get this audible book, it is a beautiful last piece of work. The world is a lesser place without Stephen Hawking.

Just get the book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Luke H.
  • 06-24-19

Missed opportunity, but great content.

The negatives first:

Content—there is a fair degree of repetition both of concepts discussed in other books by Hawking and within this book itself. It’s probably unavoidable for an understanding of where Professor Hawking was taking us but the internal repetitions are an editing issue. Not sufficient to detract from the overall whole.

Performances—to each their own, but the narrator’s voice and diction was irritating. He sounds, to my ear, nervous or unsure of what he is saying. Contrast that with Michael York’s excellent narration on ‘The Theory of Everything’. But there are tantalising sections where Professor Hawking’s voice is heard (the digitised voice he so confidently owned). I would far rather have listened to the whole book hearing his words in his voice. A missed opportunity...

The positives:

A fascinating insight into the wide ranging thoughts of one of the greatest minds of human history. Hawking is both self-deprecating in his humour and brilliant in his ability to take the great complexities of modern physics and make them digestible. His opinion on our current problems and the future rather precarious path laid before us as a species is both insightful and wise. His words of caution to be ignored at our peril.

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  • patrick
  • 06-09-19

Holiday read

My first audio book and I found it an enjoyable experience. I got through it a lot quicker than I would have a paper copy. Mr Hawkings is such an inspirational man and like those living in the lifetime of Einstein I feel privileged to have been alive while he was among us. Great read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Salacious Crumb
  • 05-08-19

Byte size introductions to massive topics

An easy and entertaining introduction various contemporary scientific topics that can stimulate listeners to explore further into their topics elsewhere.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-03-19

Funny, informative, and a must read!

For a topic so complicated (to the regular person) it was surprisingly easy to understand and take in. They say that’s how you can tell a person is a good writer, is if the dumbest person in the room can understand and indeed I feel like that person could with this book.
I loved it so much, the amount of shade thrown at trump, the average human intelligence, and brexit was hilarious. It was done in a way that wasn’t insulting but more to bring a realistic observation in to attention. This book, I appreciated more because it strengthened my faith, knowing that despite being presented with hard facts of the origins of the universe; I still in the end believe in A higher being. It is everything I could ever expect from Stephen Hawking and wished that I got to meet him before he joined the stars.


Also performance was good, narration was good, toward the end I could hear paper shuffling and the narrator shifting y fidgeting it was a bit distracting.

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  • Greg
  • 04-17-20

Enjoyed this book

Well now I understand what a black hole actually is. He explains really complicated stuff so that us normal people can understand, what a clever man. A man with such a positive outlook on life and the things that he was so interested and involved in.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Marc Turner
  • 10-12-19

An excellent introduction to Hawking

This is an incredible introduction to Stephen Hawking, which has now compelled me to go on to read A Brief History of Time. I didn't give the full 5 stars only because the scientific concepts described before their everyman translation were still very dense and complex, even in their condensed form as given in each chapter, but that's purely based on my own ignorance. That said, I appreciate that Hawking still foregrounds the layman explanation with the scientific concepts, principles and equations, even if some go a little over my head. All the same, the book has kindled a burning desire to delve deeper into these complex yet fascinating mysteries.

The Audible narration is wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoyed the little snippets at the end of each chapter where we hear Lucy and Stephen Hawking asking and answering respectively the question of that chapter. it really reminds you of the genius behind the book and wonderfully honours his memory, speaking volumes to us the listeners of his massive legacy.

This is a must-read book for anyone interested in the big questions and who has not yet explored Hawkings's work.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-25-19

Astounding...

It is with tears in my eyes that I write this review. Hearing his daughters words about their relationship and the meaning it transcends to my father's impressions on me. I enjoyed every aspect of this book, I am certain he would have too.

Thank you for publishing this book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-02-19

interesting without being overwhelming

a great book with lots of great information, yet its told in a way it doesnt feel like you're being overwhelmed with facts.

Ben Wishaw was a great choice for narrator his voice fits the book fantastically.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joshua
  • 05-15-20

8 Hours in The Mind of a Genius

Reading Hawking's educated take on the world around him was like riding an imaginary floatational device to get a good glimpse of both the universe and our place in the world.

The future, the cosmos and A.I, even touching on genetic modification.

If your a curious mind with a general interest and appreciation for science, then you won't be disappointed with this read.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-13-20

Loved this! Give your brain some exercise!

I can honestly say that some of this went over my head but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed his sense of humour and how he really put effort into explaining highly complex scientific theories and concepts.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-01-20

Good listen

Not a very long listen, which is good. Some really great insights but may go over some peoples’ heads. Not necessarily a bad thing as he is one of the smartest people in history!!

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  • James Fettes
  • 04-28-20

A Joyful Stroll Through The Big Ones

Time has changed immensely since Hawking's A Brief History of Time, in more ways than one. The understanding of our universe has greatly expanded; Hawking's chosen field of cosmology has grown into a bustling, thoughtful community; and Hawking himself, of course, has died.

But time has changed for me, too. I first read A Brief History of Time as a 13 year old--or really, tried to read it, such were its concepts a bit too much for a young middle-of-the-road teen. Nevertheless I got a fair whack through it, certainly to the point where Hawking discusses the effect of black holes in spacetime. 'Spaghettification' seared itself into my brain and so did my persistent love for the workings of the universe.

On reading this final book of Hawking's, I see what I dreamed of as that 13-year-old boy: A thoughtful, probing look at the sort of brain-worming questions that fire up any curious being. How did the universe actually begin? Why are we here, on this planet, now? What will happen to the human race?

These questions burned at me then, and they burn at me now. Hawking provides an optimistic, realistic and measured look at those questions, backed by science and communicated clearly and with concision. It is a pleasure.

These are, of course, just Hawking's views. Even one of the smartest thinkers in history can only see things from his perspective, and the moral quandries of things like structural racism in population management are not discussed. At any rate, Hawking's contribution to scientific and philosophical thought can't be overstated, and so my joy at reading this can't be muted.

A must-read.

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  • Bruno
  • 04-22-20

Great Book

This book is fascinating, and just made me want to get out there and read all of Hawking's materials.