On the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy

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Overview

Theoretical physicist stephen hawking illuminates the origins of modern physics and astronomy in this fascinating work. On the shoulders of giants opens with hawking's overview of five-ground breaking books that revolutionized science. And then he provides the english translations of each, so you can read these works of genius for yourself. To make these works of genius even more accessible, hawking prefaces each with a captivating biographical essay that reveals the man behind the scientist. Learn about ...
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Overview

Theoretical physicist stephen hawking illuminates the origins of modern physics and astronomy in this fascinating work. On the shoulders of giants opens with hawking's overview of five-ground breaking books that revolutionized science. And then he provides the english translations of each, so you can read these works of genius for yourself. To make these works of genius even more accessible, hawking prefaces each with a captivating biographical essay that reveals the man behind the scientist. Learn about copernicus' unwavering commitment to truth, even when it pitted him against the church he professed to uphold; galileo's spirit of defiance, kepler's unusual method of keeping debtors at bay, and newton's passionate feuds. The essays bring these men alive, while the great works that follow will no doubt inspire awe. This book is a treasure for anyone interested in understanding more about the way science evolves.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The words of the title derive from a famous passage in a letter by scientist Isaac Newton. "If I have seen further," Newton wrote, "it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, himself a renowned far-sighted thinker, has compiled an anthology of the seven great classics in astronomy and physics. To each of these masterworks, Hawking adds an introductory essay that shows how each was built on previous discoveries. In addition, the author of A Brief History of Time provides penetrating biographies of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein.
Publishers Weekly
Acclaimed physicist Hawking has collected in this single illuminating volume the classic works of physics and astronomy that in their day revolutionized humankind's perception of the world. Included are Copernicus's On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres, Galileo's Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, Kepler's "Harmony of the World," Newton's The Principia and selections from The Principle of Relativity by Einstein. Taken together, these writings document the evolution of our conception of the universe from a pre-Copernican cosmos with a stationary earth at its center to one in which the very weave of time and space are relative. The editor's ability to step back and view the sweep of his subject was first showcased in his bestselling A Brief History of Time and confirmed in his The Universe in a Nutshell. In an essay introducing each work here, he gives a short and sweet biography of its author and an explanation of its significance, as well as the occasional gem, like Galileo's handwritten renunciation of his beliefs before the Inquisition. To read the works themselves is to feel the thrill and mystery of intimacy with oft-cited source documents. Despite the volume's heftiness, Hawking has given these works a setting that is elegantly simple and, in its simplicity, effectively broadening. (Oct.) Forecast: With a 100,000 first printing and $25,000 marketing campaign, Running Press won't let the book's heft discourage them from getting the word out. And with the fair price for this behemoth, their effort should pay off. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762413485
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/18/2002
  • Pages: 1280
  • Product dimensions: 6.16 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 2.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking’s ability to make science understandable and compelling to a lay audience was established with the publication of his first book, A Brief History of Time, which has sold nearly 10 million copies in 40 languages. Hawking has authored or participated in the creation of numerous other popular science books, including On the Shoulders of Giants and The Illustrated On the Shoulders of Giants.

Biography

In the universe as a whole, the nature of black holes may be one of the most puzzling mysteries. No less puzzling, in the slightly smaller universe of book publishing, is the astounding popular success of Stephen Hawking's 1988 book on the matter, or anti-matter, as it were: A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.

Clocking in at just over 200 pages, it was, indeed, brief, but it was hardly the easy read its marketers promised. Nor did it stray much beyond the tone of a scholarly lecture, though at times it did take quick autobiographical peeks into Hawking's personal life. Still, it is just the author's persona that may have been the selling point prompting more than 10 million people worldwide to pick up a copy -- and to have it translated into more than 40 languages in the 10 years since its release.

For Stephen Hawking is an instantly recognizable public figure -- even for those who haven't delved into his so far unprovable theories about black holes. Stricken by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) -- or Lou Gehrig's disease, as it is called in the States -- while he was working toward his doctorate at Cambridge University, this Englishman is known for the keen wit and intellect that reside within his severely disabled body. He uses a motorized wheelchair to get around and a voice synthesizer to communicate -- a development, he complains, that has given him an American accent. He has guest-starred, in cartoon form, on an episode of The Simpsons and has appeared in the flesh on Star Trek: The Next Generation, using the benefits of time travel to play poker with Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. (He has said he doesn't believe in the theory himself, noting that the most powerful evidence of its impossibility is the present-day dearth of time-traveling tourists from the future.)

The son of a research biologist, Hawking resisted familial urging that he major in biology and instead studied physics and chemistry -- as a nod to his father -- when he went to Oxford University as a 17-year-old. In academic writing, Hawking had an extensive career pre-History, starting with The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, coauthored with G.F.R. Ellis in 1973. But in the late 1980s, faced with the expenses incurred by his illness, he took up Bantam Books' offer to explain the mysteries of the universe to the lay public.

"This is one of the best books for laymen on this subject that has appeared in recent years," The Christian Science Monitor wrote in 1988. "Hawking is one of the greatest theoretical cosmologists of our time. He is greater, by consensus among his colleagues, than other expert authors who have written good popular books on the subject recently. And he is greater, by far, than the ‘experts' who have ‘explained' quantum physics and cosmology in terms that support a religious agenda." And The New York Times in April 1988 said, "Through his cerebral journeys, Mr. Hawking is bravely taking some of the first, though tentative, steps toward quantizing the early universe, and he offers us a provocative glimpse of the work in progress."

Since then, A Brief History of Time has been republished in an illustrated edition (1996) and as an updated and expanded 10th anniversary edition (1998). In Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, a collection of 13 essays and the transcript of an extended interview with the BBC, Hawking turned more autobiographical, mixing stories about his studies in college and the beginning of his awareness that he had ALS with thoughts on how black holes can spawn baby universes and on the scientific community's efforts to create a unified theory that will explain everything in the universe. And in The Universe in a Nutshell, his sequel to A Brief History of Time, Hawking takes the same approach as he did in his first bestseller, explaining to the lay reader such ideas as the superstring theory, supergravity, time travel, and quantum theory.

A common current in Hawking's writing -- aside from his grasp of the complexities of the universe -- is a sharp wit. In one of the rare personal reflections in A Brief History of Time, he said he began thinking about black holes in the early 1970s in the evenings as he was getting ready for bed: "My disability makes this rather a slow process, so I had plenty of time." In life, he has a reputation for quickly turning his wheelchair away of a conversation that displeases him, even running his wheels over the toes of the offending conversant.

Even questions about his muse are likely to draw an answer tinged with pointed humor. When Time asked Hawking why he decided to add explaining the universe to a schedule already taxed by his scholarly writing and lecture tours, he answered, "I have to pay for my nurses."

Good To Know

Hawking worked 1,000 hours in his three years at Oxford, roughly an hour a day. "I'm not proud of this lack of work," he said in Stephen Hawking's a Brief History of Time: A Reader's Companion. "I'm just describing my attitude at the time, which I shared with most of my fellow students: an attitude of complete boredom and feeling that nothing was worth making an effort for."

Despite his science degrees, Hawking has no formal training in math and has said he had to pick up what he knows as he went along.

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    1. Hometown:
      Cambridge, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 8, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Oxford, England

Table of Contents

Introduction IX
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)
His Life and Work 1
On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres 7
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
His Life and Work 391
Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences 399
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
His Life and Work 627
Harmony of the World, Book Five 635
Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727)
His Life and Work 725
Principia 733
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
His Life and Work 1161
Selections from The Principle of Relativity 1167
Acknowledgements 1265
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    I love the content, but you need to fire whomever was supposed t

    I love the content, but you need to fire whomever was supposed to "proof-read" this text; I couldn't even make it two full pages in without finding multiple keystroke errors. It's not the information that's difficult to get through, but rather the sloppy editing that makes this beautiful read somewhat tedious. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Great book on the development of DARPA

    A compilation of English translations of several of history's most revolutionary books. Einstein, Coppernicus, Newton, etc. Very good, but don't expect an easy read.

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    Posted July 24, 2011

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