Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind

Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind

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by Kitty Ferguson

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Stephen Hawking is one of the most remarkable figures of our age--bestselling author of A Brief History of Time, celebrated theoretical physicist, and an inspiration as he exhibits grace, dignity, and courage while coping with devastating disability. With race access to Hawking, including childhood photos and in-depth research, award-winning author Kitty

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Stephen Hawking is one of the most remarkable figures of our age--bestselling author of A Brief History of Time, celebrated theoretical physicist, and an inspiration as he exhibits grace, dignity, and courage while coping with devastating disability. With race access to Hawking, including childhood photos and in-depth research, award-winning author Kitty Ferguson has created a rich and comprehensive picture of Hawking's life: his childhood; the heartbreaking ALS diagnosis when he was a first-year graduate student; his long personal battle for survival in pursuit of a scientific understanding of the universe; and his rise to international fame. Ferguson uses her gift for translating the language of theoretical physics into the language of the rest of us to make Hawking's scientific work accessible. Stephen Hawking is an insightful, absorbing, and definitive account of an extraordinary life and a brilliant mind.

Editorial Reviews

Salon Laura Miller

Ferguson shines at explaining Hawking's theories, the jovially competitive academic world in which they are hammered out and her subject's distinctive and evolving intellectual style…An irresistible story. His puckish humor and exuberance for life and for ideas are infectious even at a remove. And the ideas themselves could not ask for a better elucidator.
The Los Angeles Times Sara Lippincott

Intelligent and readable . . . Kitty Ferguson is astonishing in her own right . . . She is a careful explicator not only of [Hawkings'] ideas but of the context in which they arose.
The Washington Post

Ferguson provides engaging and helpful explanations of the physics behind [Hawking's] triumphs.

Ferguson's biography of this remarkable man, who recently marked his 70th birthday, is based on personal interviews and a sound understanding of the physics behind Hawking's ideas...this is a delightful book...Highly recommended.
Entertainment Focus Greg Jamison

Kitty Ferguson gives a thorough account of Hawking the man, as well as of his extraordinary body of work in cosmology. [She has] a flair for the original which makes much of the tome highly readable. There are excellently clear descriptions of the large issues and precious few off-putting mathematics and equations...Ferguson pitches the balance between Hawking's personal life and an explanation of his work about right.
Nature George Ellis

As both a global icon and an innovative theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking is well served by science writer Kitty Ferguson's fascinating biography. Ferguson explains in accessible terms the major themes that Hawking has explored in his career, and creates a portrait of the pri­vate man by drawing on her close personal contact with him and his family. ... Ferguson's sympathetic and informed take on an individual who has enriched human knowledge against the odds is an excellent summing-up, as Hawking approaches his 70th birthday, of his unique and creative contribution to both science and humanity.

More than a biography … a brave attempt to chart the life of the celebrated physicist in parallel with his astounding and important work…. Ferguson has spent a lot of time with Hawking and as a scientist she attempts to explain in lay terms the fundamental concepts of Hawking's vast and amazing body of work.
The Montreal Gazette Harold Heft

Science writer Kitty Ferguson has been working for over 20 years to reveal the real Stephen Hawking to the world… proximity gives Ferguson privileged access to Hawking's private world, and her scientific fluency enables her to weave a biography that moves seamlessly between his intellectual and personal development… and Ferguson is adept at making his complex theories accessible to non-experts… Beyond explaining his scientific achievements, Ferguson brings us closer to the man who plays hide-and-seek with his young son, endures marital discord, has a sign on his office door that reads "Quiet Please, The Boss is Asleep," and kibitzes with a journalist who asked if he has willed his DNA to science: "I don't think anyone would want another copy of me." Ultimately, the most astonishing aspect of Ferguson's Hawking is not his otherness, but the extraordinary things that one determined individual can accomplish once he realizes that "life is worth living.
Marcia Bartuskiak
…Ferguson has brought out a new edition of her 1991 biography of the British theoretical physicist, then titled Stephen Hawking: Quest for a Theory of the Universe. Although more than half of the book remains essentially the same, new information about Hawking's private life that came to light over the last two decades makes for a more thorough account. Ferguson has fleshed out the story, enhancing her earlier narrative appreciably.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Ferguson replaces the iconic but static image of cosmologist Hawking with flesh and blood in this vivid portrait. This is familiar terrain for Ferguson, who built such good rapport with Hawking while researching her book Stephen Hawking: A Quest for a Theory of Everything some 20 years ago, that he asked her to consult on his own book, The Universe in a Nutshell. Hawking grew from a “rather lazy” student to a pioneering cosmologist in an era when the field was regarded as little more than a pseudoscience. Diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) early in graduate school, he defeated the odds and will soon celebrate his 70th birthday. Through interviews with Hawking and his colleagues, friends, and family, Ferguson builds a complete picture of Hawking’s life, from his tireless work to explain our universe to his notorious driving, playful appearances on Star Trek, The Simpsons, and other shows, campaigning to improve the lives of the disabled, and his family life, with special attention to his relationship with his first wife, Jane, whose sacrifices allowed him to focus on his work. In the end, Ferguson captures the very full life and work of one of the most vibrant minds of our time. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Ferguson, author of Stephen Hawking: Quest for a Theory of Everything (1991) and consultant for Stephen Hawking's 2001 book, The Universe in a Nutshell, knows her Hawking as well as her science, a rare combination. In this latest work, she offers readers insight into a celebrity scientist whose ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) stands at the forefront of mass media and into the theoretical physics that, for many of us, swirls in the stratosphere—bringing both into focus for general readers. She intertwines Hawking's evolving life events and developing scientific thinking into a very readable examination and narrative. It is quite delightful to follow Hawking's reception by the media. From the cartoon series The Simpsons to the sf show Star Trek: The Next Generation to talk shows galore, he is probably the most recognizable living scientist. VERDICT This is definitely a must-read for those into Hawking, theoretical physics, and the pursuit of a single model of everything. Even those who don't follow physics will find this intellectual biography extremely enjoyable.—Margaret Dominy, Drexel Univ. Lib., Philadelphia
Kirkus Reviews
Ferguson (Pythagoras, 2010, etc.) brilliantly updates her 1991 children's biography of Stephen Hawking for an adult audience. Hawking's work on black holes and the origins of the universe guarantees him a place in the scientific pantheon, but his ability to pursue scientific work despite the ravages of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) have earned him superstar status. Diagnosed in 1962 with a prognosis that he would be dead within two years, he refused to be daunted. He continued his studies, married and fathered three children and made major contributions to our understanding of the universe, all while struggling to maintain his ability to function despite increasing muscular atrophy that prevented his use of his hands, confined him to a wheel chair and ultimately robbed him of his ability to speak. In 1979, he was appointed Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair once held by Isaac Newton. Now almost 70 and only able to communicate through a computer, he still maintains a busy lecture schedule. His latest book, The Grand Design (co-authored by Leonard Mlodinow), was published in 2010. Ferguson has relied on Hawking for guidance on scientific topics and on a memoir written by his ex-wife for details of life during their 25-year marriage. Her ability to write clearly about scientific issues using metaphor rather than mathematics makes this an excellent introduction to astrophysics for the interested layman. A fascinating portrait of a complex figure who ponders the place of man and God in the universe and who still loves the "Eureka moment of discovering something that no one knew before."

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
MacSci Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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