The Illustrated A Brief History of Time / The Universe in a Nutshell

Overview

First published in 1988, Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time is a landmark in scientific writing. For this expanded edition, Professor Hawking prepared a new introduction to the book, wrote an entirely new chapter on wormholes and time travel, and updated the original text.  This edition is enhanced throughout with more than 240 full-color illustrations, including satellite images, photographs made possible by spectacular technological advances such as the Hubble Space Telescope, and computer-generated...

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Overview

First published in 1988, Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time is a landmark in scientific writing. For this expanded edition, Professor Hawking prepared a new introduction to the book, wrote an entirely new chapter on wormholes and time travel, and updated the original text.  This edition is enhanced throughout with more than 240 full-color illustrations, including satellite images, photographs made possible by spectacular technological advances such as the Hubble Space Telescope, and computer-generated images of three- and four-dimensional realities.  A classic work that now brings to the reader the latest understanding of cosmology, The Illustrated Brief History of Time is the story of the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space.

In The Universe in a Nutshell, Stephen Hawking takes us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where he seeks to uncover the grail of science —the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos.  In his accessible and often playful style, he guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe —from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M theory, from holography to duality.  Copious four-color illustrations help clarify this journey into a surreal wonderland where particles, sheets, and strings move in eleven dimensions and where the original cosmic seed from which our universe sprang was a tiny nut.

"Straight talk of the nature of science and the universe...Dr. Hawking is a genius."

—The New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307291226
  • Publisher: Bantam Books
  • Publication date: 6/24/2007
  • Edition description: Two Books in One
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 59,667
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking made black holes palatable for the masses with his 1988 book A Brief History of Time, which had The New York Times pointing out that he is “bravely taking some of the first, though tentative, steps toward quantizing the early universe.”

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

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent material

    This is a great laymans guide to the physics of the universe. At first thought one would expect the book to be boring and hard to read. The language was descriptive and easy to understand. Hawking gives insight on the theories that were expounded upon to give us the current accepted theories to date. The book is also laced with Hawking's well known sharp humor. This is a definate read for anyone who has an interest in general physics or anyone who is a fan of Stephen Hawking's work.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2010

    Informative and Interesting Look at the Universe

    "A Brief History of Time" was an intriguing read. It covers topics such as our picture of the universe, space and time, the expanding universe, the uncertainty principle, elementary particles, the forces of nature, black holes, origin and fate of the universe, the arrow of time, wormholes, time travel, and the unification of physics. There is also a section about famous physicists which include's Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei, and Sir. Isaac Newton. People should read this book because it gives an interesting view of our universe from the mind of Steven Hawking. The book gives you a basic understanding of Theoretical Physics. It's not the easiest of reads but it is not just equations either. "A Brief History of Time" is written at a level that most people can understand. "A Brief History of Time" gives insight into how the universe was formed. Every thing in "A Brief History of Time" is theoretical because you cannot test most of these theories, but they are our best explanations for observable natural phenomenon. I liked it because it gave me a more in depth look at theoretical physics and our universe. The only thing I did not like about "A Brief History of Time" is that it has not been updated sense 2001. Over all it is a great read for those interested in this field of science.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2010

    Excellent addition to any library

    I had bought these books when they were originally published, but this illustrated edition is much more inviting to read. Glad I bought it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fascinating, but very dry

    reads more like a textbook than physics for the layperson

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2009

    Doesn't bring it justice...

    The text of the book, of course, is a work of art in itself the design of the book sickens me. The Brief History of Time text is split into two columns while the Universe in a Nutshell is only one column. The graphics, while some are improvements, are mostly cheesy 3D graphics that replace nice simple illustrations from the original book. I love the text's content, but the design of the text hurts.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A more comprehensive topic and more authoritative writer cannot be imagined, and persevering readers will learn much.

    Hawking goes out of his way to make the broad topics in the two-volume set accessible, and makes a great effort to use ordinary language to explain time and space. He is a master of metaphor to bring difficult conecpts within the grasp of ordinary readers. In both books, I was following along pretty well in the early chapters, but the further I read, the less I understood, until by the end, I was hopelessly lost.

    My lack of a science background was the main factor that put the best parts of these books out of reach, but readers with some understanding of the sciences will do much better, I'm sure.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Awesome.

    Vintage Hawking. Everyone should understand more about our universe.

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