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One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking is an intellectual ...
One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking is an intellectual icon, known not only for the adventurousness of his ideas but for the clarity and wit with which he expresses them. In this new book Hawking takes us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, to explain in laymen's terms the principles that control our universe.
Like many in the community of theoretical physicists, Professor Hawking is seeking 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. He takes us to the wild frontiers of science, where superstring theory and p-branes may hold the final clue to the puzzle. And he lets us behind the scenes of one of his most exciting intellectual adventures as he seeks "to combine Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories into one complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe."
With characteristic exuberance, Professor Hawking invites us to be fellow travelers on this extraordinary voyage through spacetime. Copious four-color illustrations help clarify this journey into a surreal wonderland where particles, sheets, and strings move in eleven dimensions; where black holes evaporate and disappear, taking their secret with them; and where the original cosmic seed from which our own universe sprang was a tiny nut.
The Universe in a Nutshell is essential reading for all of us who want to understand the universe in which we live. Like its companion volume, A Brief History of Time, it conveys the excitement felt within the scientific community as the secrets of the cosmos reveal themselves.
“Provocative and informed ... plenty of comprehensible analogies and no small amount of humor, often self-deprecating.... Best of all, the book is liberally sprinkled with well-conceived, gorgeously rendered and frequently whimsical illustrations.”—Time
|Ch. 1||A Brief History of Relativity||3|
|Ch. 2||The Shape of Time||29|
|Ch. 3||The Universe in a Nutshell||67|
|Ch. 4||Predicting the Future||101|
|Ch. 5||Protecting the Past||131|
|Ch. 6||Our Future? Star Trek or Not?||155|
|Ch. 7||Brane New World||173|
|Suggested further readings|
Posted February 2, 2009
Stephen Hawking's book, THE UNIVERSE IN A NUTSHELL, succeeds in making some of the newest theories in physics understandable to everyday people. Until reading this book, I hadn't considered what conditions would be necessary in order for our night-time sky to look completely white with stars, nor had I seen such a gorgeous depiction of the micro and macro-cosmic universe in a nutshell (cover illustration). Hawking carefully examines time-travel, predicting the future, and the shape of time after starting the book with an overview of the theory of relativity. Hawking saves his biggest question for last, to leave readers wondering 'Do we live on a brane, or are we just holograms?' (A brane is something like a membrane.) Thanks to stunning color illustrations and fascinating questions and ideas gracing almost every page, THE UNIVERSE IN A NUTSHELL accesses both the rational and intuitive hemispheres of the reader's brain. It's the perfect book to unwind with after a long day -- allowing the exotic images and ideas to percolate in your mind like a delicious cup of your favorite hot beverage -- opening your mind to whole new worlds of possibility. Those seeking mathematical equations to accompany their theoretical physics will likely be disappointed by this coffee-table masterpiece, as will readers who prefer to read ground-breaking books which describe entirely new theories in physics. Pretty much everyone else will be thrilled to take a peek at the 'big' questions and ideas being contemplated by the world's most famous physicist.
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Posted March 19, 2012
This book is a very successful popular science book. Prof Stephen Hawking uses very simple language to explain complicated physics. However, the M-Theory or superstring theory may not be the ultimate grand unified theory. Go to read a book entitled "Theories of Everything by logic" by Wan-Jiung Hu. He proposes a grand unified theory by explaining the origin of dark matter and dark energy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2011
The book The Universe in a Nutshell is a book of crazy wild and exciting theories that explain ideas that many people have wondered about. The theories are all very convincing in many ways due to Hawking's great use of supporting evidence along with illustrations which really help the reader thoroughly understand the meaning of the theory and why it would actually be true. Hawking covers the past, present, and future, which definitely helps the reader, have an idea in their head of how all of the theories came to be and were evolved. Hawking takes complex ideas and breaks them down to be simple so that the audience can work their mind and figure out the point he is trying to get across. Examples of material Hawking covers include; black holes, worm holes, time and space, time travel, particles, history of particles, futuristic research, etc. Not to worry though this book is interesting and not your everyday science text book. The book can change the way you as a person look at different things in the world and universe and that is a really cool thing to do. Stephen Hawking did a fabulous job writing this book and I hope many people decide to read it as it is a neat book and very knowledgeable. Hawking is known to be one of the greatest thinkers of our time and it's amazing to hear his thoughts on the universe. All in all, the book changes your point of view and may open your mind to new things you have never thought of before.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 28, 2008
This Book MUST be read by all Physicist, Scientist, or religious zealots. This is THE ultimate guide for all mankind. I highly recommend the illustrated version as unless you are already familiar, the concepts can be hard to visualize.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 18, 2008
Earlier attempts to formulate an answer that takes into account existing theories and observations have failed because of obstacles posed by gravity. The Nature of Space and Time pitts two heavy weights trying to provide a loop quantum gravitational model that successfully merges current ideas, and which may enable us to overcome such difficulties. Stephen Hawking shot to fame in the world of physics when he provided a mathematical proof for the Big Bang theory. This theory showed that the entire universe exploded from a singularity, an infinitely small point with infinite density and infinite gravity. Hawking was able to come to his proof using mathematical techniques that had been developed by Roger Penrose. These techniques were however developed to deal not with the beginning of the Universe but with black holes.......................Science had long predicted that if a sufficiently large star collapsed at the end of its life, all the matter left in the star would be crushed into an infinitely small point with infinite gravity and infinite density...a singularity. Hawking realized that the Universe was, in effect, a black hole in reverse. Instead of matter being crushed into a singularity, the Universe began when a singularity expanded to form everything we see around us today, from stars to planets to people. Hawking realized that to come to a complete understanding of the Universe he would have to unravel the mysteries of the black hole....................Hawking and his fellow physicists embarked on an extraordinary intellectual expedition to tame the black hole. Slowly physicists were coming to understand this most destructive force of nature. But Hawking realized that there was something missing from the emerging picture. All work on black holes to that point used the physics of the large-scale Universe, the physics of gravity first developed by Newton and then refined by Einstein's theories of general and special relativity. Hawking realized that to come to a full understanding of black holes, physicists would also have to use the physics of the small-scale Universe, (the physics that had been developed to explain the movements of atoms and sub-atomic particles, known as quantum mechanics.) The problem was that no one had ever combined these two areas of physics before. But that didn't deter Hawking. He set about developing a new way to force the physics of quantum mechanics to co-exist with Einstein's relativity within the intense gravity of a black hole....................After months of work Hawking came up with a remarkable result. His equations were showing him that something was coming out of the black hole. This was supposed to be impossible. The one thing that everyone thought they knew about black holes was that things went in but nothing, not even light itself, could escape. But the more Hawking checked, the more he was convinced he was right. He could see radiation coming out of the black hole. Hawking then realized that this radiation (Hawking Radiation) would cause the black hole to evaporate and eventually disappear. Although Hawking's theories about black hole evaporation were revolutionary, they soon came to be widely accepted. But Hawking knew that this work had far more fundamental consequences. In 1976 he published a paper called 'The Breakdown of Predictability in Gravitational Collapse'. In it he argued that it wasn't just the black hole that disappeared. All the information about everything that had ever been inside the black hole disappeared too......................There are limits to what science can know. For many years no one took much notice of Hawking's ideas until a fateful meeting in San Francisco. Hawking presented his ideas to some of the world's leading physicists. In the audience were Gerad t'Hooft and Leonard Susskind, two leading particle physicists. They were shocked. Both realized that Hawking's 'breakdown of predictability' applied not only to black holes but to all processes iWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 9, 2007
This book is an excellent book. It is not enough, but that is how it should be. Hawking was trying to inspire the average reader, give them the seed of curiosity, giving them incentive to find out the rest of the details for themselves. And oh yes, I am extremely grateful I live in a time where the answers are so readily available. In response to the reader who wrote 'Hawking's Search for the Revealed' and then complained about how he did not mention a seed theory: You are free to write as you wish. However, keep in mind that your theories are founded in a whimsical religious desire to define your existence in a much simpler way than Hawking, or any of us, can, because it is just not that simple. I am glad the meaning of life is not simple. This makes life that much more fun, fills it with things for us to discover. Please do not read a book of science and then judge it with religion. That is like reading Hawking's book, and then saying it is horrible because it does not agree with the religious idea that the Earth is 5000 years old. Faith is ok, but blind faith will get you in trouble. It strips away your ability to think. Please do not bring blind faith to this forum.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2005
This was my first time reading a book of this level and theme. However I ended up actually enjoying the book quite a bit. It opened my mind to new ideas and to things that I never even knew existed. The book was written in a level that was understandable yet contained very complex ideas.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 24, 2004
This book is a must read for everyone who loves science. One has to feel discomfort from the incompleteness of the big bang universe and its inefficiency to explain the growing number of observations. It is quite uncertain what was before the big bang. That is why new theories that incorporate the progress of experimental science from the last few decades should be considered.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 1, 2004
Posted November 11, 2003
Posted August 15, 2003
Nothing happens out of chance. Professor Hawking is the Scientist who chose to be in our Planet Earth at this point and time. He is our messenger of Light for this time and age, scientifically speaking. There are messengers for all walks of life, and he holds that position in the scientific circles 'where truth is often stranger than fiction.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 8, 2002
I can't imagine anyone writing about physics and cosmology more clearly than Stephen Hawking. If you want to know the state of those fields today, and how they got where they are, this book is ideal. Several things set it apart from Hawking's bestseller, A Brief History of Time. In The Universe in a Nutshell, he provides more of the history of cosmological thinking, and goes on to give sparklingly clear descriptions of some more recent developments, such as branes (lower-dimensional spaces that are subsets of higher-dimensional universes) and M-theory, a meta-theory that unites supergravity and string theories. In the current book, Hawking also makes frequent and interesting use of the anthropic principle, which limits our universe in certain ways since if it were significantly different galaxies, stars, planets, and humans could not have appeared. I was surprised and pleased to find Hawking taking time to speculate on the future of humanity given our ability to create increasingly complex organisms, and electronic systems. And, the book is full of colorful and helpful illustrations. Like A Brief History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell is full of Hawking's witty asides. My favorite was, "Newton occupied the Lucasian chair at Cambridge that I now hold, though it wasn't electrically operated at that time." I found the book to be a delightful and of course informative read. Robert Adler, author of Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of CreationWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 13, 2002
This book is incredibly fascinating, and Stephen Hawking writes it in the clearest, most easy to read English ever. Hawking talks about black holes, the fate of the universe, and about the quest for the Theory of Everything. An excellent read for the average person.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 17, 2002
I found this book to be better than his ealier book, a brief history of time. The pictures helped a lot and generally it was easier to understand. Overall, a very good book by one of the leading scientists.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2002
This book has the strengths (and a few weaknesses) of books for the layman on very technical subjects. The ideas are exciting, and when well-described (Hawking is an excellent writer) thrilling to read about. The lay reader is left with a lingering concern that he has not quite understood what is really going on. This is hardly a surprise, for the technical basis of the ideas described is fiendishly difficult (Hawking himself is resposible for some of the most remarkable, but difficult, discoveries in this area). Hawking does as good a job as anyone could, but if you come away with the feeling that you haven't quite understood it, you are right. There really is no shortcut.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 28, 2002
Stephen Hawking tops a Brief History of Time in this new book. If you know not much about quantum physics or if you are experienced in the field, this new book will catch your attention. The added help of illustrations and charts make this book even better. Have fun reading it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 13, 2002
Stephen Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell describes and illustrates many divorced-from-reality cosmological ideas. Consequently it does not really come as a surprise that he failed to mention the Holy Grail of Science, namely the theory that a cosmic seed of human life generated the universe for the production of human beings in its own image, just as a seed generates a tree for the production of seeds in its own image. The seed of the universe or 'Unbegotten Father' is considered to be immortal, because the universe has no power over the cause of its own origin, just as a tree has no power over the seed of its own origin. Considering that the birth of the universe from an everlasting human seed or genome is in line with the principle of biogenesis, as well as with the observations that the universe is tailor-made for the production of human beings (anthropic principle), The Universe in a Nutshell should read: The Universe in a Seed of Human Life. Just in case Professor Hawking failed to notice, in the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna revealed: 'O Arjuna, I am the divine seed of all lives. In this world, nothing animate or inanimate exists without me.' The Zohar also implies that the human genome is the microcosm or store-house of all the seeds of life, because 'As soon as man appeared, everything was complete ... for everything is comprised in man. He unites in himself all forms.' Finally in John 10:30 Christ said: 'I and my Father are one,¿ and in Revelation 22:13 he declared: 'I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.¿ So by still searching for the Holy Grail of Science Hawking and the rest of the researchers only reveal their ignorance, for to the wise it is known that the human genome is a seed from which a universe may come into existence.
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Posted April 23, 2002
I loved the book, of course. One of the best ones I have ever read in my life. It is very interesting! I cannot add anything new to what has already been said. But has anyone realised what happens to figures 4.1 and 4.3? In Figure 4.1 (p.103), on the top, numbers 3 and 4 are swoped. In Figure 4.3 (p.104) the butterfly is flapping his wings in Central Park (NY) and the storm takes place in Tokyo, but the text says exactly the opposite. I think these minor errors could be arranged in future editions, Yours sincerely,Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 3, 2002
It is written for everyone. You don't need to know math. He easily describes concepts and complex theories in your everyday language. There is also a lot of information for the advanced reader who deals with physics and math.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 26, 2002
The best part about this book is the illustrations. Nearly every page is filled with pictures and diagrams which can make even a dry book entertaining. A few things in this book are merely re-hashes from his old books, but most of the content is fresh.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.