The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe

The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe

by Stephen Hawking

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9788179925911
Publisher: Laurier Books Ltd
Publication date: 02/01/2007
Edition description: Special Edition
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Professor Stephen Hawking, a Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, is the pre-eminent theoretical physicist in the world. His book "A Brief History of Time" was a phenomenal worldwide bestseller. He has twelve honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE and was made a Companion of Honour. He has three children and one grandchild. Visit him at

Michael York is Principal Lecturer, Sophia Centre for the Study of Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, and Director of the Bath Archive for Contemporary Religious Affairs, Bath Spa University College, UK.


Cambridge, England

Date of Birth:

January 8, 1942

Date of Death:

March 14, 2018

Place of Birth:

Oxford, England

Read an Excerpt

The Origin and Fate of the Universe

By Stephen W. Hawking


Copyright © 2002 New Millennium Press.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1893224546

Chapter One

As long ago as 340 B.C. Aristotle, in his book On the Heavens, was able to put forward two good arguments for believing that the Earth was a round ball rather than a flat plate. First, he realized that eclipses of the moon were caused by the Earth coming between the sun and the moon. The Earth's shadow on the moon was always round, which would be true only if the Earth was spherical. If the Earth had been a flat disk, the shadow would have been elongated and elliptical, unless the eclipse always occurred at a time when the sun was directly above the center of the disk.

    Second, the Greeks knew from their travels that the Pole Star appeared lower in the sky when viewed in the south than it did in more northerly regions. From the difference in the apparent position of the Pole Star in Egypt and Greece, Aristotle even quoted an estimate that the distance around the Earth was four hundred thousand stadia. It is not known exactly what length a stadium was, but it may have been about two hundred yards. This would make Aristotle's estimate about twice the currently accepted figure.

    The Greeks even had a third argument that the Earth must be round, for why else does one first see the sails of a ship coming over the horizon and only later see the hull? Aristotle thought that the Earth was stationary and that the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars moved in circular orbits about the Earth. He believed this because he felt, for mystical reasons, that the Earth was the center of the universe and that circular motion was the most perfect.

    This idea was elaborated by Ptolemy in the first century A.D. into a complete cosmological model. The Earth stood at the center, surrounded by eight spheres, which carried the moon, the sun, the stars, and the five planets known at the time: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The planets themselves moved on smaller circles attached to their respective spheres in order to account for their rather complicated observed paths in the sky. The outermost sphere carried the so-called fixed stars, which always stay in the same positions relative to each other but which rotate together across the sky. What lay beyond the last sphere was never made very clear, but it certainly was not part of mankind's observable universe.

    Ptolemy's model provided a reasonably accurate system for predicting the positions of heavenly bodies in the sky. But in order to predict these positions correctly, Ptolemy had to make an assumption that the moon followed a path that sometimes brought it twice as close to the Earth as at other times. And that meant that the moon had sometimes to appear twice as big as it usually does. Ptolemy was aware of this flaw but nevertheless his model was generally, although not universally, accepted. It was adopted by the Christian church as the picture of the universe that was in accordance with Scripture. It had the great advantage that it left lots of room outside the sphere of fixed stars for heaven and hell.

    A much simpler model, however, was proposed in 1514 by a Polish priest, Nicholas Copernicus. At first, for fear of being accused of heresy, Copernicus published his model anonymously. His idea was that the sun was stationary at the center and that the Earth and the planets moved in circular orbits around the sun. Sadly for Copernicus, nearly a century passed before this idea was to be taken seriously. Then two astronomers—the German, Johannes Kepler, and the Italian, Galileo Galilei—started publicly to support the Copernican theory, despite the fact that the orbits it predicted did not quite match the ones observed. The death of the Aristotelian-Ptolemaic theory came in 1609. In that year Galileo started observing the night sky with a telescope, which had just been invented.

    When he looked at the planet Jupiter, Galileo found that it was accompanied by several small satellites, or moons, which orbited around it. This implied that everything did not have to orbit directly around the Earth as Aristotle and Ptolemy had thought. It was, of course, still possible to believe that the Earth was stationary at the center of the universe, but that the moons of Jupiter moved on extremely complicated paths around the Earth, giving the appearance that they orbited Jupiter. However, Copernicus's theory was much simpler.

    At the same time, Kepler had modified Copernicus's theory, suggesting that the planets moved not in circles, but in ellipses. The predictions now finally matched the observations. As far as Kepler was concerned, elliptical orbits were merely an ad hoc hypothesis—and a rather repugnant one at that because ellipses were clearly less perfect than circles. Having discovered, almost by accident, that elliptical orbits fitted the observations well, he could not reconcile with his idea that the planets were made to orbit the sun by magnetic forces.

    An explanation was provided only much later, in 1687, when Newton published his Principia Mathematica Naturalis Causae. This was probably the most important single work ever published in the physical sciences. In it, Newton not only put forward a theory of how bodies moved in space and time, but he also developed the mathematics needed to analyze those motions. In addition, Newton postulated a law of universal gravitation. This said that each body in the universe was attracted toward every other body by a force which was stronger the more massive the bodies and the closer they were to each other. It was the same force which caused objects to fall to the ground. The story that Newton was hit on the head by an apple is almost certainly apocryphal. All Newton himself ever said was that the idea of gravity came to him as he sat in a contemplative mood, and was occasioned by the fall of an apple.

    Newton went on to show that, according to his law, gravity causes the moon to move in an elliptical orbit around the Earth and causes the Earth and the planets to follow elliptical paths around the sun. The Copernican model got rid of Ptolemy's celestial spheres, and with them the idea that the universe had a natural boundary. The fixed stars did not appear to change their relative positions as the Earth went around the sun. It therefore became natural to suppose that the fixed stars were objects like our sun but much farther away. This raised a problem. Newton realized that, according to his theory of gravity, the stars should attract each other; so, it seemed they could not remain essentially motionless. Would they not all fall together at some point?

    In a letter in 1691 to Richard Bentley, another leading thinker of his day, Newton argued that this would indeed happen if there were only a finite number of stars. But he reasoned that if, on the other hand, there were an infinite number of stars distributed more or less uniformly over infinite space, this would not happen because there would not be any central point for them to fall to. This argument is an instance of the pitfalls that one can encounter when one talks about infinity.

    In an infinite universe, every point can be regarded as the center because every point has an infinite number of stars on each side of it. The correct approach, it was realized only much later, is to consider the finite situation in which the stars all fall in on each other. One then asks how things change if one adds more stars roughly uniformly distributed outside this region. According to Newton's law, the extra stars would make no difference at all to the original ones, and so the stars would fall in just as fast. We can add as many stars as we like, but they will still always collapse in on themselves. We now know it is impossible to have an infinite static model of the universe in which gravity is always attractive.

    It is an interesting reflection on the general climate of thought before the twentieth century that no one had suggested that the universe was expanding or contracting. It was generally accepted that either the universe had existed forever in an unchanging state or that it had been created at a finite time in the past, more or less as we observe it today. In part, this may have been due to people's tendency to believe in eternal truths as well as the comfort they found in the thought that even though they may grow old and die, the universe is unchanging.

    Even those who realized that Newton's theory of gravity showed that the universe could not be static did not think to suggest that it might be expanding. Instead, they attempted to modify the theory by making the gravitational force repulsive at very large distances. This did not significantly affect their predictions of the motions of the planets. But it would allow an infinite distribution of stars to remain in equilibrium, with the attractive forces between nearby stars being balanced by the repulsive forces from those that were farther away.

    However, we now believe such an equilibrium would be unstable. If the stars in some region got only slightly near each other, the attractive forces between them would become stronger and would dominate over the repulsive forces. This would mean that the stars would continue to fall toward each other. On the other hand, if the stars got a bit farther away from each other, the repulsive forces would dominate and drive them farther apart.

    Another objection to an infinite static universe is normally ascribed to the German philosopher Heinrich Olbers. In fact, various contemporaries of Newton had raised the problem, and the Olbers article of 1823 was not even the first to contain plausible arguments on this subject. It was, however, the first to be widely noted. The difficulty is that in an infinite static universe nearly every line or side would end on the surface of a star. Thus one would expect that the whole sky would be as bright as the sun, even at night. Olbers's counterargument was that the light from distant stars would be dimmed by absorption by intervening matter. However, if that happened, the intervening matter would eventually heat up until it glowed as brightly as the stars.

    The only way of avoiding the conclusion that the whole of the night sky should be as bright as the surface of the sun would be if the stars had not been shining forever, but had turned on at some finite time in the past. In that case, the absorbing matter might not have heated up yet, or the light from distant stars might not yet have reached us. And that brings us to the question of what could have caused the stars to have turned on in the first place.

The beginning of the universe had, of course, been discussed for a long time. According to a number of early cosmologies in the Jewish/ Christian/Muslim tradition, the universe started at a finite and not very distant time in the past. One argument for such a beginning was the feeling that it was necessary to have a first cause to explain the existence of the universe.

    Another argument was put forward by St. Augustine in his book, The City of God. He pointed out that civilization is progressing, and we remember who performed this deed or developed that technique. Thus man, and so also perhaps the universe, could not have been around all that long. For otherwise we would have already progressed more than we have.

    St. Augustine accepted a date of about 5000 B.C. for the creation of the universe according to the book of Genesis. It is interesting that this is not so far from the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 B.C., which is when civilization really began. Aristotle and most of the other Greek philosophers, on the other hand, did not like the idea of a creation because it made too much of divine intervention. They believed, therefore, that the human race and the world around it had existed, and would exist, forever. They had already considered the argument about progress, described earlier, and answered it by saying that there had been periodic floods or other disasters that repeatedly set the human race right back to the beginning of civilization.

    When most people believed in an essentially static and unchanging universe, the question of whether of not it had a beginning was really one of metaphysics or theology. One could account for what was observed either way. Either the universe had existed forever, of it was set in motion at some finite time in such a manner as to look as though it had existed forever. But in 1929, Edwin Hubble made the landmark observation that wherever you look, distant stars are moving rapidly away from us. In other words, the universe is expanding. This means that at earlier times objects would have been closer together. In fact, it seemed that there was a time about ten or twenty thousand million years ago when they were all at exactly the same place.

    This discovery finally brought the question of the beginning of the universe into the realm of science. Hubble's observations suggested that there was a time called the big bang when the universe was infinitesimally small and, therefore, infinitely dense. If there were events earlier than this time, then they could not affect what happens at the present time. Their existence can be ignored because it would have no observational consequences.

    One may say that time had a beginning at the big bang, in the sense that earlier times simply could not be defined. It should be emphasized that this beginning in time is very different from those that had been considered previously. In an unchanging universe, a beginning in time is...


Excerpted from THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Stephen W. Hawking. Copyright © 2002 by New Millennium Press. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Lecture 1Ideas About the Universe1
Lecture 2The Expanding Universe17
Lecture 3Black Holes43
Lecture 4Black Holes Ain't So Black71
Lecture 5The Origin and Fate of the Universe95
Lecture 6The Direction of Time127
Lecture 7The Theory of Everything145

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Theory of Everything 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It has come to our attention that the book 'The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe' has been published. Professor Hawking would like to make it clear that he HAS NOT endorsed this book. The text was written by him many years ago, however the material has already been published in books such as 'A Brief History of Time'. A complaint was made to the Federal Trade Commission in the US in the hope that they would prevent the publication. **We would urge you NOT to purchase this book in the belief that Professor Hawking was involved in its creation. From Professor Stephen Hawking's website.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In fact 'The Theory of Everything' is 'Brief Historty of Time' in disguise. Those who have studied abovementioned book and previous one, that is 'The Universe in a Nutshell' will certainly feel that Hawking hasn't gone further from 'Brief History of Time'(because the real science is same). I therefore suggest an ammendment in the title, it should be 'The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe - Brief History of Time Rewritten.' That is all from my side
Stacey Zook More than 1 year ago
You can't zoom in on the pictures. I'm sure they are great photos, but I can't really see them or the captions.
qubit More than 1 year ago
With the way you write, I can understand your lack of comprehension. Fine, you don't understand it, just say so. But your juvenile rant is not at all helpful. Why do you consider it a bad book? "This book sucks" is not a review. What, you expect everyone just to take your incredibly ignorant word for it? And what is the deal with making fun of professor Hawking's handicap? He happens to have one of the most brilliant minds in the world, which is all that counts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The sample does not even get through the preface by someone else. I wanted to see a sample of Hawking's writings, and not one word was there. I am often aggravated by samples that fill up with the front of book stuff, but usually have 5 pages or so of the actual author's work. Not here!,
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Theory of Everything: The Origins and Fate of the Universe by Stephen Hawking is a compilation of lectures (seven to be precise) written by Stephen Hawking and covers topics such as black holes - a large focus in Hawking's work and study - as well as speculation on the origin of the universe. As the previous reviewer noted, the publication of this book was executed without prior approval of Hawking, however all of the material included in the book is in fact original text by Hawking that has appeared in other publications by Hawking. As such, one should not be discouraged by this as the work is credited to Hawking and all original material. The book begins with a lecture titled 'Ideas About the Universe' in which Hawking provides a synopsis on, as the title implies, ideas about the universe. He takes a historical approach by discussing the ideas and opinions regarding the cosmos held by people as far back as Aristotle right up to the present day realities provided by astronomers such as Edwin Hubble. The lectures are arranged in a logical order so that the book flows from past notions to present beliefs in order to show the evolution of ideas because of rapidly improving technologies and advances in sciences. Of course, no modern theoretical physics text would be complete without a background of Einstein's Special and General Theories of Relativity as well as Quantum Mechanics pioneered by men such as Heisenberg and Planck. Equipped with the basics of these star players in the grand game of cosmology, Hawking discusses in two of his lectures his difficulties in describing, both conceptually and mathematically, the nature of black holes. He also provides a few current speculations as to how the universe originated and what potential fates could result from the different beginnings. Whether or not the universe began from a singularity in the case of the Big Bang, or the universe simply always has been in existence (a rather Zen approach to the problem), Hawking is unsure. One suggestion he makes, which struck me as odd but still plausible, is his 'No-Boundary' idea. Much like the surface of a sphere, which has a finite surface area yet no abrupt 'end' or 'boundary,' so too could the universe behave in such a manner. This certainly relieves the daunting idea of an infinite universe which is hard for many, including myself, to accept. The book as a whole requires no prerequisite knowledge of physics by any means. Hawking writes in such a way that theoretical physics becomes accessible to the layperson. He begins the book with a ground-up approach to allow the reader to become familiar with basic concepts in theoretical physics and then continues to elaborate and build on each concept as they are presented in a neat, logical order. As is common in Hawking's writing, the text is strewn with humorous comments on politics and his disability where he can work them in. While they do not dominate the overall tone of his writing, it provides a good laugh or two so the text does not become entirely dry. One last warning to make in my review is that while Hawking tries to maintain a strictly scientific approach to the nature of the text, he is forced to consider the inevitable concept of a god in relation to the origins and fate of the universe. While he does not advocate any particular religion, it is near impossible to tackle a concept as large as the origin of the universe without at least considering some omnipresent force involved in creation. In short, this book goes highly recommended by me for those wanting an introductory text to theoretical physics and cosmology, or even those needing a refresher on the evolution and present beliefs within these fields of study.
Jennicysm More than 1 year ago
I see no problem with the photos, not all books have the zoom option & the book is as good as I'd imagined it would be.
ashishg on LibraryThing 10 months ago
In Stephen Hawking style, books becomes incomprehensible to reasonable mind somewhere midway. It's collection of lectures dealing with origin of universe, time and black holes but he is not lucid to non-scientific mind.
beccabgood1 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Okay, I'm willing to concede that this may be a great book. And I'm sure it's much easier to read than professional writing about space science, the origins of the universe, etc. However, I still found it tough going. It inspired lots of abstract questions and pondering, but now, a few years later, I don't remember any of it. If I can ever make myself re-read it, maybe I'll revise my opinion, but for now it's only a tentative thumbs-up for those who already have a background in this subject matter.
BrendanCarroll on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Scary, but fascinating science about the cosmos and many things beyond my comprehension.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found it to be in depth and understandable, but lecture #6's argument to be less than convincing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ghost_Author More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book as well as his previous book. I know Iwill never be at the same math understanding as Steven, but the theories are interesting to ponder.
OdysseusUlysses More than 1 year ago
The Theory of Everything; The Origin and Fate of the Universe. Claimed to be first published under title "The Cambridge Lectures: Life Works," excellently read by Michael York pretentious voice (at least what I have gotten to listen to so far), but not claimed by Stephen W. Hawking, who holds the Newton's chair of Lucasian Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Cambridge University. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers "A Brief History of Time" and "The Universe in a Nutshell." Professor Hawking would like to make it clear that he HAS NOT endorsed this book. The text was written by him many years ago, however the material has already been published. I would urge you NOT to purchase this book in the belief that Professor Hawking was involved in its creation. From Professor Stephen Hawking's website you can read many of his lectures. Professor Hawking's Cambridge Lectures, as best as I could tell are: Lecture 1 "Ideas about the Universe" past ideas about a static universe; Lecture 2 "The Expanding Universe" how Newtonian and Einstein's theory leads to an expanding universe; Lecture 3 "Black holes" ; Lecture 4 how quantum mechanics allows energy to leak out of black holes; Lecture 5 quantum physics applied to the big bang, origin, and boundary of the universe Lecture 6 How the boundary proposal explains how the past is so different from the future Lecture 7 unified theory. He places the beginning of time about 10 or 20 thousand million years ago, The Big Bang, since earlier events could not affect the current timeline, also known to be expanding because of the red shifted light of all galaxies, due to Doppler Effect, expansion predicted by Freidman and red-shift observed by Hubble. Antigravity, proposed by Einstein to make a static universe fit into his general theory has been somewhat defeated by Freidman's expanding universe, using Einstein's general theory. Whimpering, I hope antigravity does not fall only into the realm of sci-fi.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. Anyway the incompleteness of the drawn picture of the universe left me with some disappointment. There is one existing and unique way to make the picture of the universe complete and you may find it in Eugene Savov's theory of interaction.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that Stephen Hawking is a very intelligent person. Reading his book let me understand the way the universe works. Just what I was looking for.
richierich1 More than 1 year ago
Not exactly sure why i'm forced to remark about this book.