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

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  5,889 ratings  ·  162 reviews
The Illustrated A Brief History of Time

In the years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time has established itself as a landmark volume in scientific writing and an international publishing phenomenon. The book as on the cutting edge of what was then known about the nature of the universe, but since that time there have been extraordinary
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472 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1996)
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J.

figure 1: Me reading this book and just casually stirring my tea telekinetically...

A Brief History of Time is just one of those books I had always wanted to read but never got around to. I remember seeing it in Borders *pours some out* back when I was 13 or 14, and being really drawn to the concept. At that time in my life I wanted to know a bit about everything like law (check), medicine (check), and cooking (check plus, if I do say so myself).

I found this edition to be quite cool because it r
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Brian Bruns
Both books back to back was a good thing. While the second was decidedly less mathematical than the first, it helped that all the complicated ideas (or, rather, numerous theories) were all fresh in my head. A Brief History of Time is stuff that can be introduced by a zillion TV documentaries nowadays, of course, but the benefit of the book is that it explains exactly why we know so much of what we know. This can, and frequently does, involve some higher thinking, which Stephen does an admirable ...more
Richard Houchin
Stephen Hawking is a brilliant man whose greatest contribution to society is not his science, but his ability to write about difficult concepts in simple language. His sense of humor is greatly appreciated. Hawking makes learning fun!
Matty Smith
There's a reason I never took physics...

And that all of my science credits for my BA consist of studying the biographies of Copernicus, Galileo, and Einstein.

This stuff is COMPLICATED, y'alls.

I read Brief History of Time in high school as an assignment for Non-western Civilization from one of the best teachers I ever had. Still not sure how the assignment tied in with the class but I suppose that's neither here nor there. It was something that always stuck with me and when I saw the opportunity
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Julien V
This was way harder to read than I would've thought, being a worldwide "popular science" bestseller. It's probable that most people bought that book and just kept it on their coffee table to impress visitors. Some stuff about black holes and the life of the universe simply blew my mind. In the later chapters, I had a hard time distinguishing proper science form boundless speculations, but I guess that's the state of the art in quantum physics meeting general relativity (whew!). Other chapters ma ...more
Galicius
I am reading Hawking’s Brief History of Time (1996) very slowly because not having a science background it’s like reading in a foreign language which I only partly understand, similar to my reading in Russian. Hawking has two long chapters on black holes. After having struggled through these chapters I was shocked to hear the science news on January 22, 2014 from Professor Hawking that "The absence of event horizons means that there are no black holes, in the sense of regimes from which light ca ...more
Lon
Some nice updates since the publication of Brief History of Time, which I loved, but not much here for those of us looking for some satisfying extension of his earlier primer on theoretical physics. His treatment of string theory piqued my curiosity, but ultimately led me to check out Brian Greene's Elegant Universe for a more extensive treatment of string theory. I'm reading that now, and I'm seeing that Greene is a little better at finding the best metaphors for elucidating abstractions like t ...more
Andrew
The universe is a pretty crazy place, and the deeper you look, the wilder it gets. In The Illustrated A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking takes us on a journey into the unknown. Black holes, time travel, and the fate of the Universe are all here, explained in surprisingly understandable terms. Obviously there is no way to fully explain cutting edge physics to laypeople, but Hawking does incredibly well none the less. I found myself beginning to grasp some pretty fundamental concepts that I ...more
Mitch
There are many styles of reading. One can skim a book once, then use it as reference in the future. Or one can carefully pour over every word, trying to absorb every possible nuance that an author weaves through his work. I think neither approach is appropriate for most readers of this book.

The central theme of this book is the human quest for understanding, with a sub-theme of balancing the anthropic principle: "Intelligent beings should not be surprised if they observe that their universe sati
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Dru
I'm torn about this book. On the one hand, it's a needed addition to the world to have an approachable tome on quantum theory and relativity. And the addition of illustrations helps *some*, though not as much as you'd think.

The problem, I have to say, lies with Stephen Hawking himself. I have to say that the guy comes off as an egotistical asshole through his writing. Let me break this down into a few points:

1) He is *not* a very clear author. As a scientist myself, I am used to going through hi
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Jonathan
Nov 27, 2011 Jonathan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those seeking a good introduction to modern physics
Shelves: non-fiction
Life, the universe, and everything. We know the answer (42), but have we learned to ask the question? In these two books, conveniently collected into one exceedingly well-produced volume, Stephen Hawking sets forth the fundamental thinking underlying modern cosmology. From this vantage point, he also probes some of those deeper questions which naturally follow from the empirical study.

The first of the selections is A Brief History of Time, Hawking’s bestselling primer on astrophysics. Though t
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Brian
Got sucked into this one rather like into a black hole. After having my mind stretched nearly to the point of having all preconceived notions torn apart, I emerge into an "elsewhere", as if into a parallel universe (or some other place and time of our own).

In other words, I learned a few things from this book. Really readable for the armchair astronomer/physicist, and highly suitable for those more interested in the ideas of physics without having to perform the mechanics of it (although, a larg
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Theresa
A highly readable overview of cosmology that's good for high school physics students or anyone interested in theories about the universe. I would also include elementary students in that recommendation but Hawking at a couple of different points mentions Penthouse magazine and gambling and hell and I just don't think that's age appropriate for 10 year olds. The illustrations are largely unneeded as Hawking's writing is pretty descriptive on its own. Also, many of the pictures don't really add an ...more
Isreal
Boo...He needs a brief history into a theory with little proof. He was way ahead of his time and that is ok as well. At least I got something interesting to read. Reading the same shit with the same story line is getting really boring...And you wonder why I drink...
Thomas
I've only read the first of the two books in this volumne but BHofT literally blew my mind. I'm glad I bought the illustrated version because the graphs and diagrams helped me to understand a lot of the concepts that would otherwise have been incomprehensible. I admit there were times when the technical aspects of the book found me nodding off and there were more than a few pages that I had to read at least 3 times before I understood what the hell it was talking about...but overall this book to ...more
Jayme
I definitely enjoyed A Brief History of Time more than The Universe in a Nutshell. I found it more accessible and enjoyable to read. But I learned a lot of stuff reading both of these and I'm really glad I chugged my way through them. The illustrations in this edition really made it easier to follow along to. I think if I'd read this in a purely text book, I would have gotten lost. The pictures give a nice break to those of us reading a little out of our depth.
Pablo
I think this is a great read especially the illustrated version. Reading this was more benefecial than any physics class ive taken.
Alexander
Popularization of the current research in physics. Black holes, M-Theory, etc...
Evan Kostelka
I really enjoyed this book. Stephen Hawking does a brilliant job of describing advanced scientific theories to the lay person. There are definitely still some concepts way over my head, though. He begins by walking you through a lot of the early advances in science before hitting you with a few chapters about black holes and wormholes. Then he goes through the evolution of ideas about the origin and fate of the universe. He concludes with some comments on the so-called 'Grand Unified Theory' whi ...more
Dan
oooh... Pictures!
Temporal (Anthony Adams)
An Illustrated Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell explores the various subjects that go into the question: "Where are we, and how did we get here?", with the word "we" being aimed at the universe. From the contributions of Albert Einstein, to the lesser-known findings of James Chadwick, A Brief History of Time deals with matter in general, and how it relates to time and space.

The theory that Hawking refers to, the Theories of Relativity, extensively describing the relevance of
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Stevelvis
This large hardback book is an illustrated version of two books by Stephen Hawking written in the 1980s and 1990s. Meant as introductions of the scientific theories of the universe for the less studied masses it is only partially successful.

As a review of scientific theories through history up to Einstein it does an excellent job of both teaching and entertaining. The early chapters in the books may serve as a nice highschool refresher course for some readers while beginners will find the concep
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Kipi
This is actually two books in one, and I have now read the first half, The Illustrated A Brief History of Time. I passed over this book the first time I saw it at Borders. Just knowing Stephen Hawking's reputation, it seemed a little intimidating. But I love star gazing. When I was a little girl, my dad had a small telescope that he set up in our backyard, and he would show us the moon and the planets and the stars. It was wonderful. I wish that I had had a high school science teacher who could ...more
Ben Babcock
Welcome to our universe. We only get one (regardless of however many there are). The search for a more complete understanding of our universe, out into the macroscopic and deep into the quantum foam, is a search for an understanding of who we are, why we're here . . . and where we might end up. This is a book of sublime thought that takes the ivory tower and turns it into an ivory ladder that anyone, given inclination and opportunity, can choose to ascend, one rung at a time. I cannot emphasize ...more
Michael
A Brief History of Time:
Finished reading it for the second time. In between, I have watched two DVD-courses, one about basic physics (physics in your everyday life) and one about modern physics/time. Now I can understand the problems that I had when I read the book the first time.

Even though it is written in a way to be understood by "normal" people (non-scientists), I think it is very difficult to understand modern physics if you do not have some basic understanding of classical physics. He pre
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Jason
Oct 18, 2012 Jason rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Quantum Curious; 'Big Bang' fans
While carousing my local bookshop, I had passed by this book for what could have been perceived as the tenth-to-infinite time and decided that it was time. Time to open my Schrödinger box and see if the cat of my understanding of Hawking could be definitively considered alive or dead. Those of you who may have been familiar with my forays into the physical sciences (see my review of 'The Disappearing Spoon') know that this was a dubious endeavor. I am proud to say that the cat was not dead, but ...more
Kassie
This was a difficult read, but still enjoyable. Lots of things stuck with me... questioning why we remember the past and not the future. And that every particle has an antiparticle which it can annihilate. Everything about black holes is just amazing. I'm not going to lie, quite a lot of this passed over my head. It's hard reading! But I like the challenge and making my brain hurt. I felt exhausted after reading this book, but much more knowledgable about our universe.
Blair
I was up in Northern Ontario (near Parry Sound) at a friend's cottage during undergrad....it was a drunken mess, and in the wee hours I found the original pre-illustrated edition of this book on a shelf and started into it. I read about on e half that night, and the second half the next night - under similarly chaotic circumstances. I'd always loved science and physics. If it weren't for writing they'd be my first loves. But I've got no head for the math of physics, so alas I turned to philosoph ...more
Broodingferret
I really like Hawking's writing. His style is surprisingly approachable, considering the density of the subject. Though A Brief History of Time started to get a bit difficult by the end, The Universe in a Nutshell made up for it. Both books cover essentially the same topics, but I highly recommend reading both in order, as seeing the various topics covered in a more technical way in A Brief History of Time and then seeing it all again in The Universe in a Nutshell, which was written several year ...more
Geoff
While many of the late-90s illustrations are unnecessary, others do help grasp concepts such as 'Light Cones' and types of universes. A Brief History of Time lays the theories out chronologically [in the 4th-dimension?:] so one builds slowly to Hawking's 1980s theories. The Universe in a Nutshell is an update of the earlier book, and helps tie it all together a little better.

Hawking has a sense of humor that will hit you when you least expect it. For example, after an entire chapter about whethe
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Stephen William Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 in Oxford, England. His parents' house was in north London, but during the second world war Oxford was considered a safer place to have babies. When he was eight, his family moved to St Albans, a town about 20 miles north of London. At eleven Stephen went to St Albans School, and then on to University College, Oxford, his father's old college. Ste ...more
More about Stephen Hawking...
A Brief History of Time The Grand Design The Universe in a Nutshell A Briefer History of Time Black Holes and Baby Universes

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