Pam's Reviews > A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
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May 05, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction, sci-tech
Read in March, 2009 — I own a copy

A Brief History of Time covers much broader and deeper aspects of physics -- and the universe in general -- than other science books I've read. Because of this, it isn't as easy to get through as those other books, but it isn't, by any means, difficult either. Stephen Hawking presents the hard-to-grasp concepts of physics in such a way that it is understandable to someone without a strong background in physics. He is generous in explaining the details of a concept or theory without making it so complicated that the non-physicist will have no idea what he is talking about.

This is a great read for both scientists and science enthusiasts alike. It gives a brief but very engaging and interesting description of the advances of physics through hundreds of years in our past, and what it means both to our present world and to the future. But more than that, it gives, I think, an insight into the mind of Stephen Hawking.

There were two things about Stephen Hawking that particularly struck me when reading this book. One was that at the time of the writing of this book, he was still on the fence about the non-existence of a "god". If I remember correctly, he had stated a few years back that he does not believe in a "god". But in this book, he was very reluctant to dismiss the idea of a divine being.

Another thing that struck me was Hawking's wit and sense of humor. You can see it here and there in his anecdotes about his work. That surprised me because the image I had of him in my head was that of a very serious scientist who "couldn't tell a joke even if it danced in front of him wearing a tea cozy". And I remember, after realizing that he was not just smart and intelligent but also clever and witty, I remember regretting (or mourning) that people could never see (or hear?) his humor in conversation because of his illness. It is really quite sad.

If I had to make a list of must-read books, A Brief History of Time would most definitely one of them. Not only does it give the reader a good grasp of the state of today's Physics, but it also shows us a brief glimpse into the mind of one of the most respected physicists of our time.
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