A.J.'s Reviews > A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
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Oct 07, 09

bookshelves: science-skepticism
Read in October, 2009

Not a bad foray into the mysteries of time and the origins and fate of the universe. I agree with some reviewers on this site that it's never perfectly clear who the target audience is. While written in simple prose for a layman, the concepts themselves are so baffling at times that it reaffirms why most people go to class to learn this stuff. Questions and the need for clarification abound. I confess that I've never been any good at science or math––so physics, theoretical or otherwise, is out. So while on the one hand books like this are useful to me in that they simplify what would otherwise be Chinese scribbling, a lot of it reaffirms my commitment to not waste my time learning any hard science. Even in its simplified form, I'm struggling at times to keep my head above water.

Hawking's book (and a lot of his other work from what I'm told) delves into the subject of God from time to time. Some would have him stoned for this (don't think fundamentalism is limited to the religious, friends), but from what I can see his inquiries are mild and don't have the slightest influence on his research. The beginning of the universe and the stunning amount of order in it naturally brings about the question how it got this way. Postulating a being beyond the scope of the universe may not be useful as a scientific theory, but it sure feels plausible as an answer. Hawking doesn't take a side in this debate, but at least he doesn't shirk the subject entirely. He theorizes––and that's just fine.

Not a must-read by any stretch, but for non-scientific types Hawking's work is accessible enough to feel like a learning experience even when the concepts are as simple as they can be made. This doesn't mean Hawking is easy to understand––quantum theory is hard even when it's sentences instead of equations––but it's about as good as it's going to get.
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