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A Brief History of Time

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  241,951 ratings  ·  7,321 reviews
Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history, wrote the modern classic A Brief History of Time to help non-scientists understand fundamental questions of physics and our existence: where did the universe come from? How and why did it begin? Will it come to an end, and if so, how?

Hawking attempts to deal with these questions (and where we mig
Hardcover, First Edition, 198 pages
Published 1988 by Bantam Books
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Mohammad Saleheen When I was reading the chapter black holes ain't so black, man you can't express that kinda feeling in words! Only comparable feeling is the one with…moreWhen I was reading the chapter black holes ain't so black, man you can't express that kinda feeling in words! Only comparable feeling is the one with reading 'pale blue dot'. Goosebumps all the way!(less)

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4.16  · 
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 ·  241,951 ratings  ·  7,321 reviews

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Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physics, cosmology
This book puts me in mind of the story about how a Harvard number theorist, through some malfunction of the scheduling computer, got assigned to teach an introductory course in pre-calculus. Being one of those individuals to whom math came so easily that they couldn't grasp how difficult others found it, the professor had no idea what to cover in such a course.

So, he went to the chair of the department, who told him: "You'll want to start with the real number-line and then progress to inequalit
It is not clear to me who is in the target audience for this book. At times it tries to explain basic concepts of modern physics in simple language, and at other times it assumes a familiarity with the same subject. For the first time I think I "understand" why absolute time is not consistent with relativity theory or that space-time curvature supplants the notion of gravity, and for that I thank the author. There are a few other things I believe I have a glimpse of having (finally) slogged thro ...more
Jason Koivu
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Isn't it amazing that a person can read a book like A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and come away feeling both smarter and dumber than before he started? What a universe we live in!

It's quite short and generally a quick read. Not every page is filled with mind-blowing/numbing theories and brain-busting equations. Some of it is just history, say on Newton and such. However, there were a few pages worth of passages where my wee brain felt like it was getting sucked into a black hole...m
David Sarkies
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like physics but are not physicists
Recommended to David by: John Lennox
Shelves: science
Things I learnt from Stephen Hawking
11 October 2014

Ever since I took up physics in year 11 I have had a love affair with the subject, which is odd since I went on to study an arts/law degree (but that probably had something to do with the fact that I would not have had the staying power to pour all of my energy into helping human knowledge advance towards establishing a unified theory). I still wonder where I ended up getting this book, and it had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while (pro
Ahmad Sharabiani
A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes
What is it that our eyes do that could possibly affect things? Stephen Hawking
A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes is a popular-science book on cosmology (the study of the universe) by British physicist Stephen Hawking. It was first published in 1988. Hawking wrote the book for nonspecialist readers with no prior knowledge of scientific theories.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز چهارم ماه مارس سال 1996 میلادی
عنوان: تاریخچه زمان
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Stephen Hawking writes in a very simple and approachable way. On the surface the book has been written for the common man, for he who has little knowledge of theoretical physics.

Hawking uses basic terminology and he tries not to overload his writing with explanations and information dumps, but at times it is very clear that the reader needs a certain level of knowledge to understand what he's talking about. As such, Hawking makes certain assumptions as he shifts from concept to concept which le
Simon Clark
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely magical book, both objectively and for me specifically. I first read it when I was about 9 or 10, and ever since I've assumed that I didn't understand a thing, and read it as a childish boast. Fast forward nearly twenty years, degree and PhD in physics in hand, and I decided to give it a proper read. Much to my surprise I found that the book had permeated my brain! I remembered a huge number of the explanations, and the book resonated with the way I've thought about physics ...more
Jun 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“The universe doesn't allow perfection.”
― Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time


I know. I know. I both loved and hated this book. I definitely should never have read this book, cut the pages, opened the box, etc.. Somehow Stephen Hawking has written a book that gently fluffs the tail on Schrödinger's cat (or perhaps Schrödinger's cat is fluffing Dr. Hawking).

Look, no doubt the guy is a genius and has a fantastic story (ALS, computer voice, nurses, Black Holes, strippers, movies, etc). My pro
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Apparently this book tops the world list of "bought but not read", which may explain why it's so universally acclaimed as a work of genius. If you know anything much about relativity or cosmology, it comes across as a potboiler, admittedly a well-written one with a great final sentence. I wasn't impressed.

But... without it, we would never have had MC Hawking. If you haven't come across him, start with the lyrics to "E = MC Hawking". Then buy A Brief History of Rhyme.
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hawking is a brilliant physicist and a true expert in explaining highly complex aspects of our physical universe in terms that can be understood by most lay people.

Where Hawking fails, in my opinion, is his hubris. He proceeds in to the realm of metaphysics and religion in several portions of this book. For instance, in his chapter on the "arrow of time", he states that, essentially, the universe can only move in one direction of time. It cannot go backwards. He also states that this limits the
Nandakishore Varma
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Manny says this book is in the "bought but not read" category for most people. Well, I'm proud to say that I bought and read it, that too in nearly one sitting - back in my geeky days, when I used to get a sexual high just from solving a hard maths puzzle.

Unfortunately, I don't remember much of it (time for a re-read!) but I remember taking away the idea that time is a sphere. Being Indian, I loved this - because we are strong champions of cyclical time. Also, if time and space are both curved,
Dec 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
The main idea to take away from this book is that time has a clear direction. Entropy is the idea that the universe moves from highly ordered states to less ordered states. If you take the lid off a bottle of perfume, and leave it off for a few days the perfume will go from being highly ordered (all in the bottle) to highly disordered (all over the room).

Hawking uses this idea to explain why travelling back in time is impossible. It requires very little energy to knock a glass over and smash it
Manuel Antão
Oct 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1987
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

On Horse-Flies: "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking

(Original Review, 1987)

Will having read Hawking's book help me understand the way a horse-fly "grasps" the arrow of time?
For starters, I'm great at killing horse-flies by hand. Should I get some black pyjamas and a balaclava and become a ninja? And there was me thinking that the horse-fly's all round vision and short nerve pathway had something to do with their reaction speed.
amy ☂︎
Mar 15, 2018 marked it as on-hold  ·  review of another edition
stephen hawking has always been my favorite person on this planet and his recent passing has finally inspired me - after years and years of putting it off - to pick up his most famous work. i‘m excited to learn more about space, the love of my life.

rest in peace, stephen hawking. what an honor to have lived at the same place and time as you. 💫
Shine Sebastian
Without a doubt a masterpiece!
It's just incredible how Hawking explains to us the complex and mindboggling secrets and concepts of physics and our universe, with amazing wit , clarity, and simplicity.
The questions that we all used to ask to ourselves and to our parents, about god, about time, life and it's meaning, the sky, stars, about who created our universe and about it's beginning, about our fate......
we had that unique quality called curiosity when we were children, but then, as we grew up
Stephen Hawking's book is easy to read, but harder to comprehend. In every chapter came a point where my brain couldn't hold another permutation of a theory, and as the book progressed, I ended up taking the same approach as I do when reading a Norse saga for the first time. With sagas, I just read, even if my brain doesn't seem to retain all the information about who is related to who and what they named their horse. Inevitably, at the end, I have a reasonable basic grasp of the saga, and then ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
A classic text where the amazing Stephen Hawking explains string theory and quantum mechanics "for dummies." Highly readable and even comical, it is a superb read. I need to go back and read this one again myself!
Miquel Reina
Sep 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, this is definitely one of my favorite books of science and my favorite one of Stephen Hawking. I love the way Hawking explains concepts so abstract and difficult to understand as time or black holes. It's a science book for the general public; you don't need to know math or physics to understand the amazing concepts about the Universe he tries to explain us. I totally recommend A Brief History Of Time to everyone, not only the lovers of science.

Spanish version:
Éste es sin duda uno de mis lib
aPriL does feral sometimes
All I can really tell you with certainty is 'A Brief History of Time' is very logically organized, but as each chapter described a series of linked discoveries and what it all meant, unfortunately it mostly was still opaque to me.

Topics are introduced logically as Stephen Hawking describes in plain English the discoveries of scientists. He usually begins with observable phenomena which have led to verified maths (not actually detailed) demonstrating very likely how the Universe, and presumably
John Farebrother
I've read this book twice, and for a brief instant, when reading about event horizons, I got it. But don't ask me to explain it now.
The book explains in lay terms what several decades ago was only understood by a handful of people. Surprisingly, it is not devoid of humour, and is actually very readable. The remarkable author leads the reader on a journey from the earliest premises of the ancient astronomers right up to black holes and white dwarves, and the latest thinking on the future of the u
Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف
Rest In Peace Mr. Hawking, and Thank You

During my time with this text, I made a comment alongside the percentage update I have for books I'm reading on goodreads. I said it was a strange experience to be reading an important and well loved book, only to have the author pass away during the time of said reading. To add to this, I was actually given this book years ago by someone close, and I never made a full start on it until now. So it was as equally saddening as it was surreal when I woke up
Archit Ojha
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-we-own
One of most famous and well written books on Physics. Recommended to the Science enthusiasts.
Kat Kennedy
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Hawking has reaffirmed my understanding that the earth sits on the shell of a tortoise and that it is, indeed, turtles all the way down.

Jolly good show though, chap!
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a review of a non-technical reader.

A very readable and entertaining introduction to recent developments in physics and cosmology, Hawking attempts to deal with questions that bothered the cosmic physics community 20 years ago:

Is the universe finite or infinite in extent and content? Is it eternal or does it have a beginning? Was it created? If not, where did it come from? ? What governs the laws and constants of physics? Why is the universe the way it is? etc.

Glossing over the key aspect
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
It was while reading this that I finally had an "aha" moment about why it is that observation can change what you're trying to observe. I was always kind of skeptical of this, because I was wondering "what is it that our eyes do that could possibly affect things?" Stephen Hawking set me straight: it's the tiny speck of light that you have to shoot at what you're trying to observe that affects it. Light bulb is on!

I have an interest in physics, and I have read quite a few books for the layman abo
Mustafa Ahmad
I've always liked science. But, it has never really been easy to distinguish my favorite subject, as I really like them all, so science is on par with history and math and literature for me.

But, after reading this book and the works of Brian Greene, as well as numerous other popular books on physics, I have seen science in an entirely different light.

If people could still produce intelligent books such as this one, then our world might actually be a fairly pleasant one. I'm not saying that we'r
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a book. So comprehensive, yet written in laymens terms and cranking up the technical information with each chapter, so you don't feel completely lost. By the time you reach quantum mechanics and string theory you almost feel like you know what's happening. Okay, so you still have no idea how any of it works, but that's alright.

I've never felt compelled to read this. A book about space and physics is not my go to reading material and all of it sounds way over my head. However, it's suc
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to 7jane by: my parents' bookshelf
Finally managed to finish this; I think having a reading space quiet enough helped. Here, Hawking talks about such things as the beginning of time, black holes, string theories, dimensions, wormholes and time-travel - things of the universe, and where things are going. There is no Carl Sagan introduction in my version, but there are some newer things included that weren't in the original but have been 'found' since then, like a flavor of quark (top), and new findings in string theory, which are ...more
Sep 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I love math and physics and books that make me feel stupid, as in they are that intelligent. It was interesting learning about the development of science as it refers to the way we think about the universe and how scientific discoveries have been influenced and influence the way people think about God. My favorite section was the discussion of black holes and antimatter.

At times Hawking lost me. He wants to explain theory to the masses, but as he draws near to his own theory, he got
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, scholarship
I've owned this book for some time, and with Hawking's death last month, it seemed appropriate to finally crack it open to see if I could understand any of it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find I was able to digest maybe 75 percent of it, which is pretty good for me and astrophysics. Hawking does an excellent job of breaking down some of universe's hardest concepts to grasp, and if I still couldn't wrap my mind around the notion of imaginary time and remembering the future, it's not his fault.

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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
“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?” 748 likes
“The universe doesn't allow perfection.” 331 likes
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