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

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  7,970 Ratings  ·  208 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
472 pages
Published (first published 1988)
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Andrew Galster I have no background in Physics either. I'm interested in sciences but have no formal training in any topics beyond high school. I found it pretty…moreI have no background in Physics either. I'm interested in sciences but have no formal training in any topics beyond high school. I found it pretty good to understand. Some parts get to be a little much, but overall it's laid out fairly well to build from one principle to the next.(less)
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Darth 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
Brian Bruns
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is gorgeous. Let's get that out of the way. The illustrations and photos go a long way to engage the reader in a way that draws them further into the subject. The language is accessible for anyone who might be interested in reading. Often science books use language that seems to want to repel people from being interested in the subject it's discussing where with this book, you get the sense that Hawking really wants people, and children to learn and understand the concepts that he's ex ...more
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Julien V
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
May 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sep 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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
Oct 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic-science
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
Oct 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Michael Fishman
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Hawking is one of the greatest scientists of our generation. And this book shows not only his breadth of knowledge, but also his uncanny ability to explain even the most esoteric of concepts in simple, sometimes humorous language.

Though the book is slightly outdated, it is a good primer for "what scientists believe about the universe today." It is a survey, so many times it does not go too in depth. There were many chapters that left me scratching my head. I had to read other books to f
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Neel Jaya
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Hawking is a great genius . The man who is always thinking and spending his time to know the aspect's of Time , Light , speed , e.t.c. This is a great book which explained and questioned a lot . For many of the questions we don't have precise answer related to Universe ,Galaxy, Star , Bigbang theory. I have questioned a lot to myself like Anything can travel faster than light, if it happens how would be the time relativity for that object.
Feb 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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.
Mason B
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a amazing book to read if you are interested in science beyond a basic level. I found my self captivated for hours reading this book. Even so it still it took me a couple of times to read to fully understand everything that goes on.
Lisa Mayo
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't help but think how really small we are in the universe. Excellent. Saw Mr Hawking's speak at Cal State LA many years ago. Was overwhelmed by him.
Popularization of the current research in physics. Black holes, M-Theory, etc...
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
oooh... Pictures!
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is a great read especially the illustrated version. Reading this was more benefecial than any physics class ive taken.
Jie-Yun Ling
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently, this book is much more difficult than Does God Play Dice (written by 曹天元). Through each chapter, Stephen Hawking shows us what our world, the universe, is like. Through each chapter, I’ll have to underline those terms, look up these ideas and knowledge to make understanding. Physicists, Mathematicians, and other related scientists are trying to explain the mechanics and dynamics of everything exists. They first think that the world consists of atoms, then atoms to electrons, electron ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book The Illustrated: A Brief History of time composed by the legendary physicist Stephen Hawking is a remarkable explanation of modern scientific understanding. This book covers scientific topics to complicated for most to understand, unless you have a vast background in physics. However, this book does a decently good job at simplifying the text in order to make it easier for the reader to understand. This book covers everything from relativity to quantum mechanics that has to do with grou ...more
Ben Babcock
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
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
Both of the books included here were great. It was just the right mix of things I understood pretty well and things that I really had to take some time to digest to make the whole reading experience so enjoyable. I'm glad I went with the illustrated version, as a lot of the illustrations were not only hugely instructional but also aesthetically spectacular. There are few things as mesmerizing as snapshots of the dust clouds and dyings stars and other stuff floating around out there.
Ryan Smout
Aug 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Well-written and interesting. The best work of its type, I believe. Not personally relevant to me in any practical way, and a little heavy at times. But I'm glad I read it for diversity of background.
Linden A.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mind blown. This is so accessible--definitely recommend this illustrated version--that I feel I have at least a basic understanding of the concepts. Holy cow, fascinating stuff about past and current theories about how the very large scales and very small scales of our world work!
Roger Barnstead
suspect in reward
Chao Yu
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Difficult to understand, but somehow interesting.
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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
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