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The Universe in Your Hand: A Journey Through Space, Time, and Beyond

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  3,734 ratings  ·  453 reviews
"If Ms. Frizzle were a physics student of Stephen Hawking, she might have written THE UNIVERSE IN YOUR HAND, a wild tour through the reaches of time and space, from the interior of a proton to the Big Bang to the rough suburbs of a black hole. It's friendly, excitable, erudite, and cosmic."
—Jordan Ellenberg, New York Times besteselling author of How Not To Be Wrong

ebook, 256 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Flatiron Books (first published June 3rd 2015)
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Michael Carradice The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinov. Much more accessible than the former book Stephen Hawking, A History of Time. The hand of M…moreThe Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinov. Much more accessible than the former book Stephen Hawking, A History of Time. The hand of Mlodinov can be seen in the introduction of lighter paragraphs to give the reader a break, the way Asimov used to do. Also Mlodinov got to know Feynman (whose work is mentioned extensively in the book) personally when he was a post-doc researcher at Caltech. In this line is worth checking his book Feynman's Rainbow, which is more about the researchers themselves and turning points in life.

Also, you have classics like Paul Davies's The Runaway Universe or Carl Sagan's Cosmos.

If you are interested in the quantum theory, in particular, a good book to check is Jim al-Jalili's Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed.

Here, reviews on The Grand Design:

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Average rating 4.36  · 
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Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: physics
Popular science books about physics seem to fall into three types. Some are dense digging directly into the hard science. While they have much to offer, they can be frustratingly difficult. Some are lightweight resorting to extended analogies and oversimplifications. They can create the illusion of understanding rather than genuine understanding. Others try for the middle ground. Too often these alternate between oversimplifications and detailed science resulting in a disjointed narrative.

Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow this book kicked ass... It was so good, it is a perfect marriage between perfect narrative and interesting context while at the same time not letting anything out . If you are interested in physics, black holes, string theory and quantum science but feel intimidated to read about it, make this your introductory book because it will explain everything in layman terms and you'll have fun learning all the components that make up our known universe while getting a glimpse at our future in scienc ...more
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book has overwhelmed me so much! Such a brilliant description of modern astrophysics in a relatively accessible way. I can only say that I loved it and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in astronomy and astrophysics. 5/5.
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my alltime favourite books on physics for the general reader. Written by Christophe Galfard, who was at one time Stephen Hawking's student, it covers in wonderfully accessible prose all the important events, theories, personalities and gives us a glimpse into what is in store for the future - stuff like Relativity, Quantum mechanics, Black Holes, Origin of the Universe, the birth and death of stars, the Big Bang Theory etc. Galfard's wonderful sense of humour is infectious - I couldn't st ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
67th book for 2019.

Galfard—who amongst other claims to fame, was a graduate student of the late, great Stephen Hawking—has written a excellent general introduction to modern physics as a series of whimsical thought experiments. While thought experiments have a long history in theoretical physics—Einstein used thought experiments to elucidate many of his theoretical insights (e.g., what would it be like if an observer were to travel at the same speed as a beam of light?)—Galfard has taken the rad
Thuong Le
Oct 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
If you’re like me and you are really fascinated by the universe and how it was created (The Big Bang Theory), then you’re going to want to pick this one up! I was browsing in Waterstones, (like I usually do) checking out the new releases when I saw this book, picked it up and thought, ‘I need to read this!’ I’ve had an interest in astronomy ever since I studied a small module of it in Science, but my knowledge of it has not progressed since then, so this book was the perfect opportunity for me t ...more
Miquel Reina
I read this book without any expectations and quickly I realized that this, was an amazing book with an amazing adventure. The book mixes a novelistic structure with a learning style and I loved this combination. I think that the idea of explaining hard and abstract concepts from physics and astronomy using a narrative thread that connects and guides the reader in a kind of journey is perfect. I highly recommend this book to all astronomy and physics fans who want to enjoy a space adventure.

Philippe Malzieu
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Galfard work with Stépane Hawking. Another astrophysician book? What's news? I was not very interested in reading this book. A friend offered it to me in french edition and I must recognize I had pleasure to read it.It is well written and in fact exciting.
Rémi Brague remarked that cosmos etymologically came from beauty, women and jewel. In latin, mundus design cosmos and also female jewelry.
Cosmos, beauty, women. I like this association.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Mind-bending, fascinating, inspiring, and awe-striking. I'll be thinking about what I've read for weeks. What an amazing universe we live in, and how vastly unknown it is. With new discoveries looming just over the horizon, I can't wait (or imagine) the things we'll come to understand; for understanding our universe ultimately means understanding ourselves and how we came to be.
A fantastic read. Simply fantastic.
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: physics
How am I supposed to rate a book that was written by Stephen Hawking's grad student, who is brilliant, when the writing made me dizzy? The description of this book touted it as Miss Frizzle for adults interested in physics. That was an apt description. Galfard took the reader on a chaotic adventure through the world of physics, so chaotic that I feel like I unlearned everything I had previously learned. I found previously familiar subjects hard to follow, simply because of the writing style. Thi ...more
Muhammad Abdullah
This is an amazing read which takes readers to the journey through infinite distances in the far-reaches of the universe. The readers see mind-boggling things throughout the journey and get amazing experiences which one can't imagine in daily life. Galfard did a stupendous job to write such a wonderful book. I really love this book and enjoy it a lot.

This book can be categorized into three parts.

1. The World of Very Lagre

2. The World of Very Small

3. The World of Very Fast

The first two chapt
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is seriously in the running for best non-fiction book I've ever read!
Anyone who knows me knows I love space. I love looking at stars, planets, nebluae, galaxies and everything else out there. The problem, up until this point, has been that I've never properly understood what any of it is. This book changed all that.
It explains everything so clearly. It assumes no knowledge of science at all (thank goodness!) and starts completely from scratch. Over 400 pages you then cover general relativit
May 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My husband enjoys science books and when starts talking about all this intelligent stuff my brain is asleep. Finally a book that makes learning about scientific topics like the universe and time easier to understand and fun at the same time! Even better it's actually for adults! Now I am flaunting my new knowledge at home and once or twice I even got to tell him something he hasn't read about yet! I love this book and hopefully my excited rambling is a good enough review to make you read this aw ...more
Thomas Dietert
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Universe in Your Hand is a remarkable journey through both the very-large and very-small worlds of which most humans could never fathom on their own. It is a special book, one full of nigh-inconceivable conceptions brought to life inside the reader's mind with the tactful aid of Christopher Galfard's prose and deep technical perspectives on all the topics ranging over quantum field theory, particle physics, cosmology, and astrophysics. Gracefully tackling the difficulties of disseminating th ...more
Carol Storm
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Did not finish -- the science was interesting but the author's voice was too cute. Bring back Isaac Asimov!
Brianna Silva
I don't even know how to express my love for this book.

It explains complex scientific concepts in accessible, easy-to-understand terms, by inviting the reader on a narrative journey where they are the protagonist, discovering the wonders of the universe firsthand.

For me, this book awoke a somewhat-dormant love for science that I've had since I was a kid. I feel like my eyes have been opened to a whole new world, and I am in love.

I went from being almost 100% ignorant about physics and space, to
I won't lie, from the outset of this book I was a little bit worried for two reasons: first, because I've reached a point where, because I've read so many popsci books, they all start to sound the same, and therefore just become white noise. Background radiation, if you will. Now, that's obviously not the fault of the book, strictly speaking, but I was hoping that since it was a newer publication, it might have more recent information, especially since the discovery of the Higgs boson and the gr ...more
Empirical Rationalist
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I started this book with no high expectations. And the thought experiment Galfard uses at the beginning felt almost fatuous. But with that feeling, I kept breezing through the book. All chapters are being grouped under 7 overarching parts, and they are tied and flow organically. There is a summary whenever lots of ground is covered. A lot of concepts, which are taken for granted, are being elucidated fantastically. I was irked when he changed the thought experiment setting from just mind to corp ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This was the book that got me into space. It's so beautifully written in a way that is perfectly understandable for someone with minimal knowledge of physics and space in general. It's not a book that just spews out facts but it gives you brilliant imagery so you can very much feel like you actually are on a journey through the cosmos and beyond. Because of this book, I really have developed an even bigger fascination for space and the universe. I have so much love for this book and I think it's ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's a fascinating book even though absorbing and remembering all of this knowledge after just one read seems like an impossible task... What probably means I'll read it again sometime in the future ;)
I will start with the positives. As works of popular physics go, this is genuinely interesting and can hold the attention of a non-genius reader ( i.e. all of us who do not understand physics at all). The book does indeed contain only one equation and it never strays far from common explanations of incredibly, stupidly complicated things. In this regard, the author completely hit the mark. However, particularly in the introductory part, and at times peppered through the book, are narrative piece ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was SO GOOD. I love learning about space, but often ran into formulas and/or concepts that I couldn't grasp. Enter The Universe in Your Hand. Galfard tells you straight up that the only formula he'll use is e=mc2. The rest of the concepts are explained through visualization. You learn about atoms by shrinking down to their size and blackholes by entering one. You tavel through space and experience what it might be like to travel at incredible speeds. It's an incredible way to learn about th ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I can only say good things about this book! I just love everything about it. It has to be one of my favourite all time non fiction books.
Such an all encompassing, insightful view of our universe. Definitely a book to immerse yourself in and get lost amongst the pages as you travel through the stars, black holes, quantum physics and the fundamentals of the universe. I didn’t want it to end !!
Janice Bridger
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was appropriate as my last read of the year! It stretched my mind but allowed me to expand my knowledge of our understanding of the universe.
I was recommended to read it by a physics teacher and was naturally suspicious that it would be beyond me, but was pleasantly surprised for 3/4 of it! You take part in a flight of imagination or gedanken experiment to go to the edges of the visible universe- both large and small! Then travelling very fast (nearly at the speed of light) a
Kristen Kieffer
Actual Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars

Despite learning quite a bit from this book, I DNF'd at roughly the 65% - 70% mark. Galfard's "hands-on" way of explaining the many complex elements of astrophysics was, at first, fun. But as the book continued, the situations and explanations he described became increasingly wacky and, ironically, made the concepts more difficult to understand. I no longer had the patience to devote to unraveling them, so you're all getting a rare DNF sighting from me. Woo.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
This was really good, I enjoyed it, but I don't think I'll ever be able to be a science minded person, least of all a theoretical physicist.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
excellent book to start for someone who would like to get more in depth about universe from macro and micro state point of view, author frequently uses the "what if" scenario to help readers to imagine in different journeys for space and universe exploration and understanding...Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Boson, LHC, Expansion Theory, Black Hole, String Theory, M Theory...good book!
Johannes Bertus
Mar 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Galfard's stated aim is not to leave anyone behind and indeed, I could keep up until the start of the last section. First book of heavy cosmology that could take me that far. Call it Brief History of Time for Normal People.
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
the best science book that i've ever read
Colin Ring
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best and most accessible science books I've read lately. Wow!
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Christophe Galfard is a French physicist and author with a PhD. in theoretical physics from Cambridge University. He is co-author with Stephen Hawking and his daughter on their first YA book, George's Secret Key to the Universe. In the past few years, he has given talks, and written a live show, about our universe attended by more than 130,000 people, of all ages and educational backgrounds.

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Are you having a difficult time reading these days? If so, you're not alone. Since the pandemic began, I've found it harder to concentrate on...
40 likes · 15 comments
“When left alone, quantum particles behave as multiple images of themselves (as waves, really), simultaneously moving through all possible paths in space and time. Now, again, why do we not experience this multitude around ourselves? Is it because we are probing things around us all the time? Why do all experiments that involve, say, the position of a particle make the particle suddenly be somewhere rather than everywhere? No one knows. Before you probe it, a particle is a wave of possibilities. After you've probed it, it is somewhere, and subsequently it is somewhere for ever, rather than everywhere again. Strange, that. Nothing, within the laws of quantum physics, allows for such a collapse to happen. It is an experimental mystery and a theoretical one. Quantum physics stipulates that whenever something is there, it can transform into something else, of course, but it cannot disappear. And since quantum physics allows for multiple possibilities simultaneously, these possibilities should then keep existing, even after a measurement is made. But they don't. Every possibility but one vanishes. We do not see any of the others around us. We live in a classical world, where everything is based on quantum laws but nothing resembles the quantum world.” 13 likes
“A clock that is moving through space at a very fast speed does not tick at the same rate as a slow-moving watch gently attached to your wrist as you stroll on a tropical beach. The idea of a universal time - a godlike clock that could somehow sit outside our universe and measure, in one go, the movement of everything in it, how its evolution unfolds, how old it is and all that - does not exist.” 6 likes
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