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A Brief History of Time

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  334,780 ratings  ·  9,900 reviews
Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world's greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at ...more
Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Transworld Digital (first published April 1st 1988)
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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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 ·  334,780 ratings  ·  9,900 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
Ahmad Sharabiani
A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, Stephen Hawking

What is it that our eyes do that could possibly affect things?

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.

In A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking attempts to explain a range
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
Sean Barrs
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
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
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
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.
Muhammad Abdullah
This is the first book I have ever read about science.This is one of the best selling book of the century.I have found it really infomative and my interest in science seems to build. This book is free from mathematical equations (except E=mc2) which is the best thing about the book. This book is so simple that even a lay person with basic knowledge of science can understand it.

Stephen Hawking, the author of the book, is one of the well renowned scientists of the century after Einstein. Some peo
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 pr
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
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
Nandakishore Mridula
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,
Saadia B. ||  CritiConscience
Only Hawkings could write this book - simple, to the point and extremely resourceful. Cosmology is not an easy subject neither can everyone understand its deep connotations. Hawkings made it understandable in the most layman terms possible.

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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
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! ...more
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Men can only hope to understand the universe, and if we did, then we would understand the mind of God. Likewise, there are lots of theories in this book I can only hope to understand.

One question I also wanna ask as did Hawking:
“If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?”
This book is not for everyone given it is based on the lecture by Stephen Hawking targeting a specific audience, yet anyone can pick it up and get a glimpse and the scope of the universe and
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Space opera

The Milky Way arch emerging from the Cerro Paranal, Chile, 3 December 2009. Author: Bruno Gilli/ESO

A highly articulate summary of the history of astrophysics and its breakthroughs from its origins to 1996 (updated edition). I wish I had had such an introduction to physics and chemistry when I was in secondary school and high school! The layout of the book allows a layman to follow the development of the discipline and its fields over time, while Stephen Hawking never scorns an evo
Jul 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
★★★ /5

This was an interesting and informative book, but sadly I just couldn‘t grasp everything that it tried to say.
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.
Orhan Pelinkovic
Theoretical Physics from the master himself. It's a great summary, but you need a little background knowledge to understand all the chapters. It's a summary of astrophysics, theoretical physics, and cosmology, and it's hard grasping it all in 200 some pages. I wish it was a little longer.

The definitions at the end of the book are very useful. You will not regret reading the book, but you need some peace and quiet while reading it in order to hopefully understand it.

I've read the A Bantam Book Ed
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
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
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.
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
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!
Kaelan Ratcliffe ▪ 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
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
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
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
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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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"Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete...
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“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?” 784 likes
“The universe doesn't allow perfection.” 380 likes
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