Khalid's Reviews > A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
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's review
Jun 22, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: already-read
Read in May, 2004

This book discusses the origin of the universe, its future, and the way it could have developed to its current state, and bases all that on physics. It dives into the part of physics whose sole aim is to devise a unified theory that describes everything in the universe, or at least do that as much as possible.

The book starts out by discussing theories as they developed, beginning with theories we all are familiar with and consider trivial, and then showing how they have proven to be wrong in describing special events. After that it dives into the theory of relativity, and shows how this theory fails at a certain point. Following that, it discusses quantum mechanics, which seems to become important at the point where the theory of relativity failed.

Then, the book goes on trying to combine these theories along with other ideas to reach the unified theory. It does not exactly get there by the end of the book, but this does not make the book any less wonderful.

A Brief History of Time is not a source of information as much as a mind opener. It provides a new vision of the world, in a form of an interesting model. It does not delve into the physics part of these theories as much as the philosophical part. It shows how human thought tries to solve the problems they have, and more importantly, that we always do not know the full truth, even when we think we do.

Theories discussed in this book all had problems. Many of them we could not even find observations for that match the predictions. However, they are the result of thoughts. They are sometimes merely put based on what we observe, and one more observation simply destroys them.

According to [Stephen Hawking], it has not been proven that time travel is impossible. It has not been done, and it is not likely that it would, but he provides an explanation on how this could be made, if the universe matched some certain models.

This book also shows one very interesting thing. It shows that a big part of science is an attempt to prove the inexistence of God. They keep trying, and it gets harder every time they go further. And even at the end, when Stephen Hawking could get to describe a self-contained boundary-less universe, there was the question of how this universe came to be.

Even if we try to model a perfectly self-contained universe in which no supreme intervention is needed, this does not mean that 1) supreme intervention is not possible, and 2) this universe created its own. The fact that the universe is very sophisticated only suggests that thought should have been put into it, and that it is not created by random.

There is a theory called the anthropic theory, which I understand as: The universe is the way it is because this is the only way there could have been intelligent beings who would at the end ask "How did the universe come to be that way?" and question their very own existence. I personally find this theory very cyclic, and see that it simply calls for the thought of the existence of God anyway.

Another way to get away from the idea of God was to suggest that an infinite number of universes exist, and that we live in this one because it is the one whose properties are suitable for our life. Nice explanation, but why is it more 'sensible' than the idea of a supreme being? It is so simply because it does not expect you to believe in a supreme being, I suppose. I do not deny the thought that God could have created various universes, but that is beside the point.

At any rate, I am just simply providing some of the thoughts that result from reading this book. I enjoyed it to the fullest, and I intend to read its sequel, The Universe In a Nutshell sometime in the future.
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