EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

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MODERN CLASSICS/POPULAR READS > A Brief History of Time - *SPOILERS*

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Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) This discussion is for the September 2018 Modern Classic/Popular Read of A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. SPOILERS ALLOWED. For the spoiler free discussion, please see the Pre-Read thread.


message 2: by Larka (new)

Larka Fenrir (larkafenrir) | 5 comments I read it this spring... it has been sitting on my shelves for I-don't-even-want-to-remember how long, but I only picked it up when Hawking sadly passed away.
I thought it was going to be a difficult book, but instead it was a pleasant reading and the explanations so well written (even for a person with so little knowning on the argument) it was simply amazing.
I have to thank him for all the other science books I read afterwords (and I'm still reading) and most of all for the feeling of excitment and discovery of something bigger than me, bigger than humanity itself, something I wouldn't even dreamt of understand before him... thanks Stephen for unlocking my eager to learn.
I know it's an abused statement, but this book literally changed my life.


message 3: by Megan (new)

Megan | 402 comments I read this in high school, when it first came out. I remember being impressed with its accessibility. I’ll have to reread it now. 😉


message 4: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments I liked the joke in Ch. 1:
When [St. Augustine was] asked:
"What did God do before he created the universe?"

Augustine didn't reply: "He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions."

"Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe."

Interesting to read in Ch. 2 that Einstein's general theory of relativity establishing that space and time are dynamic and not absolute leads to the work of Hawking and Penrose that the "universe must have a beginning, and possibly, an end".


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 568 comments This book broke my brain, but I learned a number of new things, anyway. I wish I was as smart as astronomers and physicists, but it is the math which I will never comprehend, so.


message 6: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) | 1058 comments I gave up. I've learned so much since even the updated version of this was released, in 1996? 98? that I'm sure this isn't relevant any more. Any further questions I can get answered from DeGrasse, TED talks, etc.


message 7: by Eleanor (new)

Eleanor Afton (haileyeleanor) | 4 comments I find it hilarious that the Greeks had a theory that the earth was round and yet there's still skeptics today.


message 8: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments Interesting story in the post today on the discovery of pulsars:

pulsars


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) Cheryl wrote: "I gave up. I've learned so much since even the updated version of this was released, in 1996? 98? that I'm sure this isn't relevant any more. Any further questions I can get answered from DeGrasse,..."

I feel similarly Cheryl. I like to read in-depth articles or watch documentaries on these subjects but not too interested in this type of read.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 568 comments Jerome wrote: "Interesting story in the post today on the discovery of pulsars:

pulsars"


Bell Burnell discovers pulsars, her mentor wins the top prize and cash, but all journalists want is to see Burnell's tits? Ffs.


Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) Jerome wrote: "Interesting story in the post today on the discovery of pulsars:

pulsars"


Yes! Burnell deserves recognition, and I am glad she is getting some. Too bad the Nobel Prize still isn’t hers though.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I'm through the first three chapters. There's a lot of history which I like and also it's been a refresher on my high school physics class. Looking forward to the rest of it.


message 13: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments I finished the first three chapters as well. Most interesting is that after Hawking wrote his dissertation proving that a singularity led to an expanding universe in a Friedmann open or flat model. Then the Russian scientists opposed this "because of their Marxist belief in scientific determinism", and now Hawking has changed his mind and is "now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe".

I am no physicist, but I find the idea of a singularity compelling. What do you think?


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Jerome wrote: "I am no physicist, but I find the idea of a singularity compelling. What do you think?"

I'm interested to read his argument which I assume is later in the book.


message 15: by Kerri (last edited Sep 12, 2018 12:15PM) (new)

Kerri | 702 comments I just finished this today and wow, what a ride! There were times I seriously thought my brain would explode if I thought any harder about what he was talking about, and a lot of times I just had to smile and nod and move along. Fascinating information though.

There was one point in chapter 9 The Arrow of Time that really got me thinking weird though. It's when he starts thinking that maybe when the universe switches from expanding to collapsing, the amount of disorder would decrease and basically time would start going backwards. So people would start old and decrease in age as they went - and I just thought of everyone rising from their graves being like, "yo! I'm back!" and wandering around until getting sucked back into their mother. I just about lost it.

I really like that Hawking was big enough to own up to his mistakes, or things he thought were right but now were shown to be wrong. He didn't shy away or be like, "oh, I am so smart, I know all things and have never believed anything that hasn't held up over the years". He acknowledged that things he believed and supported have changed with the advance of science and knowledge and shows his own growth. It really added to his humor, charm, and personality that showed through the whole book and made it so approachable.

I wish I was smart enough to discuss this more because there were so many cool things in it, but I am returning it to the library today and know that I will not retain very much at all beyond "the universe is a crazy cool, amazing place".


message 16: by Joanna (new)

Joanna | 48 comments Oh wow, I’m not finished... I’m finding this hard going. I’m getting the ideas as they are explained (mostly), and they are fascinating. But I know like a goldfish, by the next day they’ll be gone from my brain! 😏


message 17: by Allison (new)

Allison (allipie77) | 31 comments This book was hard to digest, but Hawking made it as digestible as possible. This book made me question a lot of things that I thought were true. It was more interesting than my high school physics class, and I found myself linking this book into other knowledge that I had learned from other sources.

One of the most interesting things was the concept that instead of having a Big Bang and a Big Crunch, the universe is self contained, like a globe, with the “beginning” of time at the North Pole and the “end” of time at the South Pole. Along the lines of latitude, is space. Space is moving towards the South Pole (going forward in time), but it is not moving up towards the North Pole (going backwards in time) because of laws and forces that govern our universe.

I found the principle of antimatter a little confusing, especially when he talked about how antimatter can sometimes be observed as going backwards in time, and how it radiates from outside the event horizon of a black hole.

I just hope I got a good enough grasp on the subject!


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Joanna wrote: "Oh wow, I’m not finished... I’m finding this hard going. I’m getting the ideas as they are explained (mostly), and they are fascinating. But I know like a goldfish, by the next day they’ll be gone ..."

That's completely understandable. Most of us don't spend our days thinking about quasars and black holes and subatomic particles. For most of us this is pretty exotic stuff and our brain eventually deletes it so it can make way for memorizing the grocery list.


message 20: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Peer I just started and I was surprised at how readable it is! I'm not saying I find everything easy to understand, but at least I feel like I can keep going with it. :)

Looking forward to learning a bit more. :)


message 21: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments I'm reading this slowly. Just finished chapter 4. The uncertainty principle is fascinating, and Hawking makes the point that philosophers are still struggling with its meaning. So reality is probabilistic rather than deterministic at its core.


message 22: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Peer I'm reading a chapter a day just so I don't tire out my brain! :D

Anyone else had their mind blown when they read in Chapter 2 that "when we look at the universe, we're seeing it as it was in the past"?!


message 23: by Joanna (new)

Joanna | 48 comments Stephanie, I believe my brain was blown by every chapter at some point! 😏. The brain blowing was followed by brief moments of “eureka! I get this bit, I’m so smart!!”, “wait no...what now?”, reread...”ok maybe it’s not essential to the rest of this chapter if I don’t get this bit”...move on.

I was excited to finish it, I conclude that the universe is incredible...and Stephen Hawkin was a whole evolutionary stage (or two) beyond me.

Anyone else enjoy the short bios of Einstein, etc. at the end? It was like the cheese at the end of a long incomprehensible maze for me. Makes me want to read more bios about those guys.

And can someone explain to me AGAIN what exactly a singularity is? No wait, please don’t.


message 24: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Peer Joanna wrote: "Stephanie, I believe my brain was blown by every chapter at some point! 😏. The brain blowing was followed by brief moments of “eureka! I get this bit, I’m so smart!!”, “wait no...what now?”, reread..."

That pretty much describes my reading experience so far. Hopefully I can feel like you once I finish. :)


message 25: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) For those that are having a hard time finishing this book,don't feel too bad. I just read (in a review for a different book) that this book was the the best selling DNF (did not finish) book of all time. I don't know who would/could actually measure that, but quite a few goodreads members shelved is as unfinished, abandoned, or similar terms.


message 26: by Ninna (new)

Ninna | 9 comments Joanna wrote: "Oh wow, I’m not finished... I’m finding this hard going. I’m getting the ideas as they are explained (mostly), and they are fascinating. But I know like a goldfish, by the next day they’ll be gone ..."

LOL! I'm right there with you, Joanna! When I'm reading it, I'm like "I totally understand this" and then someone asks me to explain what I just read and I'm like "uhhhh...stars are pretty!"lol! But I'll keep trying and reading and, hopefully, one day I'll find that it all sunk in afterall. :-)


message 27: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments Finished Chapter 5. Amazing to think that the proton and electron were identified in 1911, while the neutron and all other subatomic particles were discovered in just the past 100 years.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Jerome wrote: "Finished Chapter 5. Amazing to think that the proton and electron were identified in 1911, while the neutron and all other subatomic particles were discovered in just the past 100 years."

It makes one wonder what we will find next? Science seems to be like an onion, and every time you think you're getting to the center you discover another layer.


message 29: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Peer I'm not sure I'm going to be able to finish this by the end of November. I've reserved the audio version of this book from the library. Hopefully it'll help!


message 30: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) Don't worry Stephanie, the discussions stay open forever.

I will probably not read this one until after Christmas. I tend to want non fiction after the holiday. See you then if your still reading.


message 31: by Satrina (new)

Satrina T | 353 comments I'm just beginning chapter 8 and I'm so relieved to see I'm not the only one struggling with it.

Also, I feel Joanna describes perfectly what my reading experience has been so far including the re-reading -multiple times- part.


message 32: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Peer Renee wrote: "Don't worry Stephanie, the discussions stay open forever.

I will probably not read this one until after Christmas. I tend to want non fiction after the holiday. See you then if your still reading."


Thanks Renee! I'm glad that the 'deadlines' aren't so strict! :)


message 33: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments By the way, one thing that was left unexplained in Chapter 5 was not the composition of all matter in the universe, but the nature of the very human disagreements at Cambridge, that led to the forced resignations of two Nobel prize winners between 1945 and 1965, including James Chadwick, the discoverer of the neutron. Anyone know what happened? Sounds like an interesting premise for a book.


message 34: by Sue (new)

Sue | 1 comments I am about half way through and finding it really tough. No scientific background . I got the illustrated version from the library and it should have helped ....... Liking the new words though!


message 35: by Tori (new)

Tori | 923 comments Mod
Like many of you I had to take my time and read this book one chapter at a time, but I learned a lot! I understand how Doppler works now, I understand a lot more than I used to about black holes, I am amazed at how quickly we discover new things now when compared to the past, and there were some nice refreshers from my high school science classes.

I'm curious to know, since we also read Astrophysics for People in a Hurry in this group, which one did everybody like more?

For me personally I like A Brief History of Time better. I thought it went a little more in depth and I enjoyed the glimpses of how the scientist community works (more or less) together. That being said, I might recommend Astrophysics more, just because I think it appeals more to someone who isn't so scientifically inclined.


message 36: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments I also vote for A Brief History of Time, at least in my edition. It is more ambitious, more detailed, and has much more to offer particularly in the illustrations accompanying the text in The Illustrated A Brief History of Time/The Universe in a Nutshell


message 37: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments I enjoyed reading this (when I could understand it), but I still doubt the existence of wormholes, but there have been other theoretical structures that were difficult to imagine, yet were later discovered to exist such as gravitational waves, antimatter, quarks, etc. What are some structures that were hypothesized to exist that were later shown to not exist (i.e., the planet Vulcan)?


message 38: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Peer I finally got the audiobook from the library! It was such a long wait! I've 're-read' the first few chapters, but honestly, the guy reading it has the most boring voice which kind of makes me very sleepy, so it's going slowly. Hopefully I'll actually be able to finish this now it's started it. :D


message 39: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments It was a struggle in print and took me a long time to get through, so best of luck. I admire his creativity, but since there's no way I can understand the math or physics, I had to keep my focus on the big ideas. I'm still not convinced about wormholes, however.


message 40: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Peer Gosh! This is quite something to get through! I wish I'd done physics at school and not chemistry... Maybe then I'd be able to understand some of the concepts in the book. But, I do appreciate that Hawking incorporates all the science up to the time of publication to give a full picture of what he's talking about. And he does attempt to simplify what he's saying for us non-scientists, but still, it's hard going.


message 41: by Jerome (new)

Jerome (tnjed01) | 31 comments The first photograph EVER of a black hole was just announced.

First black hole photograph


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 568 comments Jerome wrote: "The first photograph EVER of a black hole was just announced.

First black hole photograph"


Isn't it thrilling! I was clapping my hands all day today!


message 43: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 5 comments I had picked this up from a used bookstore years ago, attempted to read it several times, and it ended up languishing on my bookshelf. The physical copy is no longer in my possession as of 2012 when I pared down my collection due to space issues. I did manage to pick it up on amazon when various kindle books were on sale for $0.99. If anyone needs a copy, that's a good place to check if the library isn't an option.


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