Introduced by Martin Rees
Spectacular colour images illustrate this highly acclaimed exploration of space and time.
In the 28 years since its first publication, A Brief History of Time has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than 9 million copies in 40 languages sold worldwide. Hawking’s succinct style, coupled with a desire to reveal the elegance behind staggering scientific concepts, has illuminated the secrets of the universe for countless inquisitive readers.
‘What do we know about the universe, and how do we know it? Where did the universe come from, and where is it going? Did the universe have a beginning, and if so, what happened before then?’ Starting with Aristotle, Ptolemy and the birth of physics, Hawking proceeds to tackle the biggest questions about our universe and the nature of time. He deals with Einstein’s theory of relativity, the expanding universe, the big bang, the big crunch, wormholes, black holes, cold stars, pulsars and time travel, and along the way he poses those questions that lie at the heart of human curiosity. Why, for example, do we remember the past and not the future? Is time travel possible and, if so, why haven’t we seen any travellers from the future? Ultimately, Hawking furthers the search for a single unifying theory – an equation that would fuse quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity, bringing us closer to ‘a complete description of the universe we live in’.
With 16 pages of colour and black and white plates as well as a frontispiece, this edition features remarkable illustrations of space that bring Hawking’s universe to life, among them whirlpool galaxies, the eerie spectacle of gas and dust rising through the Eagle Nebula, and Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole that sits at the centre of the Milky Way. In his introduction, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees outlines Hawking’s extraordinary achievements, including how he has helped to usher in an age in which our understanding of the cosmos is greater than it has ever been, and how ‘millions have had their cosmic horizons widened’ by this remarkable work. Published in series with Chaos: Making a New Science. Find out more.
‘Lively and provocative … Mr Hawking clearly possesses a natural teacher’s gifts – easy, good-natured humor and an ability to illustrate highly complex propositions with analogies plucked from daily life’
Stephen Hawking (1942–) was educated at St Albans School and University College, Oxford, where he was awarded a first class honours degree in Natural Science, before pursuing his graduate studies in Cosmology at Cambridge. In his early twenties he was diagnosed as having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease or Motor Neurone Disease in the UK. From 1979 to 2009 he held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking is currently Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP) and Founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (CTC) at the University of Cambridge. He has twelve honorary degrees, was awarded the CBE in 1982 and was made a Companion of Honour in 1989; he is also a Fellow of The Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences. His numerous academic publications include The Large Scale Structure of Space–Time, with G. F. R. Ellis, General Relativity: An Einstein Centenary Survey and 300 Years of Gravity, both with W. Israel. Among his popular books are the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universes (1995), The Universe in a Nutshell (2001), A Briefer History of Time (2005), The Grand Design (2010) and the memoir My Brief History (2013), along with a series of children’s books co-authored with his daughter, Lucy.
Martin Rees (1942–) is a Fellow of Trinity College and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, as well as holding the honorary title of Astronomer Royal. After studying at the University of Cambridge, he held post-doctoral positions in the UK and the USA. In 1973, he became a fellow of King’s College and Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge, and served for ten years as director of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. From 1992 to 2003 he was a Royal Society Research Professor, and then from 2004 to 2012, Master of Trinity College. In 2005 he was appointed to the House of Lords, and was President of the Royal Society until 2010. He is the author, or co-author, of over five hundred research papers, mainly on astrophysics and cosmology, as well as eight books, including Gravity’s Fatal Attraction: Black Holes in the Universe (1995), Our Cosmic Habitat (2001), Universe (2005) and From Here to Infinity: Scientific Horizons (2012).
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Review by NormandySR2 on 10th May 2018