A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

2 04 2010


I have never really been interested in astronomy, cosmology nor physics but I happened to have a copy of this book in audio form so I gave it a try.  I can definitely say that I became fascinated by the book and its contents, listening to it twice in one week.

A Brief History of Time – From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking tells a story of how us humans have thought the universe to look like through the ages.  Hawking starts his tale when the common believe was that the earth was flat and carried by a tortoise and goes through the evolution of science and physics up until our times.  Along the way Hawking explains the theories as they are developed, theories like Copernicus’ theory of the earth orbiting the sun, the contributions of Galileo Galilei to astronomy, Newton’s laws of gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity and finally newer theories in cosmology and quantum physics.  Hawking also speculates on what role a divine creator or god can have in the creation of the universe and in its workings there after.  This role changes drastically as science advances

Not only is Hawking one of the most brilliant minds of our era and a leading scientist in theoretical physics, he also has a fantastic ability to explain extremely complex theories in a simple manner – so simple that I got some them (I had to listen twice though :) – and this is one of the strengths of the book.  Hawking also has a good sense of humor in a nerdy kind of way, which fits the book perfectly. 

I’m not going to pretend that I understood everything in the book but I think that I got a good deal.  The theories get more complex after Einstein’s theory of relativity but I felt that I could follow all along while listening even though I’m not sure I could explain any of it to another person ;)

When reading a paper book one can always read slowly, re-read hectic lines and pause to digest the content as is necessary when reading about as complex matters as in this book.  This is not so easy when listening to an audio book and that is one of the faults of this form.  While listening to this book I had to stop often, rewind and listen again and still I didn’t feel like I got it all and therefore I listened to the book again a few days later.  I’m sure that I’ll read the book again later in a paper form and enjoying the pictures will be a big plus!

The only fault with the (audio) book in my opinion was the reading – by no other than Michael Jackson – though probably not THE late Michael Jackson that first comes to mind.  It felt at times like Jackson was reading the book for the first time.  This part should definitely have been done better.

All in all the book was fantastic and I’m sure that I’ll be looking for other books  by Mr. Hawking in the future.  I would recommend it to anyone curious about the world we live in, how it came about, how it evolved and how it will end.

Previous book reviews can be found here.



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