Friday, August 24, 2007

Book Review: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

A Brief History of Time is Professor Stephen Hawking's attempt to explain scientific theories of space and time in layman's terms and in doing so he attempts to answer the questions: Where did the universe come from? How did it begin? Will it end and how?

In just 182 pages he explains topics such as black holes, the formation of the universe and the structure of space-time in the simplest terms. However, these simple terms are far from easy to understand and although the main concepts are easy enough to understand, some of the detailed arguments are not so simple to comprehend. This shouldn't put readers off; there was very little that I could not get my head around after two or three reads of a paragraph, and the revelatory nature of some of the facts in this book should not be missed. The affirmation that time is not constant throughout the universe but relative to one's position within it astounded me. In practical terms this means that time runs faster at the top of a mountain than it does at lower altitudes!!!!! This book is worth reading just to get an understanding of this fact alone. Similar mind boggling topics discussed in this book are the possibility of the universe containing 11 dimensions and whether time could run backwards at some point in the universe's evolution.

A Brief History of Time is a rare opportunity to attempt to understand the work of the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein. I have often attempted to understand the concept of the big bang and an expanding universe, and anyone who has had similar thoughts should read this book in order to understand these concepts just a little better.

Score: 8/10

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