Book Review: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking


Physicists across the world are constantly exploring answers to disclose the hidden secrets of the universe. One renowned name who has recorded unparalleled success in his quest for truth is Stephen Hawking. This astronomical physicist has made extraordinary success in his research related to the black holes. His name is prestigiously recorded in the pages of history for the time to come. Surprisingly, time was a subject that always fascinated Hawking. In his book, A Brief History of Time, Stephen tries to answer some of the most difficult questions in an unpretentious manner to relate to the commoners who otherwise are not related in any way to science or astronomical physics for that matter. Have you ever thought if there has ever been a beginning of time or can time run backward? Does the universe have a boundary or is it simply infinite beyond imagination? Stephen systematically tries to answer these questions and besides, also addresses many other astronomical theories, not to forget his favorite black holes, in the book.

The book has an introduction from the legendary Carl Sagan who vividly expresses his idea and experience with Hawking.

“Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Einstein’s famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe. Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God.” – Carl Sagan

At the beginning of the book, the author puts an in-depth glimpse of the astronomical theories and beliefs dating back to the times of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo. He highlights in great detail the gradual shift in the acceptance of these theories and how these made way for the Newtonian and Einstein theories.

“The concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When 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”

The book further covers the relation between space and time, expansion of the universe including various theoretical models and experiments put up by well-known physicists, detailed explanation of the theory of black holes in a modest language, the idea of singularity, the concept of time travel, gradually moving towards the unified theory, discovering the possibilities of its existence.

“Why do we see only three space and one-time dimension? The suggestion is that the other dimensions are curved up into a space of very small size, something like a million million million million millionth of an inch. It is like the surface of an orange: if you look at it close up, it is all curved and wrinkled, but if you look at it from a distance, you don’t see the bumps and it appears to be smooth”

The book is pure science explained in the simplest possible way. I recommend this book to everyone but particularly, if you have been a fan of sci-fi books and movies, then this book is a must-read to grasp the notions which otherwise look no lesser than magic or well-scripted thriller as you turn the pages or watch it on the big screen. This book was originally published 1988 and more than 10 million copies of the book have been sold so far. This is a good book to put your brain muscles to some exercise and widen your perception about so many universal properties we tend to ignore in our otherwise busy lives, one of which is time.

Price: INR 399 / £8.99

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