A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes

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Bantam Books, 1990 - Black holes (Astronomy) - 198 pages
"Stephen W. Hawking has achieved international prominence as one of the great minds of the twentieth century. Now, for the first time, he has written a popular work exploring the outer limits of our knowledge of astrophysics and the nature of time and the universe. The result is a truly enlightening book: a classic introduction to today's most important scientific ideas about the cosmos, and a unique opportunity to experience the intellect of one of the most imaginative, influential thinkers of our age. From the vantage point of the wheelchair where he has spent the last twenty years trapped by Lou Gehrig's disease, Professor Hawking himself has transformed our view of the universe. His groundbreaking research into black holes offers clues to that elusive moment when the universe was born. Now, in the incisive style which is his trademark, Professor Hawking shows us how mankind's "world picture evolved from the time of Aristotle through the 1915 breakthrough of Albert Einstein, to the exciting ideas of today's prominent young physicists. Was there a beginning of time? Will there be an end? Is the universe infinite? Or does it have boundaries? With these fundamental questions in mind, Hawking reviews the great theories of the cosmos - and all the puzzles, paradoxes and contradictions still unresolved. With great care he explains Galileo's and Newton's discoveries. Next he takes us step-by-step through Einstein's general theory of relativity (which concerns the extraordinarily vast) and then moves on to the other great theory of our century, quantum mechanics (which concerns the extraordinarily tiny). And last, he explores the worldwide effort to combine the two into a single quantum theory of gravity, the unified theory, which should resolve all the mysteries left unsolved - and he tells why he believes that momentous discovery is not far off. Professor Hawking also travels into the exotic realms of deep space, distant galaxies, black holes, quarks, GUTs, particles with "flavors" and "spin," antimatter, the "arrows of time" - and intrigues us with their unexpected implications. He reveals the unsettling possibilities of time running backward when an expanding universe collapses, a universe with as many as eleven dimensions, a theory of a "no boundary" universe that may replace the big bang theory and a God who may be increasingly fenced in by new discoveries - who may be the prime mover in the creation of it all. A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME is a landmark book written for those of us who prefer words to equations. Told by an extraordinary contributor to the ideas of humankind, this is the story of the ultimate quest for knowledge, the ongoing search for the secrets at the heart of time and space." --

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About the author (1990)

Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford, England on January 8, 1942. He received a first class honors degree in natural science from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. He was a theoretical physicist and has held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University from 1982 until his death. In 1974, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the world's oldest scientific organization. In 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease confined him to a wheelchair and reduced his bodily control to the flexing of a finger and voluntary eye movements, but left his mental faculties untouched. He became a leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes. He wrote numerous books including A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, Black Holes and Baby Universes, On the Shoulders of Giants, A Briefer History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell, The Grand Design, and Brief Answers to the Big Questions. In 1982, he was named a commander of the British Empire. A film about his life, The Theory of Everything, was released in 2014 and was based on his first wife Jane Hawking's book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. He died on March 14, 2018 at the age of 76.

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