Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time from the Big Bang to Black Holes
© 1988 Stephen Hawking

Our minds can play tricks on us: my experience with this book is a case in point. I remember vividly being at a big chain bookstore and perusing the science section for something seditious. In my memory, I note with amusement a massive book called A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. I know there's no way I can reach such a tome, so I look at the book next to it, called A Briefer History of Time. I buy neither, going with Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything instead.

And yet, here sitting upon my freezer is a small book titled A Brief History of Time. It is not the tome I remember. Clearly, my memory is in error -- I shall keep that in mind (if I can) as a practical lesson. The book itself is very straightforward: it's a brief popular science book. I think its ideal (if not intended) audience is college-educated and curious about the object. It doesn't seem that accessible to new students: I would recommend Hawking's own Universe in a Nutshell or a few others as an introduction to general relativity and quantum physics. Those are two of the subjects covered, by the way, along with black holes, the big bang, the nature of space and time, and a few other sundry topics. Although Hawking's writing in this book is easy to follow, it didn't seem to me as if he explained the topics in detail enough -- my take is that he expects the readers to know a little something ahead of time. I do, somewhat, although in the year or so it's been since I've read about physics, my knowledge of this particular area has faded.

Related Books:

* I've not finished this one yet, but the first few chapters allowed me to understand concepts I'd never understood before, like why we think space is curved.

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