Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Black Holes and Baby Universes

Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays
© 1993 Stephen Hawking
182 pages

Well, this is one book that recquires very little explaination. It's a book of essays written by Stephen Hawking, most of them being on scientific topics. The beginning essays are biographical, and they work their way up to being chiefly science related: after a couple of essays about his life, he writes an essay on A Brief History of Time, which he calls "A Brief History of A Brief History". From this point, Hawking moves on to theortical physics -- black holes, quantum mechanics, free will vs. determinism, that kind of thing. After his final science essay (this one on the future of the universe, or rather potential futures), he ends the book with a transcript of an interview, the "Desert Island Discs" BBC interview. This is or was a hallmark program of the BBC, in which famous people were asked to bring eight records that they might bring with them if they were to be marooned on a desert island. The standard interview -- covering topics in line with the theme of this book, namely his life and work -- is periodically interupted by the reporter asking Hawkings to play one of his records in order. The interview ends with Hawkings being asked to choose a favorite among the records, and to talk about what book and luxury item he would plan on bringing. For those who are curious:
  1. Gloria, Poulenc
  2. Brahms Violin Concerto
  3. Beethoven's String Quartet, Opus 132
  4. The Valkyrie, act one
  5. "Please Please Me", the Beatles
  6. Requiem, Mozart
  7. Turandot, Puccini
  8. "Je Ne Regrette Rien", Edith Piaf
His book is Middlemarch by George Eliot, and his luxury item a large supply of crème brûlée. The book is written in Hawkings' usual way, although it lacks his fondness for illustrations. The science may be dated by this point, but it's probably still a good read for Hawkings fans.

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