Summary and book reviews of The Universe In A Nutshell by Stephen Hawking

The Universe In A Nutshell

By Stephen Hawking

The Universe In A Nutshell
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2001,
    224 pages.

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Book Summary

Stephen Hawking's phenomenal, multimillion-copy bestseller, A Brief History of Time, introduced the ideas of this brilliant theoretical physicist to readers all over the world.

Now, in a major publishing event, Hawking returns with a lavishly illustrated sequel that unravels the mysteries of the major breakthroughs that have occurred in the years since the release of his acclaimed first book.

The Universe in a Nutshell

• Quantum mechanics
• M-theory
• General relativity
• 11-dimensional supergravity
• 10-dimensional membranes
• Superstrings
• P-branes
• Black holes

One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking is an intellectual icon, known not only for the adventurousness of his ideas but for the clarity and wit with which he expresses them. In this new book Hawking takes us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, to explain in laymen's terms the principles that control our universe.

Like many in the community of theoretical physicists, Professor Hawking is seeking to uncover the grail of science — the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. In his accessible and often playful style, he guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe — from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality.

He takes us to the wild frontiers of science, where superstring theory and p-branes may hold the final clue to the puzzle. And he lets us behind the scenes of one of his most exciting intellectual adventures as he seeks "to combine Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories into one complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe."

With characteristic exuberance, Professor Hawking invites us to be fellow travelers on this extraordinary voyage through space-time. Copious four-color illustrations help clarify this journey into a surreal wonderland where particles, sheets, and strings move in eleven dimensions; where black holes evaporate and disappear, taking their secret with them; and where the original cosmic seed from which our own universe sprang was a tiny nut.

The Universe in a Nutshell is essential reading for all of us who want to understand the universe in which we live. Like its companion volume, A Brief History of Time, it conveys the excitement felt within the scientific community as the secrets of the cosmos reveal themselves.

CHAPTER 2
THE SHAPE OF TIME

EINSTEIN'S GENERAL RELATIVITY GIVES TIME A SHAPE.

HOW THIS CAN BE RECONCILED WITH QUANTUM THEORY.

What is time? Is it an ever-rolling stream that bears all our dreams away, as the old hymn says? Or is it a railroad track? Maybe it has loops and branches, so you can keep going forward and yet return to an earlier station on the line.

The nineteenth-century author Charles Lamb wrote: "Nothing puzzles me like time and space. And yet nothing troubles me less than time and space, because I never think of them." Most of us don't worry about time and space most of the time, whatever that may be; but we all do wonder sometimes what time is, how it began, and where it is leading us.

Any sound scientific theory, whether of time or of any other concept, should in my opinion be based on the most workable philosophy of science: the positivist approach put forward by Karl Popper and others. According to this way of thinking, a scientific theory ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Library Journal

Stumped by Hawking's famed A Brief History of Time? Then try this new book, which has lots of illustrations.

St Louis Post-Dispatch

Clear, concise and accessible. And he leavens it further with occasional wry humor.

Time magazine

Provocative and informed ... plenty of comprehensible analogies and no small amount of humor, often self-deprecating.... Best of all, the book is liberally sprinkled with well-conceived, gorgeously rendered and frequently whimsical illustrations.

Amazon.com's Best of 2001

Hawking offers genuinely accessible context for such complexities as string theory and the nature of time, it's when he must translate equations to sentences that the limits of language get in the way. But Hawking has simplified the origin of the universe, the nature of space and time, and what holds it all together to an unprecedented degree, inviting nonscientists to share his obvious awe and love of the unseen forces that shape it all. Yes, it's difficult reading, but it's worth it.

Reader Reviews
Soundariya

The Universe in a Nutshell
Very good.

Matthew Schneider

Amazing
As the quote says on page 99, “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space" Stephen with out a doubt takes the cake for being a "King" of the universe. This book really makes you think of how much utter power the ...   Read More

anonymous

Extremely interesting read
I was a bit skeptical at first of Stephen's work, but after reading this book, I became extremely interested in almost all of the topics brought up. This book combines physics, philosophy, and chemistry perfectly, along with a nice sense of humour to...   Read More

KyleBryant

This book gives a concise and reasonable look into the world of theoretical physics and history.

To imagine Einstein as anything less than one of the Greatest thinkers of all time is akin to insanity.

Please don't let any person who is grossly ...   Read More

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