Review of “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking

Title: A Brief History of Time
Author: Stephen Hawking
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Length: 5 hours 46 minutes
Published: 2012, Phoenix Books (originally published 1988)
My Grade: 3.5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Stephen Hawking is one of the world’s leading cosmologists and is widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein. Although he has been widely published within his specialized field, A Brief History of Time is the first work he has written for the non-mathematical layman. In it he explores the outer reaches of our knowledge of astrophysics and the nature of time and the universe. The result is a revelation: a book that not only serves as an introduction to today’s most important theories on the cosmos but affords a unique opportunity to experience one of the most imaginative and influential thinkers of our age.

Confined to a wheelchair for the last twenty years by a motor-neurone disease, Professor Hawking is best known for his work on black holes. But here he turns his mind to the biggest question of all: the search for a unified theory that combines general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Always in the clearest, most accessible terms, Stephen Hawking reviews the great theories of the cosmos. From Galileo and Newton to Einstein and Poincaré, and then moves on into deepest space for the greatest intellectual adventure of all. Could time run backwards? Will a “no boundary” universe replace the big bang theory? What happens in a universe with eleven dimensions? These are just some of the questions considered with devastating lucidity and brilliance in A Brief History of Time, a work that is bound to become a classic of its kind.

 

MY REVIEW

I feel that my grade for this book is not fair. But the truth is that I did not connect with the narrator (and no, it’s not THE Michael Jackson). I have never zoned out so easily during an audiobook before. It might be because of the narrator or because I’ve had so much else to think about the past week. In either case, I will reread this at one point. I feel that this book has so much more to give me than what I got.

It’s been more than 30 years since it was originally published and there has happened a lot since then. But nothing is outdated and it still feels very relevant.

I really like that Hawking involves god in all of this. I’m not a believer myself, but I do like that he as a scientist at least tries to see where such a person possibly could fit in our cosmos.

I have now listened to his first and last scientific book and both are without any formulas or mathematics in it which is great! The universe is complicated as it is. And many ideas and theories are far beyond my reach of understanding. But at least now I’m aware of some theories that I can read more about now.

I believe that the grade should be at least one more than 3.5. But my gut tells me 3.5 right now and I always go with it.

Review of “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking

Title: Korta svar på stora frågor (Brief Answers to the Big Questions)
Author: Stephen Hawking
Genre: Science, Nonfiction
Length: 6 hours 31 minutes
Published: 2019, Mondial Förlag
My Grade: 5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Stephen Hawking was recognized as one of the greatest minds of our time and a figure of inspiration after defying his ALS diagnosis at age twenty-one. He is known for both his breakthroughs in theoretical physics as well as his ability to make complex concepts accessible for all, and was beloved for his mischievous sense of humor. At the time of his death, Hawking was working on a final project: a book compiling his answers to the “big” questions that he was so often posed–questions that ranged beyond his academic field.

Within these pages, he provides his personal views on our biggest challenges as a human race, and where we, as a planet, are heading next. Each section will be introduced by a leading thinker offering his or her own insight into Professor Hawking’s contribution to our understanding.

 

MY REVIEW

  • Is there a God?
  • How did it all begin?
  • What is inside a black hole?
  • Can we predict the future?
  • Is time travel possible?
  • Will we survive on Earth?
  • Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
  • Should we colonize space?
  • Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
  • How do we shape the future?

Ten questions. Ten big questions that Hawking answers really well. Many things are still theories, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those theories are to be proved in the somewhat near future. He talks about our biggest challenges, for example an asteroid collision to which we have no defense, but also about the potential annihilation through nuclear war and how AI might affect our future in many different ways. He also writes about some parts of his life. And the foreword by Eddie Redmayne (he played young Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, the biography about him) was very touching.

I’ve never read anything by Hawkings before and I’m surprised I haven’t. I guess I’ve always thought of him as a bit intimidating as he was one of the world’s smartest people. Maybe I was thinking that I wouldn’t understand anything at all. But I was wrong. Brief Answers to the Big Questions was a very easy read, or more like a very easy listen. He used words that every day people like myself could easily understand, he gave the whole picture on so many important and interesting things and I felt that I learned a lot. It might have been easier for me to understand since I listened to it in Swedish, but I honestly doubt it.

He’s funny in his writing and I could feel his positivity through his words. Optimist through and through and I’m not sure I agree with him on all his beliefs for the future. But I sure hope he is right in believing in everything good that potentially could happen.

It’s sad to think that he is no longer with us. But I’m so glad that he outlived his doctor’s predictions of only having a few years left when he was diagnosed at the age of 21. It’s incredible that he lived to be 76!

I’ve read a few books on astrophysics now. And this was the best of them. It contained more than just science. I definitely recommend everyone to read it, we all need know more things! Five out of five, easily.