The Universe in a Nutshell – 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
• General relativity
• 11-dimensional supergravity
• 10-dimensional membranes
• 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.
Table of Contents
Book Review by Royce Callaway
A Quantum Physics Picture Book
This is not a book for the timid or for those who have not read other and simpler books on quantum theory. The illustrations are excellent and contribute to your understanding of what is being discussed but even so the concepts are not simple to grasp. Like many of the other reviewers I have a technical background in engineering and have read widely in the area of physics and quantum theory. Nevertheless this book is a challenge and I cannot honestly say that I grasped all of it. In fact my criticism of the book is that it presumes considerable knowledge by the reader and some of the theories seem farfetched.
The fact that an equation can be made to work simply by making convenient assumptions does not constitute proof from my perspective. I was amused by Hawkings indirect hit on evolution when he points out that intelligence does not appear to be necessary for life and thus life on other planets is problematic. That section alone was worth the price of admission.
Nevertheless, Hawking again demonstrates his humor and his personality clearly shines through. His ideas and concepts are challenging and without doubt he has contributed more to cosmology than almost anyone else. I enjoyed reading the book, I liked the pictures, I think I may have even understood some of it. If you are interested in cosmology and quantum theory this is a good book. I only gave it four stars because it is not as easy to understand as his “Brief History of Time”.
Stephen Hawking, science’s first real rock star, may be the least-read bestselling author in history–it’s no secret that many people who own A Brief History of Time have never finished it. Hawking’s The Universe in a Nutshell aims to remedy the situation, with a plethora of friendly illustrations to help readers grok some of the most brain-bending ideas ever conceived.
Does it succeed? Yes and no. While 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. Hawking is one of the great geniuses of our time, a man whose life has been devoted to thinking in the abstract about the universe. With his help, and pictures–lots of pictures–we can seek to understand a bit more of the cosmos. –Therese Littleton
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Writing in a lighthearted, personal, often humorous style and with colorful and entertaining graphics on every page, Hawking succeeds in communicating his love and enthusiasm for science. Without seeming to condescend, he makes a valiant attempt to clarify many fascinating and elusive topics such as relativity and time; multiple universes and dimensions; black holes and dark matter; prediction of the future; and the possibility of time travel.
Those usually daunted by scientific texts might enjoy puzzling over the graphics; many of them, together with excellent captions, fully restate the content of the text in an alternative (and, for some, more understandable) manner. Also, Hawking enriches readers’ vocabularies with many of the sometimes-playful words, phrases, and acronyms essential to an acquaintance with modern physics-supergravity and supersymmetry, “p-branes” and proto-galaxies, MACHOS and WIMPS.
Among teens, Universe might well prove to have appeal beyond its obvious audience of science students and readers of popular science and science fiction.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Originally published: 2001
Page count: 224
Genre: Coffee table book