The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe

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9788179927939: The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe

In this series of lectures Stephen W.Hawking tries to give an outline of what we think is the history of the universe from the big bang to black holes.The first lecture briefly reviews past ideas about universe and how we got to our present picture.One might call this the history of the universe. The second lecture describes how both Newton s and Einstein s theories of gravity led to the conclusion that the universe could not be static:it had to be either expanding or contracting.This,in turn,implied that there must have been a time between ten and twenty billion years ago when the density of the universe was infinite.This is called the big bang.It would have been the beginning of the universe. The third lecture talks about the black holes.these are formed when a massive star or an even larger body collapses in on itself under it s own gravitational pull.According to Einstein s general theory of relativity,any one foolish enough to fall into a black hole will be lost forever.they will not be able to come out of the black hole again.Instead,history,as far as they are concerned.will come to a sticky end at a singularity.However,general relativity is a classical theory that is,it does not take into account the uncertainity principle of quantum mechanics. The fourth lecture describes how quantum mechanics allows energy to leak out of black holes.Black holes are not as black as they are painted. The fifth lecture shall apply quantum mechanical ideas to the big bang and the origin of the universe.This leads to the idea that space-time may be finite in extent but without boundary or edge.It would be like the surface of the earth but with two more dimensions. The sixth lecture shows how this boundary proposal could explain why the past is so different from the future,even though the laws of physics are time symmetric. Finally,in the seventh lecture Stephen W.Hawking describes how we are trying to find a unified theory that will include quantum mechanics,gravity,and all oth ...Shrink

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Stephen Hawking's The Theory of Everything is a short book that can act as an introduction to the subjects of cosmology raised by modern science, but the book is only that; I preferred his Brief History of Time to this work because it was longer, more detailed, and covered more ground. If you are looking for a very basic introduction to the current thinking of astrophysicists, this is a good book; if you really want to wrestle with the subject at length, you should buy a Brief History of Time, or one of Paul Davies works, such as About Time. If you are looking for a good lecture series on physics, Richard Feynman's Six Easy Pieces and its sequel, Six Not So Easy Pieces is really the finest of this genre. That being said, the book does a good job in outlining the basic subject matter, discussing the development of the Big Bang theory, and the implications of both the general theory of relativity and quantum physics on the formation of the universe. Hawking is at his best when discussing singularities -- the points of the universe, such as black holes, where the laws of physics break down. --By D. W. Casey on June 27, 2002

This is a collection of seven related lectures by Hawking originally published in 1996 under the title, The Cambridge Lectures: Life Works. He does not cover as much ground here as in did in A Brief History of Time, but what he does cover he does so in a charming and engaging style. There are some few statements here that could be interpreted as less than modest--although not by me--and a mistaken prediction or two, which may be a reason that Hawking is not pleased with this book's publication. He might also object to the title, since neither a "Theory of Everything" nor a conclusive answer to the origin and fate of the universe are presented. However, Hawking does address these questions, and his expression is interesting to read and has the agreeable characteristic of being laconic. There are no equations in the book, no mathematics as such, and everything is explained in language that would be intelligible to a high school student. There are the usual droll Hawking jokes about God and His intentions, facetious, epigram-like understatements (I have done a lot of work on black holes, and it would all be wasted if it turned out that black holes do not exist. p. 66) and witty asides about the convergence of politics on physics, as when he mentions a particle accelerator the size of the Solar System that "would not be funded under current economic conditions." --By Dennis Littrell on March 23, 2003

About the Author:

Stephen Hawking is Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time which was an international bestseller. His other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universe and The Universe in a Nutshell. In 1963, Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. Since 1979 he has held the post of Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees and was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science. Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein.

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