A brief history of time, by Stephen Hawking, New York, Bantam Book, 1996, 256 pages, £96.91, ISBN 978-0593040591.
Have you ever taken a 20-hour flight from Singapore to America and felt that it was such a long journey? If so, it would be amazing to think that the distance travelled was only one billionth of the distance travelled by light in one day, and it takes thousand millions of light years to travel across a galaxy, while there are approximately a few hundred billion galaxies in the universe (Cain, 2009). These numbers belong to a distant world of unconceivable Physics for most people. However, these are the numbers that cosmologists have to deal with daily. They are also the fundamental numbers that intrigue readers of A brief history of time, an international acclaimed masterpiece. Presenting numerous unfamiliar concepts, Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant scientists since Einstein, has been extraordinarily successful in triggering scientific inquisitiveness and providing non-scientists what scientists know about the universe as far as current technology allows.
In his book, Hawking (1996) shows the advance of Physics in terms of human’s perception of the universe, and in the light of newest findings at that time, he describes the history of time that contemporary science accepts, as well as problems that still need to be solved. He starts from the old concepts about the universe, then continues to Newtonian physics, to the expanding universe, which led to the big bang theory. Attempting to provide solution for the rising conflicts and new observations, general relativity and quantum mechanics are proposed, triggering an age of discovery. The elementary particles are examined, their characteristics are described. Black hole theory becomes well-known; several models such as the “hot big bang” model, the “inflationary” model, the “particle-history” model are introduced to draw out a picture of the...