Stephen Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years and the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His books for the general reader include My Brief History, the classic A Brief History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universes, The Universe in a Nutshell, and, with Leonard Mlodinow, A Briefer History of Time and The Grand Design. Stephen Hawking died in 2018.
British theoretical physicist Hawking ( A Brief History of Time ) here delivers a potpourri of lucid, succinct scientific articles and lectures and short autobiographical sketches. He speculates that spaceships or objects that fall into a black hole may go off into ``a little baby universe of their own,'' a small, self-contained world that branches off from our region of space-time. These baby universes, he adds, exist in imaginary time, ``at right angles to real time, in which the universe has no beginning or end.'' In other pieces Hawking assesses physicists' search for a complete, unified ``theory of everything''; argues in favor of the tenet that people have free will; calls for large cuts in armaments; and describes his triumph over Lou Gehrig's disease, which has confined him to a wheelchair and forced him to communicate via a personal computer and speech synthesizer. In a concluding interview reprinted from the BBC, Hawking discusses his love of music and the role of intuition in his work. (Sept.)
Hawking is quite probably the most admired and recognizable figure in science today. His A Brief History of Time ( LJ 4/15/88) was a surprise best seller that stimulated a public fascination with this man who, although stricken with a debilitating neurological disease, is widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein. This new collection of essays and lectures will no doubt attract a large readership, but it is somewhat unbalanced. The biographical pieces are digressive and not particularly enlightening. Most pointless is the concluding piece, an interview in which Hawking expounds upon the eight records he would want if he were shipwrecked on a desert island. The scientific essays are much stronger and offer insight into a variety of cutting-edge issues in contemporary physics, though much of what is presented can be found in Brief History . Readers interested in Hawking's life are better advised to read John Gribbin and Michael White's Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science ( LJ 5/1/92). Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/93.-- Gregg Sapp, Montana State Univ. Libs., Bozeman
"[Hawking] sprinkles his explanations with a wry sense of humor and a keen awareness that the sciences today delve not only into the far reaches of the cosmos, but into the inner philosophical world as well."--New York Times Book Review
"Succinct, illuminating, and--considering the inherently
baffling nature of contemporary cosmology--remarkably easy to
read."--The Wall Street Journal
"A second chance at enlightenment . . . [Hawking] deftly unravels . . . complex matters in simple, lay language. . . . Very readable."--San Francisco Chronicle