Monday, 22 December 2008

Book review: A Brief History Of Time

"There is so much I don't know about Astrophysics, I wish I read that book by that wheelchair guy" - Homer Simpson
Although I spent a lot of time in my youth looking at the stars and even attending lectures on astronomy, what I understood about cosmology was very limited. My time studying physics was mostly spent on kinematics and dynamics. What I found in this book was a good starting point in order to understand the cosmos on the grand scale it resides in.

As a layman introduction for a very difficult subject, I can't fault the eloquence of this book. Any elements I couldn't understand were not due to Hawking's excellent analogies, rather my own inability to conceptualise the concept. I'm still trying to get my head around the concept of a singularity, each time I think I've got a grasp of the concept it falls into a black hole in the mind and I'm left still feeling confused.

Other than e = mc², the book was void of all equations. This I felt took away some of the explanatory power of the book. It became more of a "what we know" read instead of how we know it, and in there I was left feeling unsatisfied. It's understandable why he left them out, it's a difficult subject to begin with without having to rely on the explanatory power of mathematics.

Overall it was a good introductory book on cosmology, and it has rekindled my interest in physics. Or put more accurately, it's exposed a gaping hole in my knowledge that I wish to fill as much as possible. I've been recommended The Feynman Lectures.

Next book: Richard Feynman - Six Easy Pieces

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