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The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe (1996)

de Stephen W. Hawking

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In physicist Stephen Hawking's brilliant opus, A Brief History of Time, he presented us with a bold new look at our universe, how it began, and how our old views of physics and tired theories about the creation of the universe were no longer relevant. In other words, Hawking gave us a new look at our world, our universe, and ourselves. Now, available for the first time in trade paperback, Hawking presents an even more comprehensive look at our universe, its creation, and how we see ourselves within it. Imagine sitting in a comfortable room listening to Hawking discuss his latest theories and place them in historical context with science's other great achievements--it would be like hearing Christopher Columbus deliver the news about the new world. Hawking presents a series of seven lectures in which he describes, more clearly than ever, the history of the universe as we know it. He begins with the history of ideas about the universe, from Aristotle's idea that the Earth is round to Hubble's discovery two millennium later that our universe is growing. Using this history as a launching pad, Hawking takes us on a fascinating journey through the telescopic lens of modern physics to gain a new glimpse of the universe--the nature of black holes, the space-time continuum, and new information about the origin of the universe. He uses this scientific basis to come up with a "unified theory of everything" that the author claims will be "the ultimate triumph of human reason."… (mais)
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  David.llib.cat | Jan 31, 2021 |
En resumen, este libro trata sobre la historia de las teorías sobre el origen del universo. ¿Cuáles fueron las primeras? ¿Cómo han cambiado? ¿Cómo son en la actualidad? ¿Hacia dónde van? Sin usar matemáticas ni diagramas complejos, Hawking explica muy bien el ya popular concepto del Big Bang y las menos conocidas teorías y consecuencias de éste.

A pesar de ser relativamente viejo para un libro científico (el texto es original de 1996) es capaz de explicar con mejor detalle el estado actual de la astrofísica, más allá de los artículos de divulgación común y corriente.

Es posiblemente un poquito pesado para quien apenas se adentra en el conocimiento de la astrofísica y la divulgación, pero excelente para quienes disfrutaron de Cosmos. Si alguna vez se preguntaron qué han hecho los físicos después de la teoría del Big Bang, éste es el libro perfecto para averiguarlo ( )
  andycyca | Aug 6, 2019 |
I adore Stephen Hawking. He has a way of taking the very complex and explaining it so anyone can understand. That is a rare gift. Like many, I am fascinated by the existence of our world, galaxy and universe and the ultimate question of why everything is the way it is, or at least the way we perceive it. This series of lectures is informative, humourous and witty. It stretches the brain and makes you smile at the same time. I loved it! ( )
  KatiaMDavis | Dec 19, 2017 |
Too difficult for my mediocre mind... ( )
  mantvius | Aug 29, 2016 |
This book is a transcription of several lectures Stephen Hawking gave sometime before 1996. He does not own the copyright to these lectures, and would prefer that people who are interested in his work instead consult the books that he has written himself.

Ironically, of the books by Hawking that I've tried, this is really the most enjoyable to me. Partly this may be because the lecture format required a particular kind of conciseness that his books lack. I have been listening to the book on audio as well as reading it. The audio version is, apparently, a direct recording of his lectures, and is given by means of his speech synthesizer. This is interesting and quite intelligible, although some proper names have odd pronunciations. I completed only the first three chapters, described below.

Chapter 1: Ideas about the Universe
Aristotle and the many reasons for a spherical earth, as well as an over-estimate of its circumference. The methods were good, but the instruments weren't so accurate.

Ptolemy's model requires the moon's distance from the earth to vary considerably. This contradicts observed fact, as the apparent size of the moon does not change as much as it would under these circumstances.

Copernicus's theory is introduced and ignored until Galileo and Kepler take it up. Kepler discovers that the orbits of the planets are ellipses and is dissatisfied. Galileo investigates the moons of Jupiter. Newton publishes the Principia and speculates about an infinite universe, in order to account for the fact that gravity does not draw all the stars together into a single lump.

Heinrich Olbers points out that if the universe were static, it would be bright all the time, even at night.

The Beginning of the Universe
-------------------------

In 1929 Edwin Hubble concludes that the universe is expanding and the theory of the big bang, the start of the expansion, is subsequently advanced. If there was a big bang, it is pointless to talk about the events that happened before it.

2. The Expanding Universe
In 1924 Edwin Hubble realizes that there are galaxies outside our own. Hubble works out the distance to other galaxies based on estimated luminosity and apparent brightness. A uniform red shift in the spectra of the stars is observed, indicating that the stars are all moving away from each other. Contrary to almost everybody's believe, including Einstein's, the universe is not static.

The Friedman Models
------------------
The Russian physicist, Alexander Friedmann, predicted the expanding universe based on an unconventional interpretation of general relativity.

Cosmic background microwave radiation is observed by Wilson and Penzias. The radiation is microwave radiation due to a substantial red shift.

There are 3 kinds of Friedmann models: expanding forever, reaching a steady state, and eventually contracting. This depends on velocity of expansion and total mass of the universe. In the contracting model, space-time is curved on itself. The universe is increasing by five to ten percent every five million years.If the mass of all the known stars were added up, it would be so small that the universe would certainly expand for ever. But there is a lot of confidence in the existence of dark matter, which would make the universe a lot heavier.

The Big Bang
-----------
Occurred between 10 and 20 thousand million years ago. The steady state theory was suggested by Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle at the end of WWII. Yevgeni Lifshitz and Isaac Khalatnikov suggested that the Friedmann models were so over-simplified as to be incorrect, but eventually decided they were wrong.

Penrose worked on black holes, and Hawking enlarged his work to demonstrate the certainty of the big bang.

3. Black Holes

The idea of a star so heavy that light can not escape was introduced in the late 18th century in a paper by John Michell. Laplace liked the idea too, but this was all before Einstein's work on relativity which introduced the idea of the constant speed of light and of space-time.

The life cycle of a star is well-known. Large stars have shorted lives than smaller stars because their nuclear reactions proceed more rapidly. Stars with masses above the Chandrasekhar limit eventually become black holes, otherwise they become neutron stars or white dwarfs. Robert Oppenheimer pointed out that what happens in a black hole has no effect on the world around it.

Roger Penrose's cosmic censorship hypothesis says that singularities are hidden inside black holes, and therefore can have no effect.

Black holes are more or less perfectly spherical, although, if rotating they may bulge about their middles.

Pulsars are rotating neutron stars. Quasars are quasi-stellar objections and may be whole galaxies.

The evidence for black holes is indirect but still good. It is possible to observe double stars, where one of the two stars is invisible, but the motion of the visible star indicates the presence of the twin star and also allows the mass of the star to be inferred. If the mass is big enough, then it must be a black hole, so there.

There may be some smaller black holes, formed shortly after the big bang. ( )
  themulhern | May 12, 2016 |
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In physicist Stephen Hawking's brilliant opus, A Brief History of Time, he presented us with a bold new look at our universe, how it began, and how our old views of physics and tired theories about the creation of the universe were no longer relevant. In other words, Hawking gave us a new look at our world, our universe, and ourselves. Now, available for the first time in trade paperback, Hawking presents an even more comprehensive look at our universe, its creation, and how we see ourselves within it. Imagine sitting in a comfortable room listening to Hawking discuss his latest theories and place them in historical context with science's other great achievements--it would be like hearing Christopher Columbus deliver the news about the new world. Hawking presents a series of seven lectures in which he describes, more clearly than ever, the history of the universe as we know it. He begins with the history of ideas about the universe, from Aristotle's idea that the Earth is round to Hubble's discovery two millennium later that our universe is growing. Using this history as a launching pad, Hawking takes us on a fascinating journey through the telescopic lens of modern physics to gain a new glimpse of the universe--the nature of black holes, the space-time continuum, and new information about the origin of the universe. He uses this scientific basis to come up with a "unified theory of everything" that the author claims will be "the ultimate triumph of human reason."

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