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Black Holes and Baby Universes
Cover of Black Holes and Baby Universes
Black Holes and Baby Universes
And Other Essays
Borrow Borrow

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Thirteen extraordinary essays shed new light on the mystery of the universe—and on one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time.
 
In his phenomenal bestseller A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking literally transformed the way we think about physics, the universe, reality itself. In these thirteen essays and one remarkable extended interview, the man widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein returns to reveal an amazing array of possibilities for understanding our universe.
Building on his earlier work, Hawking discusses imaginary time, how black holes can give birth to baby universes, and scientists’ efforts to find a complete unified theory that would predict everything in the universe. With his characteristic mastery of language, his sense of humor and commitment to plain speaking, Stephen Hawking invites us to know him better—and to share his passion for the voyage of intellect and imagination that has opened new ways to understanding the very nature of the cosmos.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Thirteen extraordinary essays shed new light on the mystery of the universe—and on one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time.
 
In his phenomenal bestseller A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking literally transformed the way we think about physics, the universe, reality itself. In these thirteen essays and one remarkable extended interview, the man widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein returns to reveal an amazing array of possibilities for understanding our universe.
Building on his earlier work, Hawking discusses imaginary time, how black holes can give birth to baby universes, and scientists’ efforts to find a complete unified theory that would predict everything in the universe. With his characteristic mastery of language, his sense of humor and commitment to plain speaking, Stephen Hawking invites us to know him better—and to share his passion for the voyage of intellect and imagination that has opened new ways to understanding the very nature of the cosmos.

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  • Chapter One One

    Childhood*


    I WAS BORN ON January 8, 1942, exactly three hundred years after the death of Galileo. However, I estimate that about two hundred thousand other babies were also born that day. I don’t know whether any of them were later interested in astronomy. I was born in Oxford, even though my parents were living in London. This was because Oxford was a good place to be born during World War II: The Germans had an agreement that they would not bomb Oxford and Cambridge, in return for the British not bombing Heidelberg and Göttingen. It is a pity that this civilized sort of arrangement couldn’t have been extended to more cities.

    My father came from Yorkshire. His grandfather, my great-grandfather, had been a wealthy farmer. He had bought too many farms and had gone bankrupt in the agricultural depression at the beginning of this century. This left my father’s parents badly off, but they managed to send him to Oxford, where he studied medicine. He then went into research in tropical medicine. He went out to East Africa in 1937. When the war began, he made an overland journey across Africa to get a ship back to England, where he volunteered for military service. He was told, however, that he was more valuable in medical research.

    My mother was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the second child of seven of a family doctor. The family moved south to Devon where she was twelve. Like my father’s family, hers was not well off. Nevertheless, they managed to send my mother to Oxford. After Oxford, she had various jobs, including that of inspector of taxes, which she did not like. She gave that up to become a secretary. That was how she met my father in the early years of the war.

    We lived in Highgate, north London. My sister Mary was born eighteen months after me. I’m told I did not welcome her arrival. All through our childhood there was a certain tension between us, fed by the narrow difference in our ages. In our adult life, however, this tension has disappeared, as we have gone different ways. She became a doctor, which pleased my father. My younger sister, Philippa, was born when I was nearly five and was able to understand what was happening. I can remember looking forward to her arrival so that there would be three of us to play games. She was a very intense and perceptive child. I always respected her judgment and opinions. My brother Edward came much later, when I was fourteen, so he hardly entered my childhood at all. He was very different from the other three children, being completely nonacademic and nonintellectual. It was probably good for us. He was a rather difficult child, but one couldn’t help liking him.

    My earliest memory is of standing in the nursery of Byron House in Highgate and crying my head off. All around me, children were playing with what seemed like wonderful toys. I wanted to join in, but I was only two and a half, and this was the first time I had been left with people I didn’t know. I think my parents were rather surprised at my reaction, because I was their first child and they had been following child development textbooks that said that children ought to start making social relationships at two. But they took me away after that awful morning and didn’t send me back to Byron House for another year and a half.

    At that time, during and just after the war, Highgate was an area in which a number of scientific and academic people lived. In another country they would have been called intellectuals, but the English have never admitted to having any intellectuals. All these parents sent their children to Byron House...
About the Author-
  • 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.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 29, 1994
    In 14 pieces, the author of A Brief History of Time examines astrophysics, current events and his own life.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 30, 1993
    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.

  • New York Times Book Review

    "[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."

  • The Wall Street Journal "Succinct, illuminating, and--considering the inherently baffling nature of contemporary cosmology--remarkably easy to read."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "A second chance at enlightenment . . . [Hawking] deftly unravels . . . complex matters in simple, lay language. . . . Very readable."
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Black Holes and Baby Universes
Black Holes and Baby Universes
And Other Essays
Stephen Hawking
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