A Brief History of Time
A Brief History of Time (subtitled "From the Big Bang to Black Holes") is a popular science
Popular science
Popular science, sometimes called literature of science, is interpretation of science intended for a general audience. While science journalism focuses on recent scientific developments, popular science is broad-ranging, often written by scientists as well as journalists, and is presented in many...

A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

 written by renown physicist
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

 and first published by the Bantam Dell Publishing Group
Bantam Books
Bantam Books is an American publishing house owned entirely by Random House, the German media corporation subsidiary of Bertelsmann; it is an imprint of the Random House Publishing Group. It was formed in 1945 by Walter B. Pitkin, Jr., Sidney B. Kramer, and Ian and Betty Ballantine...

 in 1988. It became a best-seller and has sold more than 10 million copies. It was also on the London Sunday Times best-seller list for more than four years.


A Brief History of Time attempts to explain a range of subjects in cosmology
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

, including the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

, black hole
Black hole
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

s and light cone
Light cone
A light cone is the path that a flash of light, emanating from a single event and traveling in all directions, would take through spacetime...

s, to the nonspecialist reader. Its main goal is to give an overview of the subject but, unusual for a popular science book, it also attempts to explain some complex mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...


The author notes that an editor warned him that for every equation
An equation is a mathematical statement that asserts the equality of two expressions. In modern notation, this is written by placing the expressions on either side of an equals sign , for examplex + 3 = 5\,asserts that x+3 is equal to 5...

 in the book the readership would be halved, hence it includes only a single equation: E = mc2. In addition to Hawking's notable abstention from presenting equations, the book also simplifies matters by means of illustrations throughout the text, depicting complex models and diagrams.

The book ends with: "If we find [a unified theory], it would be the ultimate triumph — for then we would know the mind of God."


  • 1988: First edition. It included an Introduction by Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan
    Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

     that tells the following story: Sagan was in London
    London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

     for a scientific conference in 1974, and between sessions he wandered into a different room, where a larger meeting was taking place. "I realized that I was watching an ancient ceremony: the investiture of new fellows into the Royal Society
    Royal Society
    The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

    , one of the most ancient scholarly organizations on the planet. In the front row, a young man in a wheelchair was, very slowly, signing his name in a book that bore on its earliest pages the signature of Isaac Newton
    Isaac Newton
    Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

    ... Stephen Hawking was a legend even then." In his Introduction, Sagan goes on to add that Hawking is the "worthy successor" to Newton and P. A. M. Dirac, both former Lucasian Professors of Mathematics.

The Introduction was removed after the first edition, as it was copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

ed by Sagan, rather than by Hawking or the publisher, and the publisher did not have the right to reprint it forever. Hawking wrote his own introduction for later editions.
  • 1996: Illustrated, updated and expanded edition. This hardcover edition contained full color illustrations and photographs to help further explain the text, as well as the addition of topics that were not included in the original book.

  • 1998: The Tenth Anniversary Edition. It features the same text as the one published in 1996, but was also released in paperback and has only a few diagrams included.

September 2005 saw the release of A Briefer History of Time
A Briefer History of Time (Hawking and Mlodinow book)
A Briefer History of Time is a popular-science book published in 2005 from the English physicist Stephen Hawking and the American physicist Leonard Mlodinow. It is an update and rewrite of Hawking's 1988 A Brief History of Time...

 (a collaboration with Leonard Mlodinow
Leonard Mlodinow
Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist and author.Mlodinow was born in Chicago, Illinois, of parents who were both Holocaust survivors. His father, who spent more than a year in the Buchenwald concentration camp, had been a leader in the Jewish resistance under Nazi rule in his hometown of Częstochowa,...

), which is an abridged version of the original book. It was updated again to address new issues that have arisen due to further scientific development.


In 1991
1991 in film
The year 1991 in film involved some significant events.-Events:*April 28 - Bonnie Raitt marries actor Michael O'Keefe in New York* Terminator 2: Judgment Day, became one of the landmarks for science fiction action films with its groundbreaking visual effects from Industrial Light & Magic.*November...

, Errol Morris
Errol Morris
Errol Mark Morris is an American director. In 2003, The Guardian put him seventh in its list of the world's 40 best directors. Also in 2003, his film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.-Early life and...

 directed a documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 about Hawking, but although they share a title, the film is a biographical
A biography is a detailed description or account of someone's life. More than a list of basic facts , biography also portrays the subject's experience of those events...

 study of Hawking, and not a filmed version of the book.


The New York's Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 has commissioned an opera to premiere in 2015-16 based on Hawking's book. It will be composed by Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Noé Golijov is a Grammy award–winning composer of classical music.-Biography:Osvaldo Golijov was born in and grew up in La Plata, Argentina, in a Jewish family that had emigrated to Argentina in the 1920s from Romania and Russia.Golijov has developed a rich musical language, the result of...

 with a libretto by Alberto Manguel
Alberto Manguel
Alberto Manguel is a Canadian Argentine-born writer, translator, and editor. He is the author of numerous non-fiction books such as The Dictionary of Imaginary Places , A History of Reading , The Library at Night and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey: A Biography ; and novels such as News...

 in a production by Robert Lepage
Robert Lepage
Robert Lepage, is a playwright, actor, film director, and stage director from Québec City, Québec, and is one of Canada's most honoured theatre artists.- Life and work :...


In popular culture

Since its publication, A Brief History of Time has become world-famous and is featured or mentioned in the following:
  • Normal Life (1996)
  • Legally Blonde
    Legally Blonde
    Legally Blonde is a 2001 American comedy film directed by Robert Luketic, written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, and produced by Marc E. Platt...

  • Donnie Darko
    Donnie Darko
    Donnie Darko is a 2001 American psychological thriller film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena Malone, and Mary McDonnell...

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a 2004 fantasy film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. It is the third instalment in the Harry Potter film series, written by Steve Kloves and produced by Chris Columbus, David Heyman and Mark Radcliffe...

  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.The book's narrator is a nine-year-old boy named Oskar Schell. Two years before the story begins, Oskar's father dies on 9/11...

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic
    "Weird Al" Yankovic
    Alfred Matthew "Weird Al" Yankovic is an American singer-songwriter, music producer, accordionist, actor, comedian, writer, satirist, and parodist. Yankovic is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and that often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts...

     - "White & Nerdy
    White & Nerdy
    "White & Nerdy" is the second single from "Weird Al" Yankovic's album Straight Outta Lynwood, which was released on September 26, 2006. It parodies the song "Ridin'" by Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone...

    " music video (2006)
  • Lost
    Lost (TV series)
    Lost is an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, consisting of six seasons. Lost is a drama series that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island...

     - Season 3, Episode 7: "Not in Portland
    Not in Portland
    "Not in Portland" is the 7th episode of the third season of Lost and the 56th episode overall. It first aired on February 7, 2007 on ABC. The episode was written by Carlton Cuse and Jeff Pinkner and was directed by Stephen Williams...

    " (2007)
  • Skins
    Skins (TV series)
    Skins is a BAFTA award-winning British teen drama that follows a group of teenagers in Bristol, South West England, through the two years of college. The controversial plot line explores issues such as dysfunctional families, mental illness , adolescent sexuality, substance abuse and death...

     - Season 5, Episode 7: "Grace
    Grace (Skins)
    Grace is the seventh and penultimate episode of series 5 of the UK TV series Skins, which first aired on the 3 March 2011 on E4. It focuses on Grace's effort to get a good mark in her AS Drama by directing a production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in order to be allowed by her father,...

    " (2011)
  • Star Quest-Season 1, Episode 4
  • "Rabbits on the Run
    Rabbits on the Run
    Rabbits on the Run is the fourth studio album from Vanessa Carlton, which was released on July 26, 2011 under the label Razor & Tie.- Background :...

    " an album by Vanessa Carlton (2011)
  • Star Trek
    Star Trek
    Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise created by Gene Roddenberry. The core of Star Trek is its six television series: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise...

External links

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