Who Wrote A Brief History of Time?

Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Stephen Hawking is one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history. His book, ''A Brief History of Time'' is a modern classic that presents complex cosmological topics in an easy to understand format for the everyday reader.

A Simpler Explanation

The concepts of space and cosmology are not easy to grasp. They involve complex physics, math, and a fairly deep understanding of the universe and everything in it. Black holes, gravity, light, the big bang theory, and an ever-expanding and infinite space are not delicate topics that just anyone can understand by picking up a book.

Unless you pick up a book called A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Written in 1988 by arguably one of the most influential theoretical physicists in history, A Brief History of Time works to explain these difficult subjects in ways that any reader can understand. Since then there have been two additional versions printed: the Illustrated A Brief History of Time and A Briefer History of Time.

Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking

In the book, Hawking covers the history of physics, space and time, the expanding universe, the uncertainty principle, elementary particles and forces of nature, black holes, and the origin and fate of the universe. He explains these concepts with minimal jargon, only one equation, and with an incredible ability to describe complex and obscure topics in language that is easy to understand. Despite his level of knowledge, Hawking was, though this book, able to bring some of the most important and fascinating concepts to millions of readers, many of whom probably never before dreamed they'd be able to read and understand a book on theoretical physics!

About the Author

Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, England in 1942. Hawking's brilliance in physics and math was apparent early on, and he has developed many cosmological theories, both independently and in collaboration with other scientists. He has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian honor in the U.S.

Hawking meeting with President Obama before receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S.
Stephen Hawking President Obama

Hawking also has a rare disease that was both early-onset and slow-progressing. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig's disease, occurs in fewer than 20,000 people per year. There is no treatment for the disease. It leads to progressive muscle weakness as nerve cells break down and loss of motor functionality. Hawking has lost so much of his muscle strength that he is relegated to a motorized wheelchair.

He also uses some pretty amazing technology to 'speak', and he might be as famous for this as he is for his brilliance. Mounted on his wheelchair arm is a computer that does the talking for him since he is no longer able to speak himself. Here's how it works:

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