Saturday, September 14, 2013

Stephen Hawking: A Brilliant and Playful Mind

Like most people, I view Stephen Hawking as a great scientists and as a determined individual who overcame a debilitating disease, ALS. In this book, he reveals himself as a witty and warm human being.

Hawking's parents were considered rather eccentric. They kept to themselves, but they cared about their children and devoted time to their development. I found Hawking's memories of his childhood illuminating. His fascination with machines and how they work obviously carried over into his fascination with how the cosmos works.

At Oxford, he didn't work very hard. It was the socially acceptable thing to do. The diagnosis of ALS changed that and caused him to start working at his research, realizing that time might be short to make the discoveries he envisioned.

Some of the most interesting chapters focus on the work he did with Roger Penrose, Richard Feynman and others. The descriptions of the work are a bit technical, but not hard to understand. The book ends with chapters on the possibility of time travel and imaginary time, a topic he thought he didn't cover well enough in “A Brief History of Time.”

The book is short and easy to read. It gives a delightful picture of the creative mind behind Hawking's discoveries. If you enjoyed a “Brief History of Time,” you'll want to meet the man behind it.


I reviewed this book for Net Galley.