A Brief History of Time – A Popular Science Classic
Genius is not the ability to explain complex stuff in a complex way. But it is the ability to distill that complex content into simplified forms and feed to the masses. Philosophy and Science are the two prominent fields that deal with ideas with greater complexity. Usually many love science, yet keep shy away from it due to the complexity it beholds. This is the place where Popular Science books come as saviors. A Brief History of Time is one of the quintessential examples for a popular science classic.
Many geniuses, irrespective of their fields, have one common difficulty. It’s their inability to communicate complex ideas in simplified forms. Those who had made this as their strength are always the popular personalities whom we all know very well in their respective fields. A genius by nature often will find it hard to speak in laymen tongue. Only few exceptions are blessed with the mind of a genius together with the ability to speak in a simple language.
Relatively popular science books in the field of physics are over populated, given the relevance of the subject directly into our daily chores. The legacy of popular science book in physics is a big list. A book that was released on April fool’s day in 1988 went on to the pages of history as one of the biggest with all time best sellers record.
Professor Stephen W. Hawking is revered as one of the greatest living physicists. He came to the limelight through his ground breaking works about ‘Black holes’. The papers he coauthored and published with his friend and fellow researcher all have extremely complex, higher level mathematical treatments. Despite being a leading authority in theoretical physics, his book A Brief history of Time has just a single equation throughout. (It only has Einstein’s world famous Mass-Energy equivalence equation.)
Prior to Hawking’s book Carl Sagan had a series of bestsellers in the ‘popular science’ genre. Most of his books were about the wonders of the Universe. This book marries extremely complex ideas told in a lucid and approachable language. The book covers all the basic questions that a curious human mind can conceives on the origins and nature of the Universe. Dealt in dedicated chapters the book covers the interesting Cosmological topics. (Cosmology is the study of the birth and fate of the Universe.) One of the most mysterious topics in Physics is the concept of ‘Time’ and Professor. Hawking sheds good light on it. Whatever be the concept he introduces or topic he takes up for discussion he handles it with astonishingly simple ways and lucidity. This makes his the work, a gem from a genius.
The book climbed into the London Bestsellers list in the very initial weeks of its release, and stayed glued to the top spot in the list consecutively for 237 weeks, a success which even fictional works rarely taste. The popularity of the book is entirely due to its simplistic treatment employed by the author in explaining otherwise complex topics. Till date the book has been translated to over forty languages and this vouches to the importance of this book. Owing to the popularity of the work, a documentary of the same name directed by Errol Morris in 1991 (It was produced by Stephen Spielberg) in which Professor. Hawking himself appeared. His machine synthesized voice still rings in my ears.
This piece of writing doesn’t concentrate in dissecting or analyzing the content of the book. Instead aims at introducing the same. If you’re a fan of popular since books have a natural curiosity in knowing the secrets of the Universe, this is your book. If you find it easier to cruise through the pages of this book, I would also recommend ‘The Universe in a Nutshell’ by Professor. Hawking (2001). This book actually took his genius a step ahead, so to speak.