A Brief History of Time-Stephen Hawking

hawkingThe word time has many definitions, one of which is “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.”  We use time every day in a multitude of ways and without it, society would cease to function.   But is time really what we think it is?  And how does it apply to our past, present and future?   Mankind has been searching for an answer to question “why are we here?” Creationists will say that all things we have come to know are the result of divine power. Evolutionists take the side of science as facts are learned revealing yet another piece of the jigsaw puzzle that is the origin of the universe.  Whichever side you find yourself on, I think we can all agree that there are many questions about our universe that have yet to be answered in the form of God or science.  Perhaps both are responsible or maybe science will one day provide all of the answers we seek.  The late Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) addressed the issue of time in this New York Times and international bestseller that helps us to understand the development of time and how it relates to our very existence.

If you love the work of Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and other brilliant minds, this book will undoubtedly deliver. Hawking was as brilliant as they come even. And even as a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease inflicted devastating changes on his body over the course of several decades, the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge continued to stay active in spite of the crippling condition.  He will be remembered as one of history’s greatest minds.  And evidence of that can be found within the pages of this book.  He takes us back to science and physics classes, reminding us of many things we probably have forgotten.   His focus however, is with the concept of time and how it relates to the origin of the galaxy in which earth exists and our existence as a species.  But before he gets to the crux of the book, he gives us a recap of the lives of those before him who left their legacy on society.   Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) and Isaac Newton (1643-1727) are just some of the names cemented in our minds as pioneers in the field of science.   To understand Hawking, it is first necessary to revisit the path society took to obtain the level of knowledge that we currently possess about our planet and those in the solar system.   As he moves closer to his era, the story heats up and when we arrive the concept of the black hole, the book pulls the reader in does not let go.

Hawking’s words are deep and the sections about the black hole, time arrow and time travel are sure to make readers question things that they thought they knew well.   The topics are complex in their entirety but Hawking does a great job and presenting them   so that a layman can follow along.  There are some parts which might require a re-read before the reader can move on, confident of having retained the material.  Spins, half-spins, positive charges, negative charges,entropy and anti-particles are just a sample of the concepts that readers of this book will need to understand.   At first it can seem like another language, especially to those with little or no scientific background.   Those who have always loved science and excelled in it will find these topics familiar.  The mystery of the black hole is  also demystified with a clear-cut analysis of why black holes exist and how they affect our galaxy, one of millions in the solar system.   The wormhole and supernova are also explored as well as the concept of interstellar travel.  I found the material fairly easy to follow but I am sure that the full explanation is far more intricate and probably more than my mind would want to handle. But for the purposes of the book, the author succeeded in driving home his points.

As he moves on to the time arrow, it is here that he ties everything together so that we may see how the three concepts of times we have are related and necessary for the survival and/or existence of the galaxy and our planet.  The facts about the expansion of the universe is one of the best parts of the book and cause me to re-think the origin of the earth and the future of the solar system.  Beautifully, Hawking’s work will live on forever and future astrophysicists and scientist will make more discoveries that will either confirm his theories or provide sounds reasons against them.  Whichever way things go, the end goal is finally answer questions whose answers have continued to elude us.  And I believe that would make Hawking proud as he first and foremost was devoted to science. This is a great read and when you have finished the book, you will have a better understanding of the history of time.

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” – Stephen Hawking

ISBN-10: 0553109537
ISBN-13: 978-0553109535

Cosmos-Carl Sagan with a New Foreword by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Introduction by Ann Druyan


All of us at some point in our lives, have looked up at the night sky and observed the moon and stars that compose what we have come to know as the galaxy.  This world beyond the earth remains intriguing and mysterious to mankind. The possibility of other forms of life and planets that might be able to sustain the human race have fueled the fires of exploration.  Our desire to answer many of these questions, resonates with the quest to answer the biggest questions, how and why are we here?  Religion has attempted through time to provide those answers and for many believers, the scriptures are the final word.  But for other curious minds who believe there is more than can be found in a religious text, continue to explore and learn more about the world we all inhabit and the worlds beyond.   Each comes together to form what the late Carl Sagan (1934-1996) called the cosmos.   Sagan, of Brooklyn, New York, remains possibly the greatest astrophysicists in history.  He was also an astronomer, cosmologist, astrobiologist and author.  Younger readers may recall that he is remembered fondly by Neil Degrasse Tyson, a protegé of Sagan who has hosted a show also called the Cosmos.  This book and the show explore our origins and the complicated yet fascinating process of evolution.

Those of us who are deeply religions might be initially put off by the book because of the subject matter.  Sagan does not leave anything to fate or belief,  the sciences are on center stage here as we open our minds and go back in time throughout human history.  Neil Degrasse Tyson provides a foreword and Sagan’s widow Ann Druyan provides a loving introduction.   As we begin the book, it is clear that Sagan is the teacher and we are the students with much to learn.   At times, it felt as is I had been transplanted back it time to grade school science.  However, Sagan explores material that I did not learn in school and only became familiar with as an adult. In fact, it was through Sagan that I learned the story of Johannes Kepler, who remains largely ignored in mainstream science books.  Sagan gives him a proper acknowledgment as a brilliant man whose contributions to what we know today cannot be overlooked.

Kepler is just one of many names in the book that should never be forgotten.  The path to knowledge over the past several thousand years has been long and arduous with many obstacles faced by those who dared to speak out against what was thought to be “common knowledge”. Their stories are intriguing and I wonder if any of them could have imagined society would have advanced to this point in 2018.   Perhaps they might disappointed that we have not made even further progress. Regardless of what they might believe, the fact is man has evolved drastically and what we know today is in a sense light years ahead of our ancestors.

The book is appropriately titled the cosmos and it is in this area that Sagan truly shines. Forget about science fiction films about space and shows about Martians.  Here he takes us on a voyage as we explore the known planets in our solar system.  The vivid and detailed descriptions of the planets we have named, vindicate Johannes Kepler, Nicholas Copernicus and others who understood that the earth rotates around the sun.   The amount of information that is known about the galaxy is nothing short of incredible.  And even more impressive is that there remains much more to discover.

Sagan is a good author and never lets the material become too complicated.  The information is presented thoroughly but in an easy to read format.  From the start, the book pulled me in deep an I committed myself to blocking out any ideas I may have had about the universe.  At times in the book, I felt as if I were learning science all over again in a refresher course before a highly important exam.  But this is no exam, this is our world and our role in it.  Our planet is at least four billions years old.  But if that is true, what life forms existed then and what happened to them?   And are we the only species of humans that have ever existed?  Could there be  a species on another planet in the galaxy that resembles humans?  Finally, if other species do exist,  are they aware of earth and have previously discovered out planet?  The possibilities are endless and that is what makes science so interesting and Sagan’s death a tragic loss.  Yes, science continues even though he has gone but his vision and accomplishments can never be denied. And as he firmly explains, in exploring the cosmos, we explore ourselves for we are a part of the cosmos.

I firmly believe that this book should be read by everyone.   This is the world’s history in science as it relates to the origins of mankind and our understanding of the worlds around us. Sagan is gone but far from forgotten and this gift he gave us is one that continues to give.  If you have the time and are willing, take a journey with him and explore the cosmos with a mind that is irreplaceable.

ISBN-10: 1531888062
ISBN-13: 978-1531888060

The Selfish Gene-Richard Dawkins

DawkinsEvolution is one of the most fascinating concepts in all of science.  Beginning with Charles Darwin, scientists have continued to learn more about the creation of the universe and are constantly seeking to understand our origin as a species and the origin of this planet we all inhabit. To some, it may seem incredible that the human species has survived for so long.  Was it by pure chance that we survived or because of instinctive traits which enable us to protect ourselves and keep going?  Richard Dawkins, author of the  ‘The God Delusion‘ seeks to answer that question in this thought-provoking book about our genetic makeup.

Over the years Dawkins has become the icon for atheism and is regarded as one of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen.  In this book, he takes on a journey as we explore human nature and examine the concepts of the selfish gene and altruism.  The human race has survived for thousands of years while other species have fallen victim to extinction.  Undoubtedly at the top of the food chain, it is our very selfishness that enables us to continue this pattern.  However, all species looking to continue their existence must be selfish in some way, but selfishness unchecked is a very dangerous concept.  Altruism serves a unique purpose as it helps to circumvent the selfish gene ingrained genetic in each and every one of us.  What we learn in this book puts evolution in a completely different light.   This book is a must read for students and/or believers of evolution.

ISBN-10: 0195200004
ISBN-13: 978-0195200003