Review: The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking (2001 book)

Hawking, probably the most famous physicist since Einstein, offers an entertaining non-technical survey of cosmology and related areas of theoretical physics, a lot of it based on his own research.

The book is over a decade old, but that’s recent enough that it’s only a little out of date. In fact, the most out-of-date thing in it is a joke about how lousy airline meals are. Remember when airlines served meals even in steerage?

There are plenty of other jokes that still work, though. In the first chapter Hawking notes, “Isaac Newton gave us the first mathematical model for time and space in his Principia Mathematica, published in 1687. Newton occupied the Lucasian chair at Cambridge that I now hold, though it wasn’t electrically operated in his time.”

Hawking also briefly references his guest-star appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and indicates he’s still waiting for Data to pay him his poker winnings.

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