Book: Stephen Hawking’s Universe

"Stephen Hawking's Universe" by John Boslough

As a youngster, I had no interest in baseball or hockey statistics: my spectator sport was particle physics, starting with Inside the Nucleus and some supplementary books from secondary school science, then Scientific American:

There’s a new one! It’s elementary. No, it isn’t. What’s a quark? How can something have 2/3 spin?

But real life distracted me from the popular accounts of nuclear physics. Now, I’m starting to catch up. I’ve finally read this introduction to the concepts that Stephen Hawking has pioneered and introduced to theoretical physics. It goes only up to about 1985, but that’s about when I stopped following the game.

This book explains the basic concepts of quarks, black holes, and singularities. It dips nto the history of theoretical physics. It ties together Einstein’s theories of relativity, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, and stellar evolution. It went far enough back that I wasn’t lost and reminded me of pioneers such as Dirac. Then it went forward through black holes and their temperature, the composition of subnuclear particles, quantum chromodynamics, and the rather shaky anthropic principle. It was an interesting and welcome refresher.


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