A Brief History of Time
A Brief History of Time; From the Big Bang to Black Holes by Stephen Hawking tackles the big questions in life; where did the universe come from? How did it all start? And how will it end? Without the use of much jargon or hefty equations, Hawking takes the non-science reader on a tour along ground-breaking research in science. If you are standing, please sit down because it is quite the book.
The quest, or intergalactic journey, starts on our own little planet. Hawking explains to us how we have thought about the surface of the earth and the relation to other galactic bodies like the sun and moon. Already here he is very gentle in discussing the role of God and the Catholic church. He also explains what a good scientific theory should entail; it should make predictions that should be testable (and those observations should be similar to what is predicted).
Not before long we leave our own galaxy and explore the whole universe. Hawking, still without the use of any equations, explains concepts like black holes and the big bang. Next to tackling the big parts of our universe he also takes a leap into the very small, to explain quantum physics and how this affects the large structures in our universe. In this, he is very apt in taking different perspectives and objectively comparing different explanations. He is honest in telling what we currently know and understand, but also blunt in stating that we do not know everything at this moment.
Personally, I found some of the side notes as interesting as the scientific inquiries themselves. Hawking explains how his predecessors experienced conflict amongst each other and how the quest for explaining the start of time has been met with caution (to say the least) by the church. But in the end, we do get to know why it is not turtles all the way down.
Hawking is a brilliant scientist and philosopher. In his many years of researching, he has made significant contributions to human knowledge. In A Brief History of Time, he has opened up this information to a more general public. In September 2005 Hawking, together with Leonard Mlodinow, wrote an even more comprehensive (but maybe less deep) inquiry into cosmology, fittingly named A Briefer History of Time. Even though the impact on your direct life will be less significant, the book is one that you should one day have read.
More on A Brief History of Time:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGpfu-KpuLw – The Audiobook
http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/10/17/7-must-read-books-on-time/ – 7 Must Reads on Time
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method – The Scientific Method
http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/scientific-experiments/10-scientific-laws-theories.htm#page=1 – 10 Scientific Laws You Should Know