“The Universe in a Nutshell” by Stephen Hawking

A rehash of “A Brief History Of Time“. Hawking re-organized the materials in a tree-like, instead of a linear format, and elaborated further on the theories of black hole and p-brane. He explained the complex physics models as clearly as humanly possible without the use of mathematical equations.

Hawking’s theories of the black hole are based on principles of thermodynamics, Einstein’s curved space-time and the holographic principle, which states that all the information contained in a multi-dimensional space can be encoded on the boundary of such space (a surface with fewer dimensions).

Previously, Hawking believed that the theory of general relativity predicted the universe had a beginning and an end (e.g., Big Bang and Big Crunch). Here he proposes an alternative “brane world” model where space-time (or space-imaginary time) does not have a start or an end, but is self-contained and without singularities, like the surface of the earth with extra dimensions.

Hawking also showed how Feynman’s “Sum Over Histories” approach can be used to explore the probabilities of time travel and multiple universes. In response to Einstein’s famous dictum, “God does not play dice”, Hawking stated tongue-in-cheek, “All the evidence is that God is quite a gambler. One can think of the universe as being like a giant casino, with dice being rolled and wheels being spun on every occasion.”

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