The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking:


For Physics aficionados, this book is a must read. But, make sure you have some background in Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. I had a lot of difficulty in understanding many of the concepts in this book. I read the book twice, and the second time, I used the strategy of not questioning every statement, but of accepting many of the outrageous claims, and carrying on building on top of them. That helped a bit. Almost every now and then I found myself muttering, "Boy, these guys (the physicists of course) are nuts!"


Fortunately, as the eminent author admits, most of the leading edge physics of today is mathematics with little or no practical evidence, so we don't have to feel bad that we don't understand or appreciate some new theory. When they start talking about 11 dimensions and imaginary time, it basically means you have no way of ascertaining or refuting the veracity of any of their claims, except mathematically. Fortunately again, as the author admits, there is still a lot of mystery about the universe that is yet to be unraveled.


The chapters I enjoyed the most were the first one (A Brief History of Relativity) since it is easy to understand and filled with witty quotes of Einstein (for example, upon being offered the presidency of Israel, Einstein declined and said "politics is for the moment, an equation is for the eternity"); the second one ("The Shape of Time"); and the sixth one (Our Future? Star Trek or Not?) which speculates about our future. The speculations are quite astounding!


The book is full of beautiful diagrams and illustrations. The amount of text in the book is probably less than the total graphical content. It is evident that the author has taken utmost pain to make obtuse ideas accessible.


Even if you don't understand everything, it is still a great adventure to read this book to get an overview of what is going on at the forefront of Physics research.


Age-group: 18 and above




Last updated28 February 2016


For comments about this website, write to