Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Stephen Hawking was the most renowned scientist since Einstein, known both for his groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology and for his mischievous sense of humor. He educated millions of readers about the origins of the universe and the nature of black holes, and inspired millions more by defying a terrifying early prognosis of ALS, which originally gave him only two...

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Title:Brief Answers to the Big Questions
Author:Stephen Hawking
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Edition Language:English

Brief Answers to the Big Questions Reviews

  • André Oliveira

    In this book Stephen Hawking, possibly the last book written by him, answers some big questions and makes some predictions for the future taking into account the current state of science. How did it all begin? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? Is time travel possible? Obviously, I wasn't expecting solutions for these questions, but Stephen Hawking is able to explain complicated questions in a way that everyone would understand.

    Also, I love how Stephen Hawking answers those questi

    In this book Stephen Hawking, possibly the last book written by him, answers some big questions and makes some predictions for the future taking into account the current state of science. How did it all begin? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? Is time travel possible? Obviously, I wasn't expecting solutions for these questions, but Stephen Hawking is able to explain complicated questions in a way that everyone would understand.

    Also, I love how Stephen Hawking answers those questions without disregarding other's beliefs.

  • Jenna

    Well, this was certainly a bitter-sweet read, knowing it is the last book of Steven Hawking. I wish I'd borrowed the e-book instead of the print because there are so many things I'd have loved to highlight.

    In

    , Stephen Hawking attempts to answer 10 big questions, such as:

    •How did the universe begin?

    •Is there a god?

    •What is inside a black hole?

    •Is it possible to time travel?

    •Will AI outsmart us and if so, should we be worried?

    These and other questions are answered with brief, simple explanations. Steven Hawking's brillia

    Well, this was certainly a bitter-sweet read, knowing it is the last book of Steven Hawking. I wish I'd borrowed the e-book instead of the print because there are so many things I'd have loved to highlight.

    In

    , Stephen Hawking attempts to answer 10 big questions, such as:

    •How did the universe begin?

    •Is there a god?

    •What is inside a black hole?

    •Is it possible to time travel?

    •Will AI outsmart us and if so, should we be worried?

    These and other questions are answered with brief, simple explanations. Steven Hawking's brilliance shines through on every page. His wittiness is prevalent throughout the book as well (including some wonderful jabs at Donnie-johnnie Trump. Suffice it to say, Mr. Hawking was not a fan!).

    I absolutely loved this book. I only wish it could have been longer. Steven Hawking was such a gift to humanity, his genius will live on for as long as there is intelligent life to appreciate his many contributions. I am so sad to have finished this book, but so glad to have read it.

  • Bharath

    This is my first book of 2019. As a thought-provoking book from one of the leading thinkers till recent times, a good way to start the year. I have previously read his “A brief history of time” and “The grand design” both of which I liked for presenting serious science in a very readable form. This book released after Stephen Hawking’s death does not disappoint, and is a great compilation of the most important topics Hawking dealt with in his lifetime – and these topics are also those most of us

    This is my first book of 2019. As a thought-provoking book from one of the leading thinkers till recent times, a good way to start the year. I have previously read his “A brief history of time” and “The grand design” both of which I liked for presenting serious science in a very readable form. This book released after Stephen Hawking’s death does not disappoint, and is a great compilation of the most important topics Hawking dealt with in his lifetime – and these topics are also those most of us are extremely curious about. There are a couple of good forewords from Eddie Redmayne who played him in the movie “The theory of everything” and scientist Kip Thorne, who writes of his inspiration from Stephen Hawking’s life on his work on gravitational waves. The afterword by his daughter Lucy is touching including mentioning the impact he had on people as could be seen by the large crowds which quietly lined the street on his passing.

    The first topic in the is – “Is there a God?”. Hawking’s views on this are already public, and also included in the movie based on his life. The point he makes is that religion describes God as some kind of a superhuman whom we can discuss/debate with and be judged by (some traditions such as Advaita Vedanta do not do that though). He goes on to discuss how time itself started with the big bang and the universe, and well-defined laws of nature mean there is nothing for a God to do. You may agree, partly agree or disagree with his views, but he certainly offers a lot of food for thought. The next topic is on how it all started with the big bang. While all the answers are yet not there, Hawking is confident that physics will crack the puzzle of how the universe sprang from nothing. There is already a lot of progress made such as with M-theory.

    The section on black holes is probably the most detailed and it is also a bit dense in parts. This is probably the area Stephen Hawking has contributed the most, and I suppose that explains the level of detail. The discussion is fascinating – do black holes retain context and information of what goes in? How do they come about, and how can study them?

    In the discussions around climate change, and in fleeting references in other sections as well, Hawking stresses that we are being very irresponsible with respect to Planet Earth, and people in power had better pay attention to this. The other sections on space travel, AI make for interesting reading as well.

    This book is certainly a tribute to Stephen Hawking’s curiosity, passion for science and intellectual genius. A great book to start the year – very intellectually stimulating.

    My rating: 4.5 / 5.

  • Khurram

    A great book, by a great man. I had heard the name Steven Hawking, but never read any of his theories. Simply for the very reason the something coming from the smartest men of the previous 2 generations would be overly complicated and beyond my understanding. What I discovered in this book is Steven Hawking was just a great man as we was a scientist, but an incredible teacher as well. His method of writing allows people like, who have a passing interest in but only a vacation of his ability in s

    A great book, by a great man. I had heard the name Steven Hawking, but never read any of his theories. Simply for the very reason the something coming from the smartest men of the previous 2 generations would be overly complicated and beyond my understanding. What I discovered in this book is Steven Hawking was just a great man as we was a scientist, but an incredible teacher as well. His method of writing allows people like, who have a passing interest in but only a vacation of his ability in science to understand his work. This skill cannot be understated as if the most knowledgeable person in the world cannot comuninate their knowledge it is list with them. Sort of like sending it into a black hole.

    The book is easily readable, Hawking' s dry wit and sense of humour makes reading and learning from it a pleasure. The metaphors on this book allowed me to grasp the basics of even the most complicated theories easily. Though I differ from him from a belief perspective, I do respect his ideas and I think like any great teacher Hawking would have welcomed this difference of opinion as a show of curiosity towards finding the truth.

    I am sure his views, and more in-depth theories will go a long way towards solving many of the great world wide problems highlighted in this book that we face today.

    I would recommend this book to any. It is a great read, and I don't thing anyone can read this book without learning something from it or seeing something a different way. Also it give a great insight into Steven Hawking as a person for people who know him best or colleagues of his, but from his own writing style. He has a great sense of humour, and amazing determination. This is a great final word and goodbye to a man who's theories will inspire many and live on far into the future. One day some of these theories might even become scientific laws one day.

  • Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    Stephen Hawking was such an inspirational man. When he first received his diagnosis, he was ready to give up on life; he was ready to abandon his studies as his body slowly diminished, but with the help of a few friends and loved ones he managed to carry on and complete his work. And, to his surprise, he carried on living beyond what he thought was capable. So, he made the most of every moment as he pursued his academic goals.

    Stephen Hawking was such an inspirational man. When he first received his diagnosis, he was ready to give up on life; he was ready to abandon his studies as his body slowly diminished, but with the help of a few friends and loved ones he managed to carry on and complete his work. And, to his surprise, he carried on living beyond what he thought was capable. So, he made the most of every moment as he pursued his academic goals.

    He truly was a great man. And the best thing about this book is its simplicity. Stephen Hawking is not dealing with simple things here; he is dealing with complexities that he has spent his life researching and pondering over. Yet, for all that, he makes it approachable and readable to the everyday reader. He knows his audience, and he writes for them, which is fantastic because with a book like this one could easily have become alienated. He was the leading expert in his field of theoretical physics, but he knew exactly how to communicate his ideas to the public.

    And that is so important. He considers huge questions in this book. Questions about time travel and alternate universes, but he discusses them in a friendly way. Anybody could read this without getting lost. I really do recommend this one.

    It’s a book that will make you think, and it’s a book that will make you appreciate one of the greatest scientists of his generation.

  • Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    Quick book answering some Big Questions while learning a bit more about Stephen Hawking.

    Is there a God?

    Is there other intelligent life in the universe?

    Is time travel possible?

    Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?

    It was great - recommend the audiobook too!

  • Florencia

    Catechist, atheist, agnostic; I've been there. So naturally, my main interest in this book is that haunting question regarding the existence of a god, the creation of things. I had faith, I don't know where it went; perhaps a part of it went with the books I've read that made it impossible for me to absorb some notions without questioning them. I told a priest once and he looked at me as if I were selling drugs and tickets to strip clubs at school, not without expressing how presumptuous human beings are for wanting to know everything. A similar reaction is mentioned in this book.

    Needless remarks aside, a feeble faith tinged with fear - whereas it represents some obvious disadvantages - keeps the mind open. What do you have? The laws of nature or a self-existent and eternal being that created time and space. The complete absence of destiny or someone to blame for lousy decisions. The serenity of dust or the afterlife - on whichever side you get, because you believe or you don't. There is no wager here. There's a chance that an omniscient designer is going to notice that you're believing "just in case". I prefer the afterlife Hawking describes:

    This scientist, key factor in singularities and father of Hawking Radiation, is also the master of analogies. The content of this book is a pedagogic challenge and yet, he makes it approachable. Some ideas and quotes appear more than once throughout the book (those already familiar with Hawking's work may be less enthusiastic about this) but I didn't mind; more resources for me to retain rather complex processes, while there's still light.

    Is there a God?

    How did it all begin?

    Is there other intelligent life in the universe?

    What is inside a black hole?

    Is time travel possible?

    How do we shape the future?

    The book includes comments of those who knew Hawking:

    Oct 27, 18

    * Also on

    ** Photo credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

  • Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this,

    Closed Time-like Curves: “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking

    “Is there any point in hosting a party for time travelers? Would you hope anyone would turn up?

    Hawking’s answer: In 2009 I held a party for time travelers in my college, Gonville and Caius in Cambridge, for a film about time travel. To ensure that only genuine time travelers came, I didn’t send out the invitation

    If you're into stuff like this,

    Closed Time-like Curves: “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” by Stephen Hawking

    “Is there any point in hosting a party for time travelers? Would you hope anyone would turn up?

    Hawking’s answer: In 2009 I held a party for time travelers in my college, Gonville and Caius in Cambridge, for a film about time travel. To ensure that only genuine time travelers came, I didn’t send out the invitation until after the party. On the day of the party, I sat in college, hoping but no one came. I was disappointed, but not surprised, because I had shown that if general relativity is correct and energy density is positive, time travel is not possible. I would have been delighted if one of my assumptions had turned out to be wrong.”

    In “Brief Answers to the Big Questions – The Final Book” by Stephen Hawking.

    I'm not really asking a question - a lot of what Hawking talks about really isn't even theoretically testable. Theoretical physics does tend in that direction - often it talks about ideas that are not testable yet, and may not be for a long time, or which are mathematical speculation as much as observation.

  • Barbara

    Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist who's considered one of the most brilliant scientists since Albert Einstein. In addition to making huge contributions to physics, Hawking strove to share his discoveries with the general public, and his book "A Brief History of Time" was a best seller. Moreover, Hawking did most of his research while battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which makes his accomplishments even more remarkable.

    In 'Brief Answers to Big Questions

    Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist who's considered one of the most brilliant scientists since Albert Einstein. In addition to making huge contributions to physics, Hawking strove to share his discoveries with the general public, and his book "A Brief History of Time" was a best seller. Moreover, Hawking did most of his research while battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which makes his accomplishments even more remarkable.

    In 'Brief Answers to Big Questions', completed after Hawking's death (from his speeches, interviews, essays, notes and lectures), the gifted scientist responds to a number of queries that are relevant to our time.

    However it's Hawking's QUESTIONS about relativity and quantum mechanics that will resonate going forward. In the introduction to this book, American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Kip Thorne writes: "Newton gave us answers, Hawking gave us questions. And Hawking's questions themselves keep on giving, generating breakthroughs decades later. When ultimately we master the quantum gravity laws and comprehend fully the birth of our universe it may largely be by standing on the shoulders of Hawking."

    One of Hawking's most important contributions to science was his discovery of 'Hawking Radiation', composed of particles emitted from black holes. It was once thought that NOTHING could escape from a black hole, but this isn't the case. The idea goes as follows: Quantum mechanics implies that space is filled with particles and anti-particles - which are constantly appearing in pairs, separating, them coming together again and annihilating each other. In the presence of a black hole one member of the pair may fall into the black hole, leaving the other member without a partner to engage in mutual annihilation. This particle (or anti-particle) may escape as 'radiation' from the black hole.

    Scientists speculate that, unless a black hole gains mass (by engulfing other objects), it will eventually vanish.

    *****

    In this book Hawking answers questions he's been asked over the years. I'll give a brief synopsis of his responses, and leave you to read the book if you want more information.

    - Is there a God?

    No. Everything can be explained by the laws of nature. Matter and energy and space were spontaneously created by the Big Bang.

    - What came before the Big Bang?

    This is a meaningless question because there was no 'before' the Big Bang. Time (actually spacetime) was created BY the Big Bang. It's like asking 'what is south of the South Pole?'

    - Is there other intelligent life in the universe?

    We don't know (yet) but Hawking likes to think there are other forms of intelligent life out there. They just haven't contacted Earth....perhaps because they're too far away.

    In any case, meeting an advanced civilization would be unadvisable (for us). Remember European settlers and American Indians? If aliens came here it would be like the film 'Independence Day.'

    - Can we predict the future?

    No. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle dictates that we can't know both the position and momentum of a particle at the same instant. Thus we can't predict what will happen to a particle (or things made of particles) at a future time. Hawking observes: “No matter how powerful a computer you have, if you put lousy data in you will get lousy predictions out.”

    - What is inside a black hole?

    A black hole - which is single point of infinite density - is a star that's exhausted its nuclear fuel and collapsed.....but no one REALLY knows what's inside.

    - Is time travel possible?

    Theoretically yes. If spacetime was warped enough to form a loop, time travel would be possible. However, it time travel WAS possible, someone from the future would probably have come back to visit us already.

    In 2009, Hawking held a party for time travelers in his college at Cambridge, for a film about time travel. No one came.😊

    - Will we survive on Earth?

    Not forever. Nuclear war is a dire threat and there will be a meteorite strike at some point. Moreover, global warming is likely to make Earth uninhabitable, since our climate could become like that of Venus - boiling hot and raining sulfuric acid."

    Hawking notes: "One way or another, I regard it as almost inevitable that either a nuclear confrontation or environmental catastrophe will cripple the Earth at some point in the next 1,000 years which, as geological time goes, is the mere blink of an eye. By then I hope and believe that our ingenious race will have found a way to slip the surly bonds of Earth and will, therefore, survive the disaster. The same of course may not be possible for the millions of other species that inhabit the Earth, and that will be on our conscience as a race."

    - Should we colonize space?

    Yes. In order to survive long term, humans need to colonize other planets. This won't be cheap. Hawking helped initiate a research and engineering project called 'Breakthrough Starshot", which strives to develop spacecraft capable of reaching the star system Alpha Centauri - which is 4.37 light-years (about 26 trillion miles) away.

    Hawking believes that in the next hundred years humans will be able to travel to the inner planets of the solar system and in 500 years we will have visited the nearest stars.

    - What are the prospects that scientists will unite Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum theory to achieve a complete theory of the laws of the universe?

    This will happen within the next millennium.

    - Will human genetic engineering occur?

    Yes. If scientists learn how to do something, SOMEONE will do it.....even if it's illegal.

    - Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?

    Yes. Computers are likely to overtake human intelligence in the next 100 years. Thus we need to ensure that computers have goals in line with ours. Just to be safe, robotic designs should always incorporate a 'kill switch.'

    - What world changing idea would you like to see implemented by humanity?

    The development of fusion power to give an unlimited supply of clean energy. It would be an inexhaustible supply of energy without pollution or global warming.

    *****

    Despite everything, Hawking was an optimistic soul. He advocates that we should: “Be brave, be curious, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done."

    I found the book interesting and informative and would recommend it to people interested in Hawking's view of the 'big questions.'

    You can follow my reviews at

  • Giorgio

    Why 3 stars if the book is well-written?

    Well, there is NOTHING NEW.

    He just said again and again what he always said...

    Maybe it should be sold as "Hawking in 90 minutes" or "Hawking for Dummies"...

    Yes, his life was really RICH in experiencies, and pain, and fight to overcome an ammount of things that almost nobody could... but...

    At the end, I did not feel any "answer", just plain stabilishment cientific thinking.

    Not enough for me.

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