Stephen Hawking is a celebrity-physicist, known to physicists for his ground-breaking work on black holes, cosmology, imaginary time and such. To the general public he is an unusual genius: In spite of Lou Gehrig’s disease, he has been a prolific scientist, and a master-communicator of esoteric science. He became the occupant of a prestigious chair in Cambridge, has traveled far and wide, and has received countless honors and awards. As a cosmologist, he was drawn to the question of a Creator, and concluded there was no role for one in the universe, that heaven and afterlife are “fairy tales for people afraid of the dark.” Other scientists might agree, but when Hawking uttered that perspective it became newspaper headlines. Kitty Ferguson’s biography of this remarkable man on his seventieth year is based on personal interviews and on sound understanding of the physics behind Hawking’s ideas. She presents it all with clarity, and diagrams rather than formulas. This is a delightful book, especially for readers with a background in physics and those who have read A Brief History of Time.
August 22, 2012