Cover image for On the shoulders of giants : the great works of physics and astronomy
Title:
On the shoulders of giants : the great works of physics and astronomy
Author:
Hawking, Stephen, 1942- (Stephen William)
Publication Information:
Philadelphia, Pa. : Running Press, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
xiii, 1264 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) -- Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) -- Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) -- Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) -- Albert Einstein (1879-1955).
ISBN:
9780762413485

9780762416981
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

World-renowned physicist and bestselling author Stephen Hawking presents a revolutionary look at the momentous discoveries that changed our perception of the world with this first-ever compilation of seven classic works on physics and astronomy. His choice of landmark writings by some of the world's great thinkers traces the brilliant evolution of modern science and shows how each figure built upon the genius of his predecessors. On the Shoulders of Giants includes, in their entirety, On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres by Nicolaus Copernicus; Principia by Sir Isaac Newton; The Principle of Relativity by Albert Einstein; Dialogues Concerning Two Sciences by Galileo Galilei with Alfonso De Salvio; plus Mystery of the Cosmos, Harmony of the World, and Rudolphine Tables by Johannes Kepler. It also includes five critical essays and a biography of each featured physicist, written by Hawking himself.


Author Notes

Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford, England on January 8, 1942. He received a first class honors degree in natural science from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. He was a theoretical physicist and has held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University from 1982 until his death. In 1974, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the world's oldest scientific organization.

In 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease confined him to a wheelchair and reduced his bodily control to the flexing of a finger and voluntary eye movements, but left his mental faculties untouched. He became a leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes.

He wrote numerous books including A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, Black Holes and Baby Universes, On the Shoulders of Giants, A Briefer History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell, The Grand Design, and Brief Answers to the Big Questions. In 1982, he was named a commander of the British Empire. A film about his life, The Theory of Everything, was released in 2014 and was based on his first wife Jane Hawking's book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. He died on March 14, 2018 at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In translation from the original Latin, Italian, or German, the revolutionary scientific writings of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, and Einstein are here gathered into one monumental book. The texts appear to be unexpurgated, with little evidence of editing; Hawking's contribution is a biographical introduction to each of these icons of physics. The actual texts are largely unmediated by Hawking, so readers seriously willing to plunge into De revolutionibus or Principia mathematica would be well advised to be self-reliant, particularly in the mathematics absolutely central to understanding when reading the texts. This collection could be regarded as an intellectual fashion accessory for readers without the requisite mathematical ability, although some of the entries are more accessible, as with the Galileo offering, which Galileo wrote as a dialogue precisely for a general audience. In the Einstein selections, too, the math-impaired can find the Newton-toppling ideas among the equations: "Velocities greater than light . . . have no possibility of existence." It remains to be seen whether the publisher's audacious six-figure press run is justified. --Gilbert Taylor


Publisher's Weekly Review

Physicist and author Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time) has compiled an anthology of seminal works by Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. On the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy includes Newton's Principia, Einstein's Principle of Relativity and other writings, along with a short biographical chapter on each scientist. Hawking comments on all of the pieces, tracing the ways in which each man was influenced by his predecessors, and the great conceptual strides that these pioneers made. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Choice Review

Hawking, the editor of this collection, brings together English translations of some of the greatest scientific works in the history of physics and astronomy. He provides an introduction to the book and describes the life and works of Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Sir Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein. Although translated works from these great thinkers can be found in other individual sources, this single volume allows readers to see how thoughts and ideas on the structure of the universe flowed from one scientific era to another. The works included are Copernicus's On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres; Galileo's Dialogues Concerning Two Sciences; Book Five from Kepler's Harmony of the World; Newton's Principia; and selections from Einstein's Principle of Relativity. It is interesting to see how the scientists used different literary tools to convey their ideas. For example, Galileo's Dialogues Concerning Two Sciences is a fictional conversation among three people. This reviewer wishes that the five-page introduction were not typeset in all capital letters, a style that makes reading difficult. An index would have been useful. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through professionals. J. R. Kraus University of Denver


Table of Contents

Introductionp. IX
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)
His Life and Workp. 1
On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheresp. 7
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
His Life and Workp. 391
Dialogues Concerning Two Sciencesp. 399
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
His Life and Workp. 627
Harmony of the World, Book Fivep. 635
Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727)
His Life and Workp. 725
Principiap. 733
Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
His Life and Workp. 1161
Selections from The Principle of Relativityp. 1167
Acknowledgementsp. 1265