I was browsing feeds on WordPress and came across this post about Stephen Hawking by Michael D. Lemonick, which among other things, discusses whether he’s really famous for being amazing (he is, but not necessarily on the same plane as Newton and Einstein), discusses a new PBS documentary on the him, and comments on Hawking’s best selling A Brief History of Time:
…which I might have to take a bit of an exception to. Lemonick implies (probably fairly) that many people bought the book because of Hawking’s notoriety, more of a fashionable acquisition than one for serious reading, and that far fewer people read it than purchased it. I found it very clear, easy to understand, and (relatively, haha) concise! Hawking’s writing voice is enjoyable, admittedly less candid than Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace, which is another great entry-level book into physics and cosmology. While I didn’t read Hawking’s book until later, I was loaned a copy of Kaku’s in highschool and loved it, and I think both are accessible to anyone who wants to sit down and put time and effort into it.
Incidentally, my reading of Kaku’s Hyperspace, lent to me by one of my mother’s co-workers, was a real factor in sparking my interest in theoretical physics. I remember being interested in time travel and space and rockets, explosives, and child-cosmology, but Hyperspace really sparked an interest in understanding the forces and mechanisms, the theory behind these things. Another book that belongs to that list, this time from my local library was Sandy Kidd’s Beyond 2001: How One Man Revolutionised the Laws of Physics.
If you’re interested in gyroscopes and anti-gravity propulsion systems, it’s worth a read. After mucking about with gyroscopes, Kidd manages to put together a rig that appears to generate a propelling force without any rockets. propellers, etc. It’s pretty interesting and his rig gets tested by various labs, and at the end of the book gets taken over by the military (bit of a downer). I still don’t know what happened to the idea, but I would love to find a copy of the book – I unfortunately couldn’t keep my library’s copy, although I renewed it enough times that they might as well have gifted it to me!
I was about to write that if anybody had a copy they were willing to part with I would love to get ahold of it, but I just linked to it on Amazon, didn’t I? They didn’t have a copy a few years ago, but I see it on there now for a couple of dollars, so I think I shall have my own copy in a week or two 🙂