Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
In On the Shoulders of Giants , Stephen Hawking brings together the greatest works by Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton and Einstein, showing how their pioneering discoveries changed the way we see the world. From Copernicus' revolutionary claim that the earth orbits the sun and Kepler's development of the laws of planetary motion to Einstein's interweaving of time and space, each scientist built on the theories of their predecessors to answer the questions that had long mystified humanity. Hawking also provides fascinating glimpses into their lives and times - Galileo's trial in the Papal inquisition, Newton's bitter feuds with rivals and Einstein's absent-mindedly jotting notes that would lead to his Theory of Relativity while pushing his baby son's pram. Depicting the great challenges these men faced and the lasting contributions they made, Hawking explains how their works transformed the course of science - and gave us a better understanding of the universe and our place in it.
Originally published: Philapdelphia, Pa.: Running, 2002.
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Publishers Weekly Review
Acclaimed physicist Hawking has collected in this single illuminating volume the classic works of physics and astronomy that in their day revolutionized humankind's perception of the world. Included are Copernicus's On the Revolution of Heavenly Spheres, Galileo's Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences, Kepler's "Harmony of the World," Newton's The Principia and selections from The Principle of Relativity by Einstein. Taken together, these writings document the evolution of our conception of the universe from a pre-Copernican cosmos with a stationary earth at its center to one in which the very weave of time and space are relative. The editor's ability to step back and view the sweep of his subject was first showcased in his bestselling A Brief History of Time and confirmed in his The Universe in a Nutshell. In an essay introducing each work here, he gives a short and sweet biography of its author and an explanation of its significance, as well as the occasional gem, like Galileo's handwritten renunciation of his beliefs before the Inquisition. To read the works themselves is to feel the thrill and mystery of intimacy with oft-cited source documents. Despite the volume's heftiness, Hawking has given these works a setting that is elegantly simple and, in its simplicity, effectively broadening. (Oct.) Forecast: With a 100,000 first printing and $25,000 marketing campaign, Running Press won't let the book's heft discourage them from getting the word out. And with the fair price for this behemoth, their effort should pay off. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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
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