ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy

Stephen Hawking, Author . Running Press $29.95 (1280p) ISBN 978-0-7624-1348-5

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.

Reviewed on: 10/21/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Paperback - 1264 pages - 978-0-7624-1698-1
Paperback - 1264 pages - 978-0-14-101571-2
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