STEM Books – ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’

Hi, it’s Maisie! Today I am going to be talking books! In particular a recent STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related book I have read, which I just had to recommend.

Over the past year, whilst I have been working in industry I have really got back into reading. I am using Goodreads which is an app where I can track my reading progress. My aim for 2020 is to read 35 books and I think I might actually achieve it! I have already read 20 books this year so I’m well on my way. Now that we have been in lock down for a fair few weeks, I have been reading even more, especially in the evenings. I thought I would have a chat about my favourite STEM book of the year so far!

I have recently finished reading ‘Brief Answers to the Big Questions’ by Stephen Hawking. This was his final book and had not actually been completed when Stephen Hawking passed away. It was finished in collaboration with “his academic colleagues, his family and the Stephen Hawking Estate”. This book is a collation and reflection on everything he studied and thought about throughout his lifetime.

Professor Stephen Hawking was a Theoretical Physicist, one of the most internationally recognised scientists of our time. Some of his research includes the big bang and black holes. A lot of his research was pioneering, he even proposed a theory for black hole radiation that was named after him – Hawking radiation.

Within the book there are 10 wide-ranging chapters, in each Hawking aims to answer some of the universe’s largest and most complex questions.

  • Is there a God?
  • How did it all begin?
  • Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
  • Can we predict the future?
  • What is inside a black hole?
  • Is time travel possible?
  • Will we survive on Earth?
  • Should we colonise space?
  • Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
  • How do we shape the future?

I love how, throughout the chapters, you get to see Stephen’s sense of humour within his writing, it is a very enjoyable and entertaining read. Hawking’s excellence and true genius shines throughout his writing. I really appreciated the way Stephen approached the topics in question and answered them in an understanding and inclusive way. These are some potentially contentious topics, but he discusses them brilliantly.

The book does contain some scientific explanations but they all have a purpose and Stephen does a great job at making the topics understandable for all. This book can be easily enjoyed and understood by anyone, irrespective of age or scientific understanding which is a pretty mean feat! Hawking uses his words carefully and sparingly so everything said within the book holds real meaning.

My favourite chapters were those that tackle the questions of our future. If humans should colonise space and how that would affect us all. Also how AI (artificial intelligence) will contribute to the future of technology and if we will be able to control its rapid development. All the answers are very thought provoking and I reread them just to digest all aspects of the response.

The heartfelt afterword by Lucy Hawking (Stephen Hawking’s daughter) is a lovely ending to an ever so intriguing book. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to explore the big questions of our world. I was always a little nervous to read a book by such a iconic scientist, I thought I would be way out my depth but actually the way Stephen Hawking writes is so accessible. Definitely go give this book a read!

Maisie

2SistersinSTEM

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