Brief History of Time

Not long after the publication of The Very Early Universe, Hawking decided to write a book on cosmology that would appeal to the general public. The title of the book was A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. An unfortunate delay of the book's final draft occurred in 1985, when Hawking contracted pneumonia while visiting CERN (Centre Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire/European Organization for Nuclear Research) a particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Extremely ill, Hawking was flown to Addenbrooke's Hospital at Cambridge University, where surgeons performed a tracheotomy. The operation saved his life but denied him any further use of his voice. Hawking adopted a small computer device linked to his wheelchair that synthesized speech through commands he made with his hand. This was far less convenient for Hawking; however, it turned out to be a better situation for the people who previously had a hard time comprehending him. Before the speech synthesizer, only those closest to him could understand his speech.

Hawking's A Brief History of Time was finally published in 1988 and remained on The New York Times best-seller list for a record-breaking 234 weeks. Within its pages, Hawking delved into the known theories of the cosmos with all its unresolved conflicts and addressed the problem of unifying quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and general relativity; however, the defining characteristic of this book was that it made possible for the average reader with an interest in cosmology to understand the theories and mathematics involved. Even today, A Brief History of Time remains one of the best-selling books of all time.

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