A Brief History of Time

A Brief History of Time

by

Stephen Hawking

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Albert Einstein Character Analysis

Einstein is perhaps most famous for his equation E = mc2. Once an unknown clerk in the Swiss patent office, Einstein first came to be known among the scientific community by writing a paper in 1905 that stated there was no need for the idea of an ether that filled the universe as long as one accepted that time is not absolute. His became the theory of relativity—i.e. the notion that the laws of physics and speed of light are the same for all observers. He also put forward the theory of a cosmological constant, a sort of anti-gravity force which would hold the universe in place, but Edwin Hubble’s later discovery the universe is expanding overrode the need for this to make general relativity work. Einstein later called the cosmological constant the greatest mistake of his life. He was also an opponent of quantum mechanics, as he disagreed with the uncertainty principle. In 1935 he worked with Nathan Rosen on the idea of wormholes, called Einstein-Rosen bridges.

Albert Einstein Quotes in A Brief History of Time

The A Brief History of Time quotes below are all either spoken by Albert Einstein or refer to Albert Einstein. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam edition of A Brief History of Time published in 1988.
Chapter 1 Quotes

It is an interesting reflection on the general climate of thought before the twentieth century that no one had suggested that the universe was expanding or contracting. [...] this may have been due to people’s tendency to believe in eternal truths, as well as the comfort they found in the thought that even though they may grow old and die, the universe is eternal and unchanging.

Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

The hostility of other scientists, particularly Eddington, his former teacher and the leading authority on the structure of stars, persuaded Chandrasekhar to abandon this line of work […] However, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983, it was […] for his early work on the limiting mass of cold stars.

Related Symbols: Nobel Prize
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:
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Albert Einstein Character Timeline in A Brief History of Time

The timeline below shows where the character Albert Einstein appears in A Brief History of Time. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...example, Mercury’s movement diverged slightly from predictions made by applying Newton’s law of gravity. Albert Einstein’s slightly different prediction, via his general theory of relativity, matched with what was seen, a... (full context)
Chapter 2
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...explain this result. It wasn't until 1905, when previously unknown Swiss patent office clerk Albert Einstein suggested there was no need for the idea of ether if you accepted time was... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...a simple idea, it had huge ramifications. Mass and energy were equivalent, as summarized in Einstein's famous equation E=mc2, and the theory that nothing is faster than the speed of light.... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Ignoring gravitational effects, like Einstein and Poincaré did back in 1905, the resulting theory is called the special theory of... (full context)
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The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
In 1915, Einstein put forward the idea of the general theory of relativity. He suggested that gravity is... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...thousand years. This fact was accounted for in the new theory, and helped to confirm Einstein's new proposition. Even smaller deviations have been found elsewhere and confirmed the theory's predictions since. (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...Stephen Hawking's own work in theoretical physics, and later he showed with Roger Penrose that Einstein's general theory of relativity suggested there was indeed a beginning and end to the universe. (full context)
Chapter 3
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
...gravity, but everyone at the time seemed set on believing in a static universe. Even Einstein overlooked this idea in his general theory of relativity. Instead he thought up a kind... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Over the millennia, our understanding has changed significantly. Penrose and Hawking’s work showed that Einstein’s general theory of relativity is only a partial theory. It breaks down at the beginning... (full context)
Chapter 4
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...of probability, with no definite outcome for each individual observation, therefore introducing randomness into science. Einstein objected to this approach despite the fact his Nobel Prize was partly awarded for his... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Einstein’s general theory of relativity is considered a classical theory because it does not include quantum... (full context)
Chapter 5
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The argument wasn’t settled until 1803, when John Dalton discovered the existence of molecules. Einstein provided important evidence when he explained the random movement of dust in liquid was caused... (full context)
Chapter 6
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...a cannonball falling back to earth. Light travels at a fixed speed in one direction. Einstein’s general relativity helped to explain this, although it took decades for the relevance to be... (full context)
Chapter 7
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The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
...from the black hole would be balanced by the negative energy falling in. According to Einstein’s E=mc2 equation, energy is proportional to mass, so negative energy going into a black hole... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Einstein’s general relativity predicted that space-time began as a singularity in the big bang, and ends... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...symmetry had broken. This extra energy has anti-gravitational effects due to strong repulsion, acting like Einstein’s cosmological constant. These areas would increasingly expand, with the space between particles expanding and smoothing... (full context)
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
...is that gravity is represented in a curved space-time. Applying the sum over histories to Einstein’s ideas on gravity, the history of a particle is a complete curved space-time that represents... (full context)
Chapter 9
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
...had never made the mistake in the first place, and pretend it never happened. But Einstein gave a better example when he called the cosmological constant the greatest regret of his... (full context)
Chapter 10
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
...effect, you could set out in a spaceship and return before you left. This annoyed Einstein, who didn’t want time travel as part of his theory of relativity. This also doesn’t... (full context)
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Einstein and Nathan Rosen were the first to suggest wormholes could exist, hence their other name,... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Search for a Unifying Theory of the Universe Theme Icon
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
The Danger of Stubbornness  Theme Icon
Einstein tried and failed to find a theory of everything, mainly because not enough was known... (full context)
Chapter 12
Human Curiosity and Ingenuity Theme Icon
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...stars or people. But if there are no boundaries, there is little room for God. Einstein asked what choice God had when making the universe. If the no boundary model is... (full context)