Brief Answers to the Big Questions

Brief Answers to the Big Questions

by Stephen Hawking


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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The world-famous cosmologist and author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the biggest questions facing humankind.

“Hawking’s parting gift to humanity . . . a book every thinking person worried about humanity’s future should read.”—NPR


Stephen Hawking was the most renowned scientist since Einstein, known both for his groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology and for his mischievous sense of humor. He educated millions of readers about the origins of the universe and the nature of black holes, and inspired millions more by defying a terrifying early prognosis of ALS, which originally gave him only two years to live. In later life he could communicate only by using a few facial muscles, but he continued to advance his field and serve as a revered voice on social and humanitarian issues.

Hawking not only unraveled some of the universe’s greatest mysteries but also believed science plays a critical role in fixing problems here on Earth. Now, as we face immense challenges on our planet—including climate change, the threat of nuclear war, and the development of artificial intelligence—he turns his attention to the most urgent issues facing us.

Will humanity survive? Should we colonize space? Does God exist? ​​These are just a few of the questions Hawking addresses in this wide-ranging, passionately argued final book from one of the greatest minds in history.

Featuring a foreword by Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar playing Stephen Hawking, an introduction by Nobel Laureate Kip Thorne, and an afterword from Hawking’s daughter, Lucy, Brief Answers to the Big Questions is a brilliant last message to the world.

Praise for Brief Answers to the Big Questions

“[Hawking is] a symbol of the soaring power of the human mind.”The Washington Post

“Hawking’s final message to readers . . . is a hopeful one.”—CNN

“Brisk, lucid peeks into the future of science and of humanity.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Hawking pulls no punches on subjects like machines taking over, the biggest threat to Earth, and the possibilities of intelligent life in space.”—Quartz

“Effortlessly instructive, absorbing, up to the minute and—where it matters—witty.”—The Guardian

“This beautiful little book is a fitting last twinkle from a new star in the firmament above.”The Telegraph

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984819192
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 28,207
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Stephen Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years and the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His books for the general reader include My Brief History, the classic A Brief History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universes, The Universe in a Nutshell, and, with Leonard Mlodinow, A Briefer History of Time and The Grand Design. He also co-authored a series of children’s books with his daughter, beginning with George’s Secret Key to the Universe. Stephen Hawking died in 2018.


Cambridge, England

Date of Birth:

January 8, 1942

Date of Death:

March 14, 2018

Place of Birth:

Oxford, England

Read an Excerpt

People have always wanted answers to the big questions. Where did we come from? How did the universe begin? What is the meaning and design behind it all? Is there anyone out there? The creation accounts of the past now seem less relevant and credible. They have been replaced by a variety of what can only be called superstitions, ranging from New Age to Star Trek. But real science can be far stranger than science fiction, and much more satisfying.

I am a scientist. And a scientist with a deep fascination with physics, cosmology, the universe and the future of humanity. I was brought up by my parents to have an unwavering curiosity and, like my father, to research and try to answer the many questions that science asks us. I have spent my life travelling across the universe, inside my mind. Through theoretical physics, I have sought to answer some of the great questions. At one point, I thought I would see the end of physics as we know it, but now I think the wonder of discovery will continue long after I am gone. We are close to some of these answers, but we are not there yet.

The problem is, most people believe that real science is too difficult and complicated for them to understand. But I don’t think this is the case. To do research on the fundamental laws that govern the universe would require a commitment of time that most people don’t have; the world would soon grind to a halt if we all tried to do theoretical physics. But most people can understand and appreciate the basic ideas if they are presented in a clear way without equations, which I believe is possible and which is something I have enjoyed trying to do throughout my life.

It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics. Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last fifty years, and I’m happy if I have made a contribution. One of the great revelations of the space age has been the perspective it has given humanity on ourselves. When we see the Earth from space, we see ourselves as a whole. We see the unity, and not the divisions. It is such a simple image with a compelling message; one planet, one human race.

I want to add my voice to those who demand why we must ask the big questions immediate action on the key challenges for our global community. I hope that going forward, even when I am no longer here, people with power can show creativity, courage and leadership. Let them rise to the challenge of the sustainable development goals, and act, not out of self-interest, but out of common interest. I am very aware of the preciousness of time. Seize the moment. Act now.

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Brief Answers to the Big Questions 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is certainly his best. While I don't agree with all his predictions, I admire his courage and convictions. At least he mentioned the speed of thought which is faster than the speed of light and all too human
SEH59 More than 1 year ago
If you wish to understand what Hawking was researching and able to understand, he does an excellent job of explaining in ways we will understand. When the book came out, critics stated he did not believe in God, this was taken out of context, read the book, a whole chapter dedicated to this and reference through out the book. Don't walk away saying you disagree with what his conclusions are, come away with an education of this world, not earth, world. This is a must read.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Stephen Hawking's take on the "Big Questions" is worth reading whether a person has an interest in science or not. Hawking reveals how science touches us everyday in ways we take for granted or do not even recognize. He engages the reader as one person directly speaking to another--explaining his view of what our universe is made of, how it began, how it ticks, and what challenges humanity faces. He makes the case for pursuing science and also lays out warnings as we use our new knowledge.
BrandonHarrison More than 1 year ago
Stephen Hawking's final book "Brief Answers To The Big Questions" is a must read for anyone, but it really caters to fans of science fiction. His latest and final novel is a culmination of some of his most debated topics that he has been researching for decades. No one is more qualified to give their take on the highly debated topics that Hawking covers than himself. These topics include if there is a God, is time travel possible, will humanity survive, and they only get better from there. This is not just a novel filled with boring facts, Hawking put a lot of work into his research and was able to portray his knowledge in a way that made it enjoyable for the everyday person to read about it and fall in love with it. Hawking cracks some jokes here and there to tone down the seriousness of his research, but all in all this novel is out of this world and his research will forever be remembered.
ClumsyInquisitor More than 1 year ago
Stephen Hawking, in an autobiographical-esque way, reels the reader in with a masterfully detailed description of his humble beginnings. I'm sure most readers are interested in the man who was the most accomplished cosmologist of his time, revolutionizing how we see the universe. If that was not enough, his perspective as an expert in the field is excellently decomposed into language we all can understand. It is like obtaining special insights to his work in ways a layman would not otherwise come to do so. Please read this book, as it holds incredible educational value - independent of the charming bits and pieces of Dr. Hawking's life woven together.