A Brief History of a Brief History of Time
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  1. #1
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    A Brief History of a Brief History of Time

    Preparing to skip continents once again has us going through books, winnowing out the unessential:
    When I read A Brief History of Time the first time in 1990, it rearranged my view of the world. It was really important, like The Tao of Physics and David Berlinksi's books about the calculus and algorithms. These books but some science and a healthy scientific curiosity into a humanities guy and really changed the way he looked at the world...

    ...but is it worth keeping? We've learned a lot about the big U since 1990, and I can't keep all the books I want to keep. This one's at the top of the "undecided" pile: its chapters on the uncertainty principle and entry-level relativity are still valid, but without re-reading I would imagine that everything about, say, particle physics is dated, along with plenty of other stuff.

    Then again, this edition's got a cool intro by Carl Sagan.

    Keep or give away?
    C'est dommage que je sois un ignorant, car je vous citerais une foule de choses ; mais je ne sais rien.

    --Hugo

    Living in France, le blog

  2. #2
    hfc
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    I have a hard time throwing away or giving away books. Maybe you could read " The Grand Design" published in 2010 to update your library and find a worthy kid to give the old one to.

  3. #3
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    I keep most of my books on my Kindle now, so storage isn't an issue. It's nice having the collection to give historical perspective on the progress of science. In light of that, I think today's breakthrough physics text is "A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss. It shows new evidence that makes it plausible for universes to arise from nothing without a first cause.

  4. #4
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    Personally, I think you should keep it.

    I can count the books that resulted in a eureka moment for me on the fingers of one hand, and I still have them all. A Brief History of Time is one of them.
    -Stan
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  5. #5
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    Agree with Scooper--keep the few important ones. When my lovely wife dumped her professional econ library, she got it down to about a half dozen books. My turn soon I think.

    I do have a story though--I had a fellowship year in Cambridge, and one of the highlights was coming around the corner of a building and nearly getting mowed down by Hawkings going hell-bent in his wheel chair.

    Made me like him even more--he wasn't worried about crashing.
    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity
    -Hanlon's Razor

  6. #6
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    My reasons to keep books:

    I will read it again.

    I will read bits of it again.

    I might cite it for some paper.

    I might loan it to someone.

    It gives me a warm feeling to see it, and remember reading it.

    It's in a box somewhere and I have no idea it exists in the house/office anymore.
    .
    Stout beers under trees, please.

  7. #7
    xxl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ibashii View Post
    Preparing to skip continents once again has us going through books, winnowing out the unessential:
    When I read A Brief History of Time the first time in 1990, it rearranged my view of the world. It was really important, like The Tao of Physics and David Berlinksi's books about the calculus and algorithms. These books but some science and a healthy scientific curiosity into a humanities guy and really changed the way he looked at the world...

    ...but is it worth keeping? We've learned a lot about the big U since 1990, and I can't keep all the books I want to keep. This one's at the top of the "undecided" pile: its chapters on the uncertainty principle and entry-level relativity are still valid, but without re-reading I would imagine that everything about, say, particle physics is dated, along with plenty of other stuff.

    Then again, this edition's got a cool intro by Carl Sagan.

    Keep or give away?
    The first editions of ABHOT are apparently quite valuable, according to an interview Steve Hawking gave to the Wall Street Journal a few months ago, cf.: First Edition Criteria and Points to identify A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

  8. #8
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    Yeah, y'alls are right, I should keep it. It's too beat up to be worth anything, so that's not a consideration. I've used it as a reference more than a few times over the last 20 years, so it passes that test.

    The "keep" pile is still relatively modest and book rate is cheap, so I think it will be OK...for now.
    C'est dommage que je sois un ignorant, car je vous citerais une foule de choses ; mais je ne sais rien.

    --Hugo

    Living in France, le blog

  9. #9
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    I still have books that I bought in grade school. I keep any book that I may want to read again, and I never loan them out. I've lost too many of my favorite by people that never give them back.

    I also have a few select family members and friends that we all swap books amongst ourselves and then give away, but most of them aren't classics.

    Edit: Contact and Cosmos were great books by Carl Sagan...
    "I felt bad because I couldn't wheelie; until I met a man with no bicycle"

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    Quote Originally Posted by xxl View Post
    The first editions of ABHOT are apparently quite valuable
    Roger Penrose wrote personal messages in the first thousand copies of Road to Reality.

    Proceeds went to charity. He's frustratingly hard to understand but it's nice to have something with his personal touch.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ibashii View Post
    Preparing to skip continents once again has us going through books, winnowing out the unessential:
    Missed this on the first pass--so are you moving back to the US, or???
    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity
    -Hanlon's Razor

  12. #12
    QED
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ibashii View Post
    Preparing to skip continents once again has us going through books, winnowing out the unessential:
    When I read A Brief History of Time the first time in 1990, it rearranged my view of the world. It was really important, like The Tao of Physics and David Berlinksi's books about the calculus and algorithms. These books but some science and a healthy scientific curiosity into a humanities guy and really changed the way he looked at the world...

    ...but is it worth keeping? We've learned a lot about the big U since 1990, and I can't keep all the books I want to keep. This one's at the top of the "undecided" pile: its chapters on the uncertainty principle and entry-level relativity are still valid, but without re-reading I would imagine that everything about, say, particle physics is dated, along with plenty of other stuff.

    Then again, this edition's got a cool intro by Carl Sagan.

    Keep or give away?
    When I culled all of my belongings this summer, I started with a strategy. I gave myself a finite amount of space. I set on 8 small moving boxes from Home Depot. Then, I took each item I owned and asked myself the question, Is this worth taking up space in one of those 8 boxes. It didn't matter why I thought it was worth it, memories or necessity or whatever. If I immediately knew I wanted it, it went in the keep pile. If I knew I didn't want it, it went in the discard pile. If I was unsure, it went in the "maybe if there was enough room at the end" pile. Once I finished the first cull, I had 6 boxes. I allowed myself one larger box because of some oversized artwork. I took the discards to charity. Then I repeated the process on the maybe's. It was an effective strategy.

    I look forward to next year when I get back, going through those 8 boxes to see what I thought was important enough to save. I will tell you, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. And I have struggled for 5 months after having done it with the fact that I have no "stuff" anymore. But amazingly, it is actually getting easier. I have 8 boxes of imaginary stuff and two bags of clothes and some miscellaneous ski, climbing, kayaking, cycling gear and bikes.

    I never thought I would get to the place where I said it was getting better. Wow. Thanks for the thread Ibashii

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by QED View Post
    When I culled all of my belongings this summer, I started with a strategy. I gave myself a finite amount of space. I set on 8 small moving boxes from Home Depot. Then, I took each item I owned and asked myself the question, Is this worth taking up space in one of those 8 boxes. It didn't matter why I thought it was worth it, memories or necessity or whatever. If I immediately knew I wanted it, it went in the keep pile. If I knew I didn't want it, it went in the discard pile. If I was unsure, it went in the "maybe if there was enough room at the end" pile. Once I finished the first cull, I had 6 boxes. I allowed myself one larger box because of some oversized artwork. I took the discards to charity. Then I repeated the process on the maybe's. It was an effective strategy.

    I look forward to next year when I get back, going through those 8 boxes to see what I thought was important enough to save. I will tell you, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. And I have struggled for 5 months after having done it with the fact that I have no "stuff" anymore. But amazingly, it is actually getting easier. I have 8 boxes of imaginary stuff and two bags of clothes and some miscellaneous ski, climbing, kayaking, cycling gear and bikes.

    I never thought I would get to the place where I said it was getting better. Wow. Thanks for the thread Ibashii
    i have 8 boxes of derailleurs .......

    oh dear.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by wabasso View Post
    i have 8 boxes of derailleurs .......

    oh dear.
    Hoarder!
    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity
    -Hanlon's Razor

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by paredown View Post
    Hoarder!
    yes. .

  16. #16
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    QED, I did exactly that when I left the States in aught-four, except it was 12 boxes. It was indeed a mind-blowing process, and it took me time to adapt as well. This time it's equally challenging in the logistic sense--even more so, thanks to the wife and kid I picked up along the way--but psychologically it's not having the same kind of impact. Except for a few books, of course.
    C'est dommage que je sois un ignorant, car je vous citerais une foule de choses ; mais je ne sais rien.

    --Hugo

    Living in France, le blog

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by paredown View Post
    Missed this on the first pass--so are you moving back to the US, or???
    Yep, it's looking that way! Now that I think about it I might've only gone public with this news in the Lownje FB group...guess the cat's out of the bag now, at least for the 14.7 people who are still reading this thread.

    It's a long story, but I'm revving up the job-search engine with a target arrival date in the Twin Cities metro area sometime in 2014. Seeing's how I don't remember how to look for a job in the US, I'll probably poast a cry for help or two in the coming months.
    C'est dommage que je sois un ignorant, car je vous citerais une foule de choses ; mais je ne sais rien.

    --Hugo

    Living in France, le blog

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