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  • Published: 23 July 2024
  • ISBN: 9781804991121
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $24.99

On the Origin of Time

A new theory of the universe, twenty years in the making, by Stephen Hawking and his close collaborator Thomas Hertog.

Perhaps the biggest question Stephen Hawking tried to answer in his extraordinary life was how the universe could have created conditions so perfectly hospitable to life. Pondering this mystery led Hawking back to the origins of the universe, but his early work ran into a crisis when the maths predicted many big bangs producing a multiverse - countless different universes, most of which were far too bizarre to harbour life.

Holed up in the theoretical physics department at Cambridge, Stephen Hawking and his friend and collaborator Thomas Hertog worked shoulder to shoulder for twenty years on a new quantum theory of the cosmos. As their discoveries took them deeper into the big bang, they were startled to find a deeper level of evolution in which the physical laws themselves transform and simplify until particles, forces, and even time itself fades away. This led them to a revolutionary idea: the laws of physics are not set in stone but are born and co-evolve as the universe they govern takes shape.

On the Origin of Time takes the reader on a quest to understand questions bigger than our universe, peering into the extreme quantum physics of black holes and drawing on the latest developments in string theory. As Hawking's final days drew near, the two collaborators published a final theory proposing their radical new Darwinian perspective on the origins of our universe. Their theory profoundly transforms the way we think about our place in the order of the cosmos and may ultimately prove Hawking's biggest legacy.

  • Published: 23 July 2024
  • ISBN: 9781804991121
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Thomas Hertog

Thomas Hertog is an internationally renowned cosmologist and was for many years a close collaborator of Stephen Hawking. He is head of the Gravitational Wave Center at the University of Leuven, leading Belgium's participation in the European Space Agency's first mission devoted to gravitational waves. He has lectured in more than 25 countries and in 2015 was awarded the Prize of the Flemish Science Foundation for his research.

Praise for On the Origin of Time

Like his mentor and colleague Stephen Hawking, Thomas Hertog has never shied away from being ambitious in theorizing about the universe. This sweeping book provides an accessible overview of both what we know about cosmology, and some audacious ideas for moving into the unknown. It is an introduction to Hawking's final theory, but also a glimpse into even grander theories yet to come.

Professor Sean Carroll, author of <i>The Biggest Ideas in the Universe</i>

A fascinating insight into one of humankind's deepest quests, by one of its deepest minds.

Dr Christophe Galfard, author of <i>The Universe in your Hand</i>, and former student of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking's final theory is lucidly explained in this splendidly accessible book. Author Thomas Hertog, one of Hawking's closest collaborators, gives us a vivid insight into Hawking as both a brilliant physicist and an astonishingly determined human being.

Dr Graham Farmelo, author of <i>The Strangest Man</i>

A beautifully written, thought-provoking account of both the physics and the personalities involved in Hawking's visionary struggle to comprehend the cosmos. Thomas Hertog has provided a fascinating insider view.

Dr Neil Turok, author of <i>The Universe Within</i>

Why is our universe the way it is? How did everything begin? How might it end? Thomas Hertog probed these overwhelming questions in collaboration with Stephen Hawking - thereby achieving a privileged perspective into how, struggling against daunting physical odds, Hawking's imprisoned mind yielded astonishing insights even in his later years. This superbly written book offers insight into an extraordinary individual, the creative process generally, and the scope and limits of our current understanding of the cosmos.

Professor Martin Rees, astronomer royal and author of <i>On the Future</i>

A wonderful book about Stephen Hawking's biggest legacy (which no one outside of physics has heard of)... The origin of the universe, a feeling of cleverness, a possible fresh answer to the ancient metaphysical problem of our insignificance, and a new game - not bad for £20.

Alexander Masters, Spectator

A remarkable collaboration


On the Origin of Time is a gentle polemic, selling a particular theory, but no less rich and fascinating for that.... It alternates between gnomic conversations over tea with Hertog's famous late mentor and deliciously mind-bending ideas, such as that time itself stops inside a black hole.

Sunday Telegraph

Hawking and Hertog, with their "top-down cosmology", are pushing for nothing less than a new philosophy of physics... The concepts and arguments presented here are truly mind-stretching... The Origin of Time is immensely rewarding.

Lewis Dartnell, The Times

A must read

i newspaper

Hertog's book is a fascinating tour of cosmology, the science of the Universe's origins