The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time


The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, published in 1973 by Stephen Hawking and George Ellis, is a fascinating description of the foundation of space itself and the concept of infinite expansion. The book seeks to take a look at the consequences of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which is the geometric theory of gravitation and its effects on objects in time and space related to the energy and momentum present within radiation and matter. The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time utilizes differential geometry to present Einstein's findings in a new light. Hawking and Ellis have managed to generate a modern day classic with their work, which is viewed by many as the definitive guide to astrophysics and the dynamics of the seen and unseen elements of the universe.

While The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time is mesmerizing and provides interesting insight on complicated topics of real-world science it does pose a few issues to casual readers. Stephen Hawking, in his book A Brief History of Time, written in 1988, describes The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time as being overly complicated and nearly indecipherable for every day readers. The book was written with scientists in mind, and can be used as a sort of guide to the universe and its internal workings. It is not meant for individuals who have no previous concept of astrophysics or who have passion for such workings. Prior knowledge is a requirement for the reading of The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time and this initial requirement and training before reading it means that this particular work, while compelling and interesting, will be understood by untrained readers as though it were written in a completely different language than the English it is directly written in.

The main focus of The Large Scale Structure of Time-Space is of course Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. The book begins with a precise formulation of the theory by the authors, this includes a background in differential geometry, space-time curvature and its importance and the exact solutions to Einstein's field equations are discussed in great detail. The work moves on to discuss the collapse of stars into black holes and the conditions to which these states of disintegration take place. The inevitability of singularities under certain conditions is discussed by Hawkins and Ellis, and they present to the reader the idea that these build ups and break downs of different astrological bodies is a matter or “when”, not a matter of “if”.

The conditions that Hawking and Ellis mention, are shown to be satisfied in the vicinity of stars of more than twice their solar mass near the endpoint of their nuclear evolution. This idea leads us to consider not only the singularity of our present and future but also the daunting and head-ache inducing realization on the singularity of our past.

The authors of this book represent the revolution of cosmology found within the 1970’s. This was the first case in which mathematical methodology was applied, which is a major foundation point for the current sway of the discipline. While the beginning focus of the work is placed on explanations and definitions of Einstein’s original theory, the main body of The Large Scale Structure of Time-Space is the discussion on gravitational collapse and singularity theorems themselves. The book itself, if you possess the required background or are willing to take the time to develop the abilities to decipher it, contains interesting evidence of phenomenon that will definitely change your opinions on certain hot button topics.

The presentation of this work by its authors may be complex but it is a necessity to understand the concepts being presented. While the reading level and mathematical background of the reader is ostensibly at high proficiency it does not deter from the effectiveness and provocation that the work generates. This study is well structured and put together, with prime focus on advanced mathematical skills and theorems that have and will turn proverbial heads. The book is not very lengthy, and is a surprisingly short 404 pages long in its paperback format. The book is available in printed form and in digital form, making it easy to access no matter what viewing option is preferred.

The format of the book is simplistic in its presentation, which is far removed from the rich content held within. The cover is a smooth orange color, with a professional looking font being used for the title and author names. The sections of the book are organized in a compelling and acceptable manner and allow readers to effectively navigate through them without many issues. The opening preface successfully describes what is in store for the reader and explains in understandable detail what to expect before the complicated wording begins later on. This preface acts as a useful starting point for the reader as it molds understanding of the topics being discussed in the book as a whole and gives a good summary of what will unfold.

For readers who are more visual in their formulation of understanding will be interested to know that Hawking and Ellis used effective visual aids throughout this book. The inclusion of graphs and charts when needed is useful in following along with the information being provided in text. These accommodations add an additional level of understanding to the contents and this is a welcome inclusion.

The Large Scale Structure of Time-Space by Stephen Hawking and his colleague, George Ellis, is a provocative and attractive study, producing a fascinating look at creation and mathematical consequences of inevitable actions. It should be considered mandatory reading material for anyone interested in the universe, mathematics, physics and in a sense, philosophy.