Steven Hawking's Universe - Boxed Set
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Product Description

He is a living legend, whose book A Brief History of Time became an instant best seller. Now, his genius is fully revealed in this new series that will treat you to the latest and most profound advances in cosmological thought in true down-to-earth Hawking fashion. Encompassing Hawking's matchless point of view, these six programs spin an intergalactic detective story, rich with mystery, unexpected twists and astonishing revelations. Titles are: "The Big Bang," "On the Dark Side," and "Black Holes and Beyond."

Stephen Hawking, author of the bestselling A Brief History of Time, presents here some of the most astonishing scientific advances in cosmological thought. Interviews with renowned researchers combined with strikingly artistic cinematography set the stage for this down-to-earth production on the mysteries of our universe. Relive the ingenuity of Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Hubble, and Einstein in Seeing Is Believing. Despite diagnosis with ALS, Hawking completed his Ph.D., developing a theory describing the precise conditions for the Big Bang. The history of chemistry, the periodic table, and Curie's radiation experiments in Cosmic Alchemy allowed Einstein's theory of relativity and revelations about the relationship between energy and matter. On the Dark Side delves into antimatter (proof that dark matter does exist), nutrinos, and nutrino hunters. Thanks to radio astronomy, SETI--the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence--is currently looking for alien communications in Black Holes and Beyond. Learn about quasars and the theoretical ramifications of black holes to the laws of physics. An Answer to Everything challenges Hawking and other prominent scientists to try to resolve the mystery of how the Big Bang began. Hawking's series is easy to follow, but it doesn't skimp on scientific detail or shy away from challenging concepts. An outstanding tour of the universe! --Tara Chace

Customer Reviews:

  • Great information with a hefty compromise
    In General I agree with the negative reviews of this DVD. I had seen the PBS series and there is no doubt that the "text", the information on this DVD is of great importance for anyone. However the execution as a general interest TV series (meaning these DVD's) is greatly flawed. I have so far seen only the first episode on DVD and I already depise the the awful video. Only the shadows of people are visble. Close-ups shoes walking up stairs, bodies out of frame, all pieces that never build to a whole. In one of the most egregious examples of artifice (or just plain "operator headspace") a talking head (that means some person before the camera talks to someone off camera--as if in interview) is placed before an open widow with a strong ligt source of the sun shining on the villiage in the background from behind is CENTERED, and our subject (talking head) at far right barely in frame is, as some with photography experience can guess) is merely a shadow, so intentionally dark. It's like one of those shots were they intentially try to hide the speaker's identity. Our eyes wish to focus on the person speking, but it is so UNaestetic, and painful to focus using our eyes, that we naturally drift to the well lit background that has NOTHING to do with the words spoken. In fact the whole bloddy thing is DARK, intentionally, I believe. Yes, it is a style, but it is a LOUSY style: Distacting and UNaestetic. This is among the NOISIEST video transfers to DVD I have seen. No doubt due in part to the low lighting. Perhaps this was a compromise to the limitations of our dear Dr. Hawking, for he appears so very rarely, and when he does, the camera dawdles upon the meaningles disply of his voice synthesizer and other tricks to obsure his face. It seemed as if they didn't want to allow Hawking's face too much time on the tube, the implication that he is repulsive to the audience. He is NOT repuslive, and I would have LOVED longer shots of his face looking into the camera as the words are played. He does react. Also, many of the foreign scientists who speak do so in broken English that I and others feel breaks the pace and makes difficult to comprehend already weighty ideas. They should have spoken in their native language and then an interpreter's voice dubbed in later. I highly reccommend viewing the entire COSMOS with Dr. Carl Sagan FIRST. He provides and excellent foundation for grasping the NEW cosmological theories of the last 20 years on this DVD that picks up where COSMOS left off. Indeed Hawking's DVD explaination of the Doppler effect is ineffectual compared to the far supior use of video by Sagen in Cosmos. Perhaps it was the money. Don't forget that Cosmos was the MOST expensive TV series EVER at that time. They used state of the art effects and went all over the world for locations, and pefromed exercises with many props. and that Spaceship of the Imagaination was a lot of $$$$. They also had one of the BBC's best directing that series. At the time, BEFORE it aired, a lot of folks didnn't think the show would have mass appeal and that it would be an example of Public TV (specifically KCET, Los Angeles) folly. Well, we all know that it wasn't folly. It was revolutionary. But I don't think we will ever see another science series with a budget that was provided for Cosmos EVER again. Hawking's DVD for all the latest theories of the universe, but not much more....more info
  • Review for Steven Hawking's Universe
    Steven Hawking's Universe by John Boslough is about Steven Hawking's life and his scientific discoveries. Boslough most likely wrote this book because he was trying to recount the story of Hawking's improbable rise to the top of the scientific community. Hawking over came Lou Gehrig's disease to become one of the leading scientist in the world. This book is an excellent description of Hawking's theories, and scientific achievements. While reading it, one has to marvel at the incredible circumstances in which Hawking made his great discoveries which are detailed in the book. Hawking's story is one of the greatest in history. I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in science and incredible successes stories. This book does a great job of explaining Hawking's theories as well as the man behind them. It is a great mix of commentary from the author infused with quotes from Hawking himself. It is apparent that Hawking had a hand in the content of the book which makes it an accurate source of information. It is written at a level that is easy for the lay man to understand the theories being presented. This helps the reader be able to truly appreciate the work Hawking has done in advancing the study of black holes. This book was written to detail Hawking's achievements and I strongly recommend those with an interest in science to read it because Hawking's story is truly an amazing one. ...more info
  • good quality video
    video quality very good. book also good. amazing story....more info
  • 3 stars for information content, 1 star for replay-ability
    Let me start out by saying that I read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and really enjoyed it. But, then what a sad disappointment this series turned out to be. One could turn off the picture and just listen to the audio and get about as much interesting information. I realize that Dr. Sagan raised the bar pretty high but the makers of this documentary didn't even seem to care. Watch video sequences repeated over and over - sometimes not even relating to the narration that drones on in the background. Squint hard to see what is going on in the darkly lit sets as the camera super-slow pans into something that is supposed to be significant...but really isn't. I watched the entire series just waiting for a sequence that would capture my imagination. It never happened. As for replay-ability? I defy anyone who have made it through the entire series to watch it again. Dr. Hawking deserves better....more info
  • Good Narration, Shame About the Visuals
    This video series covers all the basic ideas of cosmology in an interesting and easy to understand manner, with a strong historical focus. The narration, describing this, is very interesting and well thought out. However, the visual aspect is appalling. Most of it consists of out of fucus shots of things that have nothing to do with the program, irrelvant images of star fields, shots of people walking around, shots of empty rooms and other irrelevances. When people are interviewed, they are often shown in very dim surroundings, making their faces hard to see. All in all, the visual elements are just hopeless and add nothing to the video. Towards the end, I didn't even bother looking at the screen but just listened to the audio. I lost nothing by doing this. All in all, Professor Hawking might as well have written another book....more info
  • Informative and entertaining - a well produced series!
    I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive about the quality of this DVD collection before even seeing it. Being an owner of Carl Sagan's Cosmos series on DVD, and a great admirer of the man and his series, I must admit I had an inherent bias and felt that I would be hard-pressed finding anything else that was in the same league.

    I was mistaken. This DVD collection presents the main points anyone should know about the universe. I say "main" due simply to the fact that this collection does not go into great detail on several topics, as does Sagan's Cosmos. It focuses on a limited field of topics (which is understandable, since it is only three discs) and explains them thoroughly. It is not brief, yet Hawking does not waste our time with "waffle". It is concise and does not err in explaining details correctly. Being of a science-trained background, I would like to take the opportunity of adding that I did not find anything questionable or dubious in the subject matter. (It was, after all, written and edited by Stephen Hawking.)

    Viewers with no physics, or even basic science education, may find this collection slightly hard to understand in certain sections. That's not to say that the episodes need a Degree in Physics to be able to understand them either! A high-school level of Physics would allow you to comfortably understand everything that is said. Nevertheless, if you have no training in this area, do not fear... you might misunderstand one or two terms or concepts, but whole episodes do not focus on just one point, so you will not find any episode completely bewildering. (I would find this as a positive. The collection then serves as an educational set and may even influence the viewer to take-on personal study or research the topic more thoroughly. This in my opinion, can never be a bad thing, and thus the set becomes a more valuable item in one's DVD collection.)

    There are times during the episodes when Hawking attempts to be witty. These are effective attempts and often "soften" the show's theory-based nature. At times, one might even say Hawking takes the opportunity to "brag" about his many achievements and accomplishments, which in my opinion all adds to the enjoyment of the show. The presenter of such a show needs a bit of personality, or else, dare I say, it becomes boring.

    There are SHORT role-plays and interesting interviews mainly from American intelligentsia. Do not expect long and entertaining role-plays though. The episodes consist mainly of interviews and people (or Hawking) presenting facts or their opinions. (Those of you who have seen Sagan's Cosmos will know what I mean by "entertaining role-plays".)

    Perhaps I AM a little biased when it comes to this type of show. It is always in my mind to keep comparing shows of this nature to Sagan's Cosmos. In this case, if I do, it does little harm. This is a well-produced series and I would give it a high recommendation. This series is best suited to people with a keen interest in the topic, those wishing to "brush-up" on their universal knowledge, or simply those shopping for an interesting (and educational) present to give their friends or relatives....more info

  • See Stephen Hawking roll. Roll Stephen Hawking, roll!
    This is a very interesting program that is slightly belabored by a couple problems. First, the initial episode covers very familiar ground for anyone who's had a course in general physics, which is pretty much anyone who's been through high school... it's still interesting enough to sit through, but they could have done without it. Secondly, some of the topics are presented somewhat vaguely or are hard to keep track of (for instance, the interviewee presenting the phenomena or describing the breakthrough will do so in an extrememly roundabout way, telling a story... although this is interesting, i wished there had been some segment right before it that clearly explained the idea before going into the details of thought process). Also, ideas such as the superstring theory and quantum mechanics, at least for me, require more in-depth explanation to get a grasp on the concept, and this documentary seems to have a problem because it is balancing the accessibility of a documentary like BBC's The Planets with more scholarly aspects. It also could have used more of a graphic style, both to make it more entertaining and to help explain concepts to those of us who tend to prefer 'big picture' type visual learning.

    It's four stars because its worthwhile coverage of interesting topics, but I have to agree with others that this would have made much better radio program or audiobook, because of the mostly uninteresting, unenlightening visual aspects.

    Otherwise, Stephen Hawking's Universe is an engrosing documentary that covers a lot of interesting ground, and is definately worth watching by anyone with a passing interest to the subject matter (astral phenomena, creation-theory, black holes, etc...), although I'd give it a low rating for repeat-viewings, so it's probably best to pick up on your local PBS before deciding to purchase. I think if I had seen this in high school, I would have been inspired to do well and maybe working on physics-type major in university, instead of languishing at home in a dead end job >_<...more info

  • Informationally boring but definitely worth my time.
    Starbucks played an integral role in the success of this series with me. However, I thoroughly enjoy cosmology so I like getting the big picture delivered by this set. The series definitely provides a clear understanding of the history of cosmology as well as current theories with as much explanation as you will find on any DVD out there. After watching Hawking's other video production, "A Brief History of Hawkings and Time", I was glad to find this series focused on the science instead of Hawkings himself. I believe the more you know about cosmology the more interesting you will find this program. Some of the information in this program is not easily understood unless you already know a little. Overall I found this program very useful. This set is an effective, comprehensive learning tool, not a day at the movies. Hawkings has definitely clicked out a pretty good program here!...more info
  • The unfolding of everything
    I come to physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology and geology as a layperson who is fascinated by the big questions of life. For me science fact far exceeds science fiction or fantasy. I cannot get enough.

    I come to this whole exploration of science under the influence of Darwin, Nietzsche and Krishnamurti. To learn and understand beyond the narrowness and pettiness of the human experience. I think the human experience is infinitely enhanced, not diminished, when we see outside the box of what we have been told, beyond the truths and reality we accept without any deeper understanding than that this is what has been programmed into our brains and veins from cradle to grave.

    This dvd is so layered and complex and filled with fantasic ideas and theories, that I'll surely watch it over and over again. The string theory concept, alone, is worth the price of this dvd. I had, also, purchased 'The Elegant Universe' when I ordered this dvd. The updated and added string theory perspectives add to what was said in Hawking's Universe. For me its the glue and unfolding of everything.

    I wish I could be more technical but I'm too much of an infant in this arena. I seem to understand but find the words very difficult to explain the specifics of what was said. Each of the six parts goes into incredible depth. I would imagine even the experienced scientist must wrinkle his forehead when digesting the vast concepts big and small.

    For me, the technology of dvd's and computers was made for this type of project. We, the layperson, can now have accessibility to a world otherwise locked up in laboratories or a chance viewing on PBS, Discovery or A&E....more info

  • "I have sold more books on physics, than Madonna has on sex"
    It very well may be that Stephen Hawking is the greatest mind since Albert Einstein. The material on this DVD is nothing less than great, but falls short in the area of production, and presentation. I think most physics/science fans still hold all documentaries of this type, in comparison with Carl Sagan's: Cosmos.

    With all fairness, the structure or style of the production, is more on the lines of a news documentary, with lots of interviews, a more mystery feel to the presentation. Editing seems a little ameture'ish, it would have been nice to leave out the sponsor slots, and the usual PBS station calls, these detract heavily from the entire experience really, even though they are done at the beginning and end of the episodes only. The musical score seems fitting, but don't expect any Vangelis like tracks, as in Cosmos. The nararator does a decent job, but personally, I would have liked to hear it more from Mr. Hawking himself, via his voice synthesizer. Of course that would have made it a longer DVD, but there could have been more graphical content to accompany the dialog too.

    A good DVD set, that is packed with a wealth of knowledge, but killed by production. I suggest, If you haven't already, pick up Carl Sagan's: Cosmos....more info
  • Bad Makeover of a good Documentary
    I bought this DVD to replace a worn Video from the BBC(British Broadcasting Commission). It was a bit of a shock. The original film has been edited and chopped up with bits of rubbish added through. It also now has a poor voice over. The whole feel of the film has been removed. All the PBS...and viewers like your rubbish? Where'd that come from. It was totallly funded via the BBC. The PBS editions mess up may have been funded by someone else. My copy is going Free as I won't be watching it again.

    Sincerely, do yourself a favour and source out a BBC edition. I give it (5 Stars)It is an awesome package. Inspiring and well told. Something to watch again and again(Hence I've worn out the video cassette....more info
  • Best of its kind.
    This is an absolutely superlative work that tells the story of Cosmology through 1997. I do not share the view that the work was framed poorly. It has a feel that is packaged to relate to people that are too young to collect Social Security, and that obviously disturbs the stewed prune set. If you are not scared of an entertaining unfolding of the ultimate story of humans pondering the most basic of all questions, you will not be sorry you spent the money. If you happen to be a parent or educator, you will find no better tool to send young people on the path of considering how the Universe began....more info
  • Best you'll find on DVD
    I'd agree with another reviewer of this work that it does, in fact, lack the desirable element of the visual in its explication of what indeed are the truly profound, complex theories and concepts of cosmologists and physicists--but not only for the purpose of enjoyment but also to aid in the elucidation of inherently counter-intuitive ideas. That being said, I should say that as something of an obsessed dillitante on these subjects--time, universe, et al.--this collection is about as in-depth and informative as you will, to date, find anywhere....more info
  • THE BEST DVD of ALL TIME!!!
    What an amazing feat this dvd is. It explains all about the top theories in physics today in an articulate way. It is almost like a translation of Stephen W. Hawking's most famous book: "A Brief History of Time". I recommend Hyperspace for anyone who was interested in this dvd. Dr. Michio Kaku, the author of Hyperspace, is featured in this dvd. He is the guy talking about superstrings....more info
  • Lasting Topics for Kids and Adults alike.
    Very informative and interesting. Thinking that the universe is the best topic to foster a kid's love of math and science, I bought these DVD for a seven-year-old boy, who I expect will watch them for years. Maybe, too profound. But isn't it that the universe all starts from a singularity? BY THE WAY, amazon.com is the best online shopping service. Very easy to cancel items, though I usually purchase them later on. I have no problem with their international shipping. Good job, Amazon.com****** +*****....more info