A brief history of time, by Stephen Hawking (1988).
Score: a must-read of popular science.
I didn’t think this book was for me. The nature of time, physics, Stephen Hawking is there… I thought it would be far too difficult or discuss very obscure topics, but that’s not the case.
A brief history of time starts with very elemental physics, which most of you will have studied in secondary school, and goes on to build chapters about why and how we know the universe is expanding, the unification of quantum mechanics and relativistic physics, the possibility of time travel and even very simple elements of string theory.
The book is pretty much theory-centered, so if you don’t feel like reading about atheism or the goals of science you can come here without concerns (the nature of science is briefly discussed and Hawking is very obviously an atheist, but these are not main topics). I’m watching Cosmos: a spacetime odyssey now as well, and one of the faults I find it has is that it doesn’t give enough detail about how we know things and the important experiments in the history of science, which are given the spotlight here. If you liked Cosmos and want to know more and get more details and insight, I would recommend this as well.
It’s not very hard to understand for people who don’t speak science, although you will need to read carefully and ponder some passages, because they will need your undivided attention. This is mostly achieved by not justifying anything mathematically, substituting demonstrations with comparisons to everyday life situations.
What are you waiting for? If you’re looking to dive head on first into the world of popular science, this is a great place to start.