Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time broke English publishing records on this day in 1992, at which point it had been on the nonfiction bestseller list for three and a half years. It actually stayed on the London Sunday Times bestseller list for more than 4 years total, and it has sold more than 10 million copies in 35 languages since it's publication in 1988.
As a theoretical physicist, Hawking is smart. Like smarter than rocket science smart. But he has a remarkable gift for putting big ideas into bite-size pieces so that people who are not theoretical physicists can get the basic gist. It might seem that's not a real gift, but it is every bit as much as gift as understanding the ideas in the first place. If you have even a vague idea of what the big bang was or what black holes are, you probably owe that to Hawking on some level.
At 74, Hawking is still going strong today. His most recent attempt to help us understand big ideas was on Larry King Now on June 28, where he noted that our greed and stupidity are the biggest threats to humankind. I think he might be on to something there, and if he could figure out how to fix that, we'd sure appreciate it.
Here's toyou, Mr. Hawking. Keep it coming in words we can understand, even if it hurts a little.