A Briefer History of Time (Schulman book)

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This article is about the 1999 science humor book by Eric Schulman. For the 2005 popular science book by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, see A Briefer History of Time (Hawking and Mlodinow book).
A Briefer History of Time
Cover of A Briefer History of Time
Author Eric Schulman
Country United States
Language English
Subject History of the Universe
Genre Science humor,
Popular science
Published May 1999 (W. H. Freeman and Company)
Media type Print (trade paperback)
Pages 171 pp
ISBN 0-7167-3389-7
LC Class QB982 .S38 1999

A Briefer History of Time is a science humor book by the American astronomer Eric Schulman. In this book, Schulman presents humorous summaries of what he claims are the fifty-three most important events since the beginning of time. [1] [2] [3] The title and cover are a parody of Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time. Coincidentally, Hawking would later write a "sequel" entitled A Briefer History of Time. Hawking's publisher Bantam Books was aware the title had already been used in a popular science book, but went ahead since "The other book was published six years ago, and Professor Hawking is an international figure." [4] [5]

Laughing while learning is the intent of Schulman's book. The book shows why, even though the Universe is expanding, it doesn't get any easier to find a parking space. Furthermore, there is the pulp version of the origin of life ("It was a dark and stormy night. In the shallow tide pool, a nucleic acid base collided with a sugar molecule. An amino acid sank beneath the murky depths . . . ."). Some more of the fifty-three most important events are:

  • A Shakespearean account of the production of helium soon after the Big Bang,
  • Assembly instructions for terrestrial proteins (including consumer safety warnings),
  • A prospectus for potential investors in the Mammalia Class of animals,
  • A dragnet-style investigation into the rise and fall of the Earth's first empire, and
  • A ballad about the creation of the World Wide Web.


  1. Quantum Fluctuation
  2. Inflation
  3. Expansion
  4. Particle-Antiparticle Annihilation
  5. Deuterium and Helium Production
  6. Recombination
  7. Galaxy Formation
  8. Turbulent Fragmentation
  9. Massive Star Formation
  10. Stellar Evolution
  11. Iron Production
  12. Supernova Explosion
  13. Star Formation
  14. Planetary Differentiation
  15. Volatile Gas Expulsion
  16. Molecular Reproduction
  17. Protein Construction
  18. Fermentation
  19. Cell Differentiation
  20. Respiration
  21. Multicellular Organisms
  22. Sexual Reproduction
  23. Evolutionary Diversification
  24. Trilobite Domination
  25. Land Exploration
  26. Comet Collision
  27. Dinosaur Extinction
  28. Mammal Expansion
  29. Homo sapiens Manifestation
  30. Language Acquisition
  31. Glaciation
  32. Innovation
  33. Religion
  34. Animal Domestication
  35. Food Surplus Production
  36. Inscription
  37. Warring Nations
  38. Empire Creation and Destruction
  39. Civilization
  40. Constitution
  41. Industrialization
  42. World Conflagrations
  43. Fission Explosions
  44. Computerization
  45. Space Exploration
  46. Population Explosion
  47. Superpower Confrontation
  48. Internet Expansion
  49. Resignation
  50. Reunification
  51. World Wide Web Creation
  52. Composition
  53. Extrapolation


  1. ^ Publishers Weekly, Volume 244, Issue 32 (August 10, 1998).
  2. ^ Science News, Volume 155, Number 22 (May 29, 1999).
  3. ^ Mercury Magazine, Volume 29, Number 2 (March/April 2000).
  4. ^ Hill, Paul. Times Higher Education Supplement (May 27, 2005).
  5. ^ Walden, Celia. The Daily Telegraph (May 31, 2005).