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The Grand Design Hardcover – Sep 7 2010

51 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Second Impression edition (Sept. 7 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553805371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553805376
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #82,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“The authors bring together an anecdotal clarity that is something of a first for the genre. . . . Making science like this interesting is not all that hard; making it accessible is the real trick, one that The Grand Design pulls off.”—Time

“In this short and sprightly book, Messrs. Hawking and Mlodinow take the reader through a whirlwind tour of fundamental physics and cosmology.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Fascinating . . . a wealth of ideas [that] leave us with a clearer understanding of modern physics in all its invigorating complexity.”—Los Angeles Times
“Groundbreaking.”—The Washington Post

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Stephen Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including, most recently, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His books for the general reader include the classic A Brief History of Time, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell, and A Briefer History of Time. He lives in Cambridge, England.
Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist at Caltech and the bestselling author of The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives, Euclid’s Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace, and Feynman’s Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life. He also wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation. He lives in South Pasadena, California.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

144 of 154 people found the following review helpful By A. Volk #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Sept. 3 2010
Format: Hardcover
First, I didn't want to wait for the Canadian release, so I just bought this book in the US.

Next, this book is about trying to answer some of the universe's biggest questions: Why is there something instead of nothing? Why do we exist? Why does this particular set of laws govern our universe and not some other set? What Hawking does is use Quantum Mechanics theory to explain our best answers to these questions. The answers are surprisingly satisfying. While it won't all be new to anyone who's read his Brief History of Time, the theories here are presented clearly, without explicit math, and in a way that's accessible to the average reader. Make no mistake though, this isn't a "physics for dummies" in that the ideas themselves are quite complex. But it shouldn't be too hard for most people to follow Hawking along well enough to get a basic understanding of what modern physics knows. I'm certainly not a physicist, and I found the reading to be just about right. In fact, I think that's largely the result of the contributions of his co-author Leonard Mlodinow, who's an accomplished popular science writer.

I'm really curious and don't mind math, so I wouldn't have minded a bit more of that. But it's OK without it, including the way Hawking and Mlodinow can illustrate complex ideas visually. The general gist of quantum mechanics relies on probabilities, the possibility of multiple universes, and the search for a theory that will completely unify all the "laws" of the universe. It's a really ambitious goal that I hope, but don't expect, physicists will soon reach.

Finally, despite the hoopla that the media made, this book is not a serious anti-religion book. This is not another God Delusion (by Richard Dawkins).
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Peter Cantelon on Sept. 16 2010
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hawking's latest book is very informative and compelling. Unlike A Brief History of Time where he generally focuses more on cosmology than physics this book is solidly planted in the realm of bleeding edge theoretical physics.

While it is a short book clocking in at four to five hours of reading it is by no means a simple book. The content is far denser in terms of ease of understanding than his previous work which could be called introductory in comparison to this one.

The first half of the book is really a foundational historical introduction to the real premise which is to introduce the lay person to M-theory...a potential winner in the search for a Grand Unifying Theory i(GUT)in science. Still Hawking is not unrealistic in the sense that he also proposes that new lessons learned from M-Theory about the nature of the universe suggest that a GUT may not in fact be possible.

I would suggest the only weakness is when Hawking strays into the realm of the philosopher or theologian by making sweeping declarations about the unnecessity for a god and the very bold (and some might suggest arrogant) statement at the beginning of the book that "philosophy is dead" and science is the only reliable source of knowledge in the new world today.

Still having said all of that the book is a very compelling read and certainly will require a re-reading or two. It is gratifying that geniuses like Hawking can find the time to translate and distill some of the most mind-bending and exciting developments of physics to a level that the rest of us can consume.

While you may not agree with everything Hawking says you will most certainly come away more knowledgeable and pleased. A very good read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Haidji on Sept. 19 2014
Format: Hardcover
Stephen W. Hawking is a brilliant scientist and a great writer.

You do not need to be an scientist to understand this book.
The book is is well written, clear and comprehensive.
This book makes me want to study physics.

It was a fascinating read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Nijsse on April 5 2011
Format: Hardcover
Hawking's first published book in nearly 10 years, The Grand Design sets out to solve the question "Is there a unified theory?" If you've thought about this and think not, then you are right. The quick answer is No. However, many scientists have been pondering this for quite some time. Einstein did not find what he was looking for and, for now at least, Hawking and his colleague Mlodinow have concluded that a so-called unified theory of everything does not exist.

In their recent publication they open with a lovely reference to Douglas Adams' number 42, continue with a brief history of science, putter about defining laws, philosophize about realism and then talk about what makes a good theory. Its not for a ways in that you get to some good stuff; the meat and potatoes of what The Grand Design is all about is something referred to as 'M-theory'. Unfortunately, M-theory isn't anything new, rather a new-ish term for uniting the current physical theories. The proper new material in The Grand Design can be summarized as follows: M-Theory dictates that the universe is composed of 11 total dimensions. Full stop.

Compared to Hawking's other books, the amount of description and background material in this book is little, rather its focus is on a very clear description of where physicists are with current knowledge and technology, leaving the details and especially the mathematics behind. Hawking does a great job explaining some fascinating experiments and their implications including the double-slit experiment involving buckyballs and John Conway's game of life.

Overall, The Grand Design is simple to read, well illustrated, and without mathematical formulas.
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