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142 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from a great physicist
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...
Published on Sept. 3 2010 by A. Volk

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first Hawking book you should read - Clearer and easier to understand than the others.
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...
Published on April 5 2011 by Jeff Nijsse


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142 of 152 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great book from a great physicist, Sept. 3 2010
By 
A. Volk (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grand Design (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). Rather, the authors simply say that our current knowledge lets us do away with the need for a god-figure to explain the origins and properties of our universe. It could have happened with a god, it could have happened without one. As Hawking and every person who knows science understands, you can't prove or disprove an infinite proposition (e.g., God). The book's tone is sympathetic to an atheist's viewpoint, but it's certainly not exclusively so.

In that sense, I'm quite glad. That will hopefully mean a broader audience for this book as people don't simply avoid it for religious reasons. The more people who know about the truth of our physical reality, the better. The more people who are excited about good science, the better. The more people who get to read a brief, accessible book that can for the first time in human history answer some of the grandest questions in not just life, but the universe, the better! So it's easy for me to give this book five stars- not just for its content, but for the fact that it helps understand and appreciate the universe and ourselves that much better. And that's a pretty grand design for a book!
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative, Sept. 16 2010
By 
Peter Cantelon (Morden, Manitoba, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grand Design (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy, July 29 2014
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This review is from: The Grand Design (Paperback)
Hawking presents here a well explained version of quantum mechanica and physics with several analogies and simplistic diagrams. The grand design is a must read for anyone interested in quantum physics and theory.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read; highly recommended, Oct. 21 2010
This review is from: The Grand Design (Hardcover)
This provides yet another addition to Stephen Hawking's list of books for the lay-person. This does have some overlap with his previous material but is written in a manner that is much easier to understand. His views on model-dependent realism are insightful and one might want to consider how these theories might apply to areas outside of theoretical physics. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Grand Design, Oct. 4 2010
This review is from: The Grand Design (Hardcover)
This book is awesome and tough reading, but not too intense so that the everyday person can understand and draw something from it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read, Sept. 19 2014
This review is from: The Grand Design (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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Building Blocks of an Interesting Proposal, Jan. 7 2011
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Grand Design (Hardcover)
What makes this book so intriguing for me, a traditional Christian and someone not always up on the sciences like I should be, is that it uses a reputable theory like quantum physics as the key to opening my mind to a universal world within my grasp. Hawkings, a leading physicist, with the help of a great popular science writer in Mlodinow of Star Trek fame, proceeds to describe how the power of particle collision, continuing from eons past (Big Bang), can unlock our understanding of life and its implications for humankind. They believe that our purpose for existing comes from continuing to learn how infinitesimal our relationship is to the universes that lie beyond this earthly realm. This account of the role of science in our lives is easy to follow, full of relevant facts, and draws some very profound conclusions as to where we go from here in our never-ending search for truth. While it, unfortunately, excludes God and religion from its calculus, it does so in a quiet and respectful manner. Christianity, as far as the authors see it, is part of a historical culture that doesn't help break new ground in our understanding of the cosmos. While I might question this position, I give the book full marks for taking modern humanism to a new level in a continuing effort to plumb great mysteries and wonders of the natural world. This is definitely a big picture analysis that Hawkings offers his readers so be prepared to come with an objective mind. You might just learn something like I did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The first Hawking book you should read - Clearer and easier to understand than the others., April 5 2011
This review is from: The Grand Design (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. Its kept short both in length and detail to keep the general reader interested, however, it could have been even shorter if Hawking's mission was simply to let everyone know that the grand design is merely a joining of less-grand designs.

The book follows the same template as A Brief History of Time and so a lot of material is repeated. In this sense there is a split between new readers and those that have read Hawking's other books. The introductory bits are necessary to lay the grounds for the later chapters but may seem old-hat and without detail to those only looking for physicist's latest insights. The Grand Design is a very good starting place for someone that has not read Hawking's other books.

As for the conclusion that a unified theory of everything does not exist, its up to the reader to determine if M-theory is finished, or if its a work in progress.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat challenging., Feb. 25 2014
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This review is from: The Grand Design (Paperback)
Having some background in astronomy, I found the more up to date ideas of cosmology very enlightening.
Definitely worth a read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Layman Approach to Complex Science, Feb. 3 2014
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This review is from: The Grand Design (Kindle Edition)
This book was an easier read than Hawkin's previous publications, and even comes with some humour. From quarks to infinity he reviews human discoveries leading to where we are today. Interesting theories too about whether the Grand Design needed a Devine creator....
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The Grand Design
The Grand Design by Leonard Mlodinow (Paperback - Feb. 21 2012)
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