- 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: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #59,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Grand Design Hardcover – Sep 7 2010
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“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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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!
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.
As such, 'The Grand Design' is nice addition to the list of the popular books (Brian Greene, George Gamow, other titles by Leonard Mlodinow and Stephen Hawking) on the subject.
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