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on December 22, 2014
I cannot say I truly understood all the concepts in this book but it was worth the read for what I did get out of it. If you want a precis of the latest in scientific thought regarding the universe this is it. Erudite yet readable.
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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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on November 20, 2012
An easy to read book about a difficult subject. Well written with good, colour illustrations - although it could have used Figure Numbers instead of saying "the diagram above" - which often wasn't "above" it was on the previous page. Minor issue.
The constant pokes at religion didn't bother me. But at the same time I was also reading Eben Alexander's book "Proof of Heaven". It is about a neurosurgeon who ended up in a coma for seven days and had a big-time NDE. Prior to that he had very little use for religion and "knew" with his logical, scientific mind, that all this consciousness stuff was rubbish. After the NDE - big change.
So I just laughed every time Hawking and Mlodinow took another poke at spiritual beliefs.
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on September 19, 2014
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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on August 18, 2016
There is a distinct charm in Prof. Hawking's writing. Every sentence that make you go "oh this is getting too technical now" is followed by a quirky humorous anecdote.

Put this down before you finish cover to cover. I DARE YOU!!
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on September 16, 2010
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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on July 29, 2014
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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on September 10, 2013
This book is for the thinkers if your interested in finding out the origins of the universe, "The Grand Design" is the place to start! Stephen Hawking is a brilliant mind, and Leonard Mlodinow collaborates extremely well with him. A must have for the science geek.
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on February 3, 2014
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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on March 13, 2013
Of course Stephen is the front runner on physics, but he really dummy's it down in the Grand Design. I don't recommend this book to anyone who has an understanding of space and physics as this book is made for the simple folk. Not saying it is bad, it is for the amateur to gain a basic understanding of the universe and it's creation. Still a good book to read!
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