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The Grand Design Paperback – 18 Aug 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (18 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129119714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553819229
  • ASIN: 0553819224
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This is mind-blowing stuff" (The Sunday Times)

Book Description

New answers to the ultimate questions of life from the world's most famous living scientist.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 115 people found the following review helpful By David Love on 7 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Hawking's new book, "The Grand Design" (written together with Leonard Mlodinow), is his first popular science book for about ten years. It seems to have created quite a stir in the non-scientific press, although in reality the book is very much in line with our latest theories in cosmology. Science began with the ancient Greeks, and the book starts off with a summary of their ideas. After a gap of some 1,400 years, a scientific approach to the Universe was revived by men such as Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes and Newton. Hawking goes on to describe the history of scientific advances since then, and introduces ideas of what is meant by reality and what constitutes a scientific theory. He introduces us to the mysteries of quantum mechanics and relativity, and explains how our understanding of the Big Bang is growing as a result of our studies of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

But the key part of the book comes when Hawking describes something called M-theory, the leading candidate for the "theory of everything" which it is hoped will unite the two (currently incompatible, but highly successful) theories of quantum mechanics and general relativity. Both M-theory and other strands of evidence increasingly point to the conclusion that our Universe is not, after all, the only universe. The implication of these latest theories is that there are billions - and probably an infinite number - of other universes, each with their own physical laws and physical constants. This is the theory of the Multiverse. At a stroke, the theory explains why there are features of our own Universe which make it suitable for life; this is simply because we could only ever have evolved in the tiny minority of universes with the right set of physical laws.

All in all, a fascinating read. If you want to give a mind-blowing Christmas present to somebody, this is the one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Johnston VINE VOICE on 6 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Stephen Hawking is not only, without question, one of our greatest surviving physicists, but also, remarkably given his disability, one of the field's great communicators and educators. Having enjoyed his previous writing I was very much looking forward to his insights on the cosmological advances since "A Brief History of Time". However, although this latest book is both entertaining and thought provoking, it ultimately left me frustrated with its failure to properly explain these new scientific concepts.

This is a small and unthreatening book, especially in the Bantam edition, and nicely put together with some apposite cartoons and a series of chapter endplates which develop a recurring graphical theme in multiple contexts. However, in contrast to previous books, especially "The Universe in a Nutshell", it's very light on genuinely explanatory diagrams and equations, forcing the user to try and comprehend complex physical and mathematical concepts from purely textual explanations.

The first third of the book deals mainly with the evolution and nature of scientific "laws", and the meaning of reality relative to our various mental models. This is very interesting, but perhaps a little ironic given the authors' statement on the first page that "philosophy is dead". What other label should be attributed to this discussion?

The next section explains key aspects of quantum theory, in particular wave/particle duality, probabilistic rather than deterministic behaviour, and the effects of observation on the system. That we can now demonstrate this behaviour for relatively large objects, and affect the observed outcome from behaviour originating some considerable time before the observation, is fascinating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By L. Davidson VINE VOICE on 20 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
I've been reading a lot about philosophy recently and to be honest my studies of this subject seem to have led me ,almost inexorably, to study science in more detail. Science, and physics especially, seem to be at the forefront of asking the big questions traditionally asked by philosophers , such as "Does God exist ?" "How and why does the universe exist ? ,"How did the human race come about ?" and "Is there a meaning to life ?" Stephen Hawking's book uses theoretical physics to try to answer most of these questions. A lot of this book went over my head somewhat. I only have GCE "O" Level Physics , so I found much of Hawking's discussions about Einstein's Theory of Relativity, String Theory and M Theory etc. quite difficult , although I sort of got the gist of much of it. This guy(and his co-author) has an amazing intellect and knowledge of the physical world and a lot of the answers to the "big questions" are in there. I intend to re-read this book, maybe a couple more times, and try to get my head around it all and I would be surprised if the general reader with little scientific knowledge would be any different. "Philosophy is dead" states Hawking in the opening pages of this book and I can see what he's getting at, although I wouldn't be qualified to judge if he's correct or not. Theres no real place for "God" in this book as Hawking believes that life is quite capable of being generated spontaneously and he points out that the existence of any supreme "God" will always be met with the question of "Who created God ?" - ad infinitum. I personally think that interfering aliens were behind most of the world's religions, pretending to be sovereign deities who created the world a few thousand years ago ,and Hawkings book confirmed my beliefs in this respect.
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