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The Grand Design Paperback – 18 Aug 2011

226 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (18 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129119714
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129119711
  • ASIN: 0553819224
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,523 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

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

113 of 122 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sir Furboy on 6 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Stephen Hawking's attempt to answer the great questions about life, the universe and everything. It is co written with someone with a name I can neither pronounce nor spell, but apologies to Leonard Ml-whatever-your-name-is, for not taking the time to copy and paste it.

Plusses are that this book is a wonderful short history of the growth of scientific thought as well as a crash course in quantum mechanics, relativity and M theory.

However, there was nothing actually new here - although it brings a lot of material into one nicely accessible place. A fuller discussion of the scientific theories can be found in books such as Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe (he has a later book that probably covers any recent changes Hawking includes).

As for the history of the development of science, that can be found in many places, but at times it was reminiscent of Russell's History of Western Philosophy.

On the downside, this book does not do what it purports to do. It asks the question "why is there something rather than nothing", but cannot answer it, and the attempt to reduce it to a non question is just a fudge that admits to the unanswerability of the question.

Early on the book also simply dismisses philosophy, saying it has not kept up with the science. That statement is a bold assertion written in defiance of the clear fact that modern philosophers are well aware of the latest physics, and make good use of it. Indeed, inasmuch as this book IS a work of philosophy, the book refutes its own assertion.

In a few other places, things are asserted without evidence and which are not obviously true.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dave Robicheaux on 24 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a good read if you have some scientific understanding or are keen to learn. It is interspersed with humorous cartoons and occasional quips in text which made it an easier read for me.

As some other more eloquent reviewers than I have said it feels like you are left hanging at the end with little M-theory explanation. Another book explaining this more deeply would be most welcome!

To me it seems as if we are at a point in the theory that requires another Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking to make a leap to a new level.

Overall I felt the recent Horizon `What Is Reality?' on the BBC gave a better feeling for where we are at understanding our universe. Although they left us with the universe being a hologram idea which again smacks of physics needing a leap of understanding to a better model.

Certainly worth the read if you are looking for a summary of how we got to where we are now.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful By CP on 18 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Philosophy is dead", the authors declare very early on, and then roundly prove over the next few chapters why they could have done with the services of a good philosopher. Hawking is known, of course, for his ground-breaking science, but not for his analysis of the history of knowledge or the social progress of our culture. Unfortunately, a substantial part of this book is dedicated to those topics, and makes for a short-sighted and naive read. Once the writing turns to actual science, its value greatly increases: the major elements of relativity and quantum mechanics are summed up simply and clearly, then form the basis for explanations of newer work such as M-Theory. Hawking has written better about his (and others') work, but if you're looking for the most up-to-date and/or easily read version, then this book is worth its very reasonable cover price. It's a short and superficial book, however, so if you're looking for anything in-depth you are likely to be disappointed.
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