- 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 (237 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Grand Design Paperback – 18 Aug 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this to use with Kindle and was very satisfied. Diagrams can be 'blown up' to be readable. The content was very interesting although I felt the ending 'fizzled out'.Published 14 days ago by Stephen Mitchell
I enjoyed this book very much, just a small part was over my head. In the future I shall read more Stephen Hawking books.Published 24 days ago by Mickle Motor
Moderately well written book with little to offer in terms of facts and science, focusing too much on partially logical philosophical arguments. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Anonymous
Fantastic insight into why we are here! Quantum Physics rules ok! M-Theory and Quantum Superpositon explains it all. A great read, simplifying Life , The Universe and everything. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brian Book Junkie
Great book but had to stop reading it as I was doing his voice in my headPublished 1 month ago by John Shortt