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The Grand Design [Paperback]

Stephen Hawking , Leonard Mlodinow
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

18 Aug 2011

When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Is the apparent 'grand design' of our universe evidence for a benevolent creator who set things in motion? Or does science offer another explanation? In The Grand Design, the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe is presented in language marked by both brilliance and simplicity. Model dependent realism, the multiverse, the top-down theory of cosmology, and the unified M-theory - all are revealed here.

This is the first major work in nearly a decade by one of the world's greatest thinkers. A succinct, startling and lavishly illustrated guide to discoveries that are altering our understanding and threatening some of our most cherished belief systems, The Grand Design is a book that will inform - and provoke - like no other.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (18 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553819224
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553819229
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 108 people found the following review helpful
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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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed content 18 Feb 2011
By CP
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is philosophy dead? 4 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover
The inside cover of the book states that it is:

"A succinct, startling and lavishly illustrated guide to discoveries that are altering our understanding and threatening some of our most cherished belief systems, The Grand Design is a book that will inform - and provoke - like no other."

Well, it is most certainly succinct, well illustrated and thought provoking. Indeed, the book is perhaps a little too succinct. It is certainly very short, and it doesn't take long to read. The writing style is very clear, though some of the humour does have the feeling of having been inserted periodically as an afterthought, to maintain some levity in the book.

The book is a mixture of bold statements about the current state of theoretical research and an overview of historical developments in physics over the last hundred years (with some going further back than that). One of the weak points of the book is that it lacks references. This makes it very difficult to distinguish what is widely-accepted, evidenced scientific theory and what is optimistic speculation. At one point in the book, the authors state: "M-theory is the only candidate for a complete theory of the universe." I would certainly take issue with that, given that it is certainly not a universally accepted opinion. Any reader wanting to gain an alternative opinion on some of the bold assertions made about M-theory would do well to read Lee Smolin's The Trouble With Physics.

Probably the most interesting claim in the book comes at the start, with the declaration that "Philosophy is dead." This claim is never convincingly argued, and in fact the authors go on to employ certain philosophical ideas in pursuit of their goals. The entire argument of the book hinges on the acceptance of "model-dependent realism.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost back to the beginning! 24 Oct 2010
By John
Format:Hardcover
Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow have made yet another stab to popularise the exploration of how the universe began. I read it interspersed with Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw's book "Why does e=mc2" which I found as a lapsed mathematician to be much more readable, understandable and less opinionated than the Hawking/Mlodinow text, which left me feeling strangely empty towards the end, as if they couldn't quite reach the final point they were trying to make: is it because that point is beyond mathematical comprehension? Read both and decide!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
Stephen W. Hawking is a brilliant scientist and a great writer.

You do not need to be an scientist to understand this book. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Haidji
2.0 out of 5 stars Hawking is clever...but this wasn't for me
Didn't really grab my attention and didn't get me turning pages. Seemed to dawdle along too much but not say a lot. Perhaps that's just me. Not inspiring
Published 1 month ago by Dr G
4.0 out of 5 stars Grand design
The book briefly discusses gravitation, quantum physics and M theory. But contrary to the impression left by title it does not see the necessity of a creator. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars The Grand Design
This was bought as a gift for my son and I understand that he has enjoyed the read. So, go ahead, try it for yourself !
Published 2 months ago by Liz
5.0 out of 5 stars WOnderful
This book is amazing, brand new, I am so excited. If you like this type of literature strongly recommend it
Published 4 months ago by Maggie
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Even for a beginner like me this book is terrific. It's clear and full of interesting ideas. It takes a bit of reading but it's worth it.
Published 4 months ago by lauren
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable
I borrowed this from the library. It's a very readable, and reasonably short, book on the origins of the universe - and, it has to be said, an eloquant argument against... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jr Murdoch
5.0 out of 5 stars the ultimate read
I am a normal non educated person joiner by trade but found this book easy to understand most of the time well done steven
Published 5 months ago by George Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth it!
Again, another fascinating read, beautifully written - even my little brother enjoyed this book.
In fact, I've put it back into my reading stack for another go over...!
Published 6 months ago by Amber
5.0 out of 5 stars A book by a genius, that lessers can understand
There are numerous books around on this subject. Most are written by scientists, and you need to be one to get your head around what they're trying to say. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Michael Caton
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