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The Grand Design [Paperback]

Stephen Hawking , Leonard Mlodinow
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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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: 8129119714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553819229
  • ASIN: 0553819224
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,256 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.

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
103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
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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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed content 18 Feb 2011
"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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is philosophy dead? 4 Nov 2010
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
'The Grand Design' by Stephen W. Hawking is the new book is a brilliant scientist, a sort of sequel to his most famous book "A Brief History of Time" with which this wonderful writer and physicist due to his knowledge once again pleasantly surprised.

In this book that he made together with Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking has gone one step further than the issues being discussed in his previous works and grapple with some fundamental and ultimate questions of human origin.

Inside, Hawking asks the questions "Why is there something rather than nothing?", "Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned to allow the existence of a people?", "Is there a master plan of some supreme being who created us or is there a scientific explanation?"
And then he provides the answers to those questions.

"The Grand Design" is a kind of handbook on quantum physics and metaphysics for complete dummies, and in a great way Hawking speaks about the question of God's existence, especially because lately some have started labeling him as religious, along with some other well-known scientists.
So, it's amazing how these two authors managed to create a work with so many complicated ideas and transform them into an accessible book that is extremely easy to read.

Therefore, the 'The Grand Design' is a book that can be recommended to Hawking fans, physicists and other people who love science, but also to all those who want to hear new discoveries about centuries old existing human beliefs.

Although its volume doesn't suggest it, this is a great and informative book that must be read.
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Published 1 day ago by J E Michalski
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Published 7 days ago by John M. Dowell
3.0 out of 5 stars After declaring that philosophy is dead, without any apparent ...
After declaring that philosophy is dead, without any apparent explanation as to why, H and M go on to propose a philosophical thesis, `model dependent realism', without really... Read more
Published 13 days ago by angel care is rubbish
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into a great mind
Very insightful book, flows well and handles this complex subject matter in a way that a layman like me can understand
Published 15 days ago by felix the cat
3.0 out of 5 stars ... read "brief history" a long time ago and I enjoy pop science books
I read "brief history" a long time ago and I enjoy pop science books. But I found this book too superficial. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Jay
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book
A very good book and quite different from 'A brief History'.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. S. Hooper
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product as described I'm very pleased thank you A+++
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Nice item !
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Published 1 month ago by Paula
4.0 out of 5 stars This is about understanding the universe at the deepest level ...
This is about understanding the universe at the deepest level. People who are into physics would find this book interesting since it's mind opening and the information that is... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs Khan
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