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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too simple for the scientific, probably too complex for the non-scientific; but generally well worth a read!!, 11 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Grand Design: New Answers to the Ultimate Questions of Life (Hardcover)
Having read Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" some years ago, I was excited to learn he was releasing a new (somewhat controversial) book, where he updated the discoveries that science had made since the mid-80s.

The science that Hawking and Mlodinow discuss in this book is remarkably complicated, even to the brightest of minds, and simplifying these concepts so that they can be understood by a lay reader is by no means easy! Largely they make use of everyday analogies to help in the comprehension.

Being from a medical, rather than a physical background myself, I found it particularly interesting reading "The Grand Design", as it reminded me of concepts that I had not had much chance to deliberate since I was 18. As well as this, I found the authors were actually quite amusing at times; there is a lot of subtle humour included in the text.

Unfortunately, I was also a little disappointed that M-theory was not discussed in more detail. Most of the book deals with building up a basic scientific background that is relevant to the understanding of M-theory, and can not be assumed to be had by the user, since it is aimed at people of all backgrounds.

I would also like to comment on the analogies to God that are made throughout this book. Personally, I fear that these were put in as a way of trying to sell science to the mass public. Hawking has not changed his views on religion, as some might believe, having read a recent review article in "The Times". Hawking has always spoken of God metaphorically, referring more to a unified design theory of the Universe. The concept of a personal God is discussed in this book, but perhaps is not entirely relevent. People have many different reasons for believing in a God (mostly due to the insecurities of human nature); I fear that some readers will be unhappy by the assumptions that are put forth in this book.

In summary, "The Grand Design" is well worth a read! If you consider yourself scientific, you will likely find this book amusing, interesting and thought provoking. If you consider yourself very un-scientific, I would adivise that you take your time as you read, and make sure you've got your head round each of the concepts before you move on.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Sep 2010 16:25:11 BDT
Azad says:
A very good review.
I was going to buy the book anyway, having read A Brief History of Time, and this review will help in discussing the book.
Azad Ayub, London

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Sep 2010 16:56:27 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Sep 2010 17:00:02 BDT
I'm just finishing "The Road to Reality" by Brian Greene and that has a lot of good stuff on M-theory. His favourite idea is that two joined 3-branes clash to generate the big bang. It's worth reading to just get some understanding of that! Makes Dr Who's excursions look very tame and parochial :) Greene also stresses that the multiverse may be transparent to gravitons, so that 4km long gravity wave detectors in orbit may detect neighbouring branes. So no more of that we'll never prove it by experiment rubbish please! They used to say that about atoms. By the way Greene, has lots of references & mathematical footnotes, unlike Hawking. This might make it a heavy slog through for the impatient though, so start with Hawking, then Greene, ... then Penrose!

I think Hawking needed to spell out in a book exactly what he thought about "the God idea". People are still endlessly discussing whether Einstein believed in God or not, and, if so, what kind of God.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Sep 2010 12:49:33 BDT
Anon. says:
"The Road to Reality" is by Roger Penrose, not Brian Greene.
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