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The Grand Design Paperback – 18 Aug 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 255 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: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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