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The Grand Design | [Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow]

The Grand Design

The most fundamental questions about the origins of the universe and of life itself, once the province of philosophy, now occupy the territory where scientists, philosophers, and theologians meet—if only to disagree. In their new book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by both brilliance and simplicity.
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Publisher's Summary

THE FIRST MAJOR WORK IN NEARLY A DECADE BY ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREAT THINKERS—A MARVELOUSLY CONCISE BOOK WITH NEW ANSWERS TO THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS OF LIFE

When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality? Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned as to allow for the existence of beings like ourselves? And, finally, is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation?

The most fundamental questions about the origins of the universe and of life itself, once the province of philosophy, now occupy the territory where scientists, philosophers, and theologians meet—if only to disagree. In their new book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by both brilliance and simplicity.

In The Grand Design they explain that according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. When applied to the universe as a whole, this idea calls into question the very notion of cause and effect. But the “top-down” approach to cosmology that Hawking and Mlodinow describe would say that the fact that the past takes no definite form means that we create history by observing it, rather than that history creates us. The authors further explain that we ourselves are the product of quantum fluctuations in the very early universe, and show how quantum theory predicts the “multiverse”—the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature.

Along the way Hawking and Mlodinow question the conventional concept of reality, posing a “model-dependent” theory of reality as the best we can hope to find. And they conclude with a riveting assessment of M-theory, an explanation of the laws governing us and our universe that is currently the only viable candidate for a complete “theory of everything.” If confirmed, they write, it will be the unified theory that Einstein was looking for, and the ultimate triumph of human reason.

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.

©2010 Steven Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow (P)2010 Random House Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1030 )
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  •  
    kevmoo United States 12-14-11
    kevmoo United States 12-14-11 Member Since 2014

    I live in Seattle. I write code. I listen when I'm out with the dog.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Solid, but just solid."

    I've consumed a lot of content in this area (books, videos, etc). I felt like the authors were a bit distracted here. What is M theory. A discussion of creation myths and how they map to our desire to understand. I felt that the book jumped around a bit. I felt the treatment of M theory to be a bit lacking. I did learn some things. I came away with a much greater appreciation for Feynman, especially. But I was also a bit disappointed. I'm not sure how to compare the content of this book to that of Brian Greene, but Dr. Greene does weave a better narrative.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael moncks corner, SC, United States 11-04-10
    Michael moncks corner, SC, United States 11-04-10
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    "disappointed"

    This book was surprisingly vague and uninformative. One Scientific American magazine about the multi-verse theory or a decent article about string theory would cover almost all the topics brought up in this book. Therefore, I would only recommend this book to people who have absolutely no prior exposure to the multi-verse theory.

    8 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric San bernardino, CA, United States 10-28-10
    Eric San bernardino, CA, United States 10-28-10 Member Since 2003
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    "I really expected More"

    Overall the book was good, but you get all that is in this book in second year Physics, but with the numbers that back it up. I know that it was probibly written for the lay person, but really I was underwhelmed. If taht was the only problem that I had with it I would have given it a 5 star, but the poor attempt at philosophy at the beginning was like reading Depak Chopra. An attempt to reconsile relativism while maintaining an objective reality from which evidence can be derived. The philosophy at the beginning is deeply flawed or poorly explained, I favor the former. I have read much, much better.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mario Streger São Paulo / Brazil 09-05-14
    Mario Streger São Paulo / Brazil 09-05-14
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    "Amazing, like all book from Stephen Hawking"

    I like this subject a lot, and for me Stephen Hawking is the best writer for general public (me). In this work he helps us understand the cutting edge ideas of science and physics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brenda 02-06-14
    Brenda 02-06-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Terrible as an audiobook"
    What disappointed you about The Grand Design?

    This may be a good book to read and ponder about, but as an audiobook it just doesn't cut it. It goes way too fast and if you get distracted for a second you lose track of what they're saying. It's not like a novel or some simpler non fiction, it's not an easy listen. Do not try it if you lack perfect focus while listening to audiobooks.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Wynnewood, PA, United States 10-25-13
    Steve Wynnewood, PA, United States 10-25-13 Member Since 2014

    I rate as follows: 5-Best of the best, 4-LOVED it, 3-LIKED it, 2-Meh, 1-Didn't like it. Fav genres: sci-fi/fantasy, fiction, science

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    "Interesting, but not super-accessible"

    This book was an interesting, if opaque, introduction to some of the most recent, promising, and alien theories in physics. If you're interested in cosmology, this book has some great information. As a graduate student in physics, I found this book to be inspiring.

    It is not, however, an easy listen. It's virtually impossible to plainly explain some of the concepts in this book, and though Hawking and Mlodinow did an admirable job, I had a hard time understanding some of the content. In fact, it's been about a year since I listened to it, and I can recall very little of what I learned.

    This could be a great choice for a motivated listener with some background in the subject, but those with only a passing interest should probably steer clear.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Farrell 11-13-12
    Farrell 11-13-12
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    "Funny, Interesting, Anti-God"

    Well thought out presentation of some rather complex subjects. Presented in such a way that most with a good high school education can understand. And very very interesting.

    The humor thrown in was an added bonus and made it rather fun.

    The Anti-God presentation wasn't needed. I'm not sure it's up to science to decide if God exists or not. This is the only reason I gave it 4 instead of 5. It's not something that science can prove or disprove so while it might be worthwhile in a psychology text I'm not sure it belongs in a physics text.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brooker United States 09-17-12
    Brooker United States 09-17-12
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    "inspiring"
    Would you listen to The Grand Design again? Why?

    Yes, I'm sure I missed some things and as I was listening I could visualize and feel awe in our universe. Listening connects me to the universe and makes want to know more. Great book and easy to understand!


    Have you listened to any of Steve West’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christian BETHESDA, MD, United States 09-04-12
    Christian BETHESDA, MD, United States 09-04-12
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    "Along the lines of "A Brief History of Time""
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I usually listen to this type of material while driving to my office, and this book OK for that matter.


    What aspect of Steve West’s performance would you have changed?

    It is well read, good performance by West.


    Do you think The Grand Design needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    I do not think Hawking will find an answer to his quest of The Theory of Everything. I disagree with the statement that Philosophy is dead and that it is the time for the Physicists to understand the reasons, it sounds pompous. Hawking is condescend in his delivery and writings.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Vale, Oregon 09-03-12
    Lee Vale, Oregon 09-03-12 Member Since 2012

    Showing forth the love and grace of my Friend, Jesus, to all He places in my path. Representing retirement by traveling the US and Canada.

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    "Complex Science/Philosophy Clearly Presented"
    If you could sum up The Grand Design in three words, what would they be?

    Condensed -- Comprehensible -- Pithy


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Although esoteric by their sheer complexity, both astrophysics, with its quarks and nutrinos, and contemplative philosophy are topics both enigmatic and yet intriguing. Hawking takes these seemingly contradictory disciplines and weaves a tapestry with them that is both logically formulated, definitively expressed and, most importantly, captures your attention. His mosaic is clearly understood in terms common to the lay person.


    Have you listened to any of Steve West’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. Mr West's presentation is well enunciated with pleasant intonation and at a pace which permits the listener ample time to cogently process the data presented.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Although no exact moment is definable, yet the amalgamation (summation if you will) of these divergent disciplines was quite excellently presented. Hawking presents not only his scientific conclusions but, equally importantly, his philosophical perspectives as a result.


    Any additional comments?

    Best listened to two or three times with a month or more between listenings to process and appreciate the scope of the data presented as well as its application, if any, for the individual.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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