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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 (993 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Larry Chandler, AZ, United States 02-14-11
    Larry Chandler, AZ, United States 02-14-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Be aware......"

    This book would be better suited as a lecture for graduate-level physics students than the casual fan of science and the cosmos. At least three quarters of the book is dedicated to particle physics, and I didn't really see the tie-in to a "Grand Design". It's mainly one big pitch for M theory being the "theory of everything", but it didn't connect with me. The narrator has a great voice and is easy to listen to, which made it possible for me to stick through the entire reading.

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hany cairo, Egypt 09-16-10
    hany cairo, Egypt 09-16-10
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    "After all a good book to read and think about"

    I am a fan of Hawking and read and listened to many of his works. After llistening to The Grand Design I thought the whole new thing could have been stated in an essay or a lecture. The science facts were almost all repeated in his prevous books. However he got the talent to weave these facts into intellegent works. Going through the book one might think he was arguing the exact opposite: (there were a grand designer) but he made his point towards the end.
    At first i thought the narrator was monotonous ( boring) but on second thoughts i figured he was not reading harry potter. Science facts need to be stated without much drama
    After all a good book to read and think about

    7 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kevmoo United States 12-14-11
    kevmoo United States 12-14-11 Member Since 2011

    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
  •  
    Brenda Torreon, Mexico 02-06-14
    Brenda Torreon, Mexico 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 2012

    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
  •  
    P. Moran Ottawa, ON Canada 01-03-13
    P. Moran Ottawa, ON Canada 01-03-13 Member Since 2012

    CanadaPat

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "You really need the pictures for this one"
    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Fascinating to learn about some of the experiments devised in quantum mechanics.


    Was The Grand Design worth the listening time?

    Yes and no. It's such a short book, you can't really resent the time you spend listening to it, but it's the type of book that you really need pictures to grasp the content. I will purchase books like this in print in future.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Farrell Colorado Springs, CO, United States 11-13-12
    Farrell Colorado Springs, CO, United States 11-13-12 Member Since 2009
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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
  •  
    Libertun Majadahonda, Spain 11-05-12
    Libertun Majadahonda, Spain 11-05-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Narrator is VERY BAD. Unpleasing listening"
    Would you try another book from Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow and/or Steve West?

    perhaps


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    It is horrible. His entonation is weird, Unacceptable. Very distracting and very unpleasing


    Any additional comments?

    Change the narrator!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 09-17-12
    Amazon Customer United States 09-17-12
    ratings
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    10
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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 Member Since 2012
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    5
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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
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