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
I did not like this book. The arguments within it sounded less like findings of science and more like a subtle diatribe against any school of thought that does not see science and spirituality as mutually exclusive. I don't find myself any more knowledgeable about the subject after listening and now have a little less respect for the authors.
While the overall book was good, it's lacking in having a consistent target audience. It will explain some simple concepts in detail (that anyone reading the book ought to already know), then skip over more complex (physics-related) topics, that many readers might not understand. So while it has some good material, it spends too much time on details of simple concepts, and not enough on new theory on the harder stuff. It just wasn't consistent in the level of detail presented, which seriously detracted from the overall impression of the book.
The best minds make it easy to understand the complex. The Grand Design is a brilliant work of concept, to believe or not to believe that is the question. We can only imagine the possibilities.
I'm an engineer/scientist with too little time, I therefore rely heavily on other's reviews - I hope to pay you back with my own thoughts ;)
I couldn't help but get the feeling that these fine men are giving up - giving up on the driving force behind most physicists, including myself: the elegant solution. I have a love-hate relationship with Mr Hawking - he taught me so much when I was first reading physics, but now he is telling us there is no grand design - it is all a mish-mash patchwork - it seems almost he wants to wrap up his current best guess before giving up the ghost. You guys are icons! Don't do it! I have to believe it's all just a great big blind alley or else go and study other urgent science (climate stability anyone?).
The book gives a lot to think about, how we all conduct our everyday life. The book also is
showing us how everything is evolving and changing in the universe. In doing so theories are also changing to the new information. As to in our own lives. What I got out of it was God is what one believes it to be.
54 yrs, ,memb 12yrs,library -75%nonfic 10% fiction,15% classics. History, all sciences, bio, classics,diverse other interests.
If I recall correctly this highly overrated book takes part in the new political war of science against religeon which sickens me.Ive been stung by several books now that present themselves as being about science but are in fact little else but rants in this anti religeon movement by a few scientists. The worst offender being Richard Dawkins. beyond that, this book has nothing at all new to say and what it rehashes is poorly written. Instead of wasting your money on this crap, get something by Brian Green or Gleik . There are a lot of great reads on this subject but this isnt one of them.
It's unfortunate that books this technical are allowed to be made into audio books. I have tried and tried to listen and understand this book but the in-depth study of astro/nuclear physics isn't made for audiobooks; that is, unless you are an astro/nuclear physicist. References are also made of illustrations that obviously can't be seen in this format.
As an overview of the book in general? It sounds like an painful stretch to explain the inexplicable.
"You cannot go on seeing through things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. . . . If you see through everything, then everything is transparent. But a wholly transparent world is an invisible world. To see through all things is the same as not to see.”
—C. S. Lewis
Loved "A Brief History of Time" but hated this. Maybe it's the addition of the co-author, but I found this too be condescending and arrogant. Where previously Hawking would give theories on what could be known and left to us what could not be (i.e. what happened before the big bang). Here he overreaches and denies our own individuality based on quantum physics and bluntly says if you disagree you are a superstitious relic. I tried, I really did, for 2 or 3 hours, but eventually had to give in.
I'm glad the book was written and I'd imagine there are some that will get quite a bit out of it. But, I thought this book was a bit too complicated for what I was interested in listening to. Mind you, I'm an engineer and a techie and generally interested in anything science related and I'm still saying this. I did find bits and pieces interesting but if I could do it over again I think I'd pass on this one. The other thing is that if you are really interested in this book, maybe reading the written format would allow you to digest things better. For example, being able to reference the glossary in the back would have been nice.
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