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Publisher's Summary

In the last 30 years of his life, Albert Einstein searched for a unified theory - a theory which could describe all the forces of nature in a single framework. But the time was not right for such a discovery in Einstein's day.

Neither was the time right when, in 1988, Professor Stephen Hawking wrote A Brief History of Time, in which he took us on a journey through classical physics, Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum physics and string theory in order to explain the universe that we live in. He concluded, like Einstein, that science may soon arrive at the long sought after 'Theory of Everything'.

In this groundbreaking new work, Professor Hawking and renowned science writer Leonard Mlodinow have drawn on 40 years of Hawking's own research and a recent series of extraordinary astronomical observations and theoretical breakthroughs to reveal an original and controversial theory. They convincingly argue that scientific obsession with formulating a single new model may be misplaced, and that by synthesising existing theories we may discover the key to finally understanding the universe's deepest mysteries.

Written with the clarity and lively style for which Hawking is famous, The Grand Design is an account of Hawking's quest to fuse these different strands of scientific theory. It examines the differences between past and future, explains the nature of reality and asks an all-important question: How far can we go in our search for understanding and knowledge?

©2010 Stephen W Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (P)2010 Random House AudioBooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Ian
  • Nedlands, Australia
  • 09-17-12

The Modern View of Cosmology

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would definitly recommend this book to anybody who needs a concise view of the current understanding of the origin of the universe, space and time.

What did you like best about this story?

The explanation of quantum physics was understandable and fun.

What about Steve West’s performance did you like?

The reader did a great job of clearly presenting the material covered in this book.

Any additional comments?

If you wish to know about multiverses this is a good starting point.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • Upper Caboolture, Australia
  • 09-19-12

Great book, but...

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator seemed not to have a feel for the subject. His emphases were the same in every sentence and thus his delivery was worse than boring, it was distracting in its implacable pacing. Tried to listen to this a second time but couldn't finish it.

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  • Frank
  • 10-04-10

Fantastic, thought provoking book

This is one of the most interesting a thought provoking books I have ever read. Some of the concepts are so mind blowing I had to listen twice to even begin to understand. The books gives a very readable overview of the current thinking on the theory of 'life, the universe and everything'.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Athula
  • 10-07-10

The Grand Design a great book but read badly!

This is an excellent book, but the audio version read by Steve West is a let down. The publishers should know better (by now), in compiling audio books, just reading very fast (so that it can finish quickly -- why is the hurry) does not work well. Steve West's reading is like a running train (each compartment (i.e. sentence) seem to wobble in between and raises and plonk with the next. As the concepts described in the book needs understanding (i.e. putting together in mind analytically with the previously assimilated hard facts). So the running train with um-ha-ha would not help. I strongly suggest to buy the printed version of the book instead of this audio version.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Morris
  • 03-19-15

Written by physicists for physicists.

Having been a long time admirer of Hawkins work and watched several documentaries covering the various theories he expounds I figured that I should get hold of "The Grand Design" as I felt sure it would be a fascinating and informative read. After all, you can't go wrong with a book co-written by Stephen Hawking, right?

Umm ... wrong!

As much as I hate to cast a negative opinion on anything Hawkins does I have to say that this book is almost incomprehensible to the humble ordinary reader like myself. I hope this doesn't place me in the lower end of the intelligence pool but honesty must prevail here when I say I found the book horribly complicated and almost unreadable. I was going to quit the book on more than one occasion which would be a total first on any of the close to 200 books I've read on Audible. It was probably the short (like Einstein stated, that term is relative) 4 hour length of this title that was the only factor that got me through to the end.

Did I learn anything Well, a lot of history and some theology which wasn't what I really signed up for when I purchased this book. Unfortunately a significant proportion of this book is taken up with various histories of how humanity viewed the universe along with many of the theological doctrines too. In the early section of this book every time a new person was mentioned their year of birth and death were also mentioned. This began to read more like a history journal than getting to the key elements of the physics. Perhaps a brief background in how we came by or used to believe how the universe worked would have been fine but this went on far too long and were often obscure and irrelevant examples and only padded out the narrative.

The essence of the problem I have with this book is the fact that it is apparently written for mass market consumption and yet it is so complex as to be indigestible to the average reader who does not have a strong background in quantum physics. What I had really hoped for was that the principles and theories would've been written in such a way as to give the average reader fascinating and comprehensible insights into the way the universe works. Instead we get a book written by physicists for physicists. Given the wonderfully presented documentaries on this subject you see on TV and how they've been carefully presented to allow the lay person to grasp many of the presented ideas I am disappointed that this book was unable to do this.

The narrator was clear and competent but when I hear someone say "Vicer versa" instead of how it is written which is "Vice versa" and for some inexplicable reason says Copernicus so that it sounds like Co-pernicus I have to wonder. A minor gripe perhaps but one that bothers me when the overall quality of the narration was excellent.

I don't know if the peppering of what was intended to be humorous quips throughout the book was Hawkins doing or his co-author but if this was the only attempt to make the book appeal to the mass market then it was a poor and somewhat irritating one.

I was really hoping I would like this book but after just reaching the end of it I am left mostly unenlightened, tired and glad it was over with. The book reads more like a major thesis paper intended for the academic community which should only be available in university libraries rather than a mass market title.

The only people I could recommend this book to are those heavily into quantum physics who are doing studies on the subject or those who suffer from insomnia.

Shame really as I wanted to get something from this but alas it's going to be consigned to the nearest black hole which is thankfully even denser than evidentially I am.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Athula
  • 10-07-10

The Grand Design a great book but read badly!

This is an excellent book, but the audio version read by Steve West is a let down. The publishers should know better (by now), in compiling audio books, just reading very fast (so that it can finish quickly -- why is the hurry) does not work well. Steve West's reading is like a running train (each compartment (i.e. sentence) seem to wobble in between and raises and plonk with the next. As the concepts described in the book needs understanding (i.e. putting together in mind analytically with the previously assimilated hard facts). So the running train with um-ha-ha would not help. I strongly suggest to buy the printed version of the book instead of this audio version.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • 09-10-17

Wishful thinking

The authors failed to answer the question they clearly set out. The final chapter for example was monotonous and went off on a tangent. Where they cannot explain items they just make assumptions - if the assumptions are wrong the output will be wrong. The authors have taken the liberty to assume and explain certain things like religions do without evidence.

The book sounded promising but quite a lot of filler material then failing to draw any rigorous conclusion.

Would recommend as a type of science fiction but if want a serious science read try something else.

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  • M C Shield
  • 08-08-17

A glimpse into such a beautiful mind

Such a beautiful read, although I couldn't grasp the full extent of all the concepts. It was a real privilege to glimpse into such a beautiful mind. Often humorous, always insightful. Occasionally the authors frustrations surface at the still Neanderthal behaviour of society. I feel more a ease knowing minds like these are at work and play pondering the meaning of it all.

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  • Andrzej Rutkowski
  • 02-17-17

Brilliant

Incredibly interesting and thought provoking. The only problem is the narrators monotone voice, which not only diminishes how fascinating the topics are, but also makes all the jokes fall flat. It's not, however, so distracting as to stop you from learning the unbelievable ways in which we are beginning to understand out universe.

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  • JM
  • 12-06-16

Not simple but who thought it would be?

Sometimes hard to follow bit surely that isn't a surprise considering the subject matter. Concepts are explained well and I really enjoyed the book, it has sparked an interest for me to read further on the subject.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-08-16

Physics history lesson

Nothing new here, barely explained the m theory . Performance was good and easy to follow, but I guess I was expecting new ideas and not a recollection of human achievements since Greek time...

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  • Ianek
  • 05-16-15

Brilliant Ideas+Born Communicator = True Genius

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Endlessly fascinating and accessible examination of Life, the Universe and Everything. Even Marvin would approve...probably.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Grand Design?

Everything between the covers.

What does Steve West bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Just the right voice and delivery for the subject. A full range of emotional expression to do justice to a brilliantly lucid examination of the mysteries which consume us all.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me excited to explore the physical universe and the hidden universe of sub atomic particles, to be allowed to journey on the coattails of a great mind and someone with a great thirst for knowledge and wonderful sense of enthusiasm for life as well as a fine sense of humour.

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  • Josh
  • 08-08-16

Comprehensive knowledge required but worth it

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am no physics professor nor typical student however I have invested a substantial amount of time reading up on our universe, classical physics and quantum physics.

Still at times I realised that there is much more to learn and I would one day like to re-listen to this book after having read up specifically about a few more of the theories mentioned within.

Regardless it was still for me a good insight into where we are heading in our understanding of the universe and its workings. Worth a read definitely considering it is quite short.