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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 Ratings

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 05-26-12

I listened to it twice and was disappointed twice.

The first time I listened to the book I felt I missed something. A year later I re-listened to it after having read many other science books thinking I must have not understood the original listen. After the second listen, I felt like I had missed something too. The book just doesn't have that much worth while in it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kenneth
  • WILBUR, WA, United States
  • 03-05-12

Interesting

What made the experience of listening to The Grand Design the most enjoyable?

Discussing the Big Questions.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Stephen Hawking, although there really isn't a character.

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

The best narrator I've heard so far! He combines an English accent that is easy and soothing for an American to listen to. He just has a pleasing voice that is hard to describe in words. It's like the saying

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

The whole wierdness about quantum physics. It is hard to fathem the Universe acting this way.

Any additional comments?

This listen will not be to everyones liking because it gets a bit technical, although I think they do as good of a job as anyone else in trying to bring it down to laymans terms. Science buffs should enjoy this even if we also don't quite

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Radical Thinking

Where does The Grand Design rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Average; I believe the story is good, but there are some 'jokes' in the story, that could be narrated better. In general it does require some general knowledge of physics, and it could be very abstract in some parts.

What did you like best about this story?

I like the ideas in terms they are scientifically supported, but also radical in nature, able to explain many things that had being teach by religion like 'dogmas'; nice to some other explanations

What about Steve West’s performance did you like?

It is good, but not outstanding, some of the parts were narrated pretty fast, specially the more hard concepts, could go a little bit slower; also as I mention, having little more 'emotion' when telling the story 'jokes'

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

It did make thing a lot, reflection mode, it would be quite 'chocking' for a very religion person

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Too complex

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

The problem with this book is it is too complex. The target audience I feel is a master's in physics. At least to fully appreciate the book. I've had many physics courses in college so this did help to brush up some physics knowledge but honestly I could not fully apppreciate the book because it was too complex. It would serve well to have a precursor book to condition the reader before jumping into this content.

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  • Errol
  • Saskatoon, SK, Canada
  • 12-09-11

Overall a good book!

What did you love best about The Grand Design?

A good review of the scientific advances for 70% of the book.

Any additional comments?

The concepts of quantum physics and multiple dimensions are difficult to understand beyond the initial simple introductions. The written book might make it easier to stop and contemplate these concepts, especially it they were associated with graphics. Overall I enjoyed the book.

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  • Stefan
  • Bucuresti, Romania
  • 11-29-11

Good intro to the TOE/ M-theory

All around great intro to the topic. I listened to pretty much all of it in the car, so many times i would find myself rewinding to better understand certain critical topics. My 1st audible purchase...gotta say I'm pretty pleased.

The book kind of ends abruptly IMO...I think more could have been said, but for what it's worth I think that it was really well structured and I learned quite a lot of new things :D. Steve West also does a brilliant job on the reading.

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  • Carly
  • Tallahassee, FL, United States
  • 10-22-11

Pessimistic and Dogmatic

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.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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No clear audience

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.

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  • Ricardo
  • Aventura, FL, United States
  • 08-01-11

The best minds make it easy

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.

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  • Jarrod
  • Los Olivos, CA, United States
  • 12-19-10

Sounds like defeat...

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?).

2 of 4 people found this review helpful