The Grand Design

The Grand Design

Book rating: 02 Hardback

By (author) Stephen Hawking, By (author) Leonard Mlodinow

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  • Publisher: BANTAM PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 159mm x 234mm x 19mm | 650g
  • Publication date: 9 September 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0593058291
  • ISBN 13: 9780593058299
  • Illustrations note: 35 full colour illustrations interspersed throughout
  • Sales rank: 7,784

Product description

When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? What is the nature of reality? Is the apparent 'grand design' of our universe evidence for a benevolent creator who set things in motion? Or does science offer another explanation? In "The Grand Design", the most recent scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe is presented, in language marked by both brilliance and simplicity. "The Grand Design" explains the latest thoughts about model-dependent realism (the idea that there is no one version of reality), and about the multiverse concept of reality in which there are many universes. There are new ideas about the top-down theory of cosmology (the idea that there is no one history of the universe, but that every possible history exists). It concludes with a riveting assessment of m-theory, and discusses whether it is the unified theory Einstein spent a lifetime searching for. This is the first major work in nearly a decade by one of the world's greatest thinkers. 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.

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Author information

STEPHEN HAWKING held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663, for thirty years. Professor Hawking is now Director of Research for the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. He has over a dozen honorary degrees, and was awarded the Companion of Honour in 1989. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US Natonal Academy of Science. His books include the bestselling A Brief History of Time, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell and A Briefer History of Time. Stephen Hawking is regarded as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein. He lives in Cambridge. Physicist LEONARD MLODINOW has taught at Cal Tech, written for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and is the author of Euclid's Window, Feynman's Rainbow and Some Time with Feynman.

Customer reviews

By Udaybhanu Chitrakar 12 Jul 2011 2

Philosophy is dead. Is Logic dead also?

How did the scientists come to know that an entire universe could come out of nothing? Or, how did they come to know that anything at all could come out of nothing? Were they present at that moment when the universe was being born? As that was not the case at all, therefore they did not get that idea being present at the creation event. Rather they got this idea being present here on this very earth. They have created a vacuum artificially, and then they have observed that virtual particles (electron-positron pairs) are still appearing spontaneously out of that vacuum and then disappearing again. From that observation they have first speculated, and then ultimately theorized, that an entire universe could also come out of nothing. But here their entire logic is flawed. These scientists are all born and brought up within the Christian tradition. Maybe they have downright rejected the Christian world-view, but they cannot say that they are all ignorant of that world-view. According to that world-view God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. So as per Christian belief-system, and not only as per Christian belief-system, but as per other belief-systems also, God is everywhere. So when these scientists are saying that the void is a real void, God is already dead and non-existent for them. But these scientists know very well that non-existence of God will not be finally established until and unless it is shown that the origin of the universe can also be explained without invoking God. Creation event is the ultimate event where God will have to be made redundant, and if that can be done successfully then that will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that God does not exist. So how have they accomplished that job, the job of making God redundant in case of creation event? These were the steps:
1) God is non-existent, and so, the void is a real void. Without the pre-supposition that God does not exist, it cannot be concluded that the void is a real void.
2) As virtual particles can come out of the void, so also the entire universe. Our universe has actually originated from the void due to a quantum fluctuation in it.
3) This shows that God was not necessary to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going, as because there was no creation event.
4) This further shows that God does not exist.
So here what is to be proved has been proved based on the assumption that it has already been proved. Philosophy is already dead for these scientists. Is it that logic is also dead for them?

By Rui Antunes 07 Apr 2011 2

This book was a big disappointment. Written by one of the most brilliant theoretical physics of our time, Stephen Hawking, together with Leonard Mlodinow (also known as a science popularizer), one would expect much better.
The book is superficial and without a strong guideline. Theories such as Inflation, Relativity and String Theory/M-Theory are only briefly and superficially described. Quantum Mechanics is described in a little more detail, but only in the light of Feynman's "sum of all stories" interpretation.

Based on Feynman's "sum of all histories" model, Hawking brings up the Multiverse model, but in a confusing way, that leaves you questioning whether Hawking believes in "real" (existing) multiple universes or if those multiple universes are only mathmatical identities - histories of the "sum of all histories" Feynman's model applied to Universe as a quantum entity.

Based on the "sum of all histories" model, applied to the Universe, Hawking seems to defend the strong anthropic principle: the universe is the way we see it, because by observing it, we eliminate all the histories that would lead to a different universe, and so we are left with just a few histories of the universe which, using Feynman's path integral, would lead to the universe we observe.

Hawking finishes the book by strongly defending that the M-theory is the only candidate to the complete physics theory, even though he gave no strong arguments why M-theory is, to start with, a good theory - and, even less, why it is better or even the only one. It looks as if the main goal of Hawking was to declare M-theory as the theory to be considered in the next years, and the 160 pages that preceded that declaration were nothing but an incoherent set of excuses for that final declaration.

However, I can't say that I learnt nothing from this book, because there was a new thing (at least to me): the "Game of Life", by John Conway. This is a (computer) model of a two-dimension rule where, with a few simple (fundamental) rules, we can see it generating structure and (apparent) complex laws. This maybe the (almost) perfect analogy on why we should, in the midst of all the complexity of the universe, try to find simple (more fundamental) laws and explanations (even though Hawking does not say it with so many words). This almost saved the book...