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The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

The Grand Design (original 2010; edition 2012)

by Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow

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1,676774,268 (3.65)35
Title:The Grand Design
Authors:Stephen Hawking
Other authors:Leonard Mlodinow
Info:Bantam (2012), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:non-fiction, universe, physics, astronomy, philosophy

Work details

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking (2010)

  1. 10
    Aristotle Leads the Way by Joy Hakim (themulhern)
    themulhern: "Aristotle Leads the Way" has a more objective discussion of Greek scientific thought along with lots of great pictures.
  2. 00
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    Limelite: A lot more of the physics, but also exceptionally clear and graspable.
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» See also 35 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
In the first few chapters, I had this amazing feeling that I just might be able to understand it all. This dissipated in the later chapters, as physics well beyond my severely limited knowledge was explored...yet it was fascinating and engaging even to this layperson. Explores the interesting nexus of the creation and implementation of scientific models (science has long ago left behind the "you have to see it to believe it" attitude) and how one creates meaning from such models. ( )
1 vote bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
If you're geek, you are alrite to read this book. If not, Don't push yourself just read.

[b:The Grand Design|8520362|The Grand Design|Stephen Hawking|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320558363s/8520362.jpg|13383926] contains the scientific researches which are condemned, cursed, marveled, revolutionized the world. ( )
1 vote Chiththarthan | Dec 29, 2015 |
Stephen W. Hawking is a brilliant scientist and a great writer.

You do not need to be an scientist to understand this book.
The book is is well written, clear and comprehensive.
This book makes me want to study physics.

It was a fascinating read. ( )
  Haidji | Jul 27, 2015 |
I read this immediately after reading The Universe in a Nutshell (2001). I read Black Holes and Baby Universes a few years ago. I have read Brian Greene's works, so felt rather up-to-date on where quantum physics was at. I found this book to be more accessible than Greene's work, and a more interesting read than Nutshell since Hawking is contemplating theoretical physics' meaning for philosophy. That philosophical bent is a real problem for physics since the scientific method, which Hawking holds favorably in The Grand Design, requires hypothesis testing. For more on these problems, and a large criticism of Hawking I plan to read Lee Smolin's The Trouble with Physics.

The author begins by stating that philosophy has not kept up with science, particularly modern physics. Hawking gives a brief history of science with an emphasis on physics and a look at how philosophy looking at science developed from Aristotle (rejected atoms b/c soulless) to Descartes (believed that the body was machine governed by laws, but the soul was not) to Newton (discovered many laws of the universe but held that God was free to intervene against them).

If there are natural laws, can/does God violate them to perform miracles? That's an important question, as is the question of free will and determinism. Where does free will come from? If physicists nail down a Theory of Everything, will everything be deterministic henceforth?

Hawking writes the laws of (this) universe arose from the big bang, and lengthily establishes what those laws are. But the universe has an infinite number of histories and contingencies. Wrap your head around this:
"the probability amplitude that the universe is now in a particular state is arrived at by adding up the contributions from all the histories that satisfy the no-boundary condition and end in the state in question. In cosmology, in other words, one shouldn't follow the history of the universe from the bottom up because that assumes there's a single history, with a well-defined starting point and evolution. Instead, one should trace the histories from the top down, backward from the present time...The histories that contribute to the Feynman sum don't have an independent existence, but depend on what is being measured. We create history by our observation, rather than our history creating us...histories in which the moon is made of cheese do not contribute to the present state of our universe, though they might contribute to others. That might sound like science fiction, but it isn't."

Hawking explains M-theory, p-branes, and other developments in quantum physics. The last pages of the book are the most important as Hawking contends that M theory explains how a universe can arise from nothing. But it does not lead to determinism in the sense that it would be mathematically impossible to calculate the movements of any one being. So, a theory of everything that is not what Hawking desired to find in Black Holes and Baby Universes.

This book seems much more consequential than Nutshell. I found it more entertaining and thought-provoking throughout. I would very much like to read Lee Smolin's The Trouble with Physics, a critique of Hawking's work. For now, 4 stars out of 5 ( )
1 vote justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
CC and several ILL
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
It is all entertaining stuff, skilfully assembled and described in a fairly droll manner. The wave-particle duality of particles is described as being as foreign as drinking a chunk of sandstone, for example. The book is also commendably brief and by and large illuminating about the complexities of modern cosmology.
It is all entertaining stuff, skilfully assembled and described in a fairly droll manner. The wave-particle duality of particles is described as being as foreign as drinking a chunk of sandstone, for example. The book is also commendably brief and by and large illuminating about the complexities of modern cosmology.

So read it to understand the universe. But if it is God you are after, my advice is to steer clear.
The real news about “The Grand Design,” however, isn’t Mr. Hawking’s supposed jettisoning of God, information that will surprise no one who has followed his work closely. The real news about “The Grand Design” is how disappointingly tinny and inelegant it is. The spare and earnest voice that Mr. Hawking employed with such appeal in “A Brief History of Time” has been replaced here by one that is alternately condescending, as if he were Mr. Rogers explaining rain clouds to toddlers, and impenetrable.

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Hawkingprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mlodinow, Leonardmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bollinger, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, SidneyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
In the last thirty 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 ground-breaking new work, Professor Hawking and renowned science writer Leonard Mlodinow have drawn on forty 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, instead, 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?
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Along with Caltech physicist Mlodinow (The Drunkard's Walk), University of Cambridge cosmologist Hawking (A Brief History of Time)deftly mixes cutting-edge physics to answer three key questions--Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why this particular set of laws and not some other?--and explains that scientists are approaching what is called "M-theory," a collection of overlapping theories (including string theory) that fill in many (but not all) the blank spots in quantum physics; this collection is known as the "Grand Unified Field Theories."… (more)

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