The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

41%

28 Critic Reviews

The authors may be in this enviable state of enlightenment, but most readers will not have a clue what they are on about....This is physics by sound-bite.
-The Economist

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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 of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation? In this startling and lavishly illustrated book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about these and other abiding mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by brilliance and simplicity.

According to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence or history. The authors explain that we ourselves are the product of quantum fluctuations in the 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. They conclude with a riveting assessment of M-theory, an explanation of the laws governing our universe that is currently the only viable candidate for a “theory of everything”: the unified theory that Einstein was looking for, which, if confirmed, would represent the ultimate triumph of human reason.
 

About Stephen Hawking

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Stephen Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors including, most recently, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His books for the general reader include the classic A Brief History of Time, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell, and A Briefer History of Time. He lives in Cambridge, England.Leonard Mlodinow received his doctorate in theoretical physics from the University of California at Berkeley, and teaches at Caltech. He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives, Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior, War of the Worldviews: Science versus Spirituality (with Deepak Chopra), Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life, and Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace. He also wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation. He lives in South Pasadena, California.
 
Published September 7, 2010 by Bantam. 208 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Grand Design
All: 28 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 20

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Tim Radford on Sep 17 2010

So we are left with a...cosmology book which is of course slightly more up to date than a dozen other, equally readable cosmology books that have appeared in the past decade, all of which confess increasing uncertainty about the things that happened or might have happened in the first trillionth of a second of creation...

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Robin McKie on Sep 11 2010

It is all entertaining stuff, skilfully assembled and described in a fairly droll manner...The book is also commendably brief and by and large illuminating about the complexities of modern cosmology.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Sep 07 2010

The real news about “The Grand Design” is how disappointingly tinny and inelegant it is. The spare and earnest voice that Mr. Hawking employed...has been replaced here by one that is alternately condescending, as if he were Mr. Rogers explaining rain clouds to toddlers, and impenetrable.

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Wall Street Journal

Below average
Reviewed by Sean Carroll on Sep 24 2010

It is unfortunate that Messrs. Hawking and Mlodinow choose to open their book by picking a pointless disciplinary fight...Our best hope for constructing sensible answers lies with scientists and philosophers working together, not scoring points off one another.

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NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Marcelo Gleiser on Sep 09 2010

It’s extremely misleading to promulgate highly speculative theories as the accepted word of the scientific community. Although I have enormous respect for Hawking’s work as a scientist — he’s one of the greatest of our generation without question — this sort of media hype is, to my mind, irresponsible.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Moorcock on Sep 05 2010

This succinct, easily digested book could perhaps do with fewer dry, academic groaners, but Hawking and Mlodinow pack in a wealth of ideas and leave us with a clearer understanding of modern physics in all its invigorating complexity.

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The Economist

Below average
Sep 09 2010

The authors may be in this enviable state of enlightenment, but most readers will not have a clue what they are on about....This is physics by sound-bite.

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The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by James Trefil on Sep 05 2010

It gets into the deepest questions of modern cosmology without a single equation. The reader will be able to get through it without bogging down in a lot of technical detail and will, I hope, have his or her appetite whetted for books with a deeper technical content.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by John Cornwell on Sep 20 2010

The Grand Design is a speculative book about an exceedingly arcane area of theoretical physics. Even if M-theory is the best candidate for a Theory of Everything, it will not...result in anything more than a collection of unproved and unprovable hypotheses.

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Huffington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Deepak Chopra on Sep 08 2010

What is the connection of non-locality to M-theory? For them to be silent on the most fundamental aspect of the quantum world, in a theory that purports to be the theory of everything, is a serious shortcoming.

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The Daily Beast

Excellent
Reviewed by Josh Robinson on Sep 10 2010

This isn’t your typical popular science book...The book’s conclusions are so sweeping and address such fundamental questions of existence that it often borders on philosophy.

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The Spectator

Below average
Reviewed by Alexander Waugh on Sep 11 2010

In The Grand Design he aims to give a concise and readable answer to the ‘Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.’...It will come as no surprise to learn that he fails to provide a satisfactory solution to any of them.

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New Scientist

Below average
Reviewed by Craig Callender on Sep 02 2010

Three decades ago, Stephen Hawking famously declared that a "theory of everything" was on the horizon... Hawking has given up. But it is not his fault, he says: there may not be a final theory to discover after all. No matter; he can explain the riddles of existence without it.

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The Space Review

Below average
Reviewed by Jeff Foust on Oct 18 2010

This high-level discussion will leave people who want to dig deeper into some of the book’s topics—such as why rolling up those additional dimensions in different ways results in different laws of physics—wanting, though.

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Culture Mob

Below average
Reviewed by Sean Phelan on Sep 08 2010

While such Einsteinean hubris is hardly surprising from Hawking, a man firmly entrenched in the camp of scientific theory and renowned for his work on black holes, his explanation behind such conjecture leaves much to be desired.

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Buddhistdoor

Excellent
Reviewed by Wong Weng Hon on Sep 20 2010

Such Thought of creation of Stephen Hawking is synonymous with Buddhist doctrine of the nexus of conditional relationships of the interconnected unity of contingent causes and conditions.

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God: New evidence

Below average
Reviewed by Paul Davies

As Hawking and Mlodinow say that no-one knows what the M stands for, I suggest that - at least in ‘The Grand Design’ - it stands for ‘Mystification.’... the art of appearing to say something profound, without actually saying anything at all.

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Rhapsody in Books

Good
Reviewed by Jim on Oct 25 2010

This book is written for a broad audience, including those who are mathematically illiterate... I recommend it highly for the scientifically and philosophically curious.

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Challies

Below average
Reviewed by Edgar Andrews on Sep 30 2010

But the authors then produce their own brand of humanistic philosophy, christen it ‘science’ and base their book upon it....This is postmodernism by the back door and it is wholly inimical to science, which depends on there being a genuine reality to investigate.

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The Galilean

Below average
Reviewed by David Misialowski on Sep 11 2010

But now, for me, the drum roll and flourish of trumpets is gone, replaced by the sour blat of horns. Unless I have missed a step in Hawking’s reasoning, it certainly does not seem as if he has answered the question “Why M Theory,” or the bigger question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

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Tekton Ticker

Below average
Reviewed by Daniel Ventress on Dec 14 2011

Instead we see a total lack of familiarity not just with specific issues within the field, but a familiarity with the entire subject itself...However, this is dwarfed by an even bigger error: their refusal to accept correction in the face of multiple stringent criticisms of their lacklustre and slapdash efforts.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

Good
Sep 14 2011

The Grand Design (co-written by Leonard Mlodinow) is quite a beautiful book with color artwork and photography. Far from being some dry, technical tome stretching for a thousand pages, the book is a quick moving refresher on the drive to unify the various theories of physics (gravity, electromagnetic, etc.) into one Grand Unified Theory.

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COGSCIdotNL

Below average
Reviewed by Sebastiaan Mathot on Jan 31 2011

Unfortunately, “The Grand Design” does not live up to the hype. The book is entertaining, but there is little to set it apart from the competition.

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Apologetics 315

Below average
Reviewed by Brian Auten on Dec 04 2010

As for Hawking and Mlodinow, they are confident that the complete theory of the universe “will be a model of the universe that creates itself.” For the rest of us, nothing still comes from nothing, and universes still don’t create themselves.

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Common Sense Atheism

Below average
Reviewed by Luke Muehlhauser on Oct 27 2010

Instead, Hawking’s book is another enjoyable romp through modern physics, and one to be read as some people’s interpretation of very fuzzy and inadequate data, rather than as “a brilliant physicist with an answer.”... If you expect the book to make the argument it was advertised as making, you will be disappointed.

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Mens News Daily

Below average
Reviewed by Tom Gilson on Oct 09 2010

He has made the same embarrassing leap from premise to conclusion that Dawkins has made...Its predictions, such as they are, remain almost completely untested, and the most significant of them will probably never even be testable.

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Lamayabooks

Good
Reviewed by lamayabooks

I would highly recommend this book to people with a knack for understanding events happening around us and most importantly to come closer in understanding questions like: Why is there something? Why do we exist? Why this set of natural law?

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Militant Atheism Exposed

Below average
Reviewed by Michael C.

...one cannot help but be mesmerized by how the absurd can be skilfully crafted and made amenable to serious thought, simply because it emanates from a supposedly "brilliant mind." The above statement is so ludicrous that it would receive nothing but laughter and condemnation by any professor, if written by a student in a college paper.

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Brian Lee Kloosterman Jr. 17 Feb 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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