- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 055338466X
- ISBN-13: 978-0553384666
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 994 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Grand Design Reprint Edition
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“In this short and sprightly book . . . Hawking and Mlodinow take the reader through a whirlwind tour of fundamental physics and cosmology.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Fascinating . . . a wealth of ideas [that] leave us with a clearer understanding of modern physics in all its invigorating complexity.”—Los Angeles Times
“The authors bring to the field an anecdotal clarity that is something of a first for this genre. . . . Making science like this interesting is not all that hard; making it accessible is the real trick.”—Time
“Provocative pop science, an exploration of the latest thinking about the origins of our universe.”—The New York Times
“Introduces the reader to topics at the frontier of theoretical physics . . . more clearly for general readers than I have seen before.”—Steven Weinberg, The New York Review of Books
“Groundbreaking.”—The Washington Post
“A provocative, mind-expanding book.”—The Plain Dealer
About the Author
Stephen Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for thirty years and the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the presidential Medal of Freedom. His books for the general reader include My Brief History, the classic A Brief History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universes, The Universe in a Nutshell, and, with Leonard Mlodinow, A Briefer History of Time and The Grand Design. Stephen Hawking died in 2018.
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.
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You've probably already heard about this book in the news for one reason only. This is the book where Hawkings, perhaps the most famous scientist of our era, supposedly comes out and declares himself Pope of the Atheists and that Science has proven God does not exist. Christians can safely put away their crucifixes. Not once does Hawkings say God does not exist, or that God didn't create the universe. He makes no truth claims whatsoever about gods and other supernatural beings. This is a book about physics first and foremost, and most of the text is devoted to the latest developments in "M-Theory", one of the leading candidates to be the Theory of Everything. The issue of religion doesn't come up much at all until the final chapter. Here's the quote where Hawkings (and talented co-author Leonard Mlodinow) come closest to taking a position:
"It is reasonable to ask who or what created the universe, but if the answer is God, then the question has merely been deflected to that of who created God. In this view it is accepted that some entity exists that needs no creator, and that entity is called God. This is known as the first-cause argument for the existence of God. We claim, however, that it is possible to answer these questions purely within the realm of science, and without invoking any divine beings." (page 172)
I'll let you form your own opinion; you probably already have one.
Beyond that supposed scandal story, the book is an engaging and interesting read. I give only four stars, however, because it is sometimes a bit too light for my taste. At only 181 pages, I got through it in a couple of sittings. It also goes a bit too far, in my opinion, in terms of simplifying the science for popular consumption. But if you are interested at all in the Big Questions of Life the Universe and Everything, it's hard to find a 181-page book that covers the topic better.
One of my favorite chapters of the book was the one in which he describes "The Game of Life", which is a very interesting simulation created a while back. The Game of Life demonstrates how narrow our science may be in trying to discover the fundamental laws of the universe. In fact, it almost depressed me to think that we are so limited by our human perception in trying to discover these fundamental laws.
Some negatives about the book include that it took too long to really get into the interesting questions. The first third or half of the book is mainly a history of science lesson. Since I already knew most of this stuff, I didn't get anything new out of it. But I suppose it might be a good introduction for someone who doesn't know or has forgotten the progression of science through the centuries. Also, this book does offer an idea of how the universe may have been created out of nothing, but I didn't feel like the idea was very well explained. The final lead-up to the hypothesis of the creation of something out of nothing is hasty, and not well connected to previous explanations.