The Grand Design
The Grand Design
The Grand Design
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Price: $16.13 FREE for Members
Type: eBook
Publisher: Bantam
Page Count: 208
Format: pdf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553805371
ISBN-13: 9780553805376
User Rating: 3.3333 out of 5 Stars! (6 Votes)

The Grand Design download

Leonard Mlodinow, Stephen Hawking free

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.

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| 3 out of 5 Stars!

Stephen Hawking is one of the world's most brilliant and acclaimed scientists. I loved his previous book "A Brief History of Time" in which he talked about black holes, inflation, quantum mechanics and general relativity. He was on much firmer ground there, discussing concrete things which could more or less be experimentally investigated and verified.

But in this book he mainly deals with fanciful speculation about the much-exalted 'theory of everything'. In Hawking and Mlodinow's opinion, the best candidate for this theory is 'M-theory', an extension of string theory which promises to unify all the forces and explain 'everything'. But this is far from being a convincing argument. Firstly, there have been many recent critiques of string theory (for instance in the books known Nobel prize winning particle physicist Martin Veltman has been especially critical of such attempts at constructing 'grand unified theories'. As he said in his Nobel Prize interview, there is no good scientific reason (except expectations of beauty and elegance which are not good metrics in themselves for judging scientific theories) why there should in fact be a unified theory. This is more of a fond expectation based on the history of physics than a reasonable hypothesis backed up theory. But even someone with a rudimentary understanding of the scientific method can see the problem with complex theories that are very difficult, if not impossible, to test and which are based mainly on mathematical elegance rather than concrete connections to reality. Unfortunately I thought that Hawking and Mlodinow buy too easily into such speculations. The ideas are fascinating by themselves, no doubt, but they don't belong to the domain of what eighteenth and nineteenth century pioneers of science would have called sound science. One expected a much more critical approach from a mind as accomplished as Hawking's.

| 1 out of 5 Stars!

The media hype is just that--hype. The Grand Design is a very disappointing performance theory can prove the universe spontaneously erupted from nothing and if proved "will be a model of the universe that creates itself." If the critics of "psi" accept these authors' example of argument I will lose faith in the critics' objectivity when it comes to their evaluation of theories on paranormal phenomenon.

There is little that is new here. Proposing M-Theory as the basis for describing the origin of the universe is certainly not a new idea. Arguing for M-Theory describing a universe's spontaneous generation from nothing is a new proposal in the world of cosmology--but not for the realm of non-Greek based philosophy. Thousands of years ago the Taoist described the universe as self generated from nothing. It's nice to see cosmology is catching up to thousands-of-years-old philosophy, contrary to the authors' opposing assertion in their opening remarks.

I will grant the book will stir thought and argument, which may be the authors' primary goal, since after 30 years of effort string theory /M-theory is wallowing in a quagmire due to its failure to simplify into the grand design. The authors' assert that the disjointed complexity of the M-theory is as good as it gets,just compromise and don't waste any more time on trying to make it better--it is already The Grand Design. Hmmmmm, what was the basis of that argument again?

I hope the authors will take on the rigor of producing a mathematical model, derived from current work that has some validation from Cosmic Ray Background measurements to demonstrate their conclusions. That will at least, allow others to check their work and bring authenticity to the proposal. Maybe they've done that work and neglected to mention it--one can only hope?

I for one, as a professional physicist and engineer, am not convinced by their arguments and do not see that they answered the three philosophical questions proposed in the first chapter. By the end of reading the second chapter I added a fourth question...should cosmologist attempt to become philosophers?

Welcoming your responses,
Bob Lindberg

| 2 out of 5 Stars!

  While there is beginning to be a build up of negative reviews for this book, I want to preface my review by saying that Dr. Hawking is still one of the top players in his field and that his views hold considerable weight given his track record. That being said, I found this book to mirror what most of the reviews have already noted. Nothing new is presented here that wasn't already said in Hawking's earlier book A Brief History of Time. Hawking begins the book by saying that philosophy is dead and that scientists must answer the tough questions about life....then launches into philosophy for a good part of the book. While Hawking has done much work with quantum mechanics, there are reasons to be skeptical of his conclusions given what other prominent people in his field have to say and the current state of knowns and unknowns about quantum mechanics. The best I can say is that the book is interesting at times but highly speculative and the conclusions drawn are questionable. I would suggest reading Roger Penrose's review of the book to get an idea of what his colleagues (Penrose is certainly of the same stature as Hawking, just not as much of a name outside of the scientific field) had to say. Hawking so far as I know, has not really responded to some of the challenges from those within his community.

Conclusion: Don't buy the book unless you're a really big Hawking fan or are doing research on the subject and want Hawking's thoughts on quantum mechanics and scientific determinism. The book is rather short and can be read in just a few days. Perhaps there was a letdown because people expected more from a Stephen Hawking book ( I may be guilty of this )but it feels like Hawking is going over familiar territory and did not do enough to substantiate his position on the subject. Regardless of your feelings about Hawking's atheistic conclusions I would say that theists, agnostics, and atheists alike will not find the challenging, cutting edge book that many had hope for or expected.

| 5 out of 5 Stars!

Widely called The Most Purchased, Least Read Book in American Publishing History, Stephen Hawking's treatise on black holes and space-time was a classic amongst science writing, as well it ought to be. It managed to take extremely abstract and difficult to understand material and make it approachable for thirteen-year-olds. (I was one of said teenagers.)

That said, the material in that book was, to my mind, simpler and more intuitive than what was in this book. Somehow, though, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow managed to take even trickier material (and far, far more counterintuitive science) and make it approachable for lay folk.

Inside, we are taught a brief history of science, from Thales to Feynman, and many of the thinkers in between. We learn of the intuitive theories of Newton and the bizarre realm of quantum realities. As a person who was familiar with wave-particle duality exhibited dozen world-view changing moments in this book for me.

As at least one news website has (woefully!) spoiled for all of us, Hawking's beliefs on the creation of the universe are here, and he doesn't make us wait for his point of view (it's on page 9). That said, there is no polemic, no screeching rant against creationism or even intelligent design. He merely seems to take the position of Laplace. He is far more offensive, actually, with other statements, particularly about philosophy. Yes, much like memoiai, I cringed at the speculation that "philosophy is dead", merely because "philosophers have not kept up with science". Certainly, by the time the book closes, he makes the case that philosophers generally will have to do some catching up if they are to remain the metaphysicians and epistomologists amongst us (but other realms of philosophy, thankfully, remain intact).

Despite a few such grandiose claims (the claim that all biology is a result of the electromagnetic force leaps to mind), this is by no means a belligerent or offensive tract. Rather, it shines through in the entirety of the book, and on virtually every page, that both scientists have the single goal of enlightening and perhaps, dare I say it, entertaining.

It is rare (alas!) to find a book so accurate, so detailed, so educational, and so darned fun to read. This is certainly one that I will read again, and I have already started recommending it to others. (Usually, I start with the mischievous statement, "Want to break your brain?").

It's great. It really is. Things like this are why he deserves a Medal of Freedom, and perhaps a Nobel Prize in Peace as well.


| 4 out of 5 Stars!

This book is both shorter and more clearly written than any other physics book I've read, including Hawking's other works. If you are interested in physics but don't have the patience to read something long and detailed such as Roger Penrose's "The Road to Reality" then this is a great book for you. Even if you simply want to compare "The Grand Design" to less detailed pop physics books with minimal mathematics, it holds up very well.Usually the analogies that lay physics books employ in an attempt to make intuitive sense of mathematical concepts become quite strained, but for some reason everything seems to work here and the authors don't push them too far.

I was concernedeach academic discipline requires years of study and can't reasonably be dismissed out of handbut my concerns were eased Theory discussed in "The Grand Design" sounds more reasonable than the many alternatives but all are still very weak as far as scientific theories go.

If you lack patience for mathematical formulas and want a short, clearly written physics book that minimizes the mathematics while still surveying the basic concepts of physics and introducing the more speculative current topics, I haven't read anything better than "The Grand Design".

| 5 out of 5 Stars!

In a mere 180 pages, Leonard Mlodinow, the author of the excellent "The Drunkard's Walk" and of debates arguing against Deepak Chopra, and Stephen Hawking, expound a subjective interpretation of quantum physics, and offer a theory to try to unify all of the underlying forces of nature.A grandiose undertaking; along the way, they revisit the philosophical questions of Free Will, the origin of the universe(s) without a creator-God, and vividly describe some of the counter-intuitive concepts generated called "strong anthropic principle" may offend some scientists and philosophers.The role of observation in determining quantum reality, and of its ability to alter the past in events in the quantum world, are just some of the seemingly bizarre concepts elaborated.This includes even the consequences of the delayed slit-lamp experiments.The cornerstone of their approach to quantum physics utilises Richard Feynman's theory of a sum of histories.Further underlying this, is the assumption that "reality" in our world is dependent on the model we use, and that if different models can successfully explain scientific phenomena, then each model must be considered equally "real".
The clarity of the explanations are garnished with bits of humor that are tastefully incorporated without being intrusive.There is no math required, merely good use of logic in order to follow the arguments presented.There is a well-rounded historical summary of scientific discoveries, right up to and including the most recent ideas in string theory and particle physics.
But make no mistake, they are expounding one subjective view of cosmology, and this might come across as overenthusiastic, controversial, or even supercilious, by physicists, other scientists, and philosophers of science, who may not hold these views.
I found the book hard to put down.Accompanying the text are a few diagrams that are helpful in clarifying certain concepts.Overall, a nice summary of physics and cosmology, which culminates in an ambitious and highly subjective analysis/synthesis to try to explain the universe and reality.

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