Synopses & Reviews
The first major work in nearly a decade by one of the world's great thinkers — a marvelously concise book with new answers to the ultimate questions of life.
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.
"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
#1 New York Times
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 the Author
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.