Thursday, September 23, 2010

Review: The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

Mr. Black
So here it, the explanation of life, everything, and how the universe doesn't need a creator. Well, sort of. Those are the arguments proposed by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow in their new book, The Grand Design. I am by no means an expert on physics, but you don't need to be to understand the concepts of this book. It is written in layman's terms without all of the complicated mathematics of theoretical physics. That's not to say that some of the concepts didn't have me going back and rereading parts. In fact I feel like to get a much clearer grasp of what they're saying I need to read it again in it's entirety.

This is the book I've been waiting for, mostly anyway. Something that tries to formulate how everything began. While the concepts in this book seem logical, I feel, the authors aren't afraid to say that there is still much to do. The book uses M-theory, along with other Feynman models to explain how something can actually come from nothing. I know that that concept sounds unheard of to most people because our understanding is that everything must have a cause. Not so with the universe apparently. I won't get into the meat of all of the concepts covered in this book, but let's just say they pose a very intriguing argument.

Structurally, it presents the reader with a primer in the history of science, quantum physics, and other knowledge that culminates up to their final chapter which explains why the universe did not need a creator. That said, I wish I would have read a more introductory book on physics before attempting this. That's not saying this book is hard to follow, it just tends to cover many topics fairly quickly and may be difficult to digest for some unless it's very carefully read.

The book is short, just under 200 pages, so it's a quick read, but as stated before, you may want to take it a little slow unless you've read books on quantum physics and such. The length is a bit of a double-edged-sword. On one hand it's not intimidating, but on the other, I kind of wanted more. Maybe more examples or deeper explanation of their theory, but that in itself could have cut out a chunk of the mainstream audience; their target audience.

Anyone interested in science, space, or even how the universe came to be should check this out. It covers a lot of the newest ideas in science, but familiarizes the reader with older foundations. Humorous anecdotes are interspersed throughout keeping it ever from being dull or droning, and you can tell that Hawking and Mlodinow really love what they do and love bringing these complex concepts to the rest of the world much as Carl Sagan did.


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