Stephen Hawking may be one of the most brilliant men alive, but his books are simple. That is not to say they are “dumb” or “easy” but he strips away all the math and heavy science, turning complicated topics that would give a physicist nightmares into simple ideas even a layman can understand. Hawking did it first with the brilliant and popular, “A Brief History of Time,” and now he has done it again, along with co-writer Leonard Mlodinow, for another wonderful book called, “The Grand Design.”
The Grand Design is as much a book on Philosophy of the universe as it is a book on hard science. In fact it starts with introducing the idea that philosophy itself is dead and gone. Hawking then goes on to make his point and make it quite well. A large part of philosophy used to be to explain the unknown things in nature. While there still can be debate about the existence of a god and religion, the hard data concerning the principle areas of nature have mostly been discovered. Science is in fact the new philosophy. Science has begun to unlock secrets of creation and man. Since many of the physics theories are just that, “theories,” they have in fact replaced philosophy by even being the place where new ideas (right or wrong) are postulated by the new philosophers. That is to say: scientists.
The best part of Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow’s book is the clarity with which it is written. It is likely, when thinking of a tome on a heavy science topic like physics, particularly one that deals with a topic like the universe, that you would expect a big book. Something similar to a 1,500 page door stopper, with tiny type that would take someone with the constitution of an Olympian to lift, much less to read. This book is the opposite of that. It is fairly short, it has large font and is in fact a very quick read. That is not to say that it is not worth the money. What this book lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality.
Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow’s book “A Grand Design” is something that will be revered by both the scientist and the layman. The ease with which the authors discuss complicated topics, like how observing a quantum reality allows changes to the past of that reality are quite engaging and close to mind-blowing for a layman, but even though the topics are deep, the writing is clear. One of the best books on the science of physics since… since “A Brief History of Time.”