Book Review: The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow

One of the fundamental questions mankind has asked since forever is: Who are we and why are we here? Stephen Hawking’s book ‘The Grand Design’ makes the ambitious attempt to answer that question. Does it succeed though?

The book builds up by taking the reader through past attempts at answering the question and the trials with finding the Holy Grail of Science: A ‘Theory of Everything’. Hawking tries to make the case for ‘M Theory’ as being that answer. The one theory that is closest to our understanding of the universe today.

The book ends abruptly though, leaving me to ask myself where’s the meat of the argument put forth. He makes no mention of Dark Energy and Dark Matter, now known to account for nearly 98% of the known universe. It’s embarrassing to science because it sheds light on how little we know of the universe we live in. And yet, Hawking never brings it up, while making his case for M Theory being the Theory of Everything. Is that ‘everything’ he talks about only the 2% science pretends to understand?

I loved ‘A Brief History of Time’ by Hawking and admired him in my teens, to the extent of wanting to be a theoretical physicist like him. ‘The Grand Design’ then, is a disappointment to me on many levels. I hope his next work will be as inspiring as his first bestseller was.

P.S. I’m aa layman and don’t profess to understand the intricacies of Physics and Mathematics in their current avatar. I’ve been an enthusiast ever since I remember, absorbing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity at age 9 and being introduced to the joy of Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics when I was 14. That sums up my exposure to these topics, and I’ve kept abreast of the latest developments in Physics ever since.

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