Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking ****

Did you physics education stop at F = ma; aka Newtonian "clockwork" physics circa 18th century? Or are you a little younger, or studied a little longer to get to e = mc^2; aka Einstein "relativity" physics circa early 20 century? In either case, you've heard of quantum physics, but it never made much sense. You might even have read Steven Hawking's A Brief History of Time, but certainly that didn't help. Finally Hawking's new book The Grand Design written with Caltech professor Leonard Mlodonow makes sense of it all - waves vs particles - probabilities - 10 dimensions - the big bang.

This is a small book with fancy production values: beautiful artwork, color illustrations, and heavy paper. Anyone who has wondered about quantum physics will enjoy and appreciate this clear and concise explanation of the physics of the 21st century. The only drawback is the final chapter - which can easily be skipped - that waxes poetic about a 40 year old computer computer simulation grandly called "The Game of Life." If you're interested in this book, you've most assuredly heard of this little exercise decades ago can certainly skip another amateurish effort to explains the universe in terms of this toy.

My advice? read this wonderful explanation of quantum physics and, if you bought your copy, simply tear out the final chapter.

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