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anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page vTHE GRANDDESIGNSTEPHEN HAWKINGandLEONARD MLODINOW

anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page 2

anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page 31THE MYSTERY OF BEING

anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page 5We each exist for but a short time, and in thattime explore but a small part of the whole universe. Buthumans are a curious species. We wonder, we seek answers. Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing atthe immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitudeof questions: How can we understand the world in which we findourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature ofreality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying aboutthese questions, but almost all of us worry about them some ofthe time.Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become thebearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge. Thepurpose of this book is to give the answers that are suggested byrecent discoveries and theoretical advances. They lead us to a newpicture of the universe and our place in it that is very differentfrom the traditional one, and different even from the picture wemight have painted just a decade or two ago. Still, the firstsketches of the new concept can be traced back almost a century.According to the traditional conception of the universe, objectsmove on well-defined paths and have definite histories. We canspecify their precise position at each moment in time. Althoughthat account is successful enough for everyday purposes, it wasfound in the 1920s that this “classical” picture could not accountfor the seemingly bizarre behaviour observed on the atomic and5

anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page 6the grand design“. . . And that is my philosophy.”subatomic scales of existence. Instead it was necessary to adopt adifferent framework, called quantum physics. Quantum theorieshave turned out to be remarkably accurate at predicting events onthose scales, while also reproducing the predictions of the oldclassical theories when applied to the macroscopic world of dailylife. But quantum and classical physics are based on very differentconceptions of physical reality.Quantum theories can be formulated in many different ways,but what is probably the most intuitive description was given byRichard (Dick) Feynman, a colourful character who worked at theCalifornia Institute of Technology and played the bongo drums ata strip joint down the road. According to Feynman, a system hasnot just one history but every possible history. As we seek our answers, we will explain Feynman’s approach in detail, and employit to explore the idea that the universe itself has no single history,nor even an independent existence. That seems like a radical idea,6

anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page 7the mystery of beingeven to many physicists. Indeed, like many notions in today’s science, it appears to violate common sense. But common sense isbased upon everyday experience, not upon the universe as it is revealed through the marvels of technologies such as those thatallow us to gaze deep into the atom or back to the early universe.Until the advent of modern physics it was generally thoughtthat all knowledge of the world could be obtained through directobservation, that things are what they seem, as perceived throughour senses. But the spectacular success of modern physics, whichis based upon concepts such as Feynman’s that clash with everyday experience, has shown that that is not the case. The naiveview of reality therefore is not compatible with modern physics.To deal with such paradoxes we shall adopt an approach that wecall model-dependent realism. It is based on the idea that ourbrains interpret the input from our sensory organs by making amodel of the world. When such a model is successful at explaining events, we tend to attribute to it, and to the elements and concepts that constitute it, the quality of reality or absolute truth. Butthere may be different ways in which one could model the samephysical situation, with each employing different fundamental elements and concepts. If two such physical theories or models accurately predict the same events, one cannot be said to be morereal than the other; rather, we are free to use whichever model ismost convenient.In the history of science we have discovered a sequence of better and better theories or models, from Plato to the classical theory of Newton to modern quantum theories. It is natural to ask:Will this sequence eventually reach an end point, an ultimate theory of the universe, that will include all forces and predict everyobservation we can make, or will we continue forever finding better theories, but never one that cannot be improved upon? We do7

anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page 8the grand designnot yet have a definitive answer to this question, but we now havea candidate for the ultimate theory of everything, if indeed one exists, called M-theory. M-theory is the only model that has all theproperties we think the final theory ought to have, and it is thetheory upon which much of our later discussion is based.M-theory is not a theory in the usual sense. It is a whole familyof different theories, each of which is a good description of observations only in some range of physical situations. It is a bit like amap. As is well known, one cannot show the whole of the earth’ssurface on a single map. The usual Mercator projection used formaps of the world makes areas appear larger and larger in the farnorth and south and doesn’t cover the North and South Poles. Tofaithfully map the entire earth, one has to use a collection ofmaps, each of which covers a limited region. The maps overlapeach other, and where they do, they show the same landscape.M-theory is similar. The different theories in the M-theory familymay look very different, but they can all be regarded as aspects ofthe same underlying theory. They are versions of the theory thatare applicable only in limited ranges—for example, when certainquantities such as energy are small. Like the overlapping maps ina Mercator projection, where the ranges of different versionsoverlap, they predict the same phenomena. But just as there is noflat map that is a good representation of the earth’s entire surface,there is no single theory that is a good representation of observations in all situations.We will describe how M-theory may offer answers to the question of creation. According to M-theory, ours is not the only universe. Instead, M-theory predicts that a great many universes werecreated out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather, these multiple8

anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page 9the mystery of beingWorld Map It may require a series of overlapping theories to representthe universe, just as it requires overlapping maps to represent the earth.universes arise naturally from physical law. They are a predictionof science. Each universe has many possible histories and manypossible states at later times, that is, at times like the present, longafter their creation. Most of these states will be quite unlike theuniverse we observe and quite unsuitable for the existence of anyform of life. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist.Thus our presence selects out from this vast array only those universes that are compatible with our existence. Although we arepuny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us ina sense the lords of creation.To understand the universe at the deepest level, we need toknow not only how the universe behaves, but why.9

anglicised hawkings SO.qxp29/7/1012:14Page 10the grand designWhy is there something rather than nothing?Why do we exist?Why this particular set of laws and not some other?This is the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. We shall attempt to answer it in this book. Unlike the answer given in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ours won’t besimply “42”.10

THE GRAND DESIGN STEPHEN HAWKING and LEONARD MLODINOW anglicised hawkings_SO.qxp 29/7/10 12:14 Page v. anglicised hawkings_SO.qxp 29/7/10 12:14 Page 2. 1 THE MYSTERY OF BEING anglicised hawkings_SO.qxp 29/7/10 12:14 Page 3. e each exist for but a short time,and in that

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