Book Review: THE GRAND DESIGN and thinking about the cosmos

I recently finished listening to The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow on Audible. This is one of those books that had appeared in my recommendations, and it seemed like an accessible introduction to physics, cosmology, and quantum theory.

I am neither a cosmologist nor a mathematician, but our knowledge of the universe and how it was created fascinates me, so any layman’s version of these subjects is right up my alley.

This book took several complex cosmological theories and distilled them down to a language that I could understand. Even though Hawking and Mlodinow have a clear argument they are trying to make, in the process they provide a solid introduction to a lot of concepts of quantum physics, including string theory, M theory, and the forces that control our universe.

That’s really all I am qualified to ask of a book such as this. I will continue my own reading on these subjects, but I feel like I can enter them a little less intimidated by the subject matter.

On a semi-related note…

My interest in cosmology has expanded greatly over the last few years, and I’m just starting to see the very beginnings of a similar interest in my two-year-old. He loves looking at the moon, and he recognizes it regardless of which phase it’s in. While we were at the family cabin over Thanksgiving, we had a bonfire. I brought him outside just after dusk to look at the clear night sky, likely the least light pollution he’s ever seen. He immediately pointed to the sky: “A moon!” and then: “A star!” I don’t think he had ever seen stars except in children’s books, but the fact that he saw one, recognized it, and immediately called up the word for it was incredible to me.

For xmas, my mom bought me two introductory books to astronomy, one from National Geographic. Over the next year or two, I plan to buy an inexpensive (not cheap, just not top-of-the-line) telescope and learn to identify celestial bodies other than the Dippers or Mars so I can feed my son’s nascent fascination with the cosmos. I hope it works.

All that is to say that astronomy may become a hobby for me, and hopefully for my son, and The Grand Design and related things I’ve consumed recently are only encouraging me.

Can anyone recommend a good starter telescope?

Steve D

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