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When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the nature of reality? Why are the laws of nature so finely tuned as to allow for the existence of beings like ourselves? And, finally, is the apparent 'grand design' of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion - or does science offer another explanation? The questions about the origins of the universe and of life itself, once the province of philosophy, intend to occupy the territory where scientists, philosophers, and theologians meet - if only to disagree. In this book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present scientific thinking about the mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language. In 'The Grand Design' they aim to explain that according to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence or history, but rather that every possible history of the universe exists simultaneously. When applied to the universe as a whole, this idea calls into question the very notion of cause and effect. A illustrated guide to discoveries that are altering our understanding and threatening our belief systems.