Sometimes, to laymen theoretical physics can seem as mercurial and trend-following as high fashion. That's where Stephen Hawking steps in. Since the publication of A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME (1988), the longtime Oxford professor has been finding ways to explain these complex and ever-changing theories. Here, working with physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking delivers another bang-up book with GRAND DESIGN, in which the authors attempt to clarify one of the most fundamental and puzzling questions-how did are universe begin. Examining M-theory, string theory, parallel universes, quantum theory, and other ideas in chatty yet informative prose, GRAND DESIGN takes a quick tour of the history of the development of these crazy ideas and then synthesizes the questions and possible solutions that lie in the gray matter between science, philosophy, and the imagination.