By James Dacey
I’m a big fan of the Guardian‘s Digested Read in which columnist John Crace takes a newly released book and condenses it into short humorous parody of the original work, often relying on our intimate knowledge of the celebrity author in question. This week, it was the turn of Stephen Hawking and his recent release The Grand Design, which was making headlines across the globe before it was even released last week.
I have picked out a couple of bits that really made me chortle:
“Quantum theories can be formulated in many ways, but the most intuitive is the description of it as a system that has not just one history but every possible history. Let me explain. This book may look unique. But really it’s almost identical to at least three other books in which I have tried and failed to explain cutting-edge astrophysics to the scientifically illiterate…
“But I suppose we should start with Democritus’s theory of the atom, God, scientific determinism and effective theory because that’s pretty much what I’ve done in the past, but I can’t help feeling I’m wasting my time. Though that feeling may not be correct, as there are many different pictures of reality. In other words, there is no theory-independent concept of reality; rather there is only model-dependent realism, where our four-dimensional world may be shadows on the boundaries of 11-dimensional space–time. Sod it. I was right first time. I have lost you already. So there’s probably no point you reading the next bit about quarks and pi mesons.”
The parody is written in good spirit, but I couldn’t help but smile in recognition when I read Crace’s closing footnote: “Er…thanks Stephen, that’s lovely. If you could just end with something you haven’t written before to create a few headlines, then we’re done. How about God doesn’t exist? Lovely job. Let’s do it all again in a couple of years.”
Read the full digested read on the Guardian website.