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The Grand Design [Format Kindle]

Stephen Hawking , Leonard Mlodinow
3.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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Chapter 1

We each exist for but a short time, and in that time explore but a small part of the whole universe. But humans are a curious species. We wonder, we seek answers. Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of the 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 the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge. The purpose of this book is to give the answers that are suggested by recent discoveries and theoretical advances. They lead us to a new picture of the universe and our place in it that is very different from the traditional one, and different even from the picture we might have painted just a decade or two ago. Still, the first sketches of the new concept can be traced back almost a century.

According to the traditional conception of the universe, objects move on well-defined paths and have definite histories. We can specify their precise position at each moment in time. Although that account is successful enough for everyday purposes, it was found in the 1920s that this "classical" picture could not account for the seemingly bizarre behavior observed on the atomic and subatomic scales of existence. Instead it was necessary to adopt a different framework, called quantum physics. Quantum theories have turned out to be remarkably accurate at predicting events on those scales, while also reproducing the predictions of the old classical theories when applied to the macroscopic world of daily life. But quantum and classical physics are based on very different conceptions of physical reality.

Quantum theories can be formulated in many different ways, but what is probably the most intuitive description was given by Richard (Dick) Feynman, a colorful character who worked at the California Institute of Technology and played the bongo drums at a strip joint down the road. According to Feynman, a system has not just one history but every possible history. As we seek our answers, we will explain Feynman's approach in detail, and employ it to explore the idea that the universe itself has no single history, nor even an independent existence. That seems like a radical idea, even to many physicists. Indeed, like many notions in today's science, it appears to violate common sense. But common sense is based upon everyday experience, not upon the universe as it is revealed through the marvels of technologies such as those that allow us to gaze deep into the atom or back to the early universe.

Until the advent of modern physics it was generally thought that all knowledge of the world could be obtained through direct observation, that things are what they seem, as perceived through our senses. But the spectacular success of modern physics, which is based upon concepts such as Feynman's that clash with everyday experience, has shown that that is not the case. The naive view of reality therefore is not compatible with modern physics. To deal with such paradoxes we shall adopt an approach that we call model-dependent realism. It is based on the idea that our brains interpret the input from our sensory organs by making a model 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. But there may be different ways in which one could model the same physical 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 more real than the other; rather, we are free to use whichever model is most 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 every observation we can make, or will we continue forever finding better theories, but never one that cannot be improved upon? We do not yet have a definitive answer to this question, but we now have a candidate for the ultimate theory of everything, if indeed one exists, called M- theory. M-theory is the only model that has all the properties we think the final theory ought to have, and it is the theory upon which much of our later discussion is based.

M-theory is not a theory in the usual sense. It is a whole family of different theories, each of which is a good description of observations only in some range of physical situations. It is a bit like a map. As is well known, one cannot show the whole of the earth's surface on a single map. The usual Mercator projection used for maps of the world makes areas appear larger and larger in the far north and south and doesn't cover the North and South Poles. To faithfully map the entire earth, one has to use a collection of

maps, each of which covers a limited region. The maps overlap each other, and where they do, they show the same landscape.

M-theory is similar. The different theories in the M-theory family may look very different, but they can all be regarded as aspects of the same underlying theory. They are versions of the theory that are applicable only in limited ranges-for example, when certain quantities such as energy are small. Like the overlapping maps in a Mercator projection, where the ranges of different versions overlap, they predict the same phenomena. But just as there is no flat 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 were created out of nothing. Their creation does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god. Rather, these multiple universes arise naturally from physical law. They are a prediction of science. Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states at later times, that is, at times like the present, long after their creation. Most of these states will be quite unlike the universe we observe and quite unsuitable for the existence of any form 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 are puny and insignificant on the scale of the cosmos, this makes us in a sense the lords of creation.

To understand the universe at the deepest level, we need to know not only how the universe behaves, but why.

Why 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 be simply "42."


The Rule of Law

Skoll the wolf who shall scare the Moon

Till he flies to the Wood-of-Woe:

Hati the wolf, Hridvitnir's kin,

Who shall pursue the sun.

-"Grimnismal," The Elder Edda

n Viking mythology, Skoll and Hati chase the sun and the moon. When the wolves catch either one, there is an eclipse. When this happens, the people on earth rush to rescue the sun or moon by making as much noise as they can in hopes of scaring off the wolves. There are similar myths in other cultures. But after a time people must have noticed that the sun and moon soon emerged from the eclipse regardless of whether they ran around screaming and banging on things. After a time they must also have noticed that the eclipses didn't just happen at random: They occurred in regular patterns that repeated themselves. These patterns were most obvious for eclipses of the moon and enabled the ancient Babylonians to predict lunar eclipses fairly accurately even though they didn't realize that they were caused by the earth blocking the light of the sun. Eclipses of the sun were more difficult to predict because they are visible only in a corridor on the earth about 30 miles wide. Still, once grasped, the patterns made it clear the eclipses were not dependent on the arbitrary whims of supernatural beings, but rather governed by laws.

Despite some early success predicting the motion of celestial bodies, most events in nature appeared to our ancestors to be impossible to predict. Volcanoes, earthquakes, storms, pestilences, and ingrown toenails all seemed to occur without obvious cause or pattern. In ancient times it was natural to ascribe the violent acts of nature to a pantheon of mischievous or malevolent deities. Calamities were often taken as a sign that we had somehow offended the gods. For example, in about 4800 bc the Mount Mazama volcano in Oregon erupted, raining rock and burning ash for years, and leading to the many years of rainfall that eventually filled the volcanic crater today called Crater Lake. The Klamath Indians of Oregon have a legend that faithfully matches every geologic detail of the event but adds a bit of drama by portraying a human as the cause of the catastrophe. The human capacity for guilt is such that people can always find ways to blame themselves. As the legend goes, Llao, the chief of the Below World, falls in love with the beautiful human daughter of a Klamath chief. She spurns him, and in revenge Llao tries to destroy the Klamath w...

Revue de presse

“The authors bring together an anecdotal clarity that is something of a first for the genre. . . . Making science like this interesting is not all that hard; making it accessible is the real trick, one that The Grand Design pulls off.”—Time

“In this short and sprightly book, Messrs. Hawking and Mlodinow take the reader through a whirlwind tour of fundamental physics and cosmology.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Fascinating . . . a wealth of ideas [that] leave us with a clearer understanding of modern physics in all its invigorating complexity.”—Los Angeles Times
“Groundbreaking.”—The Washington Post

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 2274 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 256 pages
  • Editeur : Transworld Digital (9 septembre 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00422LESE
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°60.608 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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3.7 étoiles sur 5
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Passionnant 11 novembre 2012
Par Nicolas
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Un très bon livre qui a le mérite d'être clair, limpide, très compréhensible par les non-experts. Et surtout il est passionnant. Il m'a fait découvrir la mécanique quantique (ce n'est qu'un des nombreux sujets abordés mais celui sur lequel je ne savais quasiment rien!) et il a complètement changé ma vision de la réalité. Alors bien sûr, savoir toute ces choses ne change rien pour notre vie d'humain, mais cela reste absolument fascinant !!! Je conseille vivement ce livre à tous les gens un peu curieux.
Et je ne crois pas que l'évocation du programme informatique du "jeu de la vie" de Conway prétende expliquer totalement l'apparition de la vie, contrairement à ce que prétend un autre commentaire... C'est juste une possibilité...

Comme disait Carl Sagan : "Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known" (= "Quelque part, quelque chose d'incroyable attend d'être découvert") en parlant de la recherche scientifique. Et bien pour les novices comme je l'étais avant de découvrir ce livre (un peu moins maintenant j'espère), ce livre contient beaucoup de choses incroyables !!!

Et enfin dernier point : le livre est en anglais mais reste facile à lire. Je n'ai eu absolument aucune difficulté à le comprendre alors que je ne parle pas anglais couramment. Hawking ne fait pas des phrases tordues qu'il faut relire plusieurs fois pour comprendre, ce que je suis parfois obligé de faire dans des livres même français !
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 ouvreur d'horizons 23 mai 2013
Par Juan Read
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
la liberté de la pensée scientifique, bien que depuis qu'il l'a écrit les choses et connaissances ont évolué, le texte reste d'un intérêt majeur et il est écrit avec beaucoup de souci pédagogique, compréhensible pour le novice.
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33 internautes sur 54 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Pathétique 27 septembre 2010
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
A grand son de trompe il a été annoncé que Stephen HAWKING allait publier un livre qui résoudrait définitivement les problèmes de l'origine de l'univers et de la vie et qui démontrerait une fois pour toutes que Dieu n'avait absolument rien à voir dans tout ça. Vaste programme, mais je dois dire qu'après avoir lu The Grand Design, le nouveau livre de Hawking, je reste sur ma faim. Après 150 pages d'un rappel sommaire des théories physiques et astronomiques depuis Ptolémée jusqu'à Einstein et Planck en passant par Galilée, Newton et tous les autres, ainsi qu'une ultra-brève mention des cordes, Hawking présente "the Game of Life" d'un certain Conway, un petit logiciel qui fait bouger des carrés sur un écran, et il en conclut triomphalement, et très abruptement, que l'Univers est apparu tout seul et la Vie aussi.
Avec tout le respect que mérite Hawking eu égard à la volonté et au courage avec lesquels il a fait face à la maladie, et aussi avec la considération que méritent ses précédents ouvrages, je regrette de dire que son dernier livre ne fait pas le poids et n'est pas digne de son ambition. La vulgarisation des théories physiques est à peu près correcte -et parfois drôle car il sait y intercaler des remarques piquantes- mais on en a lu déjà cent fois autant ailleurs. Quant à oser prétendre qu'un petit logiciel simplet démontrerait que la Vie est apparue toute seule, c'est parfaitement grotesque. On est étonné qu'un éditeur ait osé publier ce livre et ait accepté d'imprimer sur la jaquette les prétentions qu'il affiche.
Pathétique: c'est le mot qui me parait résumer le mieux toute l'affaire.
jc Faffa
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Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5  807 commentaires
368 internautes sur 407 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Modern physics simplified 26 août 2010
Par S. Levi - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This book is both shorter and more clearly written than any other physics book I've read, including Hawking's other works. If you are interested in physics but don't have the patience to read something long and detailed such as Roger Penrose's "The Road to Reality" then this is a great book for you. Even if you simply want to compare "The Grand Design" to less detailed pop physics books with minimal mathematics, it holds up very well. Usually the analogies that lay physics books employ in an attempt to make intuitive sense of mathematical concepts become quite strained, but for some reason everything seems to work here and the authors don't push them too far.

I was concerned by some of the things that were said at the outset such as "philosophy is dead" - each academic discipline requires years of study and can't reasonably be dismissed out of hand by someone who is an expert in another field - but my concerns were eased by the rest of the book. The quest for a grand unified theory of physics, the ultimate topic of many lay physics books, does sound philosophical and has resulted in various theories that are currently highly speculative and difficult to test. The M-Theory discussed in "The Grand Design" sounds more reasonable than the many alternatives but all are still very weak as far as scientific theories go.

If you lack patience for mathematical formulas and want a short, clearly written physics book that minimizes the mathematics while still surveying the basic concepts of physics and introducing the more speculative current topics, I haven't read anything better than "The Grand Design".
856 internautes sur 967 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A very interesting book. 24 août 2010
Par error - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This book began not with a Bang, but with a shudder. On the first page, I read the phrase (and yes it's a proof so this may be changed in the actual version): "Philosophy is dead". No one can argue that there is a modern day philospher with the influence of Aristotle; but surely, philosophy can't be dead!?

However, reading onward, the authors made their point quite convincingly: philosophy is dead in the sense of answering the most mysterious of life's questions. It is up to science, and scientific theory, to provide clues to the true answers, as philosphy in its most ancient forms has taken a back seat, but modern philosphy, that of scientific philosophy, has taken root.

This book, you'll find as you read, is dumbed down. But it's not stupid or simple. While the math and the proofs of the math are essentially missing (a great boon for laymen like myself), the philosophical science is presented in a very interesting, detailed, and thought provoking way. It is not as difficult, and oft-maniacal, a read as Emmanuel Levinas, instead it's somewhere closer to Lucretius's On the Nature of Things (ironically).

And so the authors move on in sequential and ordered fashion, trying to answer: Why is there something? Why do we exist? Why this set of natural law? The theories they expound upon are sometimes old, and sometimes groundbreakingly new, but all will either surprise you, educated you, or both; but in the least, make you think about reality and your own existence, and the reality of your existence.

This book has illustrations every now and then. Most are of no use but to entertain you, in my opinion. Some are there to actually educate you in at least a small way. But what irked me a few times was that while I was reading a thought, I'd encounter a picture in the middle of the text that had nothing to do with the thought I was just reading about. A slight moment of confusion erupted, but was quenched right after I read the paragraph after the picture/illustration. This may be of no consequence to many, but while reading such interesting ideas, and mulling them over in my head, I certainly didn't like being interrupted by something that hasn't been discussed or processed.

Otherwise, the book is pleasent on the eyes, as it's set in what would be essentially type 14, Times New Roman. For 190 pages, and such a large font, it's a very quick read, especially once you get captivated by the arguments that are laid out in front of you. I don't want to discuss them in detail, as not only am I unable to lay out the argument as convincingly as two geniuses, but also don't want to spoil the though-provoking journey this book will take you on.

I highly reccomend this book to anyone who wants to see how modern, scientific philosophers, answer life's ancient questions and/or those who just would like a leg-up on modern physics, so that you won't be left out in the cold should you encounter a group of people conversing about the topic.

Those with scientific minds, will prosper with this book.

Those that fear God, need not look away. This book does not disparage, criticize, nor impinge. It, as with all books, simply provides a story and its lessons.
311 internautes sur 353 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent overview of contemporary cosmology and physics 25 août 2010
Par Paul E. Hartman - Publié sur Amazon.com
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In a mere 180 pages, Leonard Mlodinow, the author of the excellent "The Drunkard's Walk" and of debates arguing against Deepak Chopra, and Stephen Hawking, expound a subjective interpretation of quantum physics, and offer a theory to try to unify all of the underlying forces of nature. A grandiose undertaking; along the way, they revisit the philosophical questions of Free Will, the origin of the universe(s) without a creator-God, and vividly describe some of the counter-intuitive concepts generated by quantum physics' strangeness.
They believe that we inhabit one universe in a multiverse version of quantum physics, in which there are an almost infinite number of universes that can arise spontaneously from the "big bang", and which then dictate the laws of nature that follow. This promotion of the so-called "strong anthropic principle" may offend some scientists and philosophers. The role of observation in determining quantum reality, and of its ability to alter the past in events in the quantum world, are just some of the seemingly bizarre concepts elaborated. This includes even the consequences of the delayed slit-lamp experiments. The cornerstone of their approach to quantum physics utilises Richard Feynman's theory of a sum of histories. Further underlying this, is the assumption that "reality" in our world is dependent on the model we use, and that if different models can successfully explain scientific phenomena, then each model must be considered equally "real".
The clarity of the explanations are garnished with bits of humor that are tastefully incorporated without being intrusive. There is no math required, merely good use of logic in order to follow the arguments presented. There is a well-rounded historical summary of scientific discoveries, right up to and including the most recent ideas in string theory and particle physics.
But make no mistake, they are expounding one subjective view of cosmology, and this might come across as overenthusiastic, controversial, or even supercilious, by physicists, other scientists, and philosophers of science, who may not hold these views.
I found the book hard to put down. Accompanying the text are a few diagrams that are helpful in clarifying certain concepts. Overall, a nice summary of physics and cosmology, which culminates in an ambitious and highly subjective analysis/synthesis to try to explain the universe and reality.
419 internautes sur 491 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Very Disapponting to a Fan of Hawking and Mlodinow 12 septembre 2010
Par Timothy Haugh - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is one of the prettiest books that has come across my desk in a long time: well-bound, slick paper, gorgeous pictures. All in all, it is an excellent example of the book-maker's art. Unfortunately, the actual text is so slight that I was disappointed from cover to index.

My first disappointment was right on the cover. I understand that Stephen Hawking is a world famous scientist (and one whom I admire) but was he the primary writer of the text? I hope so, because why else does Leonard Mlodinow have his name in one-third the font size? Mlodinow's book on geometry (Euclid's Window) is a truly great book while Hawking's books, though interesting, are not nearly as well written. I understand that this likely has much to do with marketing but I'm always put off by "ghostwriting."

Then there's the fact that we're being fooled into thinking this is a full-sized hardcover when, in fact, at normal font size and spacing, this book would be a third of its size. Essentially, it is nothing more than a longish essay. As a teacher, I couldn't help but be reminded of students who play around with font size, spacing, and picture inserts to try to appear to reach the required length of an assignment. Disappointing.

Most importantly, however, is the fact that the argument these two highly intelligent men are trying to make is simply unconvincing. Joining the ranks of scientists out to convince everyone that there is no need for god, they are arguing that "M-theory is the only candidate for a complete theory of the universe" which means (among other things) that there are multiple universes that can spontaneously generate from nothing. Beyond that fact that I'm always cautious when any scientist proclaims absolutes and predicts the end of science, as this has happened as often as pastors predicting the end of the world with the same result, there's not enough depth to their development here to make their sweeping conclusions plausible.

In fact, I couldn't help feeling that this was something of an exercise in ego. That Hawking, in particular, is relying on the power of his fame to be convincing rather than the power of his argument. This book simply isn't detailed enough to be a fully-formed argument. I have a degree in physics, know its history, am familiar with Feynman's work, and understand the basics of string theory, but I couldn't see how someone without this kind of background would be able to follow much of this. I don't feel I came away with a clear view of what they were trying to say.

Still, they deserve credit for promoting their atheism without being strident or condescending to believers, and there are some interesting things here. I like some of the history, particularly in the early parts of the book. I like the hints at the difference between model-independent and model-dependent theories, though I thought they could have made more of this. I like the description of the "Game of Life" and what it might mean for the development of a "universe" based on a set of simple rules, though this seems to contradict the main assertion of the book, that an entire sequence of complicated theories is necessary to describe the universe.

In the end, however, it suffers from the same problem as many books of this type. In its most important conclusions, it is all speculation masquerading as certainty. I don't mind speculation, and Hawking and Mlodinow may turn out to be perfectly correct in many or all of their conclusions. But I think the door is a long way from being closed on the debate here, and this book didn't bring me any closer to being convinced.
180 internautes sur 221 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Don't Waste Your Time 6 janvier 2011
Par David Milliern - Publié sur Amazon.com
The only good thing I can say about this book is that it is beatifully illustrated. It is very rare that I give a popular physics book such a poor rating. In fact, this is the first time I think I have ever told people not to read one!

As a professional physicist, I think it is very important to understand the basis for all claims in science, proceed with metaphysical statements only when the scientist is fully cognizant of the limitations of such statements, and to keep in perspective the importance of philosophy in the sciences, as well as its role. It is then no wonder why I hated one of the first statements made in the book, namely, that philosophy is dead and has no role in science. Of course it does! Every act of interpreting data is a philosophical act. The formal act of developing a theory is itself an act of philosophy. The only thing I found more mind-boggling than this statement was that Hawking went on to spend the rest of the book talking about realism and anti-realism, which is a central debate in the philosophy of science. Hawking says nothing new about this debate, and I am not entirely sure what final point he was driving at because, as far as I can tell, the conclusion that would most support his position was undermined by numerous statements he made earlier on. His closing statements about working toward a final theory were undermined by the fact that he says that phenomena may have multiple theories attached to it and that no single theory is more correct than the other; it is simply a matter of which is more useful. This is strictly an anti-realist statement, yet it seems that Hawking believes a final theory is, somehow (although he doesn't state "how" this somehow could be, still possible.

I think that this book can only be the result of one of two things: 1) Apathy toward the topic, in which case I don't know why he wrote or 2) This book repesents the waning and utterly diminished mind of a once brilliant theorist. I would hope it is the former.

My biggest complaint about the book is that Hawking refuses to accept that the world is governed by cause and effect. He cites Feynman's idea of sum over histories, but this is taking a theoretical tool and proposing that this is the way the universe is, in-itself. There has been a huge push in the 20th century toward randomness in physics. I think the reason for this is that physicists are despairing over Hume's problem of "What constitutes a necessary causal connection?" Moreover, physicists are also despairing over a question formally posed in the 19th century "What constitutes a necessary statistical inference?" The lack of progress on these two questions have, in my opinion, induced despair and, consequently, indolence. Rather than try to proceed on the natural assumption of physical science, that all physical phenomena are induced by prior physical phenomena, they are simply saying that there is no cause and effect, only randomness that is loosely governed by laws of physics. This a position that Hawking holds to in his book, which is an ironically philosophical one for someone who thinks that philosophy is dead.

If you decide to read this book, be sure to ask at every turn "Is this statement a testable one?" This will provide you with a test to decide whether a statement is a scientific one or a philosophical one.
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