In this book Stephen Hawking takes us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics to explain in laymen's terms the principles that control our universe. Like many in the community of theoretical physicists, Professor Hawking is seeking to uncover the grail of science-the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. He guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe-from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality. He takes us to the wild frontiers of science, where superstring theory and p-branes may hold the final clue to the puzzle. Copious four-color illustrations help clarify this journey into a surreal wonderland where particles, sheets, and strings move in eleven dimensions; where black holes evaporate and disappear, taking their secret with them; and where the original cosmic seed from which our own universe sprang was a tiny nut.