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Roger Penrose: The Road to Reality Book.


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Anybody here familiar with this book? I just picked it up from the university's library after a recommendation from a friend of mine. I've only read a chapter thus far but basically what its about is, well, the laws that describe our physical universe, and in this book he also goes into theoretical physics such as string theory.

 

However, unlike popularizations of physics and science in general, this book doesn't hold anything back. I previewed it and at many pages, there are a some symbols that I don't recgonize. This book also deeply explains the mathematics behind it as well, such as manifolds and Riemann surfaces.

 

As I said before, I haven't really gotten to the meat of the book yet, so I'm wondering if anybody here has read it could tell me what they thought of it. Or if they have even read it at all? Perhaps as I delve deeper into the book I'll be prepared to really discuss it on this thread.

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I have a signed copy in my office, but I have not actually read the book cover to cover. What I have read seems good, but the book is in no way a popular science book. Knowing something about mathematics and modern physics before you read it would be useful.

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I have a signed copy in my office, but I have not actually read the book cover to cover. What I have read seems good, but the book is in no way a popular science book. Knowing something about mathematics and modern physics before you read it would be useful.

 

Well, what kind of background are you talking about? My background in physics is everything I learned in high school, and what ever I can pull off of the HyperPhysics website and Wikipedia. Although, I'm currently enrolled in a intro to physics class here at the uni. Mathwise, I'm proficient in single variable calculus.

 

Not that its a problem, Penrose is so kind as to explain the mathematics behind these theories in the first few chapters of his book. So far, I'm understanding it...

 

Penrose is a good guy. He tends to have some weird ideas' date=' but all in all he is a pretty smart cookie.

[/quote']

 

Yeah, its a shame that he's not quite as well known among the general public.

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Yeah, its a shame that he's not quite as well known among the general public.

 

He would be if he wrote a book about Paris Hilton or Brad, Angelina, and Jen.

 

 

"But I think it is a serious issue to wonder about the other platonic absolutes of say beauty and morality." :rolleyes:

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He tends to have some weird ideas, but all in all he is a pretty smart cookie.

 

I greatly respect his physics work, however his philosophical conjectures, particularly in regard to neutral monism and the non-computability of consciousness (by a universal computer), have been thoroughly debunked by the scientific and mathematical communities while simultaneously being lapped up by crackpots, such as the individuals who made the "What the Bleep" movie and book. His story certainly makes the case that scientists with a philosophical bone to pick shouldn't try to use math or science to back up what is in the end a purely metaphysical conjecture.

 

His assertion that microtubules in neurons exhibit some sort of non-classical quantum behavior did lead to one of the best refutations of the quantum mind hypothesis I've seen to date (by Max Tegmark), however. It was quite interesting to see Solomon Feferman, also a neutral monist who believes consciousness is non-computable, debunk Penrose's attempts to mathematically prove monism.

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The book is outstanding, an exception to every rule about mass market books. I agree with the review in Publishing Weekly

Here's an exerpt:

"At first, this hefty new tome from Oxford physicist Penrose (The Emperor's NewMind) looks suspiciously like a textbook, complete with hundreds of diagrams and pages full of mathematical notation. On a closer reading, however, one discovers that the book is something entirely different and far more remarkable. Unlike a textbook, the purpose of which is purely to impart information, this volume is written to explore the beautiful and elegant connection between mathematics and the physical world. Penrose spends the first third of his book walking us through a seminar in high-level mathematics, but only so he can present modern physics on its own terms, without resorting to analogies or simplifications ... Those who work their way through these initial chapters will find themselves rewarded with a deep and sophisticated tour of the past and present of modern physics. Penrose transcends the constraints of the popular science genre with a unique combination of respect for the complexity of the material and respect for the abilities of his readers."

 

he doesnt talk down

he doesnt oversimplify to the point of losing the essential substance

to a large extent the book is selfcontained

 

in the past two years I've bought only two mass-market physics books:

Smolin's "The Trouble with Physics...and What Comes Next" and

Penrose's "Road to Reality"

and was highly satisfied with both.

 

In case anyone's interested, solutions to the problems in Penrose's book are available online but I don't happen to have the URL.

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I took the time to read further into the book, and I like how detailed he is in describing past theories and the mathematics behind them. So far, it seems like a textbook. He dedicates the first few hundred pages to mathematics, and even gives exercises.

 

Before I read this book, I used to think I was well informed or had a decent knowledge of physics and science in general. You get that illusion when you are surrounded by people who don't know much about it to begin with, especially my age group (teens).

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  • 2 months later...
Before I read this book, I used to think I was well informed or had a decent knowledge of physics and science in general. You get that illusion when you are surrounded by people who don't know much about it to begin with, especially my age group (teens).

 

Heck, I'm in my late thirties and still have the same problem.

 

As regards the book, one message rang out loud and clear: I'm nowhere near as smart as Penrose. I was reading a bit, jumping back, trying the exercises, and generally feeling confused. Penrose is a good writer, but the material is really damn tough, and I've set the book down for now in favour of chemistry books (which I have a much easier time with).

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  • 10 months later...

I saw Penrose in an interview on BBC World discussing this book!

 

In his discussion on the non-computability of consciousness in the interview he alluded to a mystical quality behind consciousness but when pressed with that fact he quickly backed off saying that he did not believe that he'd found mathematical proof for the existence of a soul or God!

 

But that is what it sounded like! :)

 

I found the book pretty confusing and had to re-read and re-read to gain understanding.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm sorry if I'm bumping up a dead thread, but I used the search function to find this, so I don't know how "dead" this is.

 

I'm reading the book (I don't own it, I have to keep going to the library, even though it's only across the street) and it is really confusing. I'm only on the third chapter...But seeing as how I'm just a 10th grader, this is already becoming a pain to understand >.<

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  • 2 weeks later...

Look, these guys just aren't telling the straight story. Simply put you are not going to read this book without an extensive background in mathematics far beyond calculus and ordineary differential equations which by itself removes the vast majority of people right off the bat. Although he claims like just about every other author he will walk you through it - it is basically a lie. Don't get me wrong I love Penrose books but you better have at least vector analysis, complex analysis, linear algebra and partial differential equations if you hope to cope with this book. You can get a lot out of it of course without the above but I always find it very dissappointing if I find out too late I am not going to get the math used in a book. Even though most people won't be able to keep up with him, for the exact same reason people that do know the math greatly appreciate reading Penrose and his twistors etc. I find what holds a lot of people back from Penrose is complex analysis which from my perspective you almost have to go out of your way to get unless you are a math major. So don't be fooled or discouraged. It IS a fairly difficult book. I suggest this book inspire people to learn these subjects and go back to this book so they can enjoy it/not get stuck over and over again.

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