Who doesn't love a good argument? When physics heavyweights Stephen W. Hawking and Roger Penrose delivered three sets of back-and-forth lectures capped by a final debate at Cambridge's Isaac Newton Institute, the course of modern cosmological thinking was at stake. As it happens, The Nature of Space and Time
, which collects these remarks, suggests that little has changed from the days when Einstein challenged Bohr by refusing to believe that God plays dice. The math is more abstruse, the arguments more refined, but the argument still hinges on whether our physical theories should be expected to model reality or merely predict measurements.
Hawking, clever and playful as usual, sides with Bohr and the Copenhagen interpretation and builds a strong case for quantum gravity. Penrose, inevitably a bit dry in comparison, shares Einstein's horror at such intuition-blasting thought experiments as Schrödinger's long-suffering cat--and scores just as many points for general relativity. The math is tough going for lay readers, but a few leaps of faith will carry them through to some deeply thought-provoking rhetoric. Though no questions find final answers in The Nature of Space and Time, the quality of discourse should be enough to satisfy the scientifically curious. --Rob Lightner
From Publishers Weekly
This volume contains a series of lectures delivered in 1994 by Hawking (A Brief History of Time) and Penrose (The Emperor's New Mind), renowned professors at Cambridge and Oxford, respectively. The overall topic is how mathematical physics might best represent the realities of the universe. The lectures assume a rather sophisticated knowledge of physics and mathematics. The authors present alternative views on approaching a formulation that fully accommodates both quantum and gravitational (general relativity) theories in physics. One question, for example, is whether parameters in a quantum description of matter can have definite ("real") values before they are measured. The issues extend to cosmological implications and have intriguing philosophical as well as technical aspects. Although well done, the treatment in this book is not for the general reader. Illustrations.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.