- Paperback: 1136 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (January 9, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679776311
- ISBN-13: 978-0679776314
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 282 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,198 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe Reprint Edition
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“A comprehensive guide to physics’ big picture, and to the thoughts of one of the world’s most original thinkers.”—The New York Times
“Simply astounding. . . . Gloriously variegated. . . . Pure delight. . . . It is shocking that so much can be explained so well. . . . Penrose gives us something that has been missing from the public discourse on science lately–a reason to live, something to look forward to.” —American Scientist
“A remarkable book . . . teeming with delights.” —Nature
“This is his magnum opus, the culmination of an already stellar career and a comprehensive summary of the current state of physics and cosmology. It should be read by anyone entering the field and referenced by everyone working in it.” —The New York Sun
“Extremely comprehensive. . . . The Road to Reality unscores the fact that Penrose is one of the world’s most original thinkers.” —Tucson Citizen
“What a joy it is to read a book that doesn't simplify, doesn't dodge the difficult questions, and doesn't always pretend to have answers. . . . Penrose’s appetite is heroic, his knowledge encyclopedic, his modesty a reminder that not all physicists claim to be able to explain the world in 250 pages.”
—The Times (London)
“For physics fans, the high point of the year will undoubtedly be The Road to Reality.”
“A truly remarkable book...Penrose does much to reveal the beauty and subtlety that connects nature and the human imagination, demonstrating that the quest to understand the reality of our physical world, and the extent and limits of our mental capacities, is an awesome, never-ending journey rather than a one-way cul-de-sac.”—London Sunday Times
“Penrose’s work is genuinely magnificent, and the most stimulating book I have read in a long time.”—Scotland on Sunday
“Science needs more people like Penrose, willing and able to point out the flaws in fashionable models from a position of authority and to signpost alternative roads to follow.”—The Independent
About the Author
Roger Penrose is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. He has received a number of prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize for physics, which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their joint contribution to our understanding of the universe. His books include The Emperor's New Mind, Shadows of the Mind, and The Nature of Space and Time, which he wrote with Hawking. He has lectured extensively at universities throughout America. He lives in Oxford.
Top customer reviews
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While not an easy read, it is a great starting point for anyone looking to get back into physics - by approaching it from the mathematical side (Penrose is actually a mathematical physicist - he holds one of the most prestigious chairs in the world of mathematics). For those who are interested in the NEXT book after this one, I had compiled a list of similar 'self learning' books :
would not be readable by a layperson. I read the first 270 pages so far, until I came to the first part that I had never
previously encountered. Then I put the book aside temporarily until I would be able to study that subject, which so far
I never did. Perhaps that might be typical reader behavior, except most people won't get to page 270 before they
find a page they cannot understand. So, buy this book only if you are prepared either to (1) study very hard using
many other sources in order to understand each chapter, or (2) want to just skim a little with an illusion of understanding.
The book nominally takes the reader with no background information and fills this in, but I do not believe that is plausible. For example, consider the introduction to Maxwell's equations. These are introduced in Minkowski coordinates and expressed into a spacetime 2-form F, called the Minkowski field tensor, and a further space-time vector, with components expressed in matrix form that permit various symmetries to be perceived. I do not believe that anyone who had not at least vaguely become aware of this sort of approach would make much headway, but what follows is certainly elegant.
My biggest "grumble" with this book is the title: I believe "The" should be replaced with "A". The ancient Greeks founded two approaches to physics. Penrose adopts the Platonic approach, which considers mathematical forms, symmetries, and even beauty, and tries to fit reality to mathematical form. Thus towards the end, Penrose devotes a chapter to twistor theory, and in the end has to acknowledge that this is mathematically attractive, but it is difficult to take it anywhere in physics. The alternative approach, the Aristotelian approach, asks questions of nature and tries to find restrictions that lead to the correct theory. I should mention the caveat that I fall into the latter school, and with that warning, I believe that a true route to reality will involve many people working from both approaches.
Irrespective of certain reservations, I believe that anybody with some mathematical ability will gain some insights from this book (the more the ability, the more insights), and anybody interested in theory should at the very least read chapter 34, which gives Penrose's opinions on where the road will go, and the fashions encountered on it. This is a truly great piece of intellectual effort.
Ian J Miller, author of Elements of Theory