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Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe Hardcover – 23 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bodley Head; Reprint edition (23 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224080369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224080361
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 312,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A genuinely new idea about the origins of the universe [...] must be taken seriously (Scotsman)

As uncondescending in style as his previous books...many pleasures to be had along the way (Sunday Times)

Thought-provoking, edifying (Sky At Night Magazine)

Cycles of Time can be highly recommended as an example of how cosmologists are now thinking the unthinkable (Literary Review)

Destined to be another bestseller (Manjit Kumar, Author Of Quantum Guardian)

Book Description

In his first book since the bestselling The Road to Reality, one of our most distinguished scientists offers a radical new theory of the origin, and ultimate end, of the Universe.

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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By James World on 25 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read Hawking's "The Grand Design" about two weeks before picking this up. I'd been quite disappointed with that one, as I felt it to be so dumbed down that the arguments lost cohesion and descended into a rather confused and impregnable morass. What a refreshing contrast Roger Penrose's book has been! The explanations are clear with good examples and Roger builds his arguments logically and coherently. I never knew the second law of thermodynamics was so interesting! It's not for the faint-hearted though - the mathematics in this book are essential to make sense of it, and I suspect they will be hard going for anyone without exposure beyond A-level. I think this point will be devisive. But personally, I enjoyed the maths and it was nice to finally understand why Hawking was conjecturing about why we don't remember the future in "A Brief History of Time"!
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194 of 196 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Roy Simpson on 24 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Many who wish to buy this book will be familiar with the other works of Professor Roger Penrose (such as The Road to Reality). Some will be curious to learn about a new theory of the origin of the Universe. This book presents a radical new idea which Penrose has been developing in the past few years on the Big Bang: essentially the idea is that there was a pre-Big Bang era and there will be a post-Big Crunch era too.

So one could review both the book and the idea itself. Firstly some will worry about the level of mathematics presented in this book. In the main chapters there are equations such as S = k log V - Boltzmann's Equation. If you are not comfortable with this, then maybe you will not get the most from the book. However if you are comfortable with this and similar physics equations and numbers then the first section of the book is readable. Of course there are plenty of diagrams too. There is some hard maths however and this has been relegated to the Appendix (30 pages). This maths is very advanced and another of Penrose's technical books (Penrose and Rindler Volume 2) would be needed to understand it fully - so that is only for the experts. Given that the reader wont be learning this material in the present book it shows that there is some more complex machinery behind the scenes needed to comprehend the full idea.

In the first section the book returns to an old concern of Penrose namely the entropy present in the early universe: less than today - but why so much less? The chapter then focusses in on the Big Bang described using "Conformal Diagrams". The key on page 115 is important for reading these diagrams.

Part 3 introduces the new idea called Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (CCC).
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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Dr. C. Jeynes on 2 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
After being delighted with Penrose's "Road to Reality" (2004) I couldn't wait to see what he would say about cosmology. Penrose's whole argument revolves around the consideration of the constraints put on cosmological theories by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, constraints he hinted at in the "Road to Reality".

These constraints he elaborates in a deep discussion of the nature of entropy, and what is so very special about the Big Bang. The book has three parts, "The Second Law and its Underlying Mystery", "The Oddly Special Nature of the Big Bang"; and the speculative proposal he concludes with : "Conformal Cyclic Cosmology".

Penrose takes no hostages : this is a deeply mathematical book, as is "The Road to Reality". He is a Platonist, he believes there is something there to tell us about! The first two sections of the book are "standard physics", But, as Seth Lloyd said in his Physics World review of the previous book, "When he represents the well established, nailed-down parts of mathematics and physics, Penrose is a joy to read. ... Penrose's treatment is ... deep; he is witty; he provides elegant insights." So his first section, which covers Bolzmann's definition of entropy, Liouville's Theorem, and similar matters, manages to explain the gigantic nature of phase space, the remarkable fact that although the equations of motion are symmetrical with time the path taken though phase space is definitely time-asymmetrical, and the robustness of the definition of entropy despite its apparent subjectivity in the details of counting states in phase space; all in only 45 rather small pages.

The second section now takes this "elementary" treatment and systematically applies it at a cosmological scale.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ofeliawotsits on 28 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
Reflecting other reviews here, the level of Maths required to appreciate this book is high. Not just maths, but maths particular to understanding the type of physics relevant to multidimensional physics! I am up to Engineering degree Maths and this is way beyond that. Trying to hang on to Penrose's coattails through the maths parts really turned me off I'm sad to say. Plus it really lacks the type of explanation required for the lay-man like me, so that the theme gradually becomes more and more confusing as more and more little pieces come and go unexplained. So I am not quite sure at what level this book is aimed. If I were a student of physics at Princeton I think I would find it enjoyable.

As it was , the book came and went and I felt bereft of information I could digest. I quickly turned to Michio Kaku "Hyperspace" for comfort and someone who actually takes time to explain complicated ideas and knows that the lay-man is interested but needs the information to be distilled.
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