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The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe
The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe
by Roger Penrose
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings, 16 Dec 2006
This is an extraordiarily long book written from an unusual perspective.

I think the author is absolutely correct in describing himself as "incurably optimistic" in assuming that lay readers will be able to follow the arguments in the book. It takes many years to learn the calculational techniques of complex analysis, differential geometry and topology, and to assume a reasonably gifted, but untrained reader can follow the details is asking a bit too much. That said, I think the book would be extremely useful for someone working in the field as an overview of diverse areas of Mathematical Physics. Unfortunately, this restricts the target audience significently.

The author tries hard to be honest and open about the times when he is presenting his own opinions which are not generally accepted by the scientific community, which is much appreciated. An alternative perspective to the followers of the String Theory bandwagon is always welcome !

If the potential reader is looking for a layman's level introduction to Theoretical Physics, I would recommend t'Hooft's "In Search of the Ultimate Building Blocks", or for General Relativity, Hawkings "Brief History of Time".


Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
by Mary Baker Eddy
Edition: Paperback

8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Meaningless ramblings, 10 Dec 2006
If the reader is seeking a life changing book which expounds the mysteries of God, man and the universe, then it is quite frankly a waste of time to read this book. Having spent the first two decades of my life raised as a Christian Scientist ("Science ahd Health" is the primary textbook of the Christian Science religion), I am very familiar with its contents. The book is extremely poorly written, badly organised and in places utterly unintelligible. I give the following example to illustrate the style of prose (pp187-188):

"The human mind tries to classify action as voluntary and involuntary, and suffers from the attempt. If you take away this erring mind, the mortal material body loses all appearance of life or action, and this so-called mind then calls itself dead; but the human mind still holds in belief a body, through which it acts and which appears to the human mind to live, -- a body like the one it had before death. This body is put off only as the mortal, erring mind yields to God, immortal Mind, and man is found in His image."

By quoting this, I may well be accused of quoting something out of context, however "context" is extremely hard to find in "Science and Health", since the book consistently fails to present coherent threads of logical thought.

The author spends much time using completely irrelevant word-play. For example, Adam (the bible character) is referred to as "a dam or obstruction". This achieves nothing except perhaps to generate some amusement on the part of the reader !

The final chapter in the book, entitled "Fruitage" is a list of "testimonies" from people who, living at the time of the author, had claimed to experience physical healings as a result of their reading of this book. Unfortunately at the time the book was written, modern science-based medicine was not generally available and the anecdotes of healing must remain impossible to substantiate. If a reader is tempted by the book to rely totally on God for physical healing rather than upon modern medicine, then he or she would do well to first obtain an estimate of the success rate of the two approaches.

The book is only useful in a historical context as a reminder of the quaint muddled thinking of the Victorian era.
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