- Paperback: 1136 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099440687
- ISBN-13: 978-0099440680
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 5.8 x 23.1 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Road To Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe Paperback – 1 Jan 2005
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"Penrose is truly one of the world's leading mathematical physicists. Genuinely magnificent and stimulating" (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" (Independent)
"This is a tour de force that is unlikely to be bettered this decade" (Financial Times)
'A truly remarkable book...this is just the sort of book that could inspire mathematical awakenings' - Sunday TimesSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is similar to a mystery story with the last chapter removed, and you desperately seek that final chapter i.e. the book is well-titled "The Road (emphasised) to Reality": it describes the journey towards an understanding of the Universe, but it fails to provide a Theory of Everything.
Penrose gives more hints about what cannot constitute a Theory of Everything than what can. String theory, of ten or eleven dimensions, is a definite non-starter (Penrose is irritating in the number of times he tells us this.), and current quantum field theory must give way to something more like twistor theory in order to account for non-local interactions (and there is a tantalising suggestion that, by explaining wave-function collapse, it could partly demystify consciousness). Einstein's gravitational theory, however, is acceptable, and - good news for those of us who had difficulty comprehending 26 dimensions - four dimensions are the flavour of the month.
This is a heavy book, in both senses of the word, but if your heroes are Einstein, Dirac, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Hawking then buy it. If they aren't, buy it anyway - they will be.
Well even for someone with some mathematical background (although it's been quite some time ago) this book is tough. If you're not mathematically minded you're better of with a book with less formula's and numerical examples. Although Penrose states many times one can just read "over" the more difficult parts and still get the gist of the story, I tend to disagree. His is a beautiful treaty on the most important mathematical theories that we have at the moment and that are used in physics or more specifically cosmology. He builds a well thought out "story" that should give the reader a thorough insight in the building blocks of physical theories. If you skip over the mathematical explanations you miss the basis upon which the rest of the book is leaning. I think some understanding (more then just basic) is necessary to appreciate the wonders of cosmology, at least as presented in this book.
If on the other hand you have a firm grip on maths and are not afraid to extend this knowledge, then Penrose will keep you busy for many weeks and lets you peek at the wonders of cosmology.
So depending on your scientific background and appetite for maths, this is a great adventure or frustrating Herculean task.
There are some valid criticisms: Some will find this book too superficial in its treatment of mathematics and some will find that it is too mathematical. For example, thirty or so pages of basic calculus barely scratches the surface of that subject and many of his explanations of complex numbers, logarithms, Riemann surfaces, etc. while prosaic, could have been supported with broader explanations and some examples.
On the other side of the coin, it is to his credit that Mr Penrose does assume that some of his readers may freeze up at the thought of Mathematics or Physics. He therefore does try to make both subjects interesting for those less scientifically inclined and, in doing so, not get too rigorous. In his Preface, he recommends various ways to read and attempt to understand this book. He even suggests a way to read the book while skipping over the mathematical formulae. However, if you really want to enjoy the full essence of this book it would be better to understand the math.
A few suggestions which I think will help. The Bibliography, which incidentally occupies 35 pages, provides additional reference material.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An interesting book as are all Penrose books but much of the material has appeared in ones of his beforePublished 4 months ago by M. D. Vickers
Only just started to read it. It is exactly what I expected, good solid maths and physics carefully explained.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Let me state at the outset that I have a PhD in Theoretical Physics. What I found was that the bits I already knew and understood were reasonably easy to... Read more
It needs perseverance to get through the book but it was worth while. The author tries hard to make it understandable to the non-mathematician but I am not sure about this. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Charles Walmsley
My math is not up to it, but its still a fascinating read. A continuous supply of brain food.Published 13 months ago by Boledylocks
I studied Physics at university some 45 years ago, and started a PhD, hoping to go into theoretical physics, but went into electronic and software engineering instead. Read morePublished 13 months ago by DGC
A fantastic tour of modern mathematical physics. To fully appreciate this book, the reader probably needs at least an undergraduate degree in mathematics. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Amazon Customer