The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe

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Jonathan Cape, 2004 - Cosmology - 1094 pages
The ROAD TO REALITY, some 1000 pages long, aims to provide a comprehensive account of our present understanding of the physical universe, and the essentials of its underlying mathematical theory. No particular mathematical knowledge on the part of the reader is assumed- the early chapters providing the essential mathematical background for the physical theories described in the remainder of the book. The aim is to convey something of an overall understanding- a feeling for the deep beauty and philosophical connotations of the subject, as well as of its intricate logical interconnections. Clearly, a work of this nature is challenging, but there is enough descriptive material to carry the less mathematically inclined reader through, as well as some 450- 500, mostly hand- drawn, figures. The book provides a feeling for all the key issues and deep current controversies, and counters the common complaint that cutting- edge science is fundamentally inaccessible. The topics covered in this book include: the roles of different kinds of numbers and of geometry in physics; the ideas- and magic- of calculus and of modern geometry; notions of infinity; the physics and mathematics of relativity theory; the foundations and controversies of quantum mechanics; the standard model of particle physics; cosmology; the big bang; black holes; the profound challenge of the second law of thermodynamics; string and M theory; loop quantum gravity; twistors; fashions in science; and new directions.

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User Review  - amarcobio - LibraryThing

Popular books explain complex concepts in simple words. Technical books provide theoretical justification for scientific concepts. In my modest opinion, this book pretends to be a popular and a ... Read full review

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User Review  - HadriantheBlind - LibraryThing

A feast for any physicist, or anyone who wants to learn the depth and beauty of physics, etc. as we know it. Not dumbed down at all. Throws every subject imaginable at you. If you can understand it ... Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Born in England, the son of a geneticist, Roger Penrose received a Ph.D. in 1957 from Cambridge University. Penrose then became a professor of applied mathematics at Birkbeck College in 1966 and a Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University in 1973. Penrose, a mathematician and theoretical physicist, has done much to elucidate the fundamental properties of black holes. With Stephen Hawking, Penrose proved a theorem of Albert Einstein's general relativity, asserting that at the center of a black hole there must evolve a "space-time singularity" of zero volume and infinite density, in which the current laws of physics do not apply. He also proposed the hypothesis of "cosmic censorship," which claims that such singularities must possess an event horizon. In 1969 Penrose described a process for the extraction of energy from a black hole, as well as how rotational energy of the black hole is transferred to a particle outside the hole. In addition, Penrose has done much to develop the mathematics needed to unite general relativity, which deals with the gravitational interactions of matter, and quantum mechanics, which describes all other interactions.

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