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From one of our greatest living scientists, a magnificent book that provides, for the serious lay reader, the most comprehensive and sophisticated account we have yet had of the physical universe and the essentials of its underlying mathematical theory.
Since the earliest efforts of the ancient Greeks to find order amid the chaos around us, there has been continual accelerated progress toward understanding the laws that govern our universe. And the particularly important advances made by means of the revolutionary theories of relativity and quantum mechanics have deeply altered our vision of the cosmos and provided us with models of unprecedented accuracy.
What Roger Penrose so brilliantly accomplishes in this book is threefold. First, he gives us an overall narrative description of our present understanding of the universe and its physical behaviors–from the unseeable, minuscule movement of the subatomic particle to the journeys of the planets and the stars in the vastness of time and space.
Second, he evokes the extraordinary beauty that lies in the mysterious and profound relationships between these physical behaviors and the subtle mathematical ideas that explain and interpret them.
Third, Penrose comes to the arresting conclusion—as he explores the compatibility of the two grand classic theories of modern physics—that Einstein’s general theory of relativity stands firm while quantum theory, as presently constituted, still needs refashioning.
Along the way, he talks about a wealth of issues, controversies, and phenomena; about the roles of various kinds of numbers in physics, ideas of calculus and modern geometry, visions of infinity, the big bang, black holes, the profound challenge of the second law of thermodynamics, string and M theory, loop quantum gravity, twistors, and educated guesses about science in the near future. In The Road to Reality he has given us a work of enormous scope, intention, and achievement—a complete and essential work of science.
“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
“The appearance of a new Penrose is a hybrid literary-scientific event. Physicists are eager to see what the matchless Sir Roger (he was knighted for his services to science) has come up with, while science fans, for whom physics is a spectator sport, hope to finally get the lowdown on how the universe turns. . . . Penrose’s new effort, The Road to Reality, is his most ambitious yet. . . . The result is a comprehensive guide to physics’ big picture, and to the thoughts of one of the world’s most original thinkers.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A remarkable book . . . teeming with delights.” —Nature
“Not since the publication of the redbound volumes of Richard Feynman’s Lectures on Physics has anyone covered in such awesome detail the struggles of today’s physicists to unravel the fundamental laws of our fantastic universe—to find the Holy Grail that has been called a TOE, or Theory of Everything. . . . [A] masterful survey of the mathematics essential for comprehending modern physics. . . . Not only is it admirably written, but it is also cleverly illustrated by Penrose himself. . . . The Road to Reality loops through a luxurious landscape suffused with the beauty, magic, and mystery of Being.” —Martin Gardner, The New Criterion
“An extraordinary account of the underlying mathematics of the physical universe.” —The Economist
“At once a philosophical work of art and a mathematical menagerie. . . . In The Road to Reality, Penrose has penned some of the finest explanations of the theories of physical phenomena to be found anywhere.” —Orlando Sentinel
“A deep and sophisticated tour of the past and present of modern physics. Penrose transcends the constraints of the popular science genre with a unique combination of respect for the complexity of the material and respect for the abilities of his readers.” —Publishers Weekly
“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....Perhaps the most engaging and creative tour of modern physics that thas ever been written.” —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
“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.” —Guardian