- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Bodley Head; Reprint edition (Oct. 11 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0224080369
- ISBN-13: 978-0224080361
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.9 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 621 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #494,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe Hardcover – Oct 11 2010
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"Penrose is truly one of the world's leading mathematical physicists."
— 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."
"A genuinely new idea about the origins of the universe."
—Doug Johnstone, Scotsman
"Cycles of Time can be highly recommended as an example of how cosmologists are now thinking the unthinkable by trying to look back beyond the Big Bang and forward beyond the death of our universe."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Professor SIR ROGER PENROSE is Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. He has received a number of prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize for physics which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their joint contribution to our understanding of the universe.
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Implicit in his argument is the assumption that the number of available states to the universe remains reasonably static. This allows him to conclude that the universe was disordered (in near thermal equilibrium) in the earliest moments of the universe. But of course if the number of available states is small and most of them are occupied, then thermal equilibrium is easy to reach, and is a concept that loses it's meaning as the number of unoccupied states approaches zero.
What is the number of states available to a space/time singularity?
So, while I think his argument is fundamentally misguided, the concept of a "singularity" is equally misguided IMO.
The solution to the issue IMO is in a line of reasoning in which at large and small scales, distance loses it's meaning. What is the diameter of a universe consisting of a single proton? It's like asking how long is a single ended piece of string. There is no answer because the question has no meaning without additional context, and in a sufficiently large universe, no further context can be provided.
Scale is a bulk phenomenon, and if scale is a bulk phenomenon then scale loses it's meaning when the bulk that is the universe, approaches a singularity.
He expects a lot from his reader but much of what he is trying to explain is not understandable outside of Mathematics and any attempt to explain his arguments using language is not just an oversimplification but may indeed be wrong. Many kinds of mathematical space other than our own three dimensions require some understanding of tensors to follow the reasoning. Quantum physics is based upon complex numbers. Penrose's earlier book The Road to Reality deals with all this in some detail and is understandable with a lot of effort even by non-mathematicians such as me.
Although marginal to the subject of this book I would have liked to hear more on his views on the cosmological constant that to applied scientists sounds embarassingly like a 'fudge factor' designed to make theory fit facts. Another minor quibble is in the editing. Some sentences sound as if they were taken verbatim from a lecture (perhaps they were). An inevitable problem when a specialist is explaining a subject to a non-specialist editor is that obscurity isn't always because of the nature of the subject but may be because it is badly expressed in language. The spelling of the word discernible and a few other grammatical errors should be corrected in future editions, after all Penrose can't do everything...not quite.
Nonetheless, the idea of cyclical universes coming and going and coming and going... is an interesting one. The older cosmology gets, the more mystical and weird it gets.
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