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

*The Road to Reality*is the most important and ambitious work of science for a generation. It provides nothing less than a comprehensive account of the physical universe and the essentials of its underlying mathematical theory. It assumes no particular specialist knowledge on the part of the reader, so that, for example, the early chapters give us the vital mathematical bac...more

Paperback, 1136 pages

Published
February 2nd 2006
by Vintage
(first published 2004)

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## Community Reviews

(showing
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Sep 05, 2011
Manny
rated it
5 of 5 stars

Recommends it for:
People who seriously want to understand physics better

Recommended to Manny by:
Nick Black

Many of my all-time favourite books make the list because they show you what it's like to be inside the mind of an extraordinary person. While you're reading them, Churchill's

*History of the Second World War*and Yourcenar's*Mémoires d'Hadrien*let you be a great statesman at a pivotal moment in history. Simone de Beauvoir's autobiography, more than any other book I know, gives you the feeling of being a major literary figure. Polugayevsky's*Grandmaster Preparation*, which many chessplayers treat a...more**R-type**state evol...more

He flicks through it and the first thing I note is that physicists take about 5 nanoseconds to read what it takes...more

The famed mathematician devotes several pages to discussing the addition of fractions then breezes through holomorphic functions and Reimann spheres.

I'll return to this book in a year or two when I have the mathematical background to qualify as a "non-mathematician."

**Road to Reality**a

*popularization*of general relativity and quantum theory, it is a peerless introduction to and review of those topics. I have a PhD in mathematics, and studied physics and math as an undergraduate, and there was plenty for me to learn from this book. There are very few people in the world who would not learn much from reading it.

Many years ago, I read Penrose's

**Emporer's New Mind**which was good as far as it went, but earned my derision with...more

EDIT: I have recently learned in a conversation at uni that there are some controversies with the book and orthodox physics, most notably in the areas of string theory, Penrose's idea of twistors and the idea of more than 4 dimensions. However - considering how much else th...more

I thought the

__prologue__sucked, but immediately after that it became deeply fascinating, so don't get discouraged. I guess I should say why I hated it, though. It seemed as though he was judging former times and societies through a "presentist" lens, as though all people have always and only been scientists since the start of time, only they were really bad at it back then...more

But can I really say that I'm done with this book? I don't think so... Although it took me a year and a half to read it, I didn't even understand a significant part of it. Since I'm a physics student I understood most of it on some very basic level, but I'm pretty sure I'll have to open this book again and again to take a peek at some of the awesome ideas put here by Penrose.

Did I say awesome? That's a huge understatement...more

Aug 21, 2007
Rajesh Chepuri
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
physics: link to math, relativity, quantum mechanics

This is a great book. I have finished reading the first part i.e, math part of the book. It opened lot of windows for me in the world of mathematics. Though a computer graduate, I have lot of interest in physics. I have read lot of material on relativity but none gave me the the insight to it like this book. Before this book, I had no knowledge of non-eucildean geometry and its importance to physics. But now I know lot about Riemann and other great people's contribution.

The graphical presentatio...more

The graphical presentatio...more

This is an exhaustive review of the laws of physics as related to physical reality with significant emphasis on the mathematical component. The author is an outstanding mathematical physicist of our times, and in this book of 1100 pages, he describes the concept of space, time, and matter (energy) in terms of classical physics, quantum physics, string theory and its derivatives.

In physics, the behavior of objects is understood in terms...more

Feb 23, 2012
Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
physics-and-other-science

As accurate a title as can be for this tremendously ambitious behemoth. I very much enjoyed the masterful laying of a mathematical framework when first I came across it (the first dozen or so chapters if memory serves; hence the rating, as well as for the aforementioned ambition in the task- I think this is a right way to go, though popular expositors seldom venture down this route), as Penrose does it so efficiently (and naturally too, so that the layman wouldn't shove it aside in disgust after...more

Feb 09, 2009
Michael
rated it
5 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Engineers, Teachers & Weird Guys

Recommended to Michael by:
Some weird guy at the gym.

I desperately want to make it through this book. I might be crazy. I think part of my fascination with finishing it is to compensate for not finishing engineering school. I can tell you this... It would be a lot easier to read if I had attained my degree (and actually learned the material along the way). Nonetheless, this book opens in the most interesting and captivating fashion, which says a lot about a book that works to explain the universe by walking through the history of mathematics. A co...more

Oct 27, 2013
Nilo De
rated it
1 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
__theoretical-physics

( Failed my reading challenge. But I chose the wrong book. Not at all what I expected. Maybe abother time, but I doubt it. )

People have asked how Penrose could have written a 1200 page book in his already busy schedule. - Just finished chapter 13 about symmetry groups. I may not be a group theorist, of all mathematics, this is my field. Chapter 13 is just a collection of facts about group theory... But then this is not a book! It's a collection of articles presented as chapters. The articles des...more

People have asked how Penrose could have written a 1200 page book in his already busy schedule. - Just finished chapter 13 about symmetry groups. I may not be a group theorist, of all mathematics, this is my field. Chapter 13 is just a collection of facts about group theory... But then this is not a book! It's a collection of articles presented as chapters. The articles des...more

This is a might be the best *children* book of our generation. Bear

with me. My favorite book when I was small was a some 1000 pages thick

encyclopedia of astronomy - and I am sure I am not the only who was

fascinated and inspired by a similarly mesmerizing and daunting

book. Full of strange pictures and even stranger ideas. Penrose's book

could be such a book for our kids. Do buy and keep it within easy

reach. Who knows?

LESS IMPORTANTLY (despite attempt still not really a factual rev...more

The book takes the refreshing (and unpopular amongst most pop-science books) view that the physics can't really be discussed without developing the necessary mathematical foundations, and it spends quite a lot of time introducing those mathematical subjects. That being said, it is probab...more

With d...more

The scope is simply all modern fundamental physics, which is impressive in itself. The structure is different from most other popular science books in that the first third of the book is almost entirely pure mathematics, covering most of the theory that is needed to understand the actual physics; basic definitions o...more

Nov 10, 2009
Leo Walsh
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Recommends it for:
Scientific Readers w/ Math Skills

How Would a Physicist Think About the Quantum World?

I usually fly through books, and have no problem understanding them. Not this one. Over a year after I first cracked it, I am finally done. I am amazed by the rigor of this work. In fact, I can say that I “sort of” understand the major concepts of quantum mechanics as a physicist would.

Most popularizations of quantum physics are simplifications, ignoring the math. More insidious, the concepts of quantum mechanics are used to “justify” some scie...more

I usually fly through books, and have no problem understanding them. Not this one. Over a year after I first cracked it, I am finally done. I am amazed by the rigor of this work. In fact, I can say that I “sort of” understand the major concepts of quantum mechanics as a physicist would.

Most popularizations of quantum physics are simplifications, ignoring the math. More insidious, the concepts of quantum mechanics are used to “justify” some scie...more

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Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College. He has received a number of prizes and awards, including the 1988 Wolf Prize for physics which he shared with Stephen Hawking for their contribution to our understanding of the universe. He is renow...more

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“We have a closed circle of consistency here: the laws of physics produce complex systems, and these complex systems lead to consciousness, which then produces mathematics, which can then encode in a succinct and inspiring way the very underlying laws of physics that gave rise to it.”
—
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“No doubt there are some who, when confronted with a line of mathematical symbols, however simply presented, can only see the face of a stern parent or teacher who tried to force into them a non-comprehending parrot-like apparent competence--a duty and a duty alone--and no hint of magic or beauty of the subject might be allowed to come through.”
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updated Feb 24, 2012 07:06AM

Feb 25, 2012 06:22AM