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

by

Roger Penrose, one of the most accomplished scientists of our time, presents the only comprehensive and comprehensible account of the physics of the universe. From the very first attempts by the Greeks to grapple with the complexities of our known world to the latest application of infinity in physics,

*The Road to Reality*carefully explores the movement of the smallest ...morePaperback, 1099 pages

Published
January 9th 2007
by Vintage
(first published 2004)

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## Community Reviews

Showing 1-30

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Jun 17, 2009
Manny
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

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 ...moreFinished? Well you are never finished with such a book, titled “The road to reality” but actually providing more than that: providing nothing less than a “road-map” to reality, and opening to the reader new beautiful vistas in modern mathematics and physics. I am sure that I will come back to this book in the future, as a source of inspiration and for future reference.

Before I ...more

Jul 04, 2011
Cassandra Kay Silva
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
science

Penrose, Penrose, Penrose. Oh how I LONG to know thee. I am becoming minorly obsessed with you and your work. I am pacing for crying out loud. I am running myself in circles. Opening, closing, referencing, coming back, straining my eyes as if that will make me see the world that you do. Why do you elude me so? Why does your tongue speak as if attached to the left temporal lobe itself? I catch glimpses of this reality you see. I feel myself drawn to it in longing for truth and understanding. For
...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."

**R-type**state ...more

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

**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

Apr 24, 2018
Vagabond of Letters
rated it
it was ok
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
dont-own,
reference-works

Let me start off by saying (its relevance will soon be revealed) I have a bachelor of science in applied mathematics and a PhD-ABD in another strongly quantitative discipline* (both are top-50 schools, and I wasn't in the bottom 50% of the class), and after the first 300 or so pages (out of 1200) the math in this book (and it's at least 40% or more straight math, not text, and often without text explaining the math) is way above my head and is left often undefined in the text. The author doesn't
...more

Jul 06, 2011
Tatiana
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
nonfiction,
science

This book is too sprawling to wait and review all at once at the end, so I've decided to do it little by little as I go along.

I thought the

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 ...moreHe is looking for a single metric to describe everything.

This is not a unit of reality, however, although this is how he poses the issue.

The problem with selecting a metric, as he shows us over and over, lies in how different metrics arise from localizations on various manifolds. As these metrics are extended beyond the localization, the very structure of these metrics will threaten to buckle. In many instances, the metrics ...more

Jan 06, 2012
Yasiru (reviews will soon be removed and linked to blog)
rated it
it was amazing

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

ok. I'm gonna have to revisit this one after I practice my math skills. Way too much went over my head.

If you're gonna pick up just know, penrose does not half ass his mathematical expositions.

I recommend this highly for those who want to know how mathematical physicists see the world, and who can breath in the face of high level mathematics.

I give it five stars due to how comprehensive it is, and for how much I love penrose's prose and mind

Edit:

I have ...more

Apr 05, 2016
Mohamed al-Jamri
marked it as half-read

This book is not for those with no strong background in mathematics and physics and it is definitely not for lay readers.

Except for the first 40 pages or so the book material was very sophisticated and hard to understand for me. Today I decided to stop as for the past 30 or so oages I could only understand little of what I was reading.

I'm putting it on hold now and I may return to it later after establishing a strong base in mathematics and physics.

Except for the first 40 pages or so the book material was very sophisticated and hard to understand for me. Today I decided to stop as for the past 30 or so oages I could only understand little of what I was reading.

I'm putting it on hold now and I may return to it later after establishing a strong base in mathematics and physics.

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

With ...more

Nov 10, 2009
Leo Walsh
rated it
really liked it

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 ...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 ...more

Feb 05, 2009
Michael
rated it
it was amazing

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
...more

May 12, 2011
Ronald Lett
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
popular-science

Penrose is a master of his field. This text has exercises in it that range from simple expositions to those that will take weeks of serious thought. If you are a student of physics, this text casts the widest net possible, touring you through all of the mathematics and physics that you will become intimately familiar with in connections and expositions that you will rarely find in single courses.

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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
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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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37 likes

“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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21 likes

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