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November 08, 2004

Physics: Dose of 'Reality'

If you're one of the thousands of people who bought Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" in 1988 and then let it gather dust as it sat on the coffee table impressing your visitors, better clear some space. There's a new theory-of-everything book on the way, and it's even more likely to wow your dates—assuming you can convince them you've read it. The first 400 pages of "The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe," by Hawking's equally renowned colleague Roger Penrose, are solid math. The next 600 ... let's just say those first 400 were an introduction.

Nonetheless, the book is being hailed as a masterpiece, and parts of it (specifically, the ones that aren't equations) are eloquent and comprehensible. Even the rankest amateurs will recognize some of Penrose's references, such as the vertigo-inducing etchings of M. C. Escher. "The Road to Reality" is a British best seller, and though it won't arrive in the States until February, it's already generating orders on Amazon. And reviews: one reader with a master's degree in theoretical physics complains that the book was supposed to be "light summer reading" but instead was "really hard going," and another says that Penrose uses the book "in a polemical manner to justify his neo-Platonist view of mathematics." Yeah, we hate it when people do that.
—Mary Carmichael © 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

November 8, 2004 in Tech/Science | Permalink

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Comments

It took me over 3 months to get through "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene. Pathetic, huh? I think I slept through all the genius :) classes in college. I've taken a peek at my Stephen Hawking's - "A Brief History of Time" ebook and it seems so complicated. I'm a fan of M. C. Escher so I might take a look at "The Road to Reality" when the book is out on digital just to see what he theorizes about the etchings.

By the way, I'm back! I was away on business again. :)

Posted by: Nia | Nov 8, 2004 9:59:46 AM

Penrose is brilliant and inventive and way out of my class, so take this comment with a grain: but he is a wee tad flaky about what there is.

Posted by: judith | Nov 8, 2004 9:34:28 AM

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