4093Re: [ufodiscussion] Penrose: The Answer's Not 42
- Mar 4, 2005Why do "intelligent" scientists ("brilliant minds", "best brains on
the planet", etc) keep deluding themselves with the idea that a universal
Theory of Everything is possible without including consciousness in it?
Isn't consciousness a genuine ingredient of the universal Reality that they
are calling "Everything"? Yet they close their mental eyes to it and just
consider the physical aspect of Reality, which they think they perceive in
consciousness, as if the physical world was a self-sufficient closed system
that exists in isolation and absolute separation from consciousness. How
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Subject: [ufodiscussion] Penrose: The Answer's Not 42
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Love and Light.
Penrose: The Answer's Not 42
By Mark Anderson | Also by this reporter Page 1 of 2 next »
02:00 AM Mar. 02, 2005 PT
In 1998, Stephen Hawking laid 50-50 odds that the holy grail of physics, the
elusive "theory of everything," was less than 20 years away.
Around the same time, Hawking's renowned peer, collaborator and
sometime-disputant, Roger Penrose of Oxford University, set out to write a
book detailing just how distant the odds actually are of unifying all the
laws of physics.
"We are nowhere close to an accurate, purely physical theory of everything,"
Penrose told Nature earlier this year.
Indeed, Penrose's newly published 1,099-page treatise -- The Road to
Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe -- expends little ink
ruminating over what is not known. Rather, The Road to Reality is as
rigorous and exhaustive a map to the "theory of nearly everything" as a
reader could hope to find today.
Penrose makes a unique tour guide, overhauling components of big-bang
cosmology and quantum mechanics as some tinkerers might take out and
reinstall their car's transmission. And Penrose's tendency to pepper the
discussion with mathematical equations and terminology (he spends nearly 400
pages on calculus, number theory and advanced geometry before decamping into
the physical universe) will undoubtedly limit the book's readership to those
not easily intimidated by section titles such as "frequency splitting on the
Riemann sphere" or "Hamiltonian dynamics and symplectic geometry."
Yet, according to professor Seth Lloyd of MIT, those willing to invest the
energy to work through this mathematical Finnegans Wake will be rewarded for
The Road to Reality, Lloyd says, "shows (Penrose's) brilliant and unique
grasp of mathematics as it applies to the physical world. That is evidenced
in the first part. The second part of the book shows his courageousness in
going on to propose fundamental physical effects even in the absence of an
explicit theory, which he thinks intuitively to be true. So he's very bold
as well as original and insightful."
Those fundamental physical effects that Penrose proposes in Road, some of
which were first covered in his 1989 best-selling book, The Emperor's New
Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds and the Laws of Physics, are as
controversial as they are bold.
For instance, despite the stampede of physicists today seeking to unify all
physical theories under the aegis of string theory, Penrose thinks his
colleagues are on a wild goose chase.
In 2002, Penrose spoke at Stephen Hawking's 60th birthday celebration.
Penrose argued that the underlying assumption of string theory -- that
space-time consists of anywhere from 10 to 26 dimensions -- is simply
wrongheaded and unmotivated by either intuition or evidence. (Penrose
devotes much of the last four chapters of his book to this same argument and
to an alternative model he sets up in string theory's absence, using a
mathematical formalism Penrose invented called "twistors.")
One colleague, Penrose said, responded during the conference's lunch break
with the observation, "You're completely right, of course ... but totally
Story continued on Page 2 »
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