I bought the Penrose book “The Road to Reality“ about 5 years back. Its a bound edition, 1100 pages, weighing about 1.5 Kg, somewhat difficult to hold, difficult to keep the binding intact, some pages tend to come out, but so far no page is lost.
Here`s my review:
Its a comprehensive explication, as comprehensive as it gets, on every aspect of reality and the universe. It goes about as deep into each topic as is required to go in order to establish a level of understanding which is at par with just about the maximum extent to which that subject can be understood without requiring an `Act of God` to explain the phenomena. And for this he has to use extraordinarily complex mathematics. In fact this is unavoidable, for in no way is it possible to understand these difficult subjects with off the shelf mathematics. However there is enough explicatory prose in the book to enable a reasonable level of understanding of these hugely interesting topics that he has chosen to discuss. Even so, it is recommended that one should read this book in conjunction with some of his other books.
It is said that the two hemispheres of the brain each specialize in different functions of cognition – the left dedicating itself to logical and analytical thinking, seat of verbal thought; the right to intuition and holistic understanding of patterns, with an ability to grasp directly the relationship between parts of the whole. One operates linguistically with rational sequences of deductions and inductions; the other intuitively juxtaposes images and symbols, integrates and synthesizes rather than analysis. Roger Penrose is one example of a Scientist who has used the whole of consciousness. He has effectively used both hemispheres of his brain to cut open the various theories about the `Universe and Reality` that he has discussed, and then given his views after an in-depth scrutiny and analysis. And mind you he has a wide open mind and has never failed to give due credit and good enough appreciation to the theories (and the authors) he liked.
The chapter I like best is “The speculative theories of the early universe“. I am in total agreement with him when he questions the validity of the various motivations on the `cosmological inflation` theory. Just because the theory explains the homogeneity, the smootheness, and the flatness issues nicely, can we take them as enough motivation to support the theory?. What about …How it happens (Inflation)?, how is it caused ?…Do we reconcile or resign ourselves to it being some kind of `Act of God`?… And what about its conflict with the second law of thermodynamics?
I am not reading this book in a `start to finish` way. Instead I read the chapters which interest me more and which I can understand better and then I read them in conjunction with `Emperor`s New Mind`, alongwith another masterpiece of Penrose viz “The large and the small and the human mind“. And in this way I could get frequent flashes of deep understanding. It was quite exhilarating whenever that happened.
Some of the passages are quite overwhelming and on reading them one can gauge the profound philosophical implications of the subject whether it is relating to quantum physics or cosmology.
One such para is this one (this however is from ENM) :
“Probabilities do not arise at the minute quantum level of particles, atoms, or molecules – these evolve deterministically – but seemingly, via some mysterious larger-scale action connected with the emergence of a classical world that we can consciously perceive“.
It shows that there is a certain guiding force that links Quantum Physics with Classical Physics.
I explain this with an example:
“Consider that I am walking along a road and need to turn left at the next turning to go to my destination….Now the quantum entities inside my body keep moving here and there `at random` with complete disregard to the phenomena of cause and effect, but they will in their trillions be at the right places at the right times to ensure that I am turning left and not going straight or turning right. And in case something happens to me before I turn left, such as I get hit by a car or something, the classical world (of the car hitting me) informs the quantum world of the changes in probabilities, and the quantum particles inside me will be at the right places at the right times to make sure that I fall down, provided of course, that the impact of the car was sufficient for the purpose.“
It looks like there is some sort of an all pervading “INTELLIGENT FIELD` that controls nature. I am currently writing a book on the subject of this Intelligent Field . The title of the book is simply `IF`. You might think I am just replacing `Acts of God` with this `I.F.` But that is not the case. I believe the I.F. has evolved over the years and still evolving. The question may be asked, is I.F. itself a product of simulation which then simulates the universe?. I would say: “Yes it is. It is simulated..and then it simulates…is simulated..and then it simulates..and it goes on and on …step by step…trillions and trillions of intermediate steps, through trillions of years and countless eons of the universe. And with each simulation the complexities increase. It must have been very very very simple in the very very very beginning. A universe from nothing at all. It could be that we the human beings are an `Intermediate step`.
Now, why I wrote these few lines about this I.F. business, has a purpose. I ask the question: Will Roger Penrose in one of his future books consider the existence of this Intelligent Field as a possible concept worth cutting open and investigating ?
Near the end of `TRTR`, after writing about 1025 pages of his analytical studies, he comes out with these lines:
“ I do not believe that we have yet found the true `Road to Reality`, despite the extraordinary progress that has been made over two and one half millennia, particularly in the last few centuries“… and then he goes on to say that “Some fundamentally new insights are certainly needed“
Its wishful thinking on my part… but will Roger Penrose consider the `Intelligent Field` concept as one of the new insights worth talking about ?
And then there is this `ENTROPY FIELD` whereby the disorder and chaos in the world is increasing all the time and the survival of human civilization from self destruction is in question. We do not need to solve complex differential equations to understand and realize how far the `Intelligent field` is trailing behind the `Entropy field`. Will the former be able to overtake the latter before it reaches its winning post of destruction?. …No Act of God of any kind will come to our rescue. Its entirely left to us human beings to create probabilities to escape from `SD`.
Will the great minds of the Planet Earth … and Roger Penrose … is very much there…even if it is a short list of just five.. … get philosophical for a while …and effectively use both hemispheres of their brains and come out with a model of philosophy `about the road to reality` which can fuse Science with religion, is acceptable to all religions, and which can pave the way towards a road to our continued existence ?
For what use is Quantum Physics and Relativity, and what use is this discussion on the Road to Reality if we are not going to be alive beyond a few centuries ?
All in all, an outstanding `Five Star` book.
This is my first review.
SURENDRA KUMAR SAGAR…Author of `SIX WORDS`