Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Road to Reality

I have started reading The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe by Roger Penrose. The text runs to over 1,000 pages. From what I understand from the reviews written by scientists who actually understand this stuff, Penrose has made a heroic effort to fulfill the claim made in the subtitle of the book.

Penrose does not shy away from presenting the mathematics required to understand modern physics. The first third of the book is taken up with the mathematics he uses to explain the physics in the last two thirds of the book. I would expect that the mathematics would deter most people from reading the book. That's too bad, for Penrose writes clearly and engagingly about mathematics.

Penrose's hope, expressed in the preface, is that the average person who has a fear of mathematics will give his book a shot anyway. That could be a stretch, but he is right in encouraging the interested person to try.

I am reminded of close reading of fiction. I mean close reading where a fiction writer might learn the techniques that work in writing good fiction. For me, that is more difficult and time consuming than learning some math.

I suppose I am merely uttering the old truism: everything worth learning takes time and effort.
There is no royal road to geometry.


Or anything else for that matter.


At 1:23 AM, Blogger Faust said...

Hi Lynn,

I am just about finishing up reading RtR. If you are interested I have just opened up my own blog; I am currently trying to gather a nice group of people to discuss the book in detail.


At 7:50 AM, Blogger Lynn said...

Faust -

I am reading the book at a very slow pace. It is a very taxing read, but I am still enjoying it. I subscribed to your blog and look forward to participating once I get a little further along in the book.


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