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Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe
From the best-selling author of The Emperor’s New Mind and The Road to Reality, a groundbreaking book that provides new views on three of cosmology’s most profound questions: What, if anything, came before the Big Bang? What is the source of order in our universe? What is its ultimate future?Current understanding of our universe dictates that all matter will eventually thin out to zero density, with huge black holes finally evaporating away into massless energy. Roger Penrose—one of the most innovative mathematicians of our time—turns around this predominant picture of the universe’s “heat death,” arguing how the expected ultimate fate of our accelerating, expanding universe can actually be reinterpreted as the “Big Bang” of a new one.Along the way to this remarkable cosmological picture, Penrose sheds new light on basic principles that underlie the behavior of our universe, describing various standard and nonstandard cosmological models, the fundamental role of the cosmic microwave background, and the key status of black holes. Ideal for both the amateur astronomer and the advanced physicist—with plenty of exciting insights for each—Cycles of Time is certain to provoke and challenge.Intellectually thrilling and accessible, this is another essential guide to the universe from one of our preeminent thinkers.read more
_Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe_, by Roger Penrose, Alfred A Knopf, 2011. Far from the "same old same-old" as regards cosmology books, this one presents the distinguished Penrose's own Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (CCC), which takes great care to respect the laws of thermodynamics. To quote from Wikipedia, "In CCC, the universe iterates through infinite cycles, with the future timelike infinity of each previous iteration being identified with the Big Bang singularity of the next." The book's two appendices (~30 pages) are impenetrably mathematical, and Penrose rightly says they are for experts only. But it seemed to me that some of this impenetrability afflicts large parts of the second half of the main text too. I was very disappointed that I failed to fully understand conformal spacetime diagrams. I never grasped the reason why it is not simply contradictory to say that universe iterations possessing neverending time progressions can form a temporal chain.read more
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Where did the universe come from, why is it the way it is, and what is its ultimate fate? Eminent Oxford mathematician Penrose (The Road to Reality) finds "a profound oddness underlying the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the very nature of the Big Bang" theory of the universe's origins. In response, he proposes tweaking the old theory to answer these questions. Armed with some fairly hairy math (logarithms, tensor calculus), Penrose argues that increasing entropy, a natural consequence of the Big Bang, supports space-time models in which an increasing number of hungry black holes should yield matter-spewing white holes as well. Instead, we have an entirely too uniform universe more suited to a "conformal cyclic cosmology" where black holes grow and eventually "pop," yielding a fresh new Big Bang in an infinite "succession of aeons." Although Penrose makes provocative arguments for his challenging new theory (relegating his denser mathematical explorations to the appendixes), readers will need a solid grounding in college-level math and physics to wade through this intriguing work. B&w illus. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.