Science has two primary goals: to find explanations of myriad natural phenomena characterizing the world of experience and to unravel from these explanations the ultimate nature of reality. These goals are interlinked in that the mode of explanation will be the road by which reality will be unveiled. The scientific mode, finding spectacular expression in physics, is through mathematics. Thus, mathematics becomes the road to reality for scientists and especially for physicists. Physicist Penrose guides the reader through that complex and exciting road with profound erudition, deep insight, and great flair. He begins with a clear, succinct exposition of the interrelationships among mental, mathematical, and physical worlds. All through, there is blending of technical mathematics with keen observations and historical asides. Penrose reflects on his own views on current physics, confessing only partial trust in string theories to provide the ultimate key to unlocking the terminus. Though the book is for “the serious lay leader,” not many will fathom much beyond the first chapter. Those with graduate work in theoretical physics will be enormously enriched. More than anything else, this book will be a great resource for graduate seminars. A must for all libraries serving physics departments. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through professionals.
November 6, 2013