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The Nature of Space and Time
 
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The Nature of Space and Time [Format Kindle]

Stephen Hawking , Roger Penrose

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Pr??sentation de l'??diteur

Einstein said that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. But was he right? Can the quantum theory of fields and Einstein's general theory of relativity, the two most accurate and successful theories in all of physics, be united in a single quantum theory of gravity? Can quantum and cosmos ever be combined? On this issue, two of the world's most famous physicists--Stephen Hawking (A Brief History of Time) and Roger Penrose (The Emperor's New Mind and Shadows of the Mind)--disagree. Here they explain their positions in a work based on six lectures with a final debate, all originally presented at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge.

How could quantum gravity, a theory that could explain the earlier moments of the big bang and the physics of the enigmatic objects known as black holes, be constructed? Why does our patch of the universe look just as Einstein predicted, with no hint of quantum effects in sight? What strange quantum processes can cause black holes to evaporate, and what happens to all the information that they swallow? Why does time go forward, not backward?

In this book, the two opponents touch on all these questions. Penrose, like Einstein, refuses to believe that quantum mechanics is a final theory. Hawking thinks otherwise, and argues that general relativity simply cannot account for how the universe began. Only a quantum theory of gravity, coupled with the no-boundary hypothesis, can ever hope to explain adequately what little we can observe about our universe. Penrose, playing the realist to Hawking's positivist, thinks that the universe is unbounded and will expand forever. The universe can be understood, he argues, in terms of the geometry of light cones, the compression and distortion of spacetime, and by the use of twistor theory. With the final debate, the reader will come to realize how much Hawking and Penrose diverge in their opinions of the ultimate quest to combine quantum mechanics and relativity, and how differently they have tried to comprehend the incomprehensible.

In a new afterword, the authors outline how recent developments have caused their positions to further diverge on a number of key issues, including the spatial geometry of the universe, inflationary versus cyclic theories of the cosmos, and the black-hole information-loss paradox. Though much progress has been made, Hawking and Penrose stress that physicists still have much farther to go in their quest for a quantum theory of gravity.

Biographie de l'auteur

Stephen Hawking is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Roger Penrose is the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

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Amazon.com: 3.2 étoiles sur 5  15 commentaires
47 internautes sur 47 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A debate between two strong personalities in physics 5 août 2003
Par Charles Ashbacher - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The current understanding of the physical structure of the universe is bipolar. There is Einstein's theory of relativity, which explains the macroscopic behavior of the universe to many places to the right of the decimal point. At the other end of the size spectrum, there is the quantum theory of fields, which explains the observed behavior of fundamental particles to many places to the right of the decimal point. Although one should always be very reluctant to state such a position, the resolution of this bipolar state into a unified one may be the last, great discovery of physics.
The purpose of this book is to present a debate between Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose concerning the possibility of the issue being resolved, and in what manner. It is a series of six short lectures, three from each man and ends with a brief debate between them. These lectures are not for the general audience, as each lecturer assumes a fundamental understanding of general relativity and quantum theory. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of explanation, including diagrams, in the lectures. Therefore, it is possible to understand the material if you have a basic understanding of the two main topics. Without that, don't bother opening the book.
Of course, the issue is not resolved, as that must wait for a later date. It is interesting that Hawking tends to emphasize the points of difference, while Penrose goes to some length to describe how similar their positions are. Penrose continues with the position of Albert Einstein, in that he argues that quantum mechanics is not a final theory, but only the "gross" appearance of much subtler events. Hawking believes otherwise, arguing that the probabilistic features of quantum mechanics is the way nature does things, and there is no underlying mechanism yet to be discovered that will remove them.
The arguments are strong, yet unconvincing. Not due to their lack of power, but because they are made by two equally strong and forceful personalities. When two such powers collide, there is rarely resolution. Nevertheless, the debate sheds a great deal of light on the current state of thinking in physics, and points out some ways in which it may be resolved.
56 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 hold on for dear life 9 mars 2002
Par Bryan Erickson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This was an early attempt to capitalize on Hawking's commercial success with the Brief History. Roger Penrose, Hawking's PhD advisor, has also written some really fascinating books for lay readers on philosophical implications of physics such as on the nature of intelligence. However, combining the two in a debate, the form of this book, cancels out the reader-friendly accessibility of their solo works as their egos take charge and they try to outperform each other. It makes sense after the fact that if they're debating, they must be discussing matters on which they disagree, and since physics is so well settled and understood on all but the most esoteric and advanced questions, the subject matter of their disagreements must lie in that advanced realm. Of course, "advanced" is a vastly relative term to apply to physics, since many ordinary readers would balk at any physics material. But I have a degree in physics, albeit only a BS - and after the initial material I have to struggle to follow anything they're saying! They should stamp this book's cover with a caveat emptor; this is no "Brief History of Time" or "Elegant Universe." They even mention at the outset that they assume the reader has a basic understanding of physics, but these guys' idea of a basic understanding is a Ph.D. specializing in general relativity. Having said all that, the book still makes for heady reading from what I could pick up here and there, so it's a thrill if you're up to it.
42 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting but not Great 25 juillet 2000
Par D. Harp - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
In spite of the errors mentioned in another review the discussion was fairly interesting but not as great a "debate" as I anticipated. I'd spend my money on Penrose's "The Emporer's New Mind" before this one. For those interested in Black Holes, Kip Thorne's "Black Holes and Time Warps ..." is exceptionally well written and rewarding for the reader. For the technically [mathematically] apt who wants an fascinating treatice on spacetime, try John Wheeler and Ignazio Ciufolini's book on Geometrodynamics (Princeton Univ. Press).
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Very interesting 16 novembre 2010
Par Light Pebble - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I really enjoyed this book. It goes beyond the popular accounts of Hawking's and Penrose's ideas, without going into all the technical detail. You get to find out (sort of) why Hawking attributes entropy to black holes, and his explanation of why we don't see the galaxies in quantum superposition. And Penrose's ideas about twistors and quantizing them, and people's caveats about twistor theory.
It would help to be familiar with:
- Feynman integral over paths
- what is the action, and how it becomes a phase in quantum mechanics
- Euler characteristic
- special relativity, what spacelike, timelike and null mean
- Basic topology and analysis. Like what does "compact" imply.
- thermodynamic partition function
- contour integral in complex analysis
- what is a manifold
- how you find the expectation of an operator in quantum mechanics
- decoherence in quantum mechanics
- what is a conformal map
That sort of thing.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating, yet complex. 22 février 2007
Par Peidyen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I found this to be a fascinating overview of some of the major issues in cosmology from both Hawking and Penroses point of view. What is amazing is the actual level of agreement between the two. Perhaps only the real physicists appreciate the nuances of their differences of opinion.

I would recommend this book for anyone who's gone to the trouble of picking up a basic understanding of relativity ( special and/or general ).

The math is not terrbily daunting in most places and you get a real overview for the big picture of the state of relativity and quantum gravity.
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