"Road To Reality" by Penrose

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I recently acquired the tome of Penrose's Road to Reality. I'm trying to figure who this book is intended for. It has a mix of deep mathematical physics concepts with light explanatory diagrams. I have a little bit of a mathematical background, bachelors in math, so I can follow it pretty fluently. But I can't imagine too many people picking up this book without some college background in physics and math. So far the book is very enjoyable for my uses. Anyone else have this book in there library? If so, what is your take on it and what do you think of the level of mathematics?
 
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  • #2
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It’s denser than many pop Sci books of the day. I think it’s for th more serious amateur scientist much as Suskinds Theoretical Minimum but it cam out much earlier.

Also I think Penrose wanted to introduce his Spinor ideas to the public as that seems to be the final section of the book and to break away from the String Theory attempts to be the unifying theory of everything.

Here’s a 2006 book review from the AMS about it:

https://www.ams.org/notices/200606/rev-blank.pdf
 
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  • #3
DarMM
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It's a cool book to read once you already know those areas to see Penrose's take on them and physics in general. It's not really something you can read first in my opinion. Also it's not as good on the quantum side of things as on the Relativity side.
 
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Demystifier
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One of the best books out there in the semi-popular category.
 
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vanhees71
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I liked the math part. The physics is "interesting" (in some parts in Pauli's sense ;-)).
 
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I liked the math part. The physics is "interesting" (in some parts in Pauli's sense ;-)).
Pauli who? Wolfgang Pauli? I'm a bit confused
 
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vanhees71
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You know what it meant when Pauli called some physics argument "interesting"...?
 
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You know what it meant when Pauli called some physics argument "interesting"...?
I never heard of Pauli saying this hmmm... it doesn't sound like a good thing though :smile:
 
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I once heard a story about Pauli where he rejected a student paper that had some of the key exclusion principle ideas in it. Sometime later, Pauli published on the Exclusion Principle and when asked about the prior paper said he didn't believe it was true at the time but now he does. Hmm

I don't have a source reference here, I just remember my QM prof telling us this in the context of how two profs Pauli and Ehrenfest (profs may be wrong too) treated their students with Ehrenfest giving more freedom to the student to fail.
 
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I once heard a story about Pauli where he rejected a student paper that had some of the key exclusion principle ideas in it. Sometime later, Pauli published on the Exclusion Principle and when asked about the prior paper said he didn't believe it was true at the time but now he does. Hmm

I don't have a source reference here, I just remember my QM prof telling us this in the context of how two profs Pauli and Ehrenfest (profs may be wrong too) treated their students with Ehrenfest giving more freedom to the student to fail.
Nightmare scenario for a student. I would have excluded Pauli out of existence.
 
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vanhees71
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I once heard a story about Pauli where he rejected a student paper that had some of the key exclusion principle ideas in it. Sometime later, Pauli published on the Exclusion Principle and when asked about the prior paper said he didn't believe it was true at the time but now he does. Hmm

I don't have a source reference here, I just remember my QM prof telling us this in the context of how two profs Pauli and Ehrenfest (profs may be wrong too) treated their students with Ehrenfest giving more freedom to the student to fail.
I know this story about Kramers's idea of spin-1/2 particles. After Pauli's critique he didn't publish it. Goudsmit and Uhlenbeck did.

There's also a nasty story about Born, forgetting Jordan's manuscript on what we call Fermi-Dirac statistics today in his suitcase traveling to the US.
 
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George Jones
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I once heard a story about Pauli where he rejected a student paper that had some of the key exclusion principle ideas in it. Sometime later, Pauli published on the Exclusion Principle and when asked about the prior paper said he didn't believe it was true at the time but now he does. Hmm

I don't have a source reference here, I just remember my QM prof telling us this in the context of how two profs Pauli and Ehrenfest (profs may be wrong too) treated their students with Ehrenfest giving more freedom to the student to fail.

The student was Stoner, who was Rutherford's (post)grad student at Cambridge (not Pauli's student). Stoner's results were not rejected for publication, i.e.,

Stoner, E. C. , “The distribution of electrons among atomic levels”, Philosophical magazine, xlvii (1924), 719–36

The question is: Is this enough to say that the exclusion principle should be attributed to Stoner?
 
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The student was Stoner, who was Rutherford's (post)grad student at Cambridge (not Pauli's student). Stoner's results were not rejected for publication, i.e.,

Stoner, E. C. , “The distribution of electrons among atomic levels”, Philosophical magazine, xlvii (1924), 719–36

The question is: Is this enough to say that the exclusion principle should be attributed to Stoner?
He should be acknowledged alongside Pauli, it sounds cooler the Stoner-Pauli Exclusion Principle!
 
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  • #18
martinbn
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I liked the math part. The physics is "interesting" (in some parts in Pauli's sense ;-)).
Which parts?
 
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