The Large, the Small and the Human Mind

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 28, 2000 - Computers - 201 pages
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Roger Penrose's original and provocative ideas about the large-scale physics of the Universe, the small-scale world of quantum physics and the physics of the mind have been the subject of controversy and discussion. These ideas were proposed in his best-selling books The Emperor's New Mind and Shadows of the Mind. In this book, he summarises and updates his current thinking in these complex areas to present a masterful summary of those areas of physics in which he feels there are major unresolved problems. Through this, he introduces radically new concepts which he believes will be fruitful in understanding the workings of the brain and the nature of the human mind. These ideas are challenged by three distinguished experts from different backgrounds: Abner Shimony and Nancy Cartwright as philosophers of science and Stephen Hawking as a theoretical physicist and cosmologist. Roger Penrose concludes with a response to their thought-provoking criticisms.

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User Review  - KirkLowery - LibraryThing

What is the relationship of the "intangible" mind or consciousness and physical reality, namely, the brain? This is the question that Penrose addresses, and along the way deals with minor matters such ... Read full review


User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Lectures by a renowned mathematician and physicist on the connections of relativity and quantum theory (the science of the very large and the very small), with an eye to understanding the nature of ... Read full review

Selected pages


Spacetime and Cosmology
The Mysteries of Quantum Physics
Physics and the Mind
On Mentality Quantum Mechanics and the Actualization of Potentialities
Why Physics?
The Objections of an Unashamed Reductionist
Roger Penrose Responds
Goodsteins Theorem and Mathematical Thinking

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About the author (2000)

Born in England, the son of a geneticist, Roger Penrose received a Ph.D. in 1957 from Cambridge University. Penrose then became a professor of applied mathematics at Birkbeck College in 1966 and a Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University in 1973. Penrose, a mathematician and theoretical physicist, has done much to elucidate the fundamental properties of black holes. With Stephen Hawking, Penrose proved a theorem of Albert Einstein's general relativity, asserting that at the center of a black hole there must evolve a "space-time singularity" of zero volume and infinite density, in which the current laws of physics do not apply. He also proposed the hypothesis of "cosmic censorship," which claims that such singularities must possess an event horizon. In 1969 Penrose described a process for the extraction of energy from a black hole, as well as how rotational energy of the black hole is transferred to a particle outside the hole. In addition, Penrose has done much to develop the mathematics needed to unite general relativity, which deals with the gravitational interactions of matter, and quantum mechanics, which describes all other interactions.

Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford, England on January 8, 1942. He received a first class honors degree in natural science from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. He was a theoretical physicist and has held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University from 1982 until his death. In 1974, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the world's oldest scientific organization. In 1963, he learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neuromuscular wasting disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. The disease confined him to a wheelchair and reduced his bodily control to the flexing of a finger and voluntary eye movements, but left his mental faculties untouched. He became a leader in exploring gravity and the properties of black holes. He wrote numerous books including A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, Black Holes and Baby Universes, On the Shoulders of Giants, A Briefer History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell, and The Grand Design. In 1982, he was named a commander of the British Empire. A film about his life, The Theory of Everything, was released in 2014 and was based on his first wife Jane Hawking's book Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. He died on March 14, 2018 at the age of 76.

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