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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the UniverseCycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe by Roger Penrose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like to refresh myself on my intuitive understanding of physics every once in a while since I won't ever admit to understanding more than 30%-40% of the math.

Even so, what I do understand is still more than enough to endlessly fascinate and make me sit around fantasizing and ruminating and dreaming up new ways to describe what I know and how to apply it in interesting ways.

It's the curse of reading a ton of SF, too, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this weird little habit of mind games and flights of attempted non-entropic fancy.

That being said, I did understand everything in this book, at least in the broad strokes, because Mr. Penrose almost never deviated from common ground.

You know, background radiation proving the Big Bang, gravitational lensing effects to prove or disprove dark matter and/or dark energy, and a few other common steps along the way to build a standard case for our current understanding of the cosmology.

No problem. He's a good writer and his analogies are interesting even if they're ones I've heard a hundred times. You know, like the one about Einstein on a Train. Raindrops on a tarmac for mass distributions of black holes and the eventual release of their captured radiation over a grand long time until entropy has its final way.

Where the good stuff is, (in my opinion,) lies in the idea of time and its reversibility in the grand 10 to the 124 schema, or if we eventually throw this whole universe down a gravitational funnel, the 10 to the 125 manifold. Is this the reversal, the homogenous transformation of matter back into straight energy that preceded the original big bang? Is this an ongoing cycle that repeats?

Well, that was what *I* wanted to know, anyway. Let me let you in on a big spoiler: (view spoiler)

Honestly, this is good, even with all the talk about the lambda, Einstein's cosmological constant, and how it still maintains a strong presence in the grand discussion, but really? I truly have a much better time trying to wrap my puny little brain around the string theories more. Holographic universes also float my boat. Still, for all that this text tried to convince me of an old theory that may or may not be quite up to date, it's still a fun read.

Maybe one of these days I'll do more than just nod my head at some of the more complex equations. :) Truly, enough exposure to these, book after book, IS doing me a lot of good. Maybe if I collect enough great analogies and get a spinal shunt with a couple hundred external parallel processors to hang my brain on, I'll be just about ready to transform a few tensors. :)

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