One of the finest English mathematicians and physicists of the last half century. Penrose has worked closely with StephenHawking, often providing the mathematics necessary to underpin Hawking's brilliant and profound approach to physics and cosmology.

Recently Penrose has authored "TheRoadToReality" which is an overview of modern physics aimed at the popular reader who is prepared to grapple with technical detail:

http://www.321books.co.uk/reviews/the-road-to-reality-by-roger-penrose.htm

Previously, Penrose authored TheEmperorsNewMind and ShadowsOfTheMind, which seek not only to clobber the assumptions of "Strong AI" but more importantly to argue, starting from KurtGoedel's famous theorem, that we will be able to understand the workings of the human mind only when we have the right equations for quantum gravity. (Or something like that. These two books have certainly expanded my mind, but not nearly enough!)

See also MistakesOfRogerPenrose and TheGeometricUniverse

[*As RP is at Oxford University, his mistakes come as no surprise (especially to SH, who is at Cambridge University).*]

Ye gods and little fishes! This page has been copied to the closed WhyClublet!

*Two years ago, when the text was almost all written by RichardDrake. The copy was discussed on Wiki first, as shown towards the end of WhyHistory.*

From MartinGardner's foreword to TheEmperorsNewMind:

Since 1973, Penrose has been the Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University. The title is appropriate because W.W. Rouse Ball was not only a noted mathematician, but also an amateur magician with such an ardent interest in recreational mathematics that he wrote the classic English work on this field, *Mathematical Recreations and Essays*. Penrose shares Ball's enthusiasm for play. In his youth, he discovered an 'impossible object' called a 'tribar'. (An impossible object is a drawing of a solid figure that cannot exist because it embodies self-contradictory elements.) He and his father Lionel, a geneticist, turned the tribar into the PenroseStaircase, a structure that MauritsCorneliusEscher used in two well-known lithographs: *Ascending and Descending* and *Waterfall*. One day when Penrose was lying in bed, in what he called a 'fit of madness', he visualized an impossible object in four-dimensional space. It is something, he said, that a four-space creature, if it came across it, would exclaim 'My God, what's that?'

During the 1960s, when Penrose worked on cosmology with his friend StephenHawking, he made what is perhaps his best known discovery. If relativity theory holds 'all the way down', there must be a singularity in every black hole where the laws of physics no longer apply. Even this achievement has been eclipsed in recent years by Penrose's construction of two shapes that can tile the plane, in the manner of an Escher tessellation, but aperiodically. Penrose invented them, or rather discovered them, without any expectation they would be useful. To everybody's astonishment it turned out that three-dimensional forms of his tiles may underlie a strange new form of matter. Studying these 'quasicrystals' is now one of the most active research areas in crystallography. It is also the most dramatic instance in modern times of how playful mathematics can have unanticipated applications.

Penrose's achievements in mathematics and physics - and I have touched on only a small fraction - spring from a lifelong sense of wonder towards the mystery and beauty of being. His little finger tells him that the human mind is more than just a collection of tiny wires and switches ... Many of Penrose's opinions are infused with humour, but this one is no laughing matter.

Penrose was on "Desert Island Disks" in the summer of 2000 on BBC Radio 4, interviewed by the lovely and perceptive Sue Lawley. He has been devoted to the music of JohannSebastianBach all of his life. He's just [when?] had another baby, with the help of his wife, in his late sixties. His relationship with his own father and mother are also fascinating. After Penrose junior came back from meeting MauritsCorneliusEscher for the first time, father and son designed the *impossible staircase* together and sent it to Escher, who used it in his famous etching *Ascending and Descending*.

Unlike his father, Penrose eschews male dominance and wifely subordination and tends to avoid controversy if he can. He says he was genuinely surprised by the strength of feeling from the AI community over TheEmperorsNewMind and ShadowsOfTheMind. But he does feel passionately about the truth, with all the dogged determination of other famous HardCorePlatonists [Wiki's term rather than his]. Lastly, although PenroseCrystals? make great non-stick frying pans, you can't fry eggs in them. There's something about non-periodic crystals and eggs that just don't go together.

Penrose was giving a talk at CERN around 1991 about TheEmperorsNewMind. After the talk and some question, someone that knew him for sure (maybe even an important physicist, I don't know), said something like: *Roger, this thing that you are talking makes no sense to me; one day, we will know if you are a madman or a visionary*. I was there. Penrose didn't look amused.

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