The Cyclic Universe: A Conversation with Roger Penrose

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Open Agenda Publishing, Oct 1, 2020 - Science - 66 pages
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In the last twenty years, cosmology has unexpectedly emerged as one of the most exciting and dynamic fields of modern science. From astoundingly precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background to the ongoing mysteries of dark energy and dark matter, modern cosmology is unquestionably in the midst of its Golden Age. 

And yet, one of the most eminent mathematical physicists of our age, Roger Penrose is convinced that there is one fundamental problem that is consistently being overlooked: why did our universe begin in such a particular state of extremely low entropy? His Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (CCC) is an attempt to directly address that question. This extensive conversation between Howard Burton and Roger Penrose, co-recipient of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford, explores his motivation to come up with this theory in the first place and provides detailed insights into his groundbreaking research.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, A Hidden Audience, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

I. Inadvertent Success - An inside look at a mysterious publishing phenomenon

II. Considering Entropy - Minimum, maximum and both at the same time

III. Mysteries and False Explanations - Dark issues and inflationary hyperbole 

IV. Conformal Geometry - Reinterpreting the end and the beginning

V. CCC: The Basic Idea - Matching beginnings and ends, conformally 

VI. Light Cones - Photons vs. massive particles

VII. Massive Headaches - And how we might make them disappear

VIII. Necessary Conditions - Dark energy, dark matter and information loss in black holes

IX. Cosmic Imprints? - Searching for evidence of past aeons

X. Battling Onwards - Challenges of an irrepressibly independent thinker

About Ideas Roadshow Conversations Series: 

This book is part of an expanding series of 100+ Ideas Roadshow conversations, each one presenting a wealth of candid insights from a leading expert through a focused yet informal setting to give non-specialists a uniquely accessible window into frontline research and scholarship that wouldn't otherwise be encountered through standard lectures and textbooks.


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A Note on the Text
The Conversation
Inadvertent Success
Considering Entropy
Mysteries and False Explanations
Conformal Geometry
The Basic Idea
Light Cones
Massive Headaches
Necessary Conditions
Cosmic Imprints?
Battling Onwards

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About the author (2020)

Howard Burton, the founder and creator of Ideas Roadshow and Ideas on Film, holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy. He was the Founding Executive Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) from 1999-2007. During his time at PI, he also developed an extensive outreach programme for teachers, students and the general public. His experiences at developing the research and outreach mandates of the institute were described in the book First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute, featuring a foreword by renowned theoretical physicist Roger Penrose.

Ideas Roadshow is an award-winning initiative, recipient of the London Book Fair International Excellence Award in 2018. Howard has hosted and filmed in-depth conversations with more than 100 of the world’s brightest thinkers, including 3 Nobel Laureates, across the arts, sciences, sports and games. 

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