Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe

Roger Penrose, Author
Roger Penrose. Knopf, $28.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-307-26590-6
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Where did the universe come from, why is it the way it is, and what is its ultimate fate? Eminent Oxford mathematician Penrose (The Road to Reality) finds "a profound oddness underlying the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the very nature of the Big Bang" theory of the universe’s origins. In response, he proposes tweaking the old theory to answer these questions. Armed with some fairly hairy math (logarithms, tensor calculus), Penrose argues that increasing entropy, a natural consequence of the Big Bang, supports space-time models in which an increasing number of hungry black holes should yield matter-spewing white holes as well. Instead, we have an entirely too uniform universe more suited to a "conformal cyclic cosmology" where black holes grow and eventually "pop," yielding a fresh new Big Bang in an infinite "succession of aeons." Although Penrose makes provocative arguments for his challenging new theory (relegating his denser mathematical explorations to the appendixes), readers will need a solid grounding in college-level math and physics to wade through this intriguing work. B&w illus. (May)
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