Each month Abington Library will feature a favorite book from a faculty, staff member, or student. They will give a brief synopsis of their chosen book.
Kelly Vaughan is an Administrative Specialist II in Financial Aid.
Penrose, Roger. Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe. 1st U.S. ed., Vintage Books, Random House, Inc., 2010.
At some point in our lives, when we gaze upon the cosmos on a star-striking night, we ask ourselves: Who are we? Why are we here? And, where are we going? These kinds of questions have pondered humanity since our cerebral conception from a ninth-grade high school student learning about Isaac Newton's gravity in physical science—to the intellectual giants of our time in the fields of quantum mechanics, theoretical physics, and astronomy: Albert Einstein, Neils Bohr, Maxwell Planck, Carl Sagen, but more notably, Roger Penrose.
Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe, by Roger Penrose, takes an elegant approach to understanding nature and its unraveling function. He is a Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Oxford and received numerous prizes and awards, most notably the Wolf Foundation Prize in physics shared with Stephen Hawking. His unique perspective in this field is unparalleled in his writings, particularly on black holes, singularities, space-time, and the Big Bang.
My favorite part of the book is Part II: The oddly special nature of the Big Bang. In it, he uses his mathematical expertise to extrapolate the equations to explain them in plain English. His discussion about black holes having infinite density, infinite temperature, and what they are genuinely bend the limit of our imagination. He illustrates how a black holes gravitation effect causes matter to become stretched and stops time at the event horizon (i.e., the point of no return) in a process called spaghettification. It is here at this region where nothing—not even light—can escape, and it's gone from us forever.
Penrose continues on this avenue by conversing about the Big Bang, the theory describing how the universe 'began' from an initial state of having infinite density and temperature, expanding into what the universe is today. He demonstrates how Einstein's theory of general relativity simply 'gives up' in explaining the initial state of our universe’s inception as they break the current laws of physics. His subtle hints as to why black holes and the Big Bang have similarities—is because they are the same thing: black holes are Big Bangs—Big Bangs are black holes. This idea is having shocking and dramatic implications in the scientific community.
We cannot begin to understand that genuinely mysterious wonders and phenomena exist in our observable universe. But what makes Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe astonishing is the journey it takes us together to overcome neurological limitations, by bringing humanity along for the ride to find the answers in the stars. Bring us all closer and closer to pursuing scientific solutions to the enigmatic wonders of the cosmos.