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Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe

Saturday 25 March 2017

1 Hour


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£12.50 - £15.00

Ticket price

Bestselling author and one of the world’s leading theoretical physicists Professor Sir Roger Penrose argues that fashion, faith and fantasy may be leading some researchers astray on the extreme frontiers of physics.

Penrose says fashion, faith and fantasy can sometimes be productive in physics but it is leading today’s researchers astray in three important areas – string theory, quantum mechanics and cosmology. He warns that the fashionable nature of a theory can sometimes cloud our judgement and that success in one application of a theory can lead to uncritical faith in other applications. Penrose says many of the fantastical ideas about the origin of the universe cannot be true. And he goes on to show how fashion, faith and fantasy have ironically shaped his own work including in conformal cyclic cosmology, an idea so fantastic he says it could be called conformal crazy cosmology.

Penrose is Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics Emeritus at the University of Oxford. He has won many prizes, including the Albert Einstein Medal for his contributions on general relativity and cosmology. He is co-author with Stephen Hawking of The Nature of Space and Time and author of The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe.

Here he talks to freelance science writer Phillip Ball, author of a number of popular science books, a regular contributor to Nature and presenter of Science Stories on BBC Radio 4.

Supported by Elsevier.