The Origins Podcast: Roger Penrose
Black Holes, Art and Science, and the Beginning and End of Time
Summary: Roger Penrose and I discussed his life and work in science, mathematics, art and beyond, including the work for which he won the Nobel Prize, and his recent highly controversial proposal regarding the beginning and end of the Universe.
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Roger Penrose, who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, for his 1965 theoretical demonstration that black holes are an inevitable consequence of Einstein’s General Relativity, something that hadn’t been widely accepted at that time, is known to his colleagues as a remarkable mathematical physicist, whose way of picturing things has changed the way we now picture many things. His use of what are called conformal diagrams, now called Penrose diagrams, allow us to intuitively picture processes in curved space, particularly around black holes in ways we couldn’t do otherwise. He also developed something called Penrose tiles, fill a two dimensional plane in a way that was previously thought to be impossible. He both inspired, and was inspired by the famous Dutch artist M. C. Escher, in his ‘impossible’ drawings. Most recently Roger has proposed an alternative picture of the evolution of the Universe called Cyclic Conformal Cosmology, which connects the distant past of the Universe with the far future. It is controversial, and few others have accepted his picture at this time. He and I spent almost 3 hours discussing all of these things, and also his early inspirations as a young man, the nature of mathematics and physics, and much more. I am extremely happy to release this episode with Roger Penrose as the first Substack-hosted episode of The Origins Podcast with Lawrence Krauss. I hope you enjoy it, and all the future episodes to come.