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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of The Emperor’s New Mind and The Road to Reality, a groundbreaking book that provides new views on three of cosmology’s most profound questions: What, if anything, came before the Big Bang? What is the source of order in our universe? What is its ultimate future?

Current understanding of our universe dictates that all matter will eventually thin out to zero density, with huge black holes finally evaporating away into massless energy. Roger Penrose - one of the most innovative mathematicians of our time - turns around this predominant picture of the universe’s “heat death,” arguing how the expected ultimate fate of our accelerating, expanding universe can actually be reinterpreted as the “Big Bang” of a new one.

Along the way to this remarkable cosmological picture, Penrose sheds new light on basic principles that underlie the behavior of our universe, describing various standard and nonstandard cosmological models, the fundamental role of the cosmic microwave background, and the key status of black holes. Ideal for both the amateur astronomer and the advanced physicist - with plenty of exciting insights for each - Cycles of Time is certain to provoke and challenge.

Intellectually thrilling and accessible, this is another essential guide to the universe from one of our preeminent thinkers.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2011 Roger Penrose (P)2011 Random House

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Difficult, Awe-inducing and Fascinating

Wow, this is a challenging book. I was tempted to stop listening at various points, but it was usually there that Penrose dropped in a gem of insight or an utterly fascinating speculation on the nature of the universe, and on I went. I finally settled in when I realized that I was listening to a unique book: it is written for the general reader, but it doesn't try to soft pedal any of the complexity of thought that leads to the conclusions. In the end, I loved it.

What is the book about? Penrose is proposing an admittedly conjectural notion of universal cosmology. He is, in fact, making a new argument for something like the balanced beauty of the old Steady State idea of the universe's orgin and life while using all the new stuff on black holes, the cosmic background radiation and black holes. He's attempting to reconcile the Big Bang with a steady state by arguing that at the extreme end of things -- the heat death of the universe after all the black holes have evaporated and all that remains are mass-less protons, gravitons and such -- the geometry of the universe will match the geometry necessarily in place at the time of the Big Bang. And things could, thus, start all over again or, as Penrose puts it, bounce. We could be somewhere in the midst of an endless cycle of expanding and "bouncing" universes.

Whether or not you buy Penrose's conclusion, the road there is hard, awe-inducing and fascinating.

I highly recommending downloading his cool illustration packet, many handdrawn, and referring to them from time to time, as well.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 10-26-11

Detailed and makes key points - not for everyone

I recommend downloading the PDF. If you can???t understand the PDF without reading the book ??? don???t bother. Now if you find the PDF fascinating, then try the book. It is really not a book that does well with audio unless you are already very familiar with the subject and have excellent multidimensional visualization skills. This book has a truly excellent description of entropy and the second law it is worth it just for that analysis. I don???t find the overall thrust of the book compelling, but it points out very important defects of the basic big bang theory which must be addressed one way or another.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

This book was meant for paper, not audio

I was excited to read a book by Penrose, after hearing so much about him in books by Hawking and others. But unlike books by Hawking, Brian Greene and other excellent choices on Audible, this one was not cut out for audio. It comes with a PDF reference guide, and unless you can visualize things like q3-dimensional space and conformal representations of hyperbolic geometry, you really need to have the reference guide in front of you through almost the entire listen.

This book seems perfect for a Nova documentary. Animation would make it so much more accessible. I would be captivated by a well-made couple hour documentary.

About the narrator: At times I felt like I was listening to a British Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory). He narrated with a rapid and awkward cadence and had a weird habit of starting the first word of a sentence with 'Ah-.

Fascinating topic, but I didn't get much out of this book trying to listen to it in the car.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Deep waters

A challenge the first time,
Better the second.
On the 3rd attempt at understanding, between the formulas, I get it.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good but heard to comprehend

Dr Penrose is a brilliant person but I find his writing style filled with lots of extra words. I really have to think hard to get what he is saying. This is just my style of writing. Many other very technical writers are able to express their ideas more efficiently.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Don't Go Here Unless...

This is very difficult to digest. I loved it, but must reread(listen). This is a fascinating book in at least the regard to helping one realize, after reading a handful of physics books written for laymen, that physics is not as easy as one may think. If you hang out in the Science and Physics portion of Audible you have to give this one a try. Enjoy!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JA
  • Austin
  • 06-25-12

Penrose makes cosmological concepts accessible

Would you consider the audio edition of Cycles of Time to be better than the print version?

An excellent book, especially if you're a fan of his classic work "The Road to Reality". He is not shy about mathematical equations or concepts and the lay person that invests the time to go through this book will be very well rewarded.

What did you like best about this story?

This audible version comes with a lengthy PDF file with Penrose's trademark hand drawn diagrams. His diagrams are probably some of the best tools I've ever seen to make difficult concepts accessible to the non-physicist or mathematician.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Narration was adequate.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Howard
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 12-14-11

Not a good subject for audio

Roger Penrose is a world famous cosmologist with interesting things to say. Unfortunately, the spoken language by itself is not adequate. The serious reader or listener must have at hand the charts if he is to make any sense of his arguments.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

No PDF, difficult to follow

The narrator instructs the listener to refer to the PDF, clearly indicating that it should be included. This is a chronic problem with Audible Books, reference to a pdf, but none available. With this book, it makes it impossible to follow. It's like reading an 18th century math book, tedious, impossible to follow.
If you're interested, get a paper copy, I know more about the ideas in this book from reading a press report than after an hour of listening. Big disappointment.

8 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 06-06-12

Impenetrable

It begins with giving some scientific analogies for the layman, but it soon leaps into calculations and language that I couldn't hope to follow.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful