Author(s): Stephen Hawking
Einstein said that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. But was he right? Can the quantum theory of fields and Einstein's general theory of relativity, the two most accurate and successful theories in all of physics, be united in a single quantum theory of gravity? Can quantum and cosmos ever be combined? On this issue, two of the world's most famous physicists - Stephen Hawking ("A Brief History of Time") and Roger Penrose ("The Emperor's New Mind" and "Shadows of the Mind") - disagree. Here they explain their positions in a work based on six lectures with a final debate, all originally presented at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. How could quantum gravity, a theory that could explain the earlier moments of the big bang and the physics of the enigmatic objects known as black holes, be constructed? Why does our patch of the universe look just as Einstein predicted, with no hint of quantum effects in sight? What strange quantum processes can cause black holes to evaporate, and what happens to all the information that they swallow? Why does time go forward, not backward?
This elegant little volume provides a clear account of two approaches to some of the greatest unsolved problems of gravitation and cosmology. -- John Barrow New Scientist A debate between Hawking and Penrose ... raises the reader's expectations of a lively interaction, and this is fully bourne in the transcribed discussion... Hawking's effervescent sense of humour frequently enlivens the text. -- Joseph Silk Times Higher Education Praise for Princeton's previous editions:: "If there were such a thing as the World Professional Heavyweight Theory Debating Society, this would be the title bout. -- Christopher Dornan Toronto Globe & Mail Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "This is a very courteous and intellectually stimulating exchange between two first-rate minds. Library Journal Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "This is an interesting book to read now, but it promises to become an even more interesting book for future generations of physicists. -- Robert M. Wald Science Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "As well as providing an accurate scientific record of the lectures, the text has lost none of the drama of the original occasion, which stemmed from the almost antithetical views of the two protagonists on almost everything except the classical theory of general relativity. -- Gary Gibbons Physics World Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "I found great satisfaction and not inconsiderable benefit from my efforts... The clarity and brilliance of Hawking's logic would break through in simple straightforward terms... This provided a real thrill. -- Lucy Horwitz Boston Book Review
Stephen Hawking is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Roger Penrose is the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.