British mathematician and theoretical physicist. Penrose was born in 1931 at Colchester in Essex, received his undergraduate degree from University College, London, and then proceeded to Cambridge for his doctorate. As part of his work for his doctorate he rediscovered some important results in the theory of matrices. Interested in the question of the nature of space and time, he investigated many aspects of quantum mechanics. While at Cambridge, he tried to build mathematical models for quantum mechanics using the basic elements of real numbers trying to combine the apparently conflicting fields of relativity and quantum mechanics. This work is based in twistor geometry, which is based on complex numbers. This project remains incomplete.
Another contribution, unrelated to his studies of astrophysics and quantum mechanics is his contribution in tiling where he found a nonperiodic tiling using only two different shapes.
He is known to the general public thanks to his books, from which the first one (The Emperor’s New Mind) may have been the best book about modern science yet written.
He was also involved on the creation of a visual illusion that was incorporated into lithographs by the Dutch artist M. C. Escher
He was appointed professor of applied mathematics at Birkbeck College, London, in 1966.
Penrose has worked on explaining the fundamental properties of black holes. He has also been working on the development of a new cosmology based on a complex geometry.
In his first book “The Emperors new mind” he expresses the idea that human thought is a process that cannot be simply described by simple steps the kind o processes that algorithms describe. This view has been considered by many as an attack against the science of artificial intelligence; since contemporary computers execute simple steps there is no way that we can approach human consciousness with such a technology.
“Consciousness Involves Noncomputable Ingredients”
“We cannot allow one universally formal system…equivalent to all the mathematicians’ algorithms for judging mathematical truth.”
“We must see the truth of a mathematical argument to be convinced of its validity”
Against “Copenhagen interpretation” of quantum mechanics
During a historic lecture series at the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University in 1994, Penrose and Hawking recreated the famous Bohr-Einstein debate. Roger Penrose is supporting Albert Einstein view that quantum mechanics is incomplete and that there is a submicroscopic reality that is not described by quantum mechanics.
He also claims that quantum mechanics is incompatible with relativity in the macro world.
“Physicists will never come to grips with the grand theories of the universe, until they see past the blinding distractions of today’s half-baked theories to the deepest layer of the reality in which we live.”
It is remarkable that he claims when he was a child he was very slow with mathematics, and because of that he was moved down one class!