Sunday, August 8, 2010

Meandering in mathematics. . .

Today is the birthday of Roger Penrose (born 8 August 1931), mathematical physicist, recreational mathematician and philosopher.

"Understanding is, after all, what science is all about — and science is a great deal more than mindless computation." - Roger Penrose

"Consciousness is a phenomenon that is part of the physical world, although some people don't like to think of it as physical at all. I think it manifestly has something to do with brains, and brains are physical objects. So, it's a feature of the physical world, but it's hard to see how this phenomenon can have anything to do with the kind of physics we understand. That is a strong feeling for me, quite apart from the non-computability issue. The physics that we understand at the moment is simply not rich enough to incorporate the phenomenon of consciousness. I think one can make a comparative statement here: that classical physics seems to have no room for this kind of phenomenon, whereas quantum mechanics has enough mystery, if I can use that word, for this something-else. The word mystical would be wrong. I prefer to use mystery. You see mystery in mathematics, things which are perfectly clear and non-mystical, but there is a strong element of mystery about them. I must say I believe that we need something of that character in order to have any hope of coming to terms with the phenomenon of consciousness. And the only major place I can see for this interesting in is the borderline between classical and quantum physics." - Roger Penrose

"People think of these eureka moments and my feeling is that they tend to be little things, a little realisation and then a little realisation built on that." - Roger Penrose

"There is a certain sense in which I would say the universe has a purpose. It's not there just somehow by chance. Some people take the view that the universe is simply there and it runs along–it's a bit as though it just sort of computes, and we happen by accident to find ourselves in this thing. I don't think that's a very fruitful or helpful way of looking at the universe, I think that there is something much deeper about it, about its existence, which we have very little inkling of at the moment." - Roger Penrose

"Intelligence cannot be present without understanding. No computer has any awareness of what it does." - Roger Penrose

"The universe is made of stories, not atoms." - Roger Penrose

Penrose image source (1)

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