Roger Penrose

Sir Roger Penrose OM ( born August 8, 1931 in Colchester, Essex ) is an English mathematician and theoretical physicist whose work is respected in the fields of mathematical physics and cosmology high. He has also voiced in numerous popular science books on topics of philosophy.


Roger Penrose is the son of the medical geneticist Lionel Penrose ( founder of the Colchester Surveys to detect genetic or environmental causes of mental illness ) and Margaret Leathes, a health care professional. He is brother of the physicist Oliver Penrose and of ten times (1958-1969) British chess master and psychologist Jonathan Penrose. His father emigrated to London in 1939 in Ontario, Canada, from (he was there, director of the psychiatric clinic at the Hospital), where Penrose visited the school. In 1945 the family returned to England, and Penrose attended University College in London, where his father was a professor of genetics. After the Bachelor, he moved to the University of Cambridge to work in algebraic geometry with William Vallance Douglas Hodge, but then moved on to John Arthur Todd, where he received his doctorate in 1957. In addition, he also heard physics courses at Paul Dirac and Hermann Bondi and was also strongly influenced by the cosmologist Dennis Sciama. 1956/57, he was assistant professor at Bedford College, then joined as a Research Fellow at St. John's College, Cambridge. 1959-1961 he was in the United States at Princeton University and at Syracuse University, then 1961-1963 at King's College, Cambridge, and 1963/4 as a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1964 he became a lecturer at Birkbeck College, London, and in 1966 a professor of applied mathematics. In 1973 he was Rouse Ball Professor at Oxford University. From 1992 to 1995, Roger Penrose President of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation. In 1998 he retired and was geometry professor at Gresham College in London.


In public Penrose is through his popular writings known: in several books ( computer thinking, shadows of the mind, The Large, the Small and the Human Mind ), it has mathematics and physics deals with problems of consciousness and artificial intelligence.



His most important discovery is probably the so-called spin networks, which later became the theory of loop quantum gravity and twistor theory was developed. In particular, the expansion of twistor theory, which he founded, he was one of the main concerns in his career scientists. Another basic knowledge in cosmology goes back to him and Stephen Hawking: the set of Hawking - Penrose, after it (eg, the Big Bang and black holes ) are not solutions of Einstein's field equations without singularities. Finally, Penrose 1979 made ​​with the Weylkrümmungshypothese also a proposal on how the Second Law of Thermodynamics could be rooted in cosmology, and thus as a part of the cosmological arrow of time, on the other hand, the impressive observed spatial homogeneity and isotropy of the universe could be explained. In connection with the general theory of relativity, he also developed the Penrose diagram, with which one can represent the global structure of a space-time graph.

Penrose calls for the development of a theory of quantum gravity, taking into account a certain degree of non- predictability in the world of quantum phenomena and their interpretations and the integration of the principles of the general theory of relativity of Einstein. This new physics he calls OR physics.

In 2010 Penrose interpreted, together with Vahe Gurzadyan, the WMAP data of the cosmic background radiation as evidence of activities before the big bang.


Penrose discovered in 1974 several mutually related small non -periodic sets of tiles, especially several aperiodic pairs. With these tiles (more precisely, with congruent copies to them ) the plane can be cradled, but none of these tilings is periodic (that is repeated in exactly the same way ). But you'll always have a certain order and are fünfzählig (turnable ) symmetric. They are therefore called quasi-periodic. This Penrose tilings are of a hierarchically structured packing of regular pentagons (see below) derived. A Penrose tiling is located in the entrance area of ​​math tower of the TU Dortmund. 1984 Similar structures were found in quasicrystals.

Roger Penrose, the Penrose triangle, a triangle with three right angles to each other standing invented, among other things. The construction, which is not possible in reality, has animated the Dutch graphic artist MC Escher Waterfall about the pictures and Belvedere.

In mathematics, beauty is often associated with simplicity. Penrose here comes to the conclusion that in the math simplicity as such is not beautiful, but above all unexpected simplicity.

In 1955 he discovered while still a student, the Penrose inverses of matrices.

Physics and Consciousness

Penrose tries with a three -worlds theory of popular science to describe metaphysical problems and to explain his proposed solutions in several works. From the first world of Platonic- mathematical logos physical reality is only a small part ( it would be another conceivable laws of nature ). The third, spiritual world is the consciousness of the individual.

As Stuart Hameroff on the search for " a physical home for awareness," Penrose proposes a - controversial - model that, according to this mainly to present in detail yet unknown quantum mechanical effects such as EPR phenomena, quantum entanglement and quantum non-locality and quantum coherence due to he located in the microtubules of the Zellskelletts and the interface with the neuron.

According to this theory subtle physical processes lead to nanometer scale (10-9 m) on the border between classical physics and quantum mechanics in a highly developed nervous system to what we "mind" and "consciousness" call. From other quantum physicists, neurobiologists and philosophers, such as Metzinger, Roth or cooking, the Hameroff -Penrose model is, however, rejected.