Penrose’s Profound Mysteries

  1. How does the world of abstractions give rise to order in the physical world, i.e. where do the rules that govern physics come from?
  2. How does the physical world give rise to mental processes, i.e. what is the physical origin of consciousness and thought?
  3. How does the mental world access the world of abstractions, i.e. how do thinking beings come to know things that are true?

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, physicist 
My colleague Roger Penrose once said that there are at least three worlds and three mysteries. One is the physical world. You know, this is the world where we exist. There are chairs, tables, there are stars, there are galaxies, and so on. Then there is a second world, which is the world of our consciousness, if you like. You know, a mental world, a world where — this is where we love, where we hate, you know, and so on. All our thoughts are there and so on. And then there is the third world, which is this world of mathematical forms. This is the world where all of mathematics is there. You know, the theorem of Pythagoras and so on and so forth, all this imaginary numbers and all that. So these are the three worlds. And now come these three mysteries. One mystery is that somehow, out of the physical world, our world of consciousness has emerged.
—  The physicist Mario Livio in Who Ordered This?

Meeting in Andromeda: How Time Dilation Can Get Weird

The effects of time dilation that we experience are so minuscule as to usually escape notice; however, the phenomenon compounds with distance and motion. Radio host John Hockenberry and physicist Roger Penrose walk through an illustrative example of long-distance time dilation in this selection from the 2009 World Science Festival program “Time Since Einstein.”

By: World Science Festival.
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How Computational Complexity Will Revolutionize Philosophy

The theory of computation has had a profound influence on philosophical thinking. But computational complexity theory is about to have an even bigger effect, argues one computer scientist.

KFC 08/10/2011
{ Technology Review }

Read the short paper by Scott Aaronson (who has proposed these ideas):
{ Cornell University Library }