Passing Through . . . .

The Music of Science: Oliver Morton takes one mathematician and some tiles—and brings Plato’s forms down to earth…

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, November/December 2012

Almost a quarter of a century ago, I was sitting outside the Turf Tavern in Oxford. It was a sunny late-summer day. I was a young reporter and with me, drinking a half-pint of cider, was Roger Penrose, the greatest British mathematician of his generation to apply himself to physics.

Until that drink, Plato’s notion of a pure world of form to which the world perceived by humans was but a shadow was just something I had come across in books. It was familiar intellectual history, but hardly something I would expect anyone actually to believe. By the time our glasses were empty I knew that, at least to Penrose, it was an irreducible reality. The platonic world of pure form was not just as real…

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