STARRED REVIEW
February 2017

Carlo Rovelli returns with a new lesson

By Carlo Rovelli

Read theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli’s meticulous explanations of the “elementary weave of the world” and you will never again let the phrase “quantum leap” roll loosely from your tongue. Instead of bringing to mind “The X-Files,” the words will invoke questions—and possible answers—about the very structure of space.

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Read theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli’s meticulous explanations of the “elementary weave of the world” and you will never again let the phrase “quantum leap” roll loosely from your tongue. Instead of bringing to mind “The X-Files,” the words will invoke questions—and possible answers—about the very structure of space. In careful, professorial fashion, Rovelli lays out the history of breakthroughs in physics, deftly showing how each new theory built on or discredited previous theories, leading us to ideas Rovelli works with today, like loop quantum gravity and spin networks.

Rovelli’s stated aim is to educate audiences who know little about today’s physics, but it must be said that the true novice will need to pay strict attention to each lesson offered here if he or she is to benefit from the knowledge that accumulates as the pages turn. Most readers would be well served to begin with Rovelli’s 2016 bestseller, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, a whirlwind tour of the ideas developed more deeply here. If you prefer your physics steeped in context, though, this new volume is the place to dive in, for Rovelli writes eloquently here about historical figures from Anaximander to Einstein, and even poets like Dante and Shakespeare.

Accessible on many levels, Reality Is Not What It Seems offers logical explanations of complex concepts. Throughout, Rovelli makes palpable the human struggle to understand our world and to “discover the new.”

 

This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Reality Is Not What It Seems

Reality Is Not What It Seems

By Carlo Rovelli
Riverhead
ISBN 9780735213920

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