Maquina Lectora

Notes of a curious mind

Category: Rovelli Carlo

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli

If you liked Rovelli’s last book, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, you will be excited and challenged with his new one, Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity. Be prepared to really dive into the fundamentals of quantum gravity, one of the most beautiful and thought – provoking theories in the world of physics.

Rovelli takes us on a fascinating journey spanning 2,500 years of evolution in physics, starting with the ideas of ancient Greeks and especially Democritus of Abdera to the Newtonian revolution and the genius of Albert Einstein to the strange world of loop quantum gravity. A world where time does not exist and physical reality is not what it seems.

Quantum gravity combines general relativity (GR) and quantum mechanisms (QM) to find a new synthesis that will help us understand a world in which quanta and curved space exist. It is a major challenge and most of the physicists, with the exception of Dirac, Feynman, Weinberg, Penrose, Hawking, among others, in the second half of the 20th century have ignored this challenge.

In science, writes Rovelli, “there are no secure recipes for discovery and it is important to explore different directions at the same time.” Currently, string theory and loop quantum gravity are the two most developed paths.   Carlo Rovelli belongs to the school of loop quantum gravity where the central idea is that space is not a continuum, “it is not divisible ad infinitum” but it is quantified, “formed of ‘atoms of space,’ a billion billion times smaller than the smallest of atomic nuclei.”

Rovelli, with great elegance and clarity, presents leading-edge research in the revolutionary field of loop gravity theory. It is an intellectually challenging book, accessible to all readers but not for the faint-hearted.

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

The beauty of simplicity. Call it, elegance.

It is these two attributes, elegance and simplicity, that make Carlo Rovelli’s small book – just 83 pages long – “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics” so irresistible. It is a beautiful book.

In a series of six short essays/lessons on physics and one on “ourselves”, Rovelli explains the major concepts of modern physics, from general relativity to quantum mechanics, loop quantum gravity, and thermodynamics.

The book is far from comprehensive. It is more a coherent, and poetic introduction to physics, to the world around us. Also to the world inside us. The last lesson on neuroscience is perhaps the most enthusiastic and the most poetic part of the book. The human brain, the most complex structure in the universe, that beautiful and mysterious landscape filled with so many “unknown unknowns”.

 

 

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