'The Order of Time' by Carlo Rovelli

'The Order of Time' by Carlo Rovelli

Why I'm Reading It

I bought this after listening to Adam Savage discuss it on one of his Tested livestreams. The dude talks to eloquently and passionately about things he loves that it's hard to not share that enthusiasm, so I ordered the book the same day. Turns out my girlfriend also read it recently. (I don't THINK she recommended I read it. I'm pretty good about remembering her recommendations. But she certainly liked it.)

My Thoughts, Critique, Review

Difficult to sum up my feelings about this book. It will make you think about time in ways most of us have not. There were a handful of sections I reread and reread to be certain I understood. He provides many perfect analogies, but time is a complicated concept. Overall, this is an elegant, contemplative examination of existence about which I feel unqualified to comment. This quote provides an adequate summary of both tone and style:

Will we be able to understand things better in the future? I think so. Our understanding of nature has increased vertiginously over the course of centuries, and we are continuing to learn. We are glimpsing something about the mystery of time. We can see the world without time: we can perceive with the mind’s eye the profound structure of the world where time as we know it no longer exists—like the Fool on the Hill who sees the Earth turn when he sees the setting sun. And we begin to see that we are time. We are this space, this clearing opened by the traces of memory inside the connections between our neurons. We are memory. We are nostalgia. We are longing for a future that will not come. The clearing that is opened up in this way, by memory and by anticipation, is time: a source of anguish sometimes, but in the end a tremendous gift.

Publisher's Description

From the bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, a concise, elegant exploration of time.

Why do we remember the past and not the future? What does it mean for time to “flow”? Do we exist in time or does time exist in us? In lyric, accessible prose, Carlo Rovelli invites us to consider questions about the nature of time that continue to puzzle physicists and philosophers alike.

For most readers this is unfamiliar terrain. We all experience time, but the more scientists learn about it, the more mysterious it remains. We think of it as uniform and universal, moving steadily from past to future, measured by clocks. Rovelli tears down these assumptions one by one, revealing a strange universe where at the most fundamental level time disappears. He explains how the theory of quantum gravity attempts to understand and give meaning to the resulting extreme landscape of this timeless world. Weaving together ideas from philosophy, science and literature, he suggests that our perception of the flow of time depends on our perspective, better understood starting from the structure of our brain and emotions than from the physical universe.

Already a bestseller in Italy, and written with the poetic vitality that made Seven Brief Lessons on Physics so appealing, The Order of Time offers a profoundly intelligent, culturally rich, novel appreciation of the mysteries of time.

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