Time is something we measure, pass, run out of, and understand from a very early age... but what you think you know about the past, present, and future will be challenged. Theoretical physics doesn't get more digestible or enjoyable!
I never thought I'd cry reading a physics book, but Carlo Rovelli's "The Order of Time" is just that beautiful. Rovelli is as much a poet as he is a scientist, and his insights don't fall simply to the study of time, but to the metaphysical, as he ruminates on how our understanding of time can reveal the nature of humanity itself. This is a science book first and foremost, though, and the science itself is just as stunning. If you've read Rovelli's other books - "Seven Brief Lessons on Physics" and "Reality is Not What It Seems" - you know he has a knack for walking you through very theoretical and complex concepts without ever watering it down. (He even gives you multiple places to opt out or skip ahead, if the hard data isn't to your liking.) If you haven't, get reading. You're in for a treat.
Time is a baffling reality. We experience it but when we seek to understand it, we find no purchase, no way to describe it outside of our own experience. Explanations are necessarily abstract and no one does a better job of showing us the Escher-esque reality of time than Carlo Rovelli. - Marks's Favorite 5 Reads in 2018
One of TIME’s Ten Best Nonfiction Books of the Decade
"Meet the new Stephen Hawking . . . The Order of Time is a dazzling book." --The Sunday Times
From the bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Reality Is Not What It Seems, and Helgoland, comes 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.
About the Author
Carlo Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist, the head of the Quantum Gravity group at the Centre de Physique Théorique of Aix-Marseille University and one of the founders of the loop quantum gravity theory. His previous books include Seven Brief Lessons on Physics--an international bestseller translated into more than forty languages--and Reality Is Not What It Seems.
“Highly original. . . . Chapter by chapter, Rovelli shows how modern physics has annihilated common understandings of time. . . . the many other excellent explanations of science, the heart and humanity of the book, its poetry and its gentle tone raise it to the level and style of such great scientist-writers as Lewis Thomas and Rachel Carson.” —Alan Lightman, New York Times Book Review
“ An elegant grapple with one of physics’ deepest mysteries. . . .A masterly writer. . . . In this little gem of a book, Mr. Rovelli first demolishes our common-sense notion of time. . . .an ambitious book that illuminates a thorny question, that succeeds in being a pleasurable read.” —Wall Street Journal
“No one writes about the cosmos like theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. . . Rovelli’s new story of time is elegant and lucidly told, whether he is revealing facts or indulging in romantic-philosophic speculation about the nature of time.” —The Washington Post
“An incredible book. . . [Rovelli] manages to communicate some of the most complex and inspiring ideas we have about time with a poetry, charm and wit that is infectious.” —Benedict Cumberbatch
“Rovelli has crafted an accessible, mind-expanding read that challenges our perceptions of time, space and reality.” —TIME
“A deep—and remarkably readable—dive into the fundamental nature of time. . . written with enough charm and poetry to engage the imagination of anyone who reads it.” —Financial Times
“The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli, hardly seems like pool-side reading, but anyone with the least interest in the science of the physical world will be by turns astonished, baffled and thrilled by what Rovelli has to say about the true nature of time, which has little in common with our everyday conception of it. Rovelli is the poet of quantum physics.” —John Banville
“We live in an age of wonderful science writing, and Carlo Rovelli’s new book, The Order of Time, is an example of the very best. Time is something we think we know about instinctively; here he shows how profoundly strange it really is.” —Philip Pullman
“Mind-bending.” —Michael Pollan
“Rovelli is a wonderful writer, and so even when you (or perhaps I should just stick to the first-person singular) don’t know what’s going on, he comes up with enjoyable, occasionally beautiful metaphors to help you (me). . . The ideas in The Order of Time are extraordinary, and I rather fear you should read it” —Nick Hornby, The Believer
“The Order of Time is a little wonder of a book. It provides surprising insights into an increasingly mysterious world, offers warmly humane reflections on our existential condition, and sustains a virtual conversation that will continue long after the reading has ceased.” —PopMatters
“A dizzying, poetic work” —The Guardian
“A compact and elegant book” —Nature
“Rovelli, a physicist and one of the founders of loop quantum gravity theory, uses literary, poetical and historical devices to unravel the properties of time, what it means to exist without time and, at the end, how time began.” —Scientific American
“Physics' literary superstar makes us rethink time . . . The Order of Time will surely establish Rovelli among the pantheon of great scientist-communicators . . . More of this please” —New Scientist
“Where other writers struggle to get their complex ideas across, Rovelli introduces profound notions with ease, using simple but evocative language . . . He also has a knack for mixing his serious enterprise with a sense of humor.” —Science Magazine
“In this fascinating new book, Carlo Rovelli weaves together physics, philosophy, and art to explore the enduring mystery of time itself.” —Bustle
“An elegantly concise primer makes theoretical physics intelligible . . . it would be to do a disservice to Rovelli and this stunningly written book, to say that brevity is its main virtue.” —The Times (UK)