The Order of Time by CARLO ROVELLI
Allen Lane (2018) RRP $26.99
“WE INHABIT TIME as fish live in water.” So begins this gorgeous book from theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, a small volume that both challenges and reassures in its amalgamation of hard-edge physics with philosophy and art.
Rovelli chooses to open each of his chapters with a quote from the Roman satirist Horace, a device that is not only charming but also reassures the reader that what is to follow might be complex but is never without humour and a human dimension.
Indeed, the author – a quantum gravity researcher in France in his day job – investigates the physics of time by calling in a smorgasbord of help from across the intellectual and historical spectrum, weaving in references to Augustine, Rene Descartes, Hildegard of Bingen, Hindu mythology, and Richard Strauss, as well as the expected names from the canon of science, ancient and modern.
The result is a rich and tightly woven tapestry that interrogates thoroughly the very human concept of time – something, Rovelli states, that is not “part of the elementary grammar of the world”.
Not an easy read, by any means, but a lovely one. File next to Hawking’s Brief History.