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The order of time / Carlo Rovelli ; translated by Erica Segre and Siman Carnell.

By: Rovelli, Carlo, 1956-.
Contributor(s): Segre, Erica [translator.] | Carnell, Simon, 1962- [translator.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: [London, England] : Allen Lane, 2019Description: 213 pages : illustrations (black and white) ; 20 cm.Content type: text | still image Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780141984964; 0141984961.Uniform titles: Ordine del tempo. English Subject(s): TimeDDC classification: 529
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored its meaning while scientists have found that its structure is different from the simple intuition we have of it. From Boltzmann to quantum theory, from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, our understanding of time has been undergoing radical transformations. Time flows at a different speed in different places, the past and the future differ far less than we might think, and the very notion of the present evaporates in the vast universe.

Translated from the Italian.

This translation originally published: 2018.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Introduction: Perhaps Time is the Greatest Mystery I stop and do nothing. Nothing Happens. I am thinking about nothing. I listen to the passing of time. This is time, familiar and intimate. We are taken by it. The rush of seconds, hours, years that hurls us toward life then drags us toward nothingness.... We inhabit time as fish live in water. Our being is being in time. Its solemn music nurtures us, opens the world to us, trou­bles us, frightens and lulls us. The universe unfolds into the future, dragged by time, and exists according to the order of time. In Hindu mythology, the river of the cosmos is portrayed with the sacred image of Shiva dancing: his dance supports the coursing of the universe; it is itself the f lowing of time. What could be more universal and obvious than this flowing ? And yet things are somewhat more complicated than this. Reality is often very different from what it seems. The Earth appears to be flat but is in fact spherical. The sun seems to revolve in the sky when it is really we who are spinning. Neither is the structure of time what it seems to be: it is different from this uniform, universal flowing. I discovered this, to my utter astonishment, in the physics books I read as a university student: time works quite differently from the way it seems to. In those same books I also discovered that we still don't know how time actually works. The nature of time is perhaps the greatest remaining mystery. Curious threads connect it to those other great open mysteries: the nature of mind, the origin of the universe, the fate of black holes, the very functioning of life on Earth. Something essential continues to draw us back to the nature of time. Wonder is the source of our desire for knowledge, and the discovery that time is not what we thought it was opens up a thousand questions. The nature of time has been at the center of my life's work in theoretical physics. In the following pages, I give an account of what we have understood about time and the paths that are being followed in our search to understand it better, as well as an account of what we have yet to understand and what it seems to me that we are just beginning to glimpse. Why do we remember the past and not the future? Do we exist in time, or does time exist in us? What does it really mean to say that time "passes"? What ties time to our nature as persons, to our subjectivity? What am I listening to when I listen to the passing of time? This book is divided into three unequal parts. In the first, I summarize what modern physics has understood about time. It is like holding a snowflake in your hands: gradually, as you study it, it melts between your fingers and vanishes. We conventionally think of time as something simple and fundamental that f lows uniformly, independently from everything else, from the past to the future, measured by clocks and watches. In the course of time, the events of the universe succeed each other in an orderly way: pasts, presents, futures. The past is fixed, the future open. . . . And yet all of this has turned out to be false. One after another, the characteristic features of time have proved to be approximations, mistakes determined by our perspective, just like the flatness of the Earth or the revolving of the sun. The growth of our knowledge has led to a slow disintegration of our notion of time. What we call "time" is a complex collection of structures, of layers. Under increasing scrutiny, in ever greater depth, time has lost layers one after another, piece by piece. The first part of this book gives an account of this crumbling of time. The second part describes what we have been left with: an empty, windswept landscape almost devoid of all trace of temporality. A strange, alien world that is nevertheless still the one to which we belong. It is like arriving in the high mountains, where there is nothing but snow, rocks, and sky. Or like it must have been for Armstrong and Aldrin when venturing onto the motionless sand of the moon. A world stripped to its essence, glittering with an arid and troubling beauty. The physics on which I work--quantum gravity--is an attempt to understand and lend coherent meaning to this extreme and beautiful landscape. To the world without time. The third part of the book is the most difficult, but also the most vital and the one that most closely involves us. In a world without time, there must still be something that gives rise to the time that we are accustomed to, with its order, with its past that is different from the future, with its smooth f lowing. Somehow, our time must emerge around us, at least for us and at our scale. This is the return journey, back toward the time lost in the first part of the book when pursuing the elementary grammar of the world. As in a crime novel, we are now going in search of a guilty party: the culprit who has created time. One by one, we discover the constituent parts of the time that is familiar to us--not, now, as elementary structures of reality, but rather as useful approximations for the clumsy and bungling mortal creatures we are: aspects of our perspective, and aspects, too, perhaps, that are decisive in determining what we are. Because the mystery of time is ultimately, perhaps, more about ourselves than about the cosmos. Perhaps, as in the first and greatest of all detective novels, Sophocles' Oedipus Rex , the culprit turns out to be the detective. Here, the book becomes a fiery magma of ideas, sometimes illuminating, sometimes confusing. If you decide to follow me, I will take you to where I believe our knowledge of time has reached: up to the brink of that vast nocturnal and star-studded ocean of all that we still don't know. Excerpted from The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Rovelli (theoretical physics, Aix-Marseille Univ., France) is well known for his popular Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. This latest work offers a readable discussion of the unreality of time, especially if it is decoupled from space and heat, that unfolds chronologically, from Aristotle to Albert Einstein to the author's own discoveries and those of other contemporary quantum researchers. While appropriate for graduate level philosophy of science students, this volume is made more accessible by Rovelli's conversational writing style and approach, which incorporates allusions to music and art. The inclusion of diagrams, some whimsical (like an ancient family tree), are useful analogies for the complex concepts discussed. VERDICT An engaging and accessible exploration of our understanding of the nature of space time that should appeal to high school and adult readers interested in physics, epistemology, and perception.-Sara R. Tompson, Jet Propulsion Laboratory Lib., Archives & Records Section, Pasadena, CA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

In this far-reaching text rife with references to poets, artists, and philosophers, as well as scientists, theoretical physicist Rovelli (Seven Brief Lessons on Physics) takes readers through the current scientific understanding of time, stating that "we inhabit time as fish live in water." Rovelli begins with a look at why time, Rainer Maria Rilke's "eternal current," only flows forward. Humans can see the past but not the future, he writes, because of how heat flows, from hot to cold. He states that "only where there is heat is there a distinction between past and future," using as an example a film of a rolling ball gradually slowing, due to heat-producing friction; if run backwards, the film becomes absurd. Entropy, "the quantity that measures this irreversible progress of heat in only one direction," provides the direction of "time's arrow." Meanwhile, the human perception of simultaneity, the idea of "now" in two different locations, is an illusion, an insight that Rovelli calls "perhaps the greatest and strangest of Einstein's discoveries." In considering time, Rovelli also explores quantum time, loop theory, and the nature of memory. As much philosophy as physics, this accessible study introduces the complex questions behind the perception and study of time. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The hours readers spend with Rovelli will forever transform their understanding of time. With the help of adept translators, this acclaimed Italian physicist invites readers to join him in first deconstructing, then abolishing, and finally redefining the mystery we call time. Readers learn how even when we move past Aristotle and Newton by understanding time in terms of Einstein's conception of space-time, our temporal thinking obscures scientific realities. Indeed, the t of time in Einstein's formula simply breaks down in the granularity required by quantum mechanics. As Rovelli ushers astonished readers into the quantum wonderland, they contemplate loop-theory equations that deny time any relevance as a variable for explaining the universe. From that vantage point, readers realize that we can describe the happenings and relationships that make up our world without temporal terms. We persist in interpreting our world in such terms, Rovelli believes, not because of the nature of the universe but rather because of our nature as human observers and participants in that universe. Time has emerged as a distinctly human creation, forged in memory, shaped by grammar, poetry, religion, and music a creation less useful in science than scientists have long supposed but one still essential in exploring our subjective identity. A profound intellectual inquiry.--Christensen, Bryce Copyright 2018 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Undeterred by a subject difficult to pin down, Italian theoretical physicist Rovelli (Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, 2017, etc.) explains his thoughts on time.Other scientists have written primers on the concept of time for a general audience, but Rovelli, who also wrote the bestseller Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, adds his personal musings, which are astute and rewarding but do not make for an easy read. "We conventionally think of time," he writes, "as something simple and fundamental that flows uniformly, independently from everything else, uniformly from the past to the future, measured by clocks and watches. In the course of time, the events of the universe succeed each other in an orderly way: pasts, presents, futures. The past is fixed, the future open.And yet all of this has turned out to be false." Rovelli returns again and again to the ideas of three legendary men. Aristotle wrote that things change continually. What we call "time" is the measurement of that change. If nothing changed, time would not exist. Newton disagreed. While admitting the existence of a time that measures events, he insisted that there is an absolute "true time" that passes relentlessly. If the universe froze, time would roll on. To laymen, this may seem like common sense, but most philosophers are not convinced. Einstein asserted that both are right. Aristotle correctly explained that time flows in relation to something else. Educated laymen know that clocks register different times when they move or experience gravity. Newton's absolute exists, but as a special case in Einstein's curved space-time. According to Rovelli, our notion of time dissolves as our knowledge grows; complex features swell and then retreat and perhaps vanish entirely. Furthermore, equations describing many fundamental physical phenomena don't require time.As much a work of philosophy as of physics and full of insights for readers willing to work hard. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.