Quantum Gardener

Could this be the best book I've ever read?

I have within the last few minutes finished reading Reality is not what it seems: Our journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli (translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre) and it may well be the best book I have ever read.

Light falls on a surface like a gentle hail shower. (p.95)

Carlo tells the story of our search for what consitutes reality from the ideas of Miletus, 26 centuries ago to today and the questions we still have unanswered. It builds idea upon idea, theory upon theory, and links them all in a way that is elegant, humble and grateful.

I've read my fair share of popular science books before. Where this one differs is in the way ideas are presented and linked. Most books will say, "Light is both a wave and a particle. Here is is the experiment that proved this idea." That's meaningless when the theory isn't understood.Where Carlo differs is that he explains the idea and the implications of the idea. That there are experiments which prove the theory is given.

In the first years of the twenttieth century this is clear to any sufficiently reasonable person; that is to say, only to Albert Einstein (p.62)

For the first time ever I have been able to get my head around:

  • special and general relativity
  • quantum mechanics
  • the idea that time does not exist
  • why black holes, if they suck everything in, emit radiation
  • a history of idea to idea to today

I had to engage with the content and think my way through it and while that was challenging -- these are the biggest ideas out there -- it was enjoyable and I'm left with a sense of wonder at the universe we live in, and the abilility of those many who have contributed ideas along the way.

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in how our universe has come to be understood.