Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity

Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity


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“The man who makes physics sexy . . . the scientist they’re calling the next Stephen Hawking.” The Times Magazine

From the New York Times–bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and The Order of Time, a closer look at the mind-bending nature of the universe.

What are the elementary ingredients of the world? Do time and space exist? And what exactly is reality? Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli has spent his life exploring these questions. He tells us how our understanding of reality has changed over the centuries and how physicists think about the structure of the universe today.

In elegant and accessible prose, Rovelli takes us on a wondrous journey from Democritus to Albert Einstein, from Michael Faraday to gravitational waves, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity. As he shows us how the idea of reality has evolved over time, Rovelli offers deeper explanations of the theories he introduced so concisely in Seven Brief Lessons on Physics.

This book culminates in a lucid overview of quantum gravity, the field of research that explores the quantum nature of space and time, seeking to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity. Rovelli invites us to imagine a marvelous world where space breaks up into tiny grains, time disappears at the smallest scales, and black holes are waiting to explode—a vast universe still largely undiscovered.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735213937
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/23/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 74,749
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Carlo Rovelli, an Italian theoretical physicist, is the head of the Quantum Gravity group at the Centre de Physique Théorique of Aix-Marseille University. He is one of the founders of the loop quantum gravity theory and the author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, an international bestseller translated into over forty languages, and the forthcoming The Order of Time. Rovelli lives in Marseille, France.

Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION Walking Along the Shore

Excerpted from "Reality Is Not What It Seems"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Carlo Rovelli.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Introduction: Walking Along the Shore 5

Part 1 Roots

1 Grains 15

Is there a Limit to Divisibility? 23

The Nature of Things 32

2 The Classics 41

ISAAC and the Little Moon 41

Michael: Fields and Light 53

Part 2 The Beginning of the Revolution

3 Albert 67

The Extended Present 69

The Most Beautiful of Theories 77

Mathematics or Physics? 91

The Cosmos 94

4 Quanta 109

Albert Again 110

Niels, Werner, and Paul 114

Fields and Particles are the Same Thing 126

Quanta 1 Information is Finite 130

Quanta 2 Indeterminacy 132

Quanta 3 Reality is Relational 134

But do we Really Understand? 137

Part 3 Quantum Space and Relational Time

5 Spacetime Is Quantum 147

Matvei 151

John 154

The Loops' First Steps 159

6 Quanta of Space 161

Spectra of Volume and Area 163

Atoms of Space 169

Spin Networks 171

7 Time Does Not Exist 175

Time is not What we Think it is 177

The Candle Chandelier and the Pulse 179

Spacetime Sushi 183

Spinfoams 186

What is the World Made of? 192

Part 4 Beyond Space and Time

8 Beyond the Big Bang 201

The Master 201

Quantum Cosmology 206

9 Empirical Confirmations? 210

Signs from Nature 214

A Window onto Quantum Gravity 218

10 Quantum Black Holes 222

11 The End of Infinity 230

12 Information 238

Thermal Time 249

Reality and Information 253

13 Mystery 258

Notes 266

Annotated Bibliography 270

Index 273

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Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TubThumper More than 1 year ago
Excellent intro to "Loop Quantum Gravity" theory. What's that, you ask? Well, I'm not a science guy, but I must say that the author does a wonderful job of relating the history of physics - beginning with the ancient Greeks, culminating in discussions about space/time quantas. Just a handful of equations, but with references to more technical publications. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first introduction to all things quantum. Clearly presented. Glad I took the time to read it slowly. Recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not sure