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Carlo Rovelli

Teoksen Seven Brief Lessons on Physics tekijä

22+ Works 6,075 Jäsentä 182 arvostelua 2 Favorited

About the Author

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist who has made significant contributions to the physics of space and time. His books Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Reality Is Not What It Seems, The Order of Time, and There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness are näytä lisää international bestsellers that have been translated into more than fifty languages. näytä vähemmän

Tekijän teokset

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics (2015) 2,269 kappaletta
The Order of Time (2017) 1,539 kappaletta
Anaximander (2011) 232 kappaletta
What is Time? What is Space? (2004) 72 kappaletta
White Holes (2023) 54 kappaletta
Quantum Gravity (2004) 43 kappaletta

Associated Works

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Nice little book (signed by the author) about white holes. I think he tried too hard to make it a literary work by including loads of references to Dante. Nevertheless, his wonder, excitement and passion for the subject shines through.
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jvgravy | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 7, 2023 |
Not bad, but very high level and a bit light.
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jvgravy | 79 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 7, 2023 |
We denizens of planet Earth are in a peculiar fix nowadays. Science generates the powerful technology that enables us to destroy the ecosystems of which we are a part, and science shows how our present trajectory leads us to such destruction. But we stay quite firmly dedicated to more more more of what we kill us. We're not so much suicidal as tragically blind. Is it blindness to refuse to look, like the cleric who refused to look through Galileo's telescope?

Nobody is fighting over competing fundamental scientific theories to any significant extent. The battles are much more about the nature of science, about philosophy of science. That is another facet of our peculiar fix. Our scientific knowledge is astoundingly broad and deep. These days maybe it's biochemistry at the most fruitful frontier, but then... really, we are detecting the collisions of black holes, by observing the resulting gravity waves? But however secure our fundamental scientific theories appear, the debates over the nature of scientific knowledge seem ever more unresolved. Most scientists, proud of the reliability of their scientific knowledge, sneer at philosophy of science. "I know what I'm doing, just fund my research!" But just because a person is highly skilled at activity X, that does not mean they have any expertise at what X is all about, how it evolves, how it fits into the bigger picture.

Rovelli is a scientist and no expert in philosophy of science. But he does not sneer at philosophy of science. He has a basic insight about some of the paradoxical nature of scientific knowledge and understands how important it is for people to grapple with these ideas. His insight is, roughly, that the power of science is grounded on an awareness of the limits of scientific knowledge. Science embodies a constant drive to overturn itself. This drive is not a weakness of science, but its strength.

This book has an easy popular style. You won't need a college degree to understand it. Considering the huge importance of the ideas it discusses, publishing a book like this is a real public service.

The danger here is that, while the book discusses a profound idea, it doesn't really explore it in any real depth. Avoiding the depths does make the book a much easier read, but it also opens the book up to easy criticism. With some luck, perhaps the real experts in philosophy of science will take up the project. But of course those experts have their own projects underway, most of which will not be compatible with Rovelli's project. Most philosophy of science seems to be about designing a system, a refined form of scientific practice, that will produce even more solidly reliable knowledge. The minority position is that modern science is unreliable and should be rejected because of all the damage it has done and the greater damage it seems poised to do. Rovelli's project is to point to a third possibility, how uncertainty and reliability can actually support each other. Perhaps it will take a generational cycle for these sorts of ideas to take hold.

One way that I would push a bit deeper with Rovelli's ideas is to put the scientific advances he describes into a richer historical context. For example, Anaximander can be seen as one of the embodiments of the Axial Age that Karl Jaspers noted. Rovelli portrays mythic-religious thinking as very static. But of course it is not. It's true that religion is a lot more respectful of tradition than science is. But one thing is the way that people talk about what they're doing, and another thing is what they are actually doing. Religious revolutionaries will generally present themselves as recovering some ancient truth that had been lost along the way.

OK, Thales, Pythagoras, Anaximander, they didn't have much use for the gods. But in the place of the gods they put mathematical formalism or mechanism. The gods can evolve in unpredictable ways. Mathematical truths are static eternal fixtures. So, is it science or religion that is more dynamic?

Another curious puzzle that I don't think Rovelli pointed out... the great revolutions in physics, relativity and quantum mechanics, happened around the time of World War 1. This was a time when many traditional structure were up-ended.

Science is not some free-floating enterprise that the rest of us just watch in slack-jawed wonder. Science is fully integrated into society and even the planetary ecological web. The folks who dream of interplanetary travel, who are convinced that Star Trek is a prophetic glimpse of our inevitable future... to what extent has science become yet another mytho-religious faith?

Anyway, Rovelli has brought us, with this book, a fresh look at some of the most crucially important topics of our time. He acknowledges that he is out of his depth. I hope folks with the relevant expertise will pick up the ball that he has tossed onto the field.
… (lisätietoja)
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kukulaj | 4 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Nov 5, 2023 |
Clarifying perspectives on physics. Newtonian physics becomes intuitive. Post Einsteinian physics has much hard to integrate into poor experience of the world we encounter. One interesting insight the author offers OSS that it is heat that gives times arrow its direction.
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waldhaus1 | 21 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Sep 29, 2023 |



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