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Rovelli is terrific. At one point he laments that poetry and science have become exclusive domains. Throughout the book he proves that loss to the reader. The last chapter is simply masterful!
The science of loop quantum gravity is fascinating and Rovelli makes it relatively easy to understand. I am much more convinced that I was after either of Brian Greene's books on string theory.
I should also add that the narrator Roy McMillan did wonderful job with a very difficult piece. I had to re listen to probably half of this book just to get the concepts, so I know what I'm talking about!
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Carlo Rovelli is a loop theorist by trade, a bit of a philosopher by nature, and not a little poetic about either.
Let me tell you why these three things make this book very special.
Loop Theory (aka Loop Quantum Gravity) is less popular than its main competitor String Theory. This gives Rovelli a unique perspective, and explains why you probably haven't heard it. For example, Rovelli is certain that spacetime - like all of reality - is granular, and not only that, but it embodies the "relational" aspect of quantum mechanics, ie it is a manifestation of field interactions, not a backdrop for other granular particles to manifest in. As Rovelli puts it 'all of reality is covariant quantum fields'. At its root then: no waves, no particles, only fields. "Space" is no longer different from "matter" at this level.
The philosopher in Rovelli rephrases this: 'We inhabit not a world of things, but a world of events.'
And therein lies the poetry.
Any differentiation among spacetime and matter comes in the "covariant" of "covariant quantum fields". This is the way in which information correlates among things which hold information.
Herein is also how our concept of time emerges from a world in which there really is no time. The world is only these very very very many interactions and information correlations. If we comprehended all this information as it interacted, we would know the totality of the future microstates - ie there would be no need to establish a concept of time. As Rovelli poetically puts it, 'however, had we perceived time in nanoseconds...' we would not have evolved the notion of time. Again, Rovelli: 'Time, then, is our ignorance.'
I LOVE this. It squares so well with my interpretation of the Mary's Room thought experiment (in the Mind-Body Problem of consciousness): either Mary attains color vision (and so much more) from her complete knowledge of all microstates while inside the room, or her books never contained such complete information in the first place.
Anyway, this is a fantastic book. Read it for the science. Read it for the philosophy. Read it for the poetry.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful