Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

  • by Carlo Rovelli
  • Narrated by Carlo Rovelli
  • 1 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Everything you need to know about the beauty of modern physics.
In seven brief lessons, Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli guides listeners with admirable clarity through the most transformative physics breakthroughs of the 20th and 21st centuries. This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics, already a major best seller in Italy, explains general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role of humans in the strange world Rovelli describes.
This is a book about the joy of discovery. It takes listeners to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. "Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world," Rovelli writes. "And it's breathtaking."

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We are made of the same stardust...

"Physics opens windows through which we see far into the distance. What we see does not cease to astound us. We realize that we are full of prejudices and that our intuitive image of the world is partial, parochial, inadequate."
― Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

At the highest level a discussion of physics doesn't just operate on a mathematical level, but a poetic and philosophical level as well. Look closely at the writings of Aristotle, Lucretius, Einstein and Feynman, and one discovers not just some code to the operation of the Universe, but love songs to that Universe, a desire to connect to and explain the beauty and transcendence of Nature and our role in this complex and amazing world.

This book reminds me of a funeral I went to for a former (obvious) client of mine. He was the first nuclear medicine physician in my state and had his PhD and MD. He was a friend and an amazing person. At my table in the church's cultural hall, after the service (but before the burial) was his son, who had his PhD in genetics, a Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist, and a theoretical physicist from UC Santa Barbara. The conversation drifted from music to politics to art to nature. It was random, beautiful, and one of those moments that happens by accident and you cherish for years to come. I am reminded of this meal when I read this book.

This book is short. It is 7 chapters (Six lesson and a conclusion) of about 10 pages each. Imagine you are having a nice, elegant, six course Italian meal with physicists past and present, poets, and philosophers outside in pricy Roman restaurant garden. It is night. It is dark. The canopy of the heavens spins above your heads. Each course brings a new topic. You discuss Einstein and the theory of relativity while eating the appetizer, you move onto Quanta as you eat the soup. The pasta is served just as the conversation turns to the architecture of the Cosmos. When the main course is served, people are already talking about Quarks and the Standard Model. The discussion gets intense. A Romaine salad is served and the host interrupts to talk about the grains of space and, since he is paying, he also talks about loop quantum gravity. Things are slowing down. It is late, the discussion jumps to probability, time, and the heat of black holes as the desert dishes are set down. Finally, as everyone is given their bitter digestifs, they move away to the table to walk in the gardens to discuss everyone's favorite subject: ourselves. Poetry and alcohol flow quickly, conversations grow hot and cold. The center cannot hold. The company departs.
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- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

Hard to understand narrator

What did you like best about Seven Brief Lessons on Physics? What did you like least?

I liked the book, but it was difficult to understand the narrator, who is also the author. He has a heavy accent which made understanding technical terms and people's names problematic. This really got in the way for me to the point where I would not recommend the audio version of this book. If you want to read it, get the actual book or Kindle download.


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Carlo Rovelli?

Someone with a native American accent.


Do you think Seven Brief Lessons on Physics needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

n/a


Any additional comments?

I get it that authors want to narrate their own book, but they should realize that, while they may be good writers, they probably aren't the best choice as a narrator. In this case, Rovelli's accent was a huge ongoing distraction. I've had other cases where the author didn't have an accent but it was still a bad choice. There are thousands of graduates from film, acting and theater schools who have learned how to speak clearly, with the right pace and emotion... book companies should use them. It doesn't make any more sense for an author to read his book than it does for a playwright to play the lead in his play. And if a book is aimed at an American audience, the reader should have an American accent, IMHO.

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- bythecshore

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-01-2016
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio