The Order of Time

Quantum physicist Carlo Rovelli breaks apart our understanding of time in a mind-bending exploration, infused with deeply poetic interludes and novel scientific observations. Some are calling him the next Stephen Hawking.

I was excited to learn that, for example, time actually passes faster in the mountains than it does at sea level. While the difference is small, it can be measured with precise clocks. Time is elastic. Time does not exist.

An intriguing read, and not dense at all, as he stays away from equations and keeps it pretty accesible to the layperson.

Some provocative ideas/quotes from the book:

-The ability to understand something before it’s observed is at the heart of scientific thinking. In antiquity, Anaximander understood that the sky continues beneath our feet long before ships had circumnavigated the Earth. At the beginning of the modern era, Copernicus understood that the Earth turns long before astronauts had seen it do so from the moon. In a similar way, Einstein understood that time does not pass uniformly everywhere before the development of clocks accurate enough to measure the different speeds at which it passes.

-Only where there is heat is there a distinction between past and future. Thoughts, for instance, unfold from the past to the future, not vice versa—and, in fact, thinking produces heat in our heads…

-The crucial point here is the difference from what happens with falling bodies: a ball may fall, but it can also come back up, by rebounding, for instance. Heat cannot. This is the only basic law of physics that distinguishes the past from the future. None of the others do so. Not Newton’s laws governing the mechanics of the world; not the equations for electricity and magnetism formulated by Maxwell. Not Einstein’s on relativistic gravity, nor those of quantum mechanics devised by Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and Dirac. Not those for elementary particles formulated by twentieth century physicists. . . . Not one of these equations distinguishes the past from the future. If a sequence of events is allowed by these equations, so is the same sequence run backward in time. In the elementary equations of the world, the arrow of time appears only where there is heat.*

A quote from the book:

“The difference between things and events is that things persist in time; events have a limited duration. A stone is a prototypical “thing”: we can ask ourselves where it will be tomorrow. Conversely, a kiss is an “event.” It makes no sense to ask where the kiss will be tomorrow. The world is made up of networks of kisses, not of stones.”

Download a full list of my Kindle Notes hereThe Order of Time

Purchase the book on Amazon here.


Time does not exist: 

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