February 4

Physics Is Everything

If you know some young student, say in high school, who is interested in physics give her/him Reality Is Not What It Seems by Carlo Rovelli, the most beautiful book on the subject I've ever read. Physics courses are almost all about learning how to use applicable mathematics—derivations and calculations—with barely a hint at anything inspirational. As I read this exposition I felt that it could ignite and sustain a student's passion. Indeed, in his last paragraph Rovelli writes:

It's a vast world, with much to clarify and explore. It's my fondest dream that someone, one of the younger readers of this book, I hope, will be able to voyage across it and illuminate it better.

Beginning with Democritus, the original atomist, and working through classical and modern greats, we arrive at the crux: the fundamental incompatibility of quantum mechanics and general relativity. Rovelli explains the problem and how loop quantum gravity, his choice of competing theories, reconciles them.

posted @ 02:43 PM EST