Reality Is Not What It Seems : The Journey to Quantum Gravity
by Carlo Rovelli and Simon Carnell and Erica Segre

Overview - "The man who makes physics sexy . . . the scientist they're calling the next Stephen Hawking." -- The Times Magazine

From the New York Times -bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics , a closer look at the mind-bending nature of the universe.  Read more...

  • Retail Price: $26.00
  • $17.94
    (Save 31%)

Add to Cart + Add to Wishlist

In Stock Online.

FREE Shipping for Club Members
> Check In-Store Availability

In-Store pricing may vary

New & Used Marketplace 21 copies from $15.24

This item is available only to U.S. billing addresses.

More About Reality Is Not What It Seems by Carlo Rovelli; Simon Carnell; Erica Segre
"The man who makes physics sexy . . . the scientist they're calling the next Stephen Hawking." --The Times Magazine

From the New York Times-bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, a closer look at the mind-bending nature of the universe.

What are the elementary ingredients of the world? Do time and space exist? And what exactly is reality? Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli has spent his life exploring these questions. He tells us how our understanding of reality has changed over the centuries and how physicists think about the structure of the universe today.

In elegant and accessible prose, Rovelli takes us on a wondrous journey from Democritus to Albert Einstein, from Michael Faraday to gravitational waves, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity. As he shows us how the idea of reality has evolved over time, Rovelli offers deeper explanations of the theories he introduced so concisely in Seven Brief Lessons on Physics.

This book culminates in a lucid overview of quantum gravity, the field of research that explores the quantum nature of space and time, seeking to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity. Rovelli invites us to imagine a marvelous world where space breaks up into tiny grains, time disappears at the smallest scales, and black holes are waiting to explode--a vast universe still largely undiscovered.

  • ISBN-13: 9780735213920
  • ISBN-10: 0735213925
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books
  • Publish Date: January 2017
  • Page Count: 288
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.93 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Science > Physics - Quantum Theory
Books > Science > Gravity
Books > Science > Waves & Wave Mechanics

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-11-14
  • Reviewer: Staff

In his latest explanatory work, Rovelli (Seven Brief Lessons on Physics), a theoretical physicist and proponent of loop quantum gravity, sets himself the difficult task of attempting to clarify for laypeople the most recent scientific theories about the nature of the universe. He begins with historical lessons, going back to philosophical questions posed in Western antiquity. Rovelli races forward through the work of Newton, Faraday, and Maxwell to get to how Einstein refined and added to the field theories of electromagnetism. One of the books strengths is the picture Rovelli develops of how scientists build on the work of others. But the bulk of the book focuses on evaluating the perplexing nature of space and time, which, as they are commonly understood, appear to be little more than convenient constructs. Space is created by the interaction of individual quanta of gravity, Rovelli writes, while the world is made entirely made from quantum fields. The difficulty of understanding this aside, Rovelli smoothly conveys the differences between belief and proof, and concludes with a lovely chapter on being ignorant and eager for the next discovery. Rovellis work is challenging, but his excitement is contagious and he delights in the possibilities of human understanding. (Feb.)

BookPage Reviews

Carlo Rovelli returns with a new lesson

Read theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli’s meticulous explanations of the “elementary weave of the world” and you will never again let the phrase “quantum leap” roll loosely from your tongue. Instead of bringing to mind “The X-Files,” the words will invoke questions—and possible answers—about the very structure of space. In careful, professorial fashion, Rovelli lays out the history of breakthroughs in physics, deftly showing how each new theory built on or discredited previous theories, leading us to ideas Rovelli works with today, like loop quantum gravity and spin networks.

Rovelli’s stated aim is to educate audiences who know little about today’s physics, but it must be said that the true novice will need to pay strict attention to each lesson offered here if he or she is to benefit from the knowledge that accumulates as the pages turn. Most readers would be well served to begin with Rovelli’s 2016 bestseller, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, a whirlwind tour of the ideas developed more deeply here. If you prefer your physics steeped in context, though, this new volume is the place to dive in, for Rovelli writes eloquently here about historical figures from Anaximander to Einstein, and even poets like Dante and Shakespeare.

Accessible on many levels, Reality Is Not What It Seems offers logical explanations of complex concepts. Throughout, Rovelli makes palpable the human struggle to understand our world and to “discover the new.”


This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews