The theoretical physicist and bestselling author answers questions from famous devotees and Observer readers
Theoretical physicists and mathematicians are fond of describing their assumptions and equations as beautiful but very few novelists are able to bring this elegance to life for the general public. The Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli has proved himself to be one of those rare figures. His first endeavor at writing a book for a mainstream audience, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics ( 2014 ), outsold Fifty Shades of Grey in his home country, has been translated into 41 languages and sold more than 1m photocopies. His second, The Order of Time , is an appreciation and lucid deconstruction of a quality we take for granted-” We occupy time as fish live in sea ,” he writes.
Like other popular scientists such as Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan and Brian Cox, Rovelli feeds our fascination with the fundamental armies that construct our universe tick. Here, famous devotees and Observer readers question him further.
Questions from famous fans
Can you imagine a future in which relativity and quantum mechanics could be so well and generally understood that time, as mediated by relative motion and the strength of the local gravitational battleground, becomes part of our immediate and common sense appreciation of the world? Could we experience in the every period space and time patently and sensuously inseparable? Or are we bound by our very nature and our evolutionary past, and living between the very large and very small, to remain within the sensory limits we experience now?
I think that we will learn, and gradually counterintuitive ideas will become intuitive. It has happened with the facts of the case that the Earth is a sphere( clarified two millennia ago) and the facts of the case that it spins( clarified a few centuries ago ). At first these were extremely counterintuitive suggestions; nowadays we accept them as comprehensible. But it takes time. I suppose, for example, that the working day when we will have spaceships travelling very fast, and we experience immediately things like gratifying our children older than us on our return home … when we experience this, the elasticity of hour will become obvious to us. Of course, all this is assuming our civilization survives long enough and we do not destroy ourselves with conflicts and stupidity, which is something we humen seem to be very good at and not ready to move away from.
Artist and decorator known for her kinetic stage statues
Read more: https :// www.theguardian.com/ science/ 2019/ disfigured/ 31/ carlo-rovelli-you-ask-the-questions-time-travel-is-just-what-we-do-every-day-theoretical-physics