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Seven Brief Lessons on Physics Hardcover – September 24, 2015

4.3 out of 5 stars 263 customer reviews

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Hardcover, September 24, 2015
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (September 24, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241235960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241235966
  • Product Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (263 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rama Rao VINE VOICE on October 30, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli has condensed physics ideas into this 78 pages book. This work is the result of a series of articles published in an Italian newspaper. Building basic concepts to comprehend the nature of reality has not been simple for theoretical physicists, but the author has spared the narratives for leaner and lucid descriptions in the hopes that these ideas stir up some interest among readers. There is no math and no heavy discussion of relativity or quantum physics. String physics is not included in this discussion. This is certainly a good way to bring modern physics for general readers. This reminds me of Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman’s “Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained.” This book has appeared in many versions and captured the minds of readers in theoretical physics. But Rovelli covers only seven topics that include relativity, quantum physics, particle physics and black holes.

The author is one of the inventors of loop quantum gravity which says that space is not continuous but it is made of grains, significantly smaller than an electron, and they are linked to each other forming a network. Quantum gravity essentially refers to quantum properties of space-time and not the quantum behavior of matter in spacetime. But the author has not discussed loop quantum gravity theory in any depth in this book.

The author muses on human existence and our perception of physical reality. It is a song of god in which matter (energy) behave in spacetime in a certain way, and this guided by a set of physical laws. The Newtonian physics, relativistic physics, quantum physics and thermodynamics somehow connect with each other to create the nature of reality. But we are further away in comprehending it and Carlo Rovelli understands this better than other physicists.
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Format: Hardcover
Every once in a while it's a good idea to stand back from the daily necessities of our lives and look back and marvel at what we as human beings have accomplished in our understanding of ourselves and our universe. In very few instances is this wonder more apparent than in an appreciation of the discoveries that physics has made regarding space and time.

In this short and highly readable book, Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli leads us through a tour of what he thinks are seven of the foremost ideas (or "lessons') in physics. These are ideas which have not just furthered our understanding of our material world but which have also expanded our consciousness and connected us to our origins and future. Rovelli’s writing is often poignant and beautiful, simple and without frills and from the heart, and I would be lying if I said the experience wasn't uplifting. Personally I would have included an extra eighth lesson on chaos theory and complexity since I think those are going to be key scientific issues in the 21st century. Also, there is little new per se in here which would not be familiar to physics aficionados. But as it stands Rovelli's offering is a marvelous feast which should ignite a renewed sense of inspiration regarding the reach and beauty of science even in hardened veterans.

The first lesson is about Einstein's general theory of relativity which saw yet another towering validation this year with the discovery of gravitational waves. The Russian physicist Lev Landau called it the "most beautiful theory" and I would say there would be few contenders for that title. The basic equation of the theory fits on a napkin, and the essentials of the framework are both startling and elegant.
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Format: Hardcover
This is indeed, a very brief book of very brief lessons or chapters, and it is intriguing, elusive, seductive and ultimately humbling all at once. I’ll need to read it again several times over. The easy elegance and poetry of the writing deceptively masks a whole world of things being described, and the broader, better lessons aren’t really about physics at all.

Hitherto, my last experience with physics was a 2nd semester senior class in high school when, (having been accepted to university), I temporarily lost patience for absorbing further conceptual learning. I did, however, have ample capacity for sniggering at the nerds in the class who were capable of using physics concepts, 3 paper clips and assorted other parts to construct a functioning radio.

I read about this book in the Economist. I bought this book, in part, to atone for my high school sins, and also to finally overcome my phobia of the general theory of relativity. I also wanted it as a quick way to get refreshed on key physics concepts in "bite size" bits, suitable for impressing people at parties. (Because To be impressive at parties, everyone really should have their own "elevator speech" ready on the meaning of the theory of relativity, right?)

This book gave me both more—and less—than I bargained for. I still don’t have my elevator speeches on topics such as relativity, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics or black holes; the lessons are indeed elegant but without sufficient detail to fully master the topics at hand. In fact, if anything, the simplicity and elegance of the book have made me feel even stupider than when I started…”if this Italian Physics professor can describe these things so simply and elegantly, I really must be a half-wit, because I’m still mystified.
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