Reality is not what it seems : the journey to quantum gravity

Realtà non è come ci appare. English
Rovelli, Carlo, 1956- author

Publication Details Click to collapse Cite/Export

  • Creator Carlo Rovelli ; translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre
  • Format Books
  • Contributors
  • Publication First American edition. New York : Riverhead Books, 2017. ©2016
  • Physical Details
    • 280 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
  • ISBNs 9780735213920, 0735213925
  • OCLC ocn957696600


  • Traces how the human image of the world has changed throughout history, demonstrating the evolution of the idea of reality while touching on subjects ranging from the Higgs boson to quantum gravity.
  • "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."--Dust jacket.


  • Originally published in Italian under the title: La Realtà non è come ci appare.
  • English translation published in Great Britain by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Random House UK.
  • Includes bibliographical references (pages [266]-272) and index.
  • In English, translated from the Italian.


  • Introduction. Walking along the shore -- pt. 1. Roots. Grains ; Is there a limit to divisibility? ; The nature of things -- The classics ; Isaac and the little moon ; Michael : fields and light -- pt. 2. The beginning of the revolution. Albert ; The extended present ; The most beautiful of theories ; Mathematics or physics? ; The cosmos -- Quanta. Albert again ; Niels, Werner, and Paul ; Fields and particles are the same thing ; Quanta 1: information is finite ; Quanta 2: indeterminacy ; Quanta 3: reality is relational ; But do we really understand? -- pt. 3. Quantum space and relational time. Spacetime is quantum ; Matvei ; John ; The loops' first steps -- Quanta of space ; Spectra of volume and area ; Atoms of space ; Spin networks -- Time does not exist ; Time is not what we think it is ; The candle chandelier and the pulse ; Spacetime sushi ; Spinfoams ; What is the world made of? -- pt. 4. Beyond space and time. Beyond the Big Bang ; The master ; Quantum cosmology -- Empirical confirmations? ; Signs from nature ; A window onto quantum gravity -- Quantum black holes -- The end of infinity -- Information ; Thermal time ; Reality and information -- Mystery
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