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Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

Everything you need to know about the beauty of modern physics in less than 100 pages.In seven brief lessons, Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli guides readers with admirable clarity through the most transformative physics breakthroughs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This playful, entertaining and mind-bending introduction to modern physics, already a major bestseller in Italy, explains general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role of humans in the strange world Rovelli describes. This is a book about the joy of discovery. It takes readers to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back tothe origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world, Rovelli writes. And its breathtaking....

Title : Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
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ISBN : 9780399184413
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 86 pages
Url Type : Home » Seven » Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

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Seven Brief Lessons on Physics Reviews

  • John

    At school Physics was a mystery to me and one which I preferred to keep that way. The teachers didn't help. The beginning of my school week was made even more wretched by having a double dose of Physics first thing on a Monday morning.

    With the passing of the years the time seemed right to confront this particular demon. How fortunate for me that I was able to do so with the help of Carlo Rovelli. These seven bite sized lessons are clearly and elegantly written. The last one is beautifully writte
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  • Paulo Pires

    4.7

    Um livro surpreendente ...

    Este é um livro pequeno em tamanho mas grande no potencial e na mensagem que transmite. Recebi ontem e li no mesmo dia!

    Achei deliciosa a forma como é apresentada a física, como de uma forma simples nos é oferecido o universo e aguçada a curiosidade para os assuntos abordados.

    Apreciei o cuidado que o autor teve no discurso, no privilegiar de uma mensagem clara, limpa e perceptível (dentro do possível) ao comum dos mortais.

    Para mim são muitas as revelações, e é intere
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  • Matteo Fumagalli

    "Non siamo curiosi contro natura, siamo curiosi per natura. [...] Nasciamo e moriamo come nascono e muoiono le stelle, sia individualmente che collettivamente. Questa è la nostra realtà. Per noi, proprio per la sua natura effimera, la vita è preziosa."

  • Sam Quixote

    I wish I was more interested in reading about science because every time I hear about a science story or read a random article in New Scientist, I’m always impressed – science is great and my knowledge of it is pitifully lacking. But when it comes to tackling even a 200 page science book, I know I’m setting myself up for a fall and I inevitably abandon it. Still, as Carlo Rovelli writes, “It is part of our nature to long to know more, and to continue to learn”, and it’s good to get out of our co ...more

  • Sean Gibson

    It should be noted as a point of fact that “brief” does not mean “simple.”

    I really like physics. It explains how everything works, and it’s a discipline that doesn’t dogmatically cling to outmoded ideas when new evidence suggests that everything we thought we knew was completely and totally erroneous (I, conversely, very much enjoy clinging dogmatically to outmoded ideas, including, but not limited to, the idea that parachute pants are cool, Van Hagar was the best incarnation of Van Halen, and i
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  • TS Chan

    Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world. And it’s breathtaking.

    Brief though these lessons may be, simple they are not. The preface elucidates that these are lessons for those who have little to no knowledge of modern science and serve to provide a quick general overview of “the most fascinating aspects of the revolution that has occurred in physics in the twentieth century”. My formal science studies stopped af

    In short, the theory describes a colourful and amazing world where universes explode, space collapses into bottomless holes, time sags and slows near a planet, and the unbounded extensions of interstellar space ripple and sway like the surface of the sea… And all this, which emerged gradually from my mice-gnawed book, was not a tale told by an idiot in a fit of lunacy, or a hallucination caused by Calabria’s burning Mediterranean sun and its dazzling sea. It’s real.

    Or better, a glimpse of reality, a little less veiled than our blurred and banal everyday view of it. A reality which seems to be made of the same stuff which our dreams are made of, but which is nevertheless more real than our clouded quotidian dreaming.


    The closing chapter of “ourselves” and the roles humans play in this world draws in a more philosophical view in the vein of many of the forefathers of physics who marry philosophy, religion and science. The concluding words are so stunning and impactful that upon finishing this really short book, I was filled with a sense of wonder and oddly, emotion - from a book on physics!

    Nature is our home, and in nature we are at home. This strange, multicoloured and astonishing world which we explore – where space is granular, time does not exist, and things are nowhere – is not something that estranges us from our true selves, for this is only what our natural curiosity reveals to us about the place of our dwelling. About the stuff of which we ourselves are made. We are made of the same stardust of which all things are made, and when we are immersed in suffering or when we are experiencing intense joy we are being nothing other than what we can’t help but be: a part of our world.
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  • Elizabeth

    This review was originally published on the books and pieces blog.

    In those moments of life when the grim figures of anxiety, stress, or panic grip me tight and threaten to never let go, I have learned that the one thing sure to scare them off is a nice little face-off with the end of the universe.

    That’s my super casual way of saying I’ve been having a bit of a hard time with anxiety recently. Anxiety is a fucker because it messes with my ability to concentrate which is something very necessary

    "These lessons were written for those who know little or nothing about modern science."


    That’s me, right there. Little to nothing; me and Jon Snow are with you. The principle of the book is to give a tiny “overview” of the revolutions in the understanding of physics that have happened in the past century or so. It begins with lesson one – Einstein that fluffy haired moppet, who changed the world by suggesting that space isn’t, well, space. It’s not an empty area populated by waves and forces and things – it literally IS those forces. There was some visualising of rubber sheets which left me a little cross-eyed but essentially getting the gist of it. But then Rovelli happily hopped onwards to lesson two where he calmly announced that quantum mechanics means that reality only sometimes exists.

    OKAY THEN, RIGHT, THAT’S FINE. YOU CARRY ON. I’LL LEAVE MY BRAIN IN THIS PUDDLE.

    By lesson five time itself had gone out the window and the entirety of the universe followed shortly thereafter. Physics, it seems, does not fuck around. But it was the seventh chapter that really leaves you staring into the void.

    Rovelli uses this final lesson to grapple with the relevance of physics to our lives. Or, more accurately, of the relevance of our lives in the vast and uncaring strangeness of the cosmos. With the same sparse simplicity of words that he used to set out the mind-bending reality that is revealed by physics, he touches on the concepts of thought, learning, philosophy, ethics, and, of course, of death. Like many of the books where science meets philosophy, the wording gets close to religious in its solemn beauty.

    "We are born and die as the stars are born and die, both individually and collectively. This is our reality…."


    That’s dark stuff, man. COLD. But actually I found myself weirdly comforted. Rovelli takes pains to explain that however dark and weird the universe may seem, we are not alien to it, but part of it. We are at home in its weird unreality. It’s quite a moment when you can look into the void and the only thing that comes to mind is that old song by Simon and Garfunkel…

    Hello darkness, my old friend.

    I've come to talk with you again."


    It reminded me of The Good Book: A Humanist Bible, that strange and lovely conglomeration of scientific ideas, literature and philosophy compiled and presented by A.C. Grayling as a secular bible. Like a religious person seeking succour in a religious text I find my calm in the place where science meets philosophy.

    "Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world. And it’s breathtaking."


    The concepts set out in this book are mind-bendingly weird. I’m not sure I really comprehended the full meaning of it all (which is probably the point, temptations to learn more and all that) but it was completely and utterly engaging. My only criticism was, really, its brevity. For some of the more complex concepts just a little more time spent trying to give me a better mental grasp of these slippery thoughts would have been perfect. A page, maybe two. No more.

    The writing style is excellent – elegant, flowing, and measured. And a translated text I can only suppose that this is a sign of both an excellent author and some damn fine translators. It balances the need for simple explanations of complex ideas with evocative, beautiful prose – it’s a science book written for readers, not scientists after all.

    It’s worth reading for the madness of the physics alone but for my anxious brain it was the strange, warm bath in the restaurant at the end of the universe that it needed. And for that, Carlo Rovelli, I thank you.

    This review was originally published on the books and pieces blog. ...more

  • Manny

    Carlo Rovelli considers that everything is relational, and things only exist in virtue of their interactions with other things, so it's perhaps appropriate that I read Setti brevi lezioni di fisica in the way I did. Rovelli knows physics and Italian, and has used that knowledge to produce the book, so there is a relationship R between the book, physics and Italian. Most readers will know Italian, have the book in front of them, and make use of R to obtain knowledge about physics. I'm in a differ

    Ma c'è di peggio: questi salti con cui ogni oggeto passa a un'interazione all'altra non avvengono in modo previsibile, ma largamente a caso. Non è possibile prevedere dove en elettrone comparirà di nuovo, ma solo calcolere la probabilità che appaia qui o lì. La probabilità fa capolino nel cuore della fisica, là dove sembrava tutto fosse regolato da leggi precise, univoche e inderogabile.
    I certainly don't understand everything, but quite a lot. Let me see...
    But this is ?the point?: these jumps with which each object passes from one interaction to another do not happen in a predictable way, but largely by chance. It is not possible to predict where an electron will ?turn up? again, but only calculate the probability that it appears here or there. Probability makes ?? in the heart of physics, there where it seemed all was regulated by laws precise, unequivocal and unbreakable.
    Well, I seem to be making progress. I think I will reread the book, and see if R can fill more holes in my still extremely uncertain vocabulary...

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