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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

  • Jamie

    Quick read. I felt the author talked about himself more than any of the theories he was trying to convey in his book.

    These are such complex theories, that were so dumbed- down it was impossible to read at times.

  • 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.


    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

  • Orsodimondo


    Sono pagine che raccontano di gente che con lo sguardo sapeva spaziare oltre l’orizzonte.

    Sono pagine sulla bellezza.

    E su occhi nuovi per vedere il mondo.

    Il mondo continua a cambiare sotto i nostri occhi, man mano che lo vediamo meglio.

    Siamo polvere di stelle.

  • 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

  • Kevin Kelsey

    This book explained the basic concepts of physics, and major breakthroughs in the field over the years in such an effortlessly poetic way, that I couldn't help but be drawn in and understand them a little bit better. Really fantastic stuff.

  • Nooilforpacifists

    Why is everyone so crazy for this book? It's written on in the most abstract generalities (yet he can't resist including the general relativity equation for gravity without explanation). It's a high-level history almost anyone could have written, with one chapter expressing the favorite European flavor of the day: "we're doomed."

    Without footnotes pointing to the more exacting details of physics, what is the audience for this book? The Sunday Supplements? The readers won't learn much--for exampl

  • Maurizio Codogno

    Inizio subito con una doverosa precisazione: anche se Carlo Rovelli è un fisico, questo libriccino è pensato per chi di fisica - intesa nel senso moderno - proprio non ne vuole sentire parlare. C'è solo una formula, piazzata lì a metà, ma è chiaro che è stata messa così per bellezza: non viene spiegata, e potete tranquillamente saltarla (io l'ho saltata). Lo scopo di Rovelli è di fare "fisica umanistica"; più che spiegare come oggi noi - nel senso degli scienziati - pensiamo che funzionino le co ...more

  • Riku Sayuj

    Short and sweet. Six extremely brief lessons on six crucial areas of Physics and a final one on where we fit into all of it. Rovelli starts with General Relativity and shows us how elegant and simple it is - to re-imagine space as a place that bends, stretches, and interacts with the stars. What a leap of imagination it must have taken to think of emptiness itself as an object which interacts. Rovelli says that that is a key to modern physics, the realization that it is all about interactions an ...more