The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli  is not my usual pick for New Title Tuesday, but this audiobook narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch not only makes for delightful listening, the author explains this complex subject so that even I can understand it.

OrderPublisher’s Summary:  The bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics takes us on an enchanting, consoling journey to discover the meaning of time

‘We are time. We are this space, this clearing opened by the traces of memory inside the connections between our neurons. We are memory. We are nostalgia. We are longing for a future that will not come.’

Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored its meaning while scientists have found that its structure is different from the simple intuition we have of it. From Boltzmann to quantum theory, from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, our understanding of time has been undergoing radical transformations. Time flows at a different speed in different places, the past and the future differ far less than we might think, and the very notion of the present evaporates in the vast universe.

With his extraordinary charm and sense of wonder, bringing together science, philosophy and art, Carlo Rovelli unravels this mystery. Enlightening and consoling, The Order of Time shows that to understand ourselves we need to reflect on time — and to understand time we need to reflect on ourselves.

Translated by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre

It is embarrassing to admit how little I actually know about science, so while I often gravitate (get it?) to online articles, PBS documentaries, and NPR’s Science Friday, I did not know that Einstein predicted that time passes more quickly in the mountains than at sea level.  For example, a clock on the 2nd floor of your house will run faster than the clock on the ground level.  People living at sea level age more slowly than those who live at higher elevations.  Hmmmm.

“How long is forever?” asks Alice. “Sometimes, just one second,” replies the White Rabbit. There are dreams lasting an instant in which everything seems frozen for an eternity. Time is elastic in our personal experience of it. Hours fly by like minutes, and minutes are oppressively slow, as if they were centuries. – Rovelli

Rovelli goes on to say that time is an illusion.  I’ll say that to my boss when I’m running late and see how that goes, right?  But seriously, I really didn’t know what I didn’t know.  But Rovelli doesn’t make the reader feel less-than.  On the contrary, in The Order of Time Rovelli’s ideas and words are, for the most part, something even a non-scientist like me can understand.

While I still can’t quite grasp the concepts in The Order of Time, listening to Benedict Cumberbatch Britishly read Rovelli’s lively examples and enthusiastic metaphors, time is becoming both clearer in a fascinatingly mind-blowing way.

Happy Listening, Susan C.

Also by Rovelli:

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 Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics briskly explains Einstein’s general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. Carlo Rovelli, a renowned theoretical physicist, is a delightfully poetic and philosophical scientific guide. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds.



 RealityReality is Not What it Seems – The Journey to Quantum GravityIn elegant and accessible prose, Rovelli takes listeners on a wondrous journey from Aristotle to Albert Einstein, from Michael Faraday to the Higgs boson, and from classical physics to his own work in quantum gravity. As he shows how the idea of reality has evolved over time, Rovelli offers listeners a deeper understanding of the theories he introduced so concisely in Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. His evocative explanations invite listeners to imagine, beyond their ever-changing idea of reality, a whole new world that has yet to be discovered.


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Why Time Flies / A Mostly Scientific Investigation by Alan Burdick  – Time” is the most commonly used noun in the English language; it’s always on our minds and it advances through every living moment. But what is time, exactly? Do children experience it the same way adults do? Why does it seem to slow down when we’re bored and speed by as we get older? How and why does time fly?




Brief A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking – A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?

Told in language we all can understand, A Brief History of Time plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.


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