‘Time is elastic’: an extract from Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time

What does it really mean to say that time ‘passes’? Why does time pass faster in the mountains than it does at sea level? The physicist explains in this extract from his latest book

Interview with Carlo Rovelli

I stop and do nothing. Nothing happens. I am thinking about nothing. I listen to the passing of time. This is time, familiar and intimate. We are taken by it. The rush of seconds, hours, years that hurls us towards life then drags us towards nothingness ... We inhabit time as fish live in water. Our being is being in time. Its solemn music nurtures us, opens the world to us, troubles us, frightens and lulls us. The universe unfolds into the future, dragged by time, and exists according to the order of time. What could be more universal and obvious than this flowing?

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Carlo Rovelli: ‘I felt the beautiful adventure of physics was a story that had to be told’

How does a book about theoretical physics sell more than 1m copies? Rovelli explains how he set about sharing his wonder at quantum science There are two kinds of popular science books. The first kind is for passionate readers. Say you are mad about butterflies. You want a book that gives you all the details about all varieties of butterflies, their lives, habits and colours. You are keen to know everything. The other kind of popular science book is written for everybody else. Say you never cared much for butterflies, but one day you happened on a book filled with incredible images of their phantasmagorical wings and read an interesting fact, such as how many of them live only for a single day … even though you don’t want many details, you suddenly find yourself wanting to learn more.
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