Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reality might not be what it seems, but at least it isn’t a simulation. Possibly.
Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist and has a background in the history and philosophy of science. His field of research is quantum gravity. This makes him an ideal person to write a book about the history of quantum physics and the current state of affairs with scientists trying to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity.
Rovelli is one of the founders of loop quantum gravity theory, a candidate alongside string theory for an explanation of quantum gravity. As there are many books, videos, and proponents of string theory, Rovelli thought loop quantum gravity deserved a book too. So while string theory is mentioned, the focus is on the history of quantum physics leading to loop quantum gravity theory.
This was a particularly well-written book. The history, starting with my favourite thinker Democritus, and the explanations were (relatively) easy to follow. At no point did I feel lost in spin foam or uncertain about what is really complicated material.
But I also came away from the book feeling as though I’d missed a section. Maybe I need to re-read the book (doable, as it isn’t particularly long) as I felt like the discussion of loop quantum gravity was actually a brief overview* compared to the sections on the background to its development.
Reality is Not What It Seems is a very good overview of quantum physics, I just wanted a little bit more.
*Loop quantum gravity doesn’t try to string together gravity with quantum mechanics but extends quantum mechanics as a granular geometric equation into the macro realm of what we understand as special relativity.