Mr. [Carlo] Rovelli has been making some waves of his own. The 59-year-old theoretical physicist published a slim book “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics” in his native Italy in 2014. Since then, the book, which delves into quantum gravity and the heat of black holes, has climbed Europe’s best-seller lists and sold rights in 34 languages.I have discussed Rovelli before.
It joins a small cohort of breakout books in physics. Brian Greene’s “The Elegant Universe,” which introduced string theory to a broader public, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2000, while Stephen Hawking’s classic 1988 “A Brief History of Time” has sold over 10 million copies world-wide. Other works aimed at nonspecialists are on the way. After the gravitational waves announcement in February, Knopf fast-tracked the release date for Janna Levin’s forthcoming book, “Black Hole Blues.” Originally scheduled for August, it will now come out later this month. ...
At just under 100 pages, “Seven Brief Lessons” is what it purports to be: a primer on seven key ideas in modern physics. But it’s also poetic and broadly philosophical, with references to Shakespeare scattered throughout. Its final chapter, the author writes in his introduction, “asks how it is possible to think about our existence in the light of the strange world described by physics.”
The book is filled with the usually Einstein idolotry, and the obsession with some sort of unified field theory to supersede general relativity and quantum mechanics. This kind of book gives a false idea of what physics is about.