Reality is not what it seems

by Carlo Rovelli, 2014

The author

Carlo Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist and philosopher who currently lives and works in France. He works on quantum gravity, which is that branch of research that aims to unite the two theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics. More specifically, Rovelli works on LQG theory, or loop quantum gravity, which is less well-known than rival string theory.


“The Reality is Not What It Seems” by Rovelli is a captivating journey through the evolution of physics, skillfully presented as an ab urbe condita essay on the history of scientific thought. Rovelli takes readers on an intellectual odyssey, beginning with Greek atomism and weaving through the contributions of luminaries such as Galilei, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, and Bohr, culminating in the intricate landscape of quantum gravity.

The strength of the book lies in its adept reconstruction of the historical evolution of scientific ideas. Rovelli seamlessly navigates through the certainties of the past, demonstrating how they were challenged, overcome, and subsequently incorporated into later models. This approach provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the insights and thoughts that fueled the greatest scientific revolutions.

The elucidation of the foundations of modern physics, centered around the fundamental concepts of space, time, and particles, is a commendable aspect of Rovelli’s narrative. The author skillfully guides readers through the intricate web of scientific progress, making complex theories accessible and comprehensible. While the initial chapters serve as a compelling primer for readers new to the realms of quantum and relativity, the later sections, particularly those delving into the Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) Theory, may pose a challenge. However, this difficulty is not a flaw but rather a natural consequence of the intricate subject matter. As a first foray into the quantum and relativity domains, the book proves to be an excellent starting point, offering a solid foundation for assimilating fundamental concepts.

In conclusion, “The Reality is Not What It Seems” is a great testament to Rovelli’s ability to elucidate the complex history of physics. The book’s comprehensive historical approach, coupled with its accessibility, makes it a valuable resource for both novices and seasoned enthusiasts of the scientific realm. Rovelli’s work not only informs but also inspires, inviting readers to contemplate the profound nature of reality as perceived through the lens of space, time, and particles. // website created in 2023
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