A startling new look at quantum theory, from the bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and The Order of Time.
One of the world's most renowned theoretical physicists, Carlo Rovelli has entranced millions of readers with his singular perspective on the cosmos. In Helgoland, he examines the enduring enigma of quantum theory. The quantum world Rovelli describes is as beautiful as it is unnerving.
Helgoland is a treeless island in the North Sea where the twenty-three-year-old Werner Heisenberg made the crucial breakthrough for the creation of quantum mechanics, setting off a century of scientific revolution. Full of alarming ideas (ghost waves, distant objects that seem to be magically connected, cats that appear both dead and alive), quantum physics has led to countless discoveries and technological advancements. Today our understanding of the world is based on this theory, yet it is still profoundly mysterious.
As scientists and philosophers continue to fiercely debate the meaning of the theory, Rovelli argues that its most unsettling contradictions can be explained by seeing the world as fundamentally made of relationships rather than substances. We and everything around us exist only in our interactions with one another. This bold idea suggests new directions for thinking about the structure of reality and even the nature of consciousness.
Rovelli makes learning about quantum mechanics an almost psychedelic experience. Shifting our perspective once again, he takes us on a riveting journey through the universe so we can better comprehend our place in it.
About the Author
Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist who has made significant contributions to the physics of space and time. He has worked in Italy and the United States, and is currently directing the Quantum Gravity research group of the Centre de Physique Théorique in Marseille, France. His books Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Reality Is Not What It Seems, and The Order of Time are international bestsellers that have been translated into more than forty languages.
Praise for Helgoland:
“[An] intellectually exhilarating dive into the profoundest scientific conundrums.” —Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
“Physicist Rovelli (The Order of Time) dazzles with this look at the 'almost psychedelic experience’ of understanding quantum theory…These are big ideas, but Rovelli easily leads readers through the knotty logic, often with lyricism…Readers who follow along will be left in awe.” —Publisher's Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
“Charmingly idiosyncratic. . . . [Rovelli is] perhaps the finest author now writing on physics and the quantum world.” —The Article
“Rovelli’s gift is to bring difficult ideas down a level. His books continue a tradition of jargon-free popular scientific writing from Galileo to Darwin that disappeared in the academic specialisations of the past century. . . . As a happy integration of science, literature and philosophy, Helgoland owes something to the Italian chemist-writer Primo Levi. . . .Rovelli is a deep-thinking, restlessly inquiring spirit who sees no incompatibility between physics and philosophy – only mutual attraction.” —The Observer