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The Order of Time

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  22,558 ratings  ·  2,764 reviews
Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored its meaning while scientists have found that its structure is different from the simple intuition we have of it. From Boltzmann to quantum theory, from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, our understanding of time has been undergoing radical transformations. Time flows at d ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by Riverhead Books (first published May 25th 2017)
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Dan Donovan
All of the sons of Adam are part of one single body,
They are of the same essence.
When time afflicts us with pain
In one part of that body
All the ot…more

All of the sons of Adam are part of one single body,
They are of the same essence.
When time afflicts us with pain
In one part of that body
All the other parts feel it too.
If you fail to feel the pain of others
You do not deserve the name of man.

-Saadi Shirazi(less)

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  22,558 ratings  ·  2,764 reviews

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Brian Clegg
There's good news and bad news. The good news is that The Order of Time does what A Brief History of Time seemed to promise but didn't cover: it attempts to explore what time itself is. The bad news is that Carlo Rovelli does this in such a flowery and hand-waving fashion that, though the reader may get a brief feeling that they understand what he's writing about, any understanding rapidly disappears like the scent of a passing flower (the style is catching).

It doesn't help either that the book
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I begin my usual segues, I have to say this is a magnificent book. Though I read it three years ago, I return to it whenever I need to de-clog my brain!

One of the self-appointed gurus of the seventies (who at one point was the leader of a cult headquartered on a Pacific island - you may remember him) used to bash ‘scientism’ as if there was no tomorrow.

Many of us addled hippies agreed back then.

Although I had a nagging feeling he was just in it for the glitz, glam and dineros. And I
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Take two. Time has swallowed my review. My first one anyway.

I wish I could take back the time, do it over, but entropy hit GR (or at least my internet connection) and something less than the total heat-death of the universe made me realign my perceptions of reality and time.

Oh, wait. That was this book!

Half historical science, some equations, the theoretical underpinnings of quantum loop theory, the role of entropy and heat in the determination of what makes TIME, and half philosophy and what ma
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Time has always been an enigma – with philosophers and even scientists calling it an illusion. And, Carlo Rovelli tells us that it is increasingly appearing to be so. A topic which without doubt captures your attention & is very intellectually stimulating. It would have been an exceptional book, but in parts struggles between being a book for everybody vs being a book of serious science. I have observed many science books do run into this issue – and it is quite obviously a difficult balance to ...more
Alice Lippart
My brain hurts and I love it.
Brendan Monroe
It rules over each and every one of us, but is there any greater mystery in life than time? What even is time?

Carlo Rovelli sets out to explain just that question in his latest book, "The Order of Time". Rovelli's explanation of time isn't always clear - there were many moments where I lost the thread - but it is beautiful. For a theoretical physicist, Rovelli is wonderfully poetic. It certainly helps that the audiobook is narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, whose deeply rich voice lends Rovelli's
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
I suspect that these Carlo Rovelli books are popular because they are short and imaginative! The first half of The Order of Time was clear and thought-provoking. But the second half went a little off the rails and I'm not sure it all even made sense. (His science is sound, I assume, but what about his metaphysical speculations ?) My mind kept wandering as I was lulled by Benedict Cumberbatch's voice (which reminded me of Neil Gaiman's hypnotic audiobook narrations). I amused myself by imagining ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
"We are stories, contained within the twenty complicated centimeters behind our eyes, lines drawn by traces left by the (re)mingling together of things in the world, and oriented towards predicting events in the future, toward the direction of increasing entropy, in a rather particular corner of this immense, chaotic universe."
- Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time


An interesting short exploration of time as deconstructed (crumbled), shown to not exist except as relationships, and rebuilt through som
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Why do we remember the past and not the future? Do we exist in time, or does time exist in us? What does it really mean to say that time “passes”? What ties time to our nature as persons, to our subjectivity?
What am I listening to when I listen to the passing of time? (c)
... the book becomes a fiery magma of ideas, sometimes illuminating, sometimes confusing. If you decide to follow me, I will take you to where I believe our knowledge of time has reached: up to the brink of that vast noctu
India M. Clamp
Oct 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: divinity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The final one of my three short books this week was a recommendation from my late father, who was impressed by Rovelli's ability to communicate difficult scientific concepts to a lay audience and felt it would help us to understand the foundations of his own mathematical interests.

The book is an ambitious attempt to explain how ideas of time have been refined to accommodate the needs of modern physics, and for me it was mostly successful, though at times I got a little lost by the arguments. On
Rama Rao
Time is an Illusion, says physicist Carlo Rovelli

Physicists calling time an illusion is not a new idea. Julian Barbour, in his 1999 book argued for the same hypothesis. Contrary to this idea, physicist Lee Smolin proposed that time is real. He suggested that laws of physics are not fixed in the universe but evolve over time. The principle argument in support of his theory is that mathematical models provide an abstraction of reality and ignore time dimension. Carlo Rovelli observes that since t
Chip Huyen
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mind-blowing. So beautifully written. Entropy makes the world go round. Time exists within us. I can't see the world the same way again. ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
My first read of #scienceseptember (2019) was a bit of a mind blowing experience, with physics meeting philosophy for a discussion of time. I barely grasped the concepts that were already dumbed down for a layperson - the absence of a "present," how time and entropy relate, equations without time, etc. But I did meet my goal of reading more than just nature stuff for the theme!

"In order to exit from a black hole, you would need to move toward the present rather than toward the future!...This is
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
One star lost. Either I am simply in a bitter mood tonight, or the last thirty-seven minutes of this audiobook were depressing and existentially soul-crushing. Everything vanishes. Time is suffering. We suffer because we can't hold onto things. This is not physics?! Physics isn't supposed to be depressing; that's philosophy. I do wish he had perhaps confined himself to loop quantum gravity. I might as well next read Buddha's teachings tonight. Desire is suffering. Then Schopenhauer. Will is suff ...more
Terry Pearce
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is without a doubt the best science book I've ever read. Possibly the best book I've ever read. It takes something (Time) that is ultra-important to us all and really tough to think about, and, in graceful language and thoughtful structure, explains first how everything we think we know about it on a day to day basis is wrong, and then how we can think about it in a way that is profound and useful. Along the way, he ties it in with the deepest core of what it is to be a human being, alive, ...more
Ed Erwin
The parts summarizing relativity and QM and their implications relative to the concept of time are very well done. When he comes to describing the sort of thing he himself works on, loop quantum gravity, it gets too vague and hand-wavey to make much sense.

PS: This website refused to allow me to put a start date later than the date finished which proves that there is an order of time.
Camelia Rose
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the hardest book I've listened. The concise yet poetic language and Benedict Cumberbatch's deeply affective voice keep me going. It is 4 hours 20 minutes long. I listened twice, doing my best to "get" as much as I can.

The first part of the book describes well-established aspects of time in physics that have been repetitively proved by carefully conducted experiments--gravitational time dilation and relative velocity time dilation, i.e. time passes slower nearer to a mass, faste
Blaine Snow
Don't be fooled - this book is not an attempt to explain time but to assert the singular reality of symmetrical and relativistic time as viewed by physicists. Rovelli's attempt to explain away asymmetrical thermodynamic-entropic time and the whole of biology, ecology, economics, and complex systems by telling us “time is ignorance,” "it's all a blur" and it’s a “world without time;” his discounting of our experience of past, future, and the direction of time, of evolution, growth, decay… that wh ...more
Isabelle reads a book a day because she has no friends
This was great, I just keep needing to remind myself I can’t give it an extra star because Benedict Cumberbatch was the narrator.
May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent narration by Benedict Cumberbatch. The universe is events. Good to think about this mind bending stuff now and then.
Mehdi Khazaeian
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Perfect explanation for time if you are into physics or mechanics.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
“This is time for us: a multilayered, complex concept with multiple, distinct properties deriving from various different approximations.” Page 198.

The Public Library only allowed me 7 days to read this book with no renewals. So Time was a problem from the beginning. Nevertheless, I plowed through and finishing tonight, I ended up buying the Kindle Version.

There is much to contemplate and digest in this book. A reread at some point in Time is in order. Reading this work, you will encounter expl
Nov 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A brief look into the field that Rovelli has spent his entire career studying. I came away with several snippets that summarize my takeaways nicely, but I admit that the deeper dive into his work stuck in my head for only the briefest of moments and then was gone again. But that does not diminish my enjoyment of the book. In fact, my favorite moments of the book are when Rovelli goes beyond his field of work and shares his thoughts on mortality and our experience of time. It's quite philosophica ...more
Oct 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Time has always been one of the most mysterious entities for humans. Like the idea of consciousness, it's been a fascinating subject for philosophers and thinkers over centuries. Our perspective towards Time as a constant and uniform flow was shattered by Einstein with his revolutionary theories of relativity. Since then it has become more of a physical quantity to be studied and understood. Physicists have been trying to understand and explain the concept of Time through the eyes of Thermodynam ...more
I was looking for a book about the philosophy of time, but found this one instead which is more of a physics book about the contemporary state of science on the subject. Despite not being exactly what I was looking for, Rovelli does a great job of laying out the present state of knowledge about what "time" really is in the universe and how it functions. Contrary to our limited perception, time is a far more relative and ephemeral phenomenon than we like to imagine. It is also better described as ...more
Incredible and astounding! Strongest possible recommendation!
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

First book of the year - yippee!
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_2018, science
All I can say is that this book is delightful and amazing. I'll need to return to it again and again so I can keep absorbing what Rovelli has to share. ...more
Jul 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book when I am about to leave Ann Arbor, a small town that I have lived since I came to the US 9 years ago, is poignant.

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Carlo Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist and writer who has worked in Italy and the USA, and currently works in France. His work is mainly in the field of quantum gravity, where he is among the founders of the loop quantum gravity theory. He has also worked in the history and philosophy of science. He collaborates regularly with several Italian newspapers, in particular the cultural suppl ...more

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8 likes · 0 comments
“This is time for us. Memory. A nostalgia. The pain of absence. But it isn't absence that causes sorrow. It is affection and love. Without affection, without love, such absences would cause us no pain.
For this reason, even the pain caused by absence is in the end something good and even beautiful. Because it feeds on that which gives meaning to life.”
“Because everything that begins must end. What causes us to suffer is not in the past or the future: it is here, now, in our memory, in our expectations. We long for timelessness, we endure the passing of time: we suffer time. Time is suffering.” 38 likes
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