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Helgoland  By  cover art

Helgoland

By: Carlo Rovelli, Erica Segre - translator, Simon Carnell - translator
Narrated by: David Rintoul
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Publisher's summary

Named a Best Book of 2021 by the Financial Times and a Best Science Book of 2021 by The Guardian

“Rovelli is a genius and an amazing communicator.... This is the place where science comes to life.” (Neil Gaiman)

“One of the warmest, most elegant and most lucid interpreters to the laity of the dazzling enigmas of his discipline...[a] momentous book.” (John Banville, The Wall Street Journal)

A startling new look at quantum theory, from the New York Times best-selling 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 23-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.

©2020 Carlo Rovelli; translation 2021 Erica Segre and Simon Carnell (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“This entertaining and legible guide paints the history of quantum theory and lays out its possible meanings.” (Scientific American)

“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.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“Bracing and refreshing…Rovelli is offering a new way to understand not just the world but our place in it, too.” (NPR)

“Rovelli tackles both the quantum realm and the ways it helps us make sense of the mind with refreshing clarity.” (Anil Ananthaswamy, The New York Times Book Review)