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Publisher's Summary

A concise, elegant exploration of time from the author of the international best seller, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics.

Why do we remember the past and not the future? What does it mean for time to "flow"? Do we exist in time, or does time exist in us? In lyric, accessible prose, Carlo Rovelli invites us to consider questions about the nature of time that continue to puzzle physicists and philosophers alike.

For most listeners, this is unfamiliar terrain. We all experience time, but the more scientists learn about it, the more mysterious it appears. We think of it as uniform and universal, moving steadily from past to future, measured by clocks. Rovelli tears down these assumptions one by one, revealing a strange universe where, at the most fundamental level, time disappears. He explains how the theory of quantum gravity attempts to understand and give meaning to the resulting extreme landscape of this timeless world. Weaving together ideas from philosophy, science, and literature, he suggests that our perception of the flow of time depends on our perspective, better understood starting from the structure of our brain and emotions than from the physical universe.

Already a best seller in Italy, and written with the poetic vitality that made Seven Brief Lessons on Physics so appealing, The Order of Time offers a profoundly intelligent, culturally rich novel appreciation of the mysteries of time.

©2018 Carlo Rovelli (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Benedict Cumberbatch's] velvety bass voice is a delight to listen to - comforting and companionable, with perfect cadences to signal when the difficult concepts he's speaking about need extra attention (or a 30-second skip-back to hear again). The result is a performance that feels like a conversation with Professor Rovelli himself steadily guiding you as he dismantles all notions of time and helps you rebuild your understanding of it." (AudioFile)

What members say

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Brain Workout With A Great Narrator

You better have your thinking cap on, cause this one will make you do just that... although, not in a bad way. If you aren't at least somewhat familiar with the language of quantum mechanics, or theoretical physics, this may be a tough listen. I listened to the entire book while driving from my home in Utah to Denver, sometimes rewinding to catch key concepts.
Benedict Cumberbatch is phenomenal, bringing the passion of the author to the narration with ease. I plan to find more books with Cumberbatch as the narrator; ad well, I plan to listen to others by Rovelli.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

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Rovelli is a Genius

If you've never read Rovelli, read this book. If you have read Rovelli and are wondering if you'll learn anything new from this book, you will indeed.

Rovelli fairly destroys the very popular conception of a 4D block universe, which imagines that outside of our own existence, the universe exists as an unchanging monolith of all space and time. He does this by driving home the fact that there is no present, no universal now for all observers (where observers are not just consciousnesses). Rovelli's assertion that there is no present is not new to this book, but it does come alive here. If all of reality is truly interactions interacting locally, how can there possibly be a universal now? There can not.

What is absolutely new here is Rovelli's genius explanation for why entropy was universally lower in the past. If you've read any of Sean Carroll's books, you know this is the real question when asking "why does time seem to flow forward" (where time here is equivalent to Rovelli's thermal time - since at base there is no time). Physicists generally agree that the arrow of time is fully explained by the fact that entropy was low in the past. But not even the mighty Dr Carroll attempts to explain this. Rovelli's answer is dazzling. You must read the book for the full explanation, but Rovelli's metaphor to an unshuffled deck of cards hits home. What does it *really* mean that the deck is unshuffled? :-)

As usual, Rovelli packs into one short book what will surely take generations to fully unpack. Perhaps I'll not be around when our children and their children fully flesh this out. But what an immensely enjoyable thing to be here "now" ;-p

39 of 40 people found this review helpful

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Pretty spectacular - narration & content

I don't often write reviews but this one warrants it for me. Carlo Rovelli, one of modern physics best communicators, writes this exceptionally written book, our latest take on the nature of time. It is frequently mind-blowing and yet not impossible to understand. It's even quite moving, personal, and poetic at times. It's one of the rare books that has really altered the way I can look at the world unfolding around me.

Then there's the narration which makes this piece really special. Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, you get the feeling like Sherlock Holmes is explaining to you the intimate mysteries of the universe. It works splendidly. Cumberbatch's voice is clear and kept me riveted. I would really love to see more audiobooks produced this way, where the narration is done by someone with some real acting chops.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Times described in poetic physics

This is a beautiful book describing the mystery of time eliminated by an outstanding Cumberbatch narration.

It is only fitting that time, the phenomena, the one thing that everyone talks about but can’t describe, is summarised by a quantum gravity specialist, when most physicist are focusing on the ever elusive string theory.

Probably one of the best books on time I’ve read and certainly an unusual marriage of romance and physics, letting us know how little we know.

Some of the insightful perspectives of time, which I haven’t found in other books makes this book a must for anyone interested in its scientific properties. Easy to listen to for anyone.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Perfect! Must Read!

I’ve been looking for a book like this over twenty years. Wonderful and insightful. It runs the gamut from Newtonian to Einsteinian to Thermal, memory and experiential time. I’m going to have to read it again.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Cumberbatch is the Perfect Narrerator!

THE BOOK:

This book goes into some VERY complex theories on time. I can ultimately say that I walked away from this book actually learning some things. But, there were a few passages where I had to rewind and listen again, because they were SO in-depth on this subject, that frankly, we as human beings, TRULY don't understand fully. So it was pretty fun exploring Carlo Rovelli's theories on The Order of Time. The man is a genious!

THE NARRERATOR:

Benedict Cumberbatch could read the phonebook and I'd enjoy it. He has one of the best reading voices that I've ever had the privilege of listening too. I hope he does more audio books in the near future, because I will purchase every one of them. Even though it is under 5 hours in length, based on the quality of the production, and some of the beautiful prose that are within the book, it is well worth 1 credit. I will definitely listen to this again and again.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Scott
  • Santa Clara, CA, United States
  • 07-29-18

What's missing is the physics

Carlo Rovelli is a fascinating man. Steeped in the physics of loop quantum gravity, and in the philosophy and psychology of time. This book is a kind of poetry about time. It seems that, in the absence of a provable theory of time, we'll have to settle for this kind of poetry.
I found the book lacking. Not because I don't like poetry, but rather because I was hoping for more physics. There are recent speculations on the directionality of time that weren't discussed, and it seems to me that these are important in a contemporary book about time.
It should be said that I'm an advocate for Block Time, and found Rovelli's dismissal of it to be illogical. Simply stating that time is a sequence of events doesn't even address the issue of block time, let alone add clarity to the nature of time itself.
On balance, because Rovelli is such a compelling thinker and provides real insights into the nature of time, this book is worthwhile. Be prepared, however. This is not a book on the connection between quantum gravity and time, rather it is a book on the philosophical nature of time, and how each of creates time at the intersection of memory and anticipation in our brains.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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literary yet precise

beautifully written, as always. ties together the 3 streams of thought necessary to understand time: physics, thermodynamics and human memory/consciousness. and benedict Cumberbatch.. how can you go wrong ?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Make time to get lost in how strange reality is.

This was an unexpected gem of ideas and concepts that I will enthusiastically continue to follow with other supporting references.
This book makes great use of four hours to really stretch your mind in some uncomfortable ways. There were ideas and terms I did have to stop and look up or find a video about.
A lot of unexpected poetry IMO of life, science and the mysteries that lay between them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Time

What is time and every question you never thought about it, is answered or asked. Time may just be the reason and answer to life, after listening to this author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful