7 Brief Lessons on Physics, by Carlo Rovelli, is a book that everyone should read, and I do mean everyone. From my perspective, anyone trying to explain quantum physics before this book, be they physicist or poet, understood their topic only within the narrow range of their own field of vision, and never have I found someone who managed to make much sense of the topic conceptually.
For example: gravity is something we all think we understand, and within a very limited context, we do. Stand in the middle of your kitchen and drop your coffee cup and it will hit the floor, 100 out of 100 times. And using the pioneering work of people like Einstein, we can now predict with a mind-bending degree of accuracy things like light and space bending around celestial bodies.
Okay, so the earth orbits the sun due to the effects of gravitational attraction between the two bodies.
What transmits the force?
We used to use phrases like ‘the vacuum of deep space,’ but apparently we cannot do that anymore. For the mass of a planet to ‘bend’ space, there must be something there to be bent, and that ‘something,’ which has looked an awful lot like nothing for a very long time now, must itself be what transmits the force.
How does that work, exactly?
Yeah, I thought so. Einstein linked gravity, space, and time by relating them to one another in the same equation, thus providing one of the basic foundation blocks of quantum physics, but to my mind he only gave us the what and not the how. And it’s no good using complex equations to hide the fact that you don’t get it, either. Rovelli, in addition to being a physicist, must have the soul of a poet because in this short work he illuminates not only how far we have come, but also how very far we have to go.