I finally finished Carlo Rovelli’s monumental (in scope, not in length) book ‘Reality Is Not What It Seems,’ in which Rovelli proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am an idiot. I mean, I suspected as much before, but I was able, through the skilled use of denial and bullshit, to paper it over, but now I have scientific verification and there’s no getting around that. I don’t think I will ever understand quantum gravity or even the Planck scale, despite Rovelli’s best efforts at explanation, including the use of graphs, charts and equations.
Which is okay.
In fact, I suspect it’s one of the points Rovelli is making: that science is simply the act of walking up to the edges of what we know and understand and attempting, rationally, to push those edges back a little bit. I admire Rovelli’s passion but I suspect he’s playing a loser’s game. This past week we have been treated to the spectre of one Mike Hughes, a gentleman who believes the earth is flat, and who intends to launch himself into space to prove that he’s right and the universe is wrong. ‘I don’t believe in science,’ so sayeth Mr. Hughes, without a trace of irony. One wonders if Hughes is aware of the fact that, without science, his rocket is unlikely to take him very far. He might be better off tempering his ambitions and aiming the thing for Alaska, instead, which ought to serve his purposes just as well. After all, how do we really know Alaska is actually up there? Who’s to say that the very concept of Alaska is anything more than an elaborate conspiracy perpetrated by the liberal media? How would you know for sure unless you’ve seen it for yourself? Perhaps while he’s up there, Hughes can do us all a favor and provide the ultimate proof of Alaska’s existence by getting himself eaten by a polar bear. Polar bears, the initial victims of the greatest Chinese hoax of all time, cannot continue hunting seals in their traditional manner. Perhaps they can survive by targeting morons instead. I suspect morons are much more plentiful than seals, and probably easier to catch besides. The only barrier I see is the taste, but you’d think a hungry bear could get past that.
But I digress.
‘Reality Is Not What It Seems’ is a great book. Even if you have no interest in quantum theory, Rovelli’s defense of skepticism and rational thinking is more than worth your time. I suspect that the more rational thinkers there are, the better off we will all be. If nothing else, read the last chapter, which is only seven or eight pages long, and try to wrap your skull around Rovelli’s central thesis.
It might save you a short and hazardous ride on a crowd-funded rocket.