Some thoughts on Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
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Some thoughts on Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

Some thoughts on Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

I just finished Rovelli’s “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics,” and at the close it struck me that there are three ways of thinking in contemporary physics (and, by extension, perhaps culture).

1) The great unifying theories in science can explain everything in the world around us. Einstein’ s theory of relativity gives us a tool to measure reality and reliably predict how things will work.

2) Quantum mechanics shows us that nothing is definitively measurable, and therefore everything is subjective. Because we are unable to describe why things happen (for instance, why an electron appears in space), interpretations are up to perception.

3) Thermodynamics and quantum mechanics are not underpinned by one unifying theory, but instead, by a set of probabilities. While we cannot explain these probabilities, they may yet emerge from some more fundamental understanding of our universe — relational quantum physics has some great points in this regard.

The third proposition seems, to me, to be the most accurate. The first resembles modernist thought, the second postmodernist, and perhaps the third some form of speculative realism — a rejection of complete subjectivity, and simultaneously a rejection that we can directly access the capital-t Truth.