Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

When we say that human behavior is unpredictable, we are right, because it is too complex to be predicted, especially by ourselves. Our intense sensation of internal liberty... comes from the fact that the ideas and images which we have of ourselves are much cruder and sketchier than the detailed complexity of what is happening within us. We are the source of amazement in our own eyes.
— Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

What. An. Incredible. Read.

I picked this book up at the airport in Rome this weekend, having run out of reading material for my second flight. I fell asleep on that flight so finished this short book today. As I read the final pages on the tram ride home this evening, I kept looking up at the end of each paragraph to view again the world around me, mesmerized. What reviewers say of this book is true - in a few short pages, it will change the way you see the world, the galaxy, the universe and, yourself.

A major premise of this book is that physics happens not in a single moment but always through interaction. Energy moves from hot to cold. Space moves in quantum leaps. Nothing - not time or space or gravity - exists in a silo. And, in this way, neither can we pretend to. We are matter on this Earth like the dirt, the trees, the stars. And we all matter the same. 

Where are these quanta in space? Nowhere. They are not in space because they are themselves the space. Space is created by the linking of individual quanta of gravity. Once again the world seems to be less about objects than about interactive relationships.
— Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

We are not part of what makes nature. We are no more or less nature than everything else that exists in interaction with us or with anything. What makes us unique is that our consciousness allows us to see that we are having an impact on the Earth, that we are destroying it. Or rather, that we are destroying ourselves.

We are perhaps the only species on Earth to be conscious of the inevitability of our own individual mortality. I fear that soon we shall also have to become the only species that will knowingly watch the coming of its own collective demise, or at least the demise of its civilization...
— Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics

I represented my organization today during an NGO meeting at the United Nations Office of Geneva with Director General Moller. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss NGO priorities, especially in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. There are so many of us, representing so many different bodies of work, from climate change to female genital mutilation to cancer control. And what this book reinforced for me today is that, when we try to work in these silos, across so many different issues, we do not exist. It is only through our interactions with one another that we become real.

I could write a blog post about each chapter, but that would reveal too much of the journey on which this book takes each and every one of us. For me, I feel anew in my knowledge that I both matter, and do not matter at all, in the same way that everything matters and does not matter. It is humbling, but, then again, so is the experience of being alive.

We are born and die as the stars are born and die, both individually and collectively. That is our reality. Life is precious to us because it is ephemeral.
— Carlo Rovelli, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics