What’s in it for me? A trip through time with a leading theoretical physicist.

Some ways of analysing the world make the unfamiliar familiar – think of historical descriptions of the rites and rituals of bygone ages, say, or the way psychologists probe the workings of the unconscious mind. Other disciplines, by contrast, make everyday concepts utterly alien.

Few disciplines are as firmly entrenched in the latter camp as physics. Ask a physicist to describe the table in front of him, and he’ll tell you that matter has to be in two different places at the same time. Once he’s done, the very idea of a table begins to seem odd.

In these blinks, Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli sets out to unsettle our commonplace ideas about time. Drawing on the latest research in his field, Rovelli carefully guides his readers through the often baffling counterintuitive realities of time. Along the way, he explains why time moves at different speeds in different places, why the world is made up of events rather than things and why human history wouldn’t exist without the sun’s energy.

In these blinks, you’ll find out

  • how Einstein’s theory of relativity works;
  • why our everyday conception of time makes us who we are as a species; and
  • what would happen if we tried to communicate with someone in a different galaxy.