Sam Leith

Spectator Books: The Order of Time

Spectator Books: The Order of Time
Text settings

In this week’s Spectator Books, I’m talking to the brilliant Carlo Rovelli — who with the publication of his million-selling Seven Brief Lessons on Physics in 2014— took his place with Stephen Hawking and Richard Feynman as one of the great popularisers of modern theoretical physics.

We’re talking today about one of the most difficult fundamental questions in the universe: the nature of time. Do we have free will? Can you understand physics without maths? Just what is Roger Penrose on about? We tackle all these questions and more.

Admittedly, it’s an unequal match. I supply the David Bowie quote: Carlo supplies the profound insights. But as he explains, the understanding of time is a matter as much for poets and philosophers as it is for mathematicians. Accordingly, he skips nimbly from Einstein to Kant in his new book The Order of Time. (Don’t be put off by the hard subject, by the way — Carlo's book is short, and contains many more pictures of Smurfs than it does equations.) And gosh he’s a good talker. 20 minutes in his company makes you feel much cleverer. So go on: take the time.

Listen to more episodes of Spectator Books and subscribe to this and our other podcasts on iTunes.