The Revelations of Mr Rovelli
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Science

The Revelations of Mr Rovelli

Understanding Quantum Physics
Łukasz Kaniewski
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Is it possible that the machinery of the universe is based not on a solid foundation, but merely on a subtle game of reflections and relationships? This is the opinion of Carlo Rovelli, quantum physicist and philosopher.

According to Richard Feynman: “Nobody understands quantum physics.” Carlo Rovelli is not so uncompromising. He doesn’t think that quantum theory is incomprehensible. It might seem bizarre, but that is the result of our assumption that the world at its smallest scale must resemble its macro scale. In order to adapt to quantum mechanics, we must – for a moment – forget about Newton and the absolute perspective that his theory was based on. The universe can only be known from within, from a particular point of view.

Island calculations

Carlo Rovelli’s most recent book is entitled Helgoland. It is also the name of an island in the North Sea that Werner Heisenberg travelled to in 1925. He wanted to get some respite from his allergies (barely any trees grow there) and contemplate the issues concerning atomic structure that he had been discussing with his mentor, Niels Bohr. The young scientist’s journey of wellbeing and intellect culminated in one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of physics. This is how Heisenberg described it, as quoted in Helgoland: “[…] it was around three o’clock in the morning when the result of my calculations lay before me. […] At first, I was deeply alarmed. I had the feeling that I had gone beyond the surface of things and was beginning to see a strangely beautiful interior. [….] I was so agitated that I could not sleep. I left the house and began walking slowly in the dark. I climbed on a rock overlooking the sea at the tip of

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