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Summary

Winner of the Specsavers Audiobook of the Year 2018. 

Penguin presents the audio edition of The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. The best-selling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics takes us on an enchanting journey to discover the meaning of time. 

Time is a mystery that does not cease to puzzle us. Philosophers, artists and poets have long explored its meaning while scientists have found that its structure is different from the simple intuition we have of it. From Boltzmann to quantum theory, from Einstein to loop quantum gravity, our understanding of time has been undergoing radical transformations. Time flows at different speeds in different places, the past and the future differ far less than we might think and the very notion of the present evaporates in the vast universe. 

With his extraordinary charm and sense of wonder, bringing together science, philosophy and art, Carlo Rovelli unravels this mystery, inviting us to imagine a world where time is in us and we are not in time. 

©2018 Carlo Rovelli (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic reviews

"A global superstar...Rovelli is making the grammar of the universe accessible to a new generation." (Channel 4 News)

"Benedict Cumberbatch's warm, resonant voice makes him a very fine narrator." (The Times)

"Cumberbatch possesses a deep and rich voice and reads the text in a precise but unhurried manner, with the result that we feel as if we are getting an exposition by an erudite but gentle teacher." (The New York Times)

What listeners say about The Order of Time

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Brilliant!

Like being sat down in a button back leather armchair and having chocolate poured into your ears until your mind is blown.

29 people found this helpful

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Well worth listening to

As someone with next to no previous knowledge on the subject, some parts where tricky to get my head around (and some for chunks I didn't manage it at all). Other sections, particularly the first few chapters, were very illuminating and really changed my perception of time.
The final chapter is beautifully written and quite philosophical, I teared up a few times, which I wasn't expecting.
The narration is excellent and really brought the text to life.
I think I'm going to give it a second listen...

6 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written and beautifully read.

Popular physics books can often by dry or full of technical language, but with Rovelli you get such wonderfully lyrical writing, drawing references from art and literature, and the wider cultural life, to illustrate the points he is making. A joy to read, or listen to, especially when read by Benedict Cumberbatch. A brief but profound book, that examines the physics and the philosophy of time. What is time? Does it even exist? What does the concept of now mean? This builds on Rovelli's earlier works, and is, I think, his best yet. Highly recommended.

10 people found this helpful

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Simply Beautiful

I usually avoid science books that have been translated or are not read by the author. You tend to lose so much in the translation or the text being spoken by a non scientist. NOT THE CASE HERE. Carlo Rovelli's writing is stunningly beautiful. Poetic and heartfelt. The translation has not damaged the beauty of the words and concepts in this book. Benedict Cumberbatch does a wonderful job of transposing the words on the page into deeply impactful narration. I felt the words and the most wonderful thing about this book. It left me feeling happy that I had heard it. Genuinely happy to have not missed this cracking book. If you like popular science books, they do not come better than this gem! 11/10

3 people found this helpful

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Masterful and personal

This is partly a book about physics, partly consciousness, partly about being human and or limitations.

Rovelli spends a considerable amount of time discussing what physics has to say about time, before returning to the question of why we perceive time in the way that we do when the evidence is so strong that this is an illusion.

On the way he delves into philosophy, history, music, and literature and throughout cumberbatch's narration bring a resonance and erudition which make the journey an absolute joy.

As a physicist, there are points where the argument seems a little thin - the low entropy state of the early universe is dealt with as a dictation in a wider universe. Really just a statement of the anthropic principle, which is a little off hand. These are minor quibbles, though. The real point is the journey and the synthesis, which is masterly.

Thoroughly enjoyed this. I recommend it to anyone in a meditative frame of mind.

3 people found this helpful

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Tell me doctor, where are we going this time?

It’s has been some time, naturally from my own relative perspective that a book has so profoundly blown my mind to absolute smithereens. This book will take me a few reads to fully comprehend, but if you want to learn more about what time is, and what it is not then this work is for you. It’s poetic and beautiful and to have it read by Mr Cumberbatch is just ambrosia to the ears.

I will read this again, and again perhaps now or in the past; in the future or somewhere in between. Who knows?

7 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

An artful combination of science, philosophy and classics. You know when someone talks passionately about an interesting subject and you get so drawn in that you almost have an out of body experience? This book is that, with added physics.

Cumberbatch reads it extremely well too.

2 people found this helpful

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Absolute poetry

Quite easily the best book I've listened to.

*completely unnecessary words to fill this review*

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A Gem

Mind blowing and delightful at the same time!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, though on a number of occasions i needed to rewind to try to get a better grasp of certain theories.

Full marks to Mr Cumberbatch for narration, it was Devine, he made listening to quantum physics an absolute pleasure.

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An interesting book that made me think differently

I like reading about science, but sometimes I get the same facts in a different way. This offered me something different. The concept of entropy defined in terms of order, but the concept of orderliness defined relative to a particular viewpoint. This means that there can be no absolute definition of orderliness and so the direction of time is a local concept.

It was well written and interesting, in a very accessible way.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-09-18

Amazing book! Very deep and interesting.

I think Benedict Cumberbatch should read every audiobook! His voice is lovely! The book is amazing. It really makes you wonder.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-06-18

Beautiful

Takes all of us on an adventure and explores the deep enigmatic mysteries of our reality.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Iama lame
  • 16-04-22

great book + great narrator

like having time explained by Dr. Strange himself. one of the very few audiobooks I have listened to multiple times

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  • Francois
  • 30-01-22

Poetic Science

This book combines cutting edge scientific thinking with a delicate and poetic subtlety. Benedict’s voice, although beautiful, is hard to hear while driving in a car and I’m not sure that it always matches the emotional tone of Carlo Rovelli’s intended narration. Still, the last chapter brought tears to my eyes.

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  • Claudia Y Fox
  • 22-08-21

Quite possibly the most beautiful book I have ever encountered.

I love books of this genre, but this one is in a league of its own. It is quite possibly the most beautiful book I have ever encountered.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-04-21

Nope, skip this one.

Great narration.

This is NOT simple subject matter irrespective of what the other reviews say.

The last two chapters are far less technical go off on a completely different tangent being more enjoyable.

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  • rettyre
  • 19-01-21

A Wonderful Journey into the great clock tower

A beautifully written and fascinating book with some incredible ideas and poetic connections buried within. Buy it, read it, love it.

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  • Fuad
  • 28-12-20

Great book

Easy explanations, very complete, you can understand everything and you don´t need to be a scientist

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  • Daniel J
  • 27-04-20

One of the few science books makes you emotional

This book does not only describe the current understanding of time and its relation to reality, but also sparks an emotional and objective meaning to life. Benedict Cumberbatch's narration made this book shine.

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  • James R. Modrall
  • 14-01-20

Extraordinary

I confess that i was sceptical that such a short, popular science treatment could shed much light on such a complex subject. I was wrong. Rovelli writes beautifully and the breadth of his culture is amazing. His departure point is his day job as a theoretical physicist, but he jumps effortlessly between the ancient history of science (Anaximander is a favorite), philosophy, religious texts (Christian, Buddhist and Hindu), literature (Shakespeare, Proust .. . ) and music (from Bach to the Grateful Dead). Truly extraordinary. And of course how can you beat Benedict Cumberbatch as a reader?