Carlo Rovelli – Enhancing our understanding of nature.

We are now moving from Dr Adriana Dutkiewicz’s geological research to the origins of scientific thinking and its connection with democracy in Ancient Greece. [I thank Adriana for the gift she gave me when she introduced me to Carlo Rovelli.]

First of all, go to YouTube. Listen to Carlo Rovelli speaking about Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. This book has been translated into so many languages for its clarity and beauty and sold in millions. It offers us knowledge on which to build our capacity to approach the future. He makes clear to us that ‘nature is our home and we are at home in nature’. Published by Penguin 2016, this translation into English by Simon Carnell and Erica Segre is a delight to read. Take time to pause. Absorb the connections he makes before going on. Take it slowly. Like a good wine it is to be savoured. You will find so much here our curriculum reviewers in Australia had no understanding of in 2015. There should be none of this debate about climate change. Carlo Rovelli makes clear just how and why, for example, the separation of STEM from HASS by Australian reviewers, is ‘pernicious’. Subtle. Insidious. Damaging. Denying thinking. Dangerous.

Then come to Anaximander, by Carlo Rovelli, translated by Marion Lignana Rosenberg, Westholme Publishing, English translation 2011. First published in 2009. In its introduction he makes clear how pernicious is this modern separation of the sciences from the humanities. All students of the humanities denied connection with the sciences need to read his work. He is bringing us knowledge in such a way that we learn.

In his introduction, Carlo Rovelli speaks of ‘the pernicious modern separation between the sciences and the humanities.’ And he goes into the past with such depth of knowledge and understanding of humanity to show just how significant have been the attitudes developed before this significant scientific revolution. Note. IT IS MODERN. Thank you C.P. Snow and his ‘two cultures’. Thank the Cold War mentality. He makes clear the immense value now of scientific thinking. For those still subjecting students to that pernicious separation his historical analysis is important. He shows how scientific thinking, always respecting the past but being willing to challenge it, as Kepler respected but questioned Copernicus and as Einstein respected but questioned Newton, helps us to approach the future we all share.

3 thoughts on “Carlo Rovelli – Enhancing our understanding of nature.

  1. Thank-you, Erica, for introducing me to Rovelli’s Anaximander, and his statement about the “pernicious” modern separation between the sciences and humanities. Look forward to reading it (I’ve enjoyed the other books that you mentioned).

    This separation seems evident in the limited attention given by most general media to science fundamentals and to books that help explain them – which is why blogs like yours are important. For example, I’ve noticed over the years the shrinking review space and shelf-space for books about science and its history. It’s as if writing about science is considered to be different from – less literary, less general than – other non-fiction writing. It’s disheartening, especially at a time when good science is more necessary than ever – as are good critiques of science and its applications, and good voting decisions by scientifically literate voters. Science and society are intimately entwined, as history shows and as climate change and the digital revolution have made blindingly clear. Yet today they are so often treated as if antithetical to each other. Go figure!


    1. Dear Robyn, A related item was named as yours ‘What sparked the Imagination? A footnote.’ I found that development interesting. There has been one response from China. 11 from USA and 9 from Australia this time. Once I made a connection with South Africa, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden – small signs but I am going to keep on going. It is interesting where I find connections. In Stan Grant’s book ‘Australia Day’, I found reference to Carlo Rovelli. I think they might have met. He gives us Rovelli’s picture of the world today with the new discoveries we are making all the time in quantum physics. I’ve forgotten the page reference. But here we have a First Nations international Australian journalist, connecting with the cultures, the sciences, the philosophies across the world while acknowledging the importance of the 65,000 years of First Nations cultures across this continent. Those who wan to pretend that the sciences and the humanities are not connected are often in multinational corporations. They fund the deliberate propaganda of those who want to stop us thinking about the world we are in. They have spent millions to try to discredit Greta Thunberg. They have lots of money. They have time – which doesn’t exist in the quantum world – and rely on voters, whose education discouraged these connections, to accept their word. There’s a mathematical poets group in USA. Thank you for your response.


    2. We suffer still from that C.P. Snow ‘divide’. There are wonderful writers about the history of science. One, no longer with us, was Roy Porter.


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