Helgoland: The World of Quantum Theory

The world that emerges from these considerations is a rarefied one. A world in which, rather than independent entities with definite properties, there are entities that have properties and characteristics only with regard to others, and only when they interact. A stone does not have a position in itself: it only has a position in relation to another stone with which it collides. The sky does not in itself have any color: it has color with respect to my eyes when they look at it. A star does not shine in the sky as an autonomous entity: it is a node in the network of interactions that forms the galaxy in which it resides.

What a strange book! I thought it started strong, giving a broad historical overview of quantum mechanics and the state of quanta in present times. This part—the first half—was fine. It was light on detail, but this was expected of a popular science book meant to sell.

The second half got a little too philosophical for me. Perhaps this was mostly an expectations-setting problem—I just wasn’t ready for the transition and wanted to learn more about the theory!

Book cover for Helgoland
The World of Quantum Theory
Carlo Rovelli