These essays range widely across time and space: from Newton's alchemy to Einstein's mistakes, from Nabokov’s lepidopterology to Dante’s cosmology, from mind-altering psychedelic substances to the meaning of atheism, from the future of physics to the power of uncertainty. From the bestselling author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and The Order of Time.
Beautifully translated by Erica Segre and Simon Carnell, There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness continues a tradition of jargon-free popular scientific writing from Galileo to Darwin that disappeared in the academic specialization of the last century ... Rovelli writes with razor-sharp clarity of Lemaître’s 'discovery' that the universe is not fixed, but ever-expanding ... He writes with bracing clarity on the Roman poet Lucretius, Aristotle, Dante, Newton, and muses philosophically on the current pandemic.
... a series of finely wrought essays that draw on an impressive hinterland of cultural and scientific learning ... a rather moving meditation on the nature of an octopus’s consciousness that could make even the most devoted pescatarian hesitate before ordering a dish made from our shockingly underrated eight-limbed friends ... The essay format makes for an entertaining and enlightening journey through a wide field of disciplines, which, thanks to Rovelli’s authoritative voice and clarity of thought, never seems random or disjointed ... What also holds the pieces together is Rovelli’s perspective as a classic European liberal leftist humanist. It’s an attractive political sensibility, particularly in these strange days, and provides a welcome moral framework to much of the writing. But sometimes it lapses into eloquent or even just plain platitude, particularly when the author states his beliefs in bald terms: collaboration is better than conflict, social inequality is bad and war should be avoided ... Set against his almost effortless appreciation of ideas, this stripe of prefabricated idealism can seem politically simplistic.
... provocative ... Some of the pieces haven’t aged well, as when he writes in an essay about Covid that 'the reality is that this disaster has no culprits' and that 'the number [of deaths] is far lower than the deaths each year from cancer.' Still, Rovelli’s fans will enjoy having this on their shelves.