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The Order of Time

Carlo Rovelli

‘Things’ in themselves are only events that for a while are monotonous.
— Rovelli

Rovelli’s work is a dance with the beauty in science, with the poetic in physics. His subject is time, and he obliterates it, tracing its origins to our own minds:

“And hence this is what time is: it is entirely in the present in our minds, as memory and as anticipation.

Among the dazzling facts he confronts us with, he tells us the ‘present’ is a local phenomenon. That there is no uniform present across the universe, time is too warped for that.

“The idea that a well-defined now exists throughout the universe is an illusion, an illegitimate extrapolation of our own experience.”

But my favorite moment is when he pins time as a register of movement, and how this can be taken in light of meditation.

Drawing from Aristotle & Augustine, Rovelli writes that we experience time as passing even in still silence, because the internal movement of thoughts & memories & stream of consciousness provide the mobile backdrop against which we perceive time’s passage.

But, hypothetically, if one were able to still the internal workings, or simply detach attention from their operation and let it rest in uninterrupted stillness, time itself would not exist for that person.

“In other words, even the time that we perceive flowing within us is the measure of a movement: a movement that is internal…If nothing moves, there is no time, because time is nothing but the registering of movement.”