The author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics has written a vivid account of how we make time and other profound puzzles

Time is a commodity: ours to buy, spend, save, keep, mark or waste. Time has volition: it flies, drags, stands still. The verbs alone suggest that we have always understood time as subjective, something experienced according to individual circumstance.

But they also suggest we may be a little confused about the journey from then to now. We are right to be confused, according to Carlo Rovelli’s elegant and wonderfully brief summary of what we do and don’t know about time. “One after another,” he says “the characteristic features of time have proved to be approximations, mistakes determined by our perspective, just like the flatness of the Earth or the revolving of the sun.”

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