What do Black Holes and Covid-19 have in common? Quite a lot says Carlo Rovelli, superstar physicist and author, though perhaps in a different dimension and idiom of thought and perception.We were talking on the occasion of the publication in English this week of his collection of essays and Op-Eds, fondi, in the Italian press – “There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness.” It is a compendium of thoughts and reflections on anything and anyone from Black Holes, to climate change, tolerance, Churchill on Science, Raimon Llull, Dante and Einstein, Darwin, Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking – and above living and learning together. It is the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius for our age – only many times better and more enlivening. The writing is sparkling, provocative and gentle, and the translation is beyond elegant.

As to the question about Covid and Black Holes, the common thread, according to Rovelli, is that they test the very bounds of knowledge and understanding. Where the one has challenged the human mind in mathematics, physics and cosmology, the coronavirus crisis has tested the bounds of comprehension both of ourselves and our society as living organisms.