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Einstein's Dreams

A book by Alan Lightman

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Breathtaking in its simplicity and scope! A marvel!

  • May 12, 2013
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Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams is essentially a book on physics that is explained through literary technique: the novel. Each chapter is a new date in time that explains vast possibilities of what time is and could be. Time is past, present and future. What if people lived only in the past and never had to deal with the future or those who lived in the future and never had to worry about the past? Or those who just lived in the present and never heard of a past or future? Lightman explores what each one means on an individual basis and how it could affect humanity if only one existed and not the others. The reader will discover the awe of what Einstein knew when he himself came to these revelations -- perhaps a little less grand in scale. Past, present and future are all interconnected; they can't be mitigated in terms of 'more important' vs. 'less important.' That simply does not exist in Einstein's Dreams, literally. The author looks at each individual case in every chapter and shows the beauty of living a life only in the past or present or future. But he also shows the unpleasantness of it. Thus, he makes the reader appreciate the actuality of physics and how it functions in everyday life. The scenes of where all this theory manifests itself is a little European village near the Alps, the River Aare and the Marktgasse (street) nearby where Einstein has his office. The European and descriptive flavor that is added to the simple and uncluttered language makes the story more quaint, insular and easy to grasp. At the close, the book becomes a wonderful, soaring learning and reading experience.
Breathtaking in its simplicity and scope! A marvel!

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More Einstein's Dreams reviews
review by . February 14, 2000
Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams is essentially a book on physics that is explained through literary technique: the novel. Each chapter is a new date in time that explains vast possibilities of what time is and could be. Time is past, present and future. What if people lived only in the past and never had to deal with the future or those who lived in the future and never had to worry about the past? Or those who just lived in the present and never heard of a past or future? Lightman explores what …
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If you liked the eerie whimsy of Italo Calvino'sInvisible Cities, Steven Millhauser'sLittle Kingdoms, or Jorge Luis Borges'sLabyrinths, you will love Alan Lightman's ethereal yet down-to-earth bookEinstein's Dreams. Lightman teaches physics and writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, helping bridge the light-year-size gap between science and the humanities, the enemy camps C.P. Snow famously calledThe Two Cultures.

Einstein's Dreams became a bestseller by delighting both scientists and humanists. It is technically a novel. Lightman uses simple, lyrical, and literal details to locate Einstein precisely in a place and time--Berne, Switzerland, spring 1905, when he was a patent clerk privately working on his bizarre, unheard-of theory of relativity. The town he perceives is vividly described, but the waking Einstein is a bit player in this drama.

The book takes flight when Einstein takes to his bed and we share his dreams, 30 little fables about places where time behaves quite differently. In one world, time is circular; in another a man is occasionally plucked from the present and deposited in the past: "He is agonized. For if he makes the slightest alteration in anything, he may destroy the future ... he is forced to witness events without being part of them ... an inert gas, a ghost ... an exile of time." The dreams in which time flows backward are far more sophisticated than the time-tripping scenes in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, though ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0446670111
ISBN-13: 978-0446670111
Author: Alan Lightman
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Warner Books
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