8 January 2008

Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams, 1993

Einstein’s Dreams is a useful work to see how odd scientific notions can be embedded in the everyday. Lightman tries to get into the head of Einstein, as the latter entertains a series of ideas about time while tying in some detail of 1930s Europe around him: here, time is either running backwards, in circles, slower, faster, ad infinitum... and peoples lives are altered accordingly. This book’s construction is fairly simple, but the rather repetitive nature of the writing means it could have included any number of observations which make for a highly impressionistic composition. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that noted physicists such as Lightman can write – and think – like this.  PY

  Einstein’s Dreams was an international bestseller and has been translated into thirty languages. It was runner up for the 1994 PEN New England / Boston Globe Winship Award, and was also a selection for NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” Book Club. The novel is one of the mostly widely used texts in American colleges today.


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