EINSTEIN'S DREAMS by Alan Lightman


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 Lightman, a teacher of physics and writing at MIT, evokes the musings of Albert Einstein in this playful, unusual first work of fiction. It is six in the morning, and a sleepy young Einstein slumps at his desk in the patent office, dreaming of the nature of time. Time has been on Einstein's mind a lot lately, and he's become adept at envisioning each of many theories in concrete, three- dimensional form. While Einstein sleeps, Lightman takes the reader through the young genius's imagined worlds, evoking cities in which time is cyclical and citizens are doomed to repeat their triumphs and mistakes eternally; in which people routinely get caught in wandering tributaries of time and are washed back into the past; in which time is believed to flow more slowly at higher altitudes so that all humans, in order to live longer, build their houses on mountaintops; in which there is no connection between cause and effect and people live a carefree existence in each separate moment, and in which it is possible to stop time and live forever within a favorite instant. Occasionally, Einstein wakes up, goes home, dines with a friend, or stares blankly off into the distance, but the focus here is not on his personal life. Instead, with these brief, light vignettes, Lightman offers a glimpse into strange theoretical kingdoms--and also lets the reader in on the workings of a creative scientific mind. Cheerful fantasies, balanced exquisitely between poetry and the popular physics essay. (First serial to Granta and Harper's.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41646-3
Page count: 136pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1992


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