A modern classic, Einstein's Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, when he worked in a patent office in Switzerland. As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time, he imagines many possible worlds. In one, time is circular, and people are fated to repeat their triumphs and failures over and over. In another, there is a place where time stands still, visited by lovers and parents clinging to their children.
With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind. He looks at the difficult dialogue between science and religion, the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature, the possibility that our universe is simply an accident, the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world, and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws.
"Spiritual Atheist Laments"
“As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I decided to create the universe.” So begins Alan Lightman’s playful and profound new novel, Mr. g, the story of Creation as narrated by God. Bored with living in the shimmering Void with his bickering Uncle Deva and Aunt Penelope, Mr. g creates time, space, and matter - then moves on to stars, planets, consciousness, and finally intelligent beings with moral dilemmas.
"The Universe: A Fable"
On his way to work one morning, Bill Chalmers suddenly discovers that he cannot remember where he is going, what he is meant to be doing or, indeed, who he is. He remembers only one thing, "The Maximum Information in the Minimum Time", his company's motto. But when his memory returns, it is accompanied by a numbness that gradually affects his entire body.
Alan Lightman's grandfather, M. A. Lightman, was the family's undisputed patriarch: it was his movie-theater empire that catapulted the family to prominence in the South, his fearless success that both galvanized and paralyzed his descendants, haunting them for a half century after his death. In this lyrical and impressionistic memoir, Lightman writes about returning to Memphis in an attempt to understand the people he so eagerly left behind forty years earlier.
This essay comes from the NPR series This I Believe, which features brief personal reflections from both famous and unknown Americans. The pieces that make up the series compel listeners to rethink not only what and how they have arrived at their beliefs, but also the extent to which they share them with others.
In mid-life, Charles, a mildly successful, divorced professor at a "leafy little college" who has traded his youthful passions for reduced expectations, attends his 30th college reunion. When he sees a model of the campus as it was in his day, he is drawn back into his memories, where his 22-year-old self carries on a passionate affair with a beautiful dancer named Juliana.