Theoretical Physicist and Novelist
An award-winning novelist (Einstein's Dream) and a theoretical physicist, Lightman's new book, The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew, is "a thoughtful, straightforward collection of essays [on modern physics and philosophy] that invite readers to think deeply about the world around them." (Publishers Weekly, starred review.) He is also the author of the novel Mr g, which tells the story of Creation from the perspective of God. Lightman taught at Harvard, and is one of the first people to receive a dual faculty appointment, in science and in the Humanities, at MIT, where he is Professor of the Practice of the Humanities. The New York Times praises him as "a scientist in love with words, one who can write clearly and appealingly about his subject for a lay readership."
At the Crossroads of Art and Science
Credited as one of a select group of scholars whose work has successfully bridged the gap between the worlds of Science and Art, Professor Alan Lightman is highly recognized for his achievements in both fields. One the world’s foremost interpreters of science, he is also the award-winning author of numerous bestselling novels, including Einstein’s Dreams. Using examples from his own scientific and artistic experiences, Lightman challenges audiences to think beyond their everyday perceptions of science and social life. By exploring different ways of knowing the world and approaching truth and creativity, we can focus on deeper questions of life, personal happiness, and humanity—and come to understand how we can live a life that matters.
Einstein and the Theory of Relativity
Lightman's survey of Einstein's work, and an introduction to the strangeness of physical reality, the inadequacy of sense perception, and the triumph of imagination.
Based on his National Book Award nominated book, Lightman examines our society's compulsion for speed, information and money, and explores how the relentless pace of modern life affects our sense of intimacy and relationships, and how it alters our concepts of identity.
Using their original papers, Lightman delves into the minds and emotional lives of the scientists who made the 20th Century's great scientific breakthroughs. Are there common patterns of discovery in science? How many great discoveries were accidental, and how many intentional? What was the lasting impact of each discovery?
The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew
Alan Lightman brings a light touch to heavy questions. Here is a book about nesting ospreys, multiple universes, atheism, spiritualism, and the arrow of time. Throughout, Lightman takes us back and forth between ordinary occurrences—old shoes and entropy, sailing far out at sea and the infinite expanse of space.
"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 told by God. Barraged by the constant advisements and bickerings of Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva, who live with their nephew in the shimmering Void, Mr g proceeds to create time, space, and matter. Then come stars, planets, animate matter, consciousness, and, finally, intelligent beings with moral dilemmas. Mr g is all powerful but not all knowing and does much of his invention by trial and error.
Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and Mr g discovers that with his creation of space and time come some unforeseen consequences-- especially in the form of the mysterious Belhor, a clever and devious rival. An intellectual equal to Mr g, Belhor delights in provoking him: Belhor demands an explanation for the inexplicable, requests that the newly created intelligent creatures not be subject to rational laws, and maintains the necessity of evil. As Mr g watches his favorite universe grow into maturity, he begins to understand how the act of creation can change himself, the Creator. With echoes of Calvino, Rushdie, and Saramago, combining science, theology, and moral philosophy, Mr g is a stunningly imaginative work that celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale.
An imaginary re-creation of Einstein's discovery of the nature of time, this novel takes us through the young patent clerk's many dreams depicting compelling conceptions of time.
An extraordinarily accessible, illuminating chronicle of the great moments of scientific discovery in the 20th century, and an exploration into the minds of the remarkable men and women behind them. We know and read the literary masterpieces; how many of us have had the opportunity not only to read but understand the masterpieces of science that describe the very moment of discovery? The last century has seen an explosion of creativity and insight that led to breakthroughs in every field of science: from the theory of relativity to the first quantum model of the atom to the mapping of the structure of DNA, these discoveries profoundly changed how we understand the world and our place in it.
Alan Lightman tells the stories of two dozen breakthroughs made by such brilliant scientists as Einstein, Bohr, McClintock and Pauling, among others, drawing on his unique background as a scientist and novelist to reveal the process of scientific discovery at its greatest. He outlines the intellectual and emotional landscape of each discovery, portrays the personalities and human drama of the scientists involved, and explains the significance and impact of the work. Finally, he gives an unprecedented and exhilarating guided tour through each of the original papers.
From the bestselling author of Einstein's Dreams comes this harrowing tale of one man's struggle to cope in a wired world, even as his own biological wiring short-circuits. As Boston's Red Line shuttles Bill Chalmers to work one summer morning, something extraordinary happens. Suddenly, he can't remember which stop is his, where he works, or even who he is. The only thing he can remember is his corporate motto: the maximum information in the minimum time.
Bill's memory returns, but a strange numbness afflicts him. As he attempts to find a diagnosis for his deteriorating illness, he descends into a nightmarish tangle of inconclusive results, his company's manic frenzy, and his family's disbelief. Ultimately, Bill discovers that he is fighting not just for his body but also for his soul.
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