science | December 20, 2011

Alan Lightman's The Accidental Universe is One of the Best Essays of 2011

Scientist and novelist Alan Lightman’s "The Accidental Universe", an article published in Harper's this month, has just been chosen by the Sidney Awards as one of the best magazine essays of 2011. David Brooks, in his New York Times column, wrote of all the Sidney essays:  “Anybody interested in being a better person will click the links…and read attentively.” Here’s his helpful recap of Lightman’s expansive piece:

Alan Lightman writes in “The Accidental Universe” in Harper’s that the existence of life is so incredibly improbable that there can be only two realistic explanations: Either there is a God who designed all this, or there exist many, many different universes, a vast majority of which are lifeless. Many physicists are gravitating to the latter theory. Our universe is just one of many. The universal laws of physics aren’t really universal. They are just the arbitrary arrangements that happen to prevail in our own little universe.

Alan Lightman is the renowned physicist and novelist behind blockbuster books such as Einstein’s Dreams, which bravely combine science and fictional narratives. Lightman teaches at MIT, and his new book, Mr g: A Novel About the Creation, will be published in January by Pantheon.

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