Einstein's Dreams

Topics: General relativity, Physics, Spacetime Pages: 6 (2185 words) Published: May 21, 2007
Alan Lightman's
"Einstein's Dreams"

"For those of us who believe in physics, this separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however tenacious." Albert Einstein

For sure, one of the most important and discussed man of the 20th century is Albert Einstein - may be the most eminent German Jew. And many were the authors trying to describe the life and deeds of this prominent man. But one surely differs from the others in NOT trying to describe Einstein's life but imagine his dreams. His name is Alan Lightman and the book that does deserve this examination is "Einstein's Dreams". First I must say a few words about the author. Mr. Lightman was born in United States of America, in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948 and he is the oldest of four sons. His father owned a movie theater while his mother was a dance teacher. At young age he was interested in both science and arts. He majored physics at Princeton College and at the California Institute of Technology. His previous books include "Time Travel and Papa Joe's Pipe", "A Modern-Day Yankee in a Connecticut Court", "Origins", "Ancient Light", "Great Ideas in Physics" and "Time for the Stars". "Einstein's Dreams" is his first work of fiction. He teaches physics and writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In Einstein's Dreams, Alan Lightman imagines 30 worlds where time flows differently from our own. The book depicts Einstein's "flight from wonder" as he tries to uncover the nature of time in the world that surrounds us. It is about a short period of time of the early ages of Albert Einstein who is the principal character. The particularity of the book is that it does not describe the everyday life of the genius, but the "everynight". It means that during the greater part of the book Einstein is dreaming, and his dreams are depicted by third person that doesn't take part in the stories. Alan Lightman tried to imagine what Einstein dreamed during the late spring and early summer of 1905 when he worked in the Swiss Patent Office in Bern and published several papers that would revolutionize 20th-century physics. The papers would begin to define Einstein's theory of relativity and set forth-important new principles about the nature of space and time. "Everybody knows that Einstein did something astonishing, but very few people know exactly what it was." Bertrand Russell, The ABC of Relativity Another character in the book is an Einstein's friend - Besso. Besso is an intelligent, moral and good-natured man. He is maybe the only person who "almost" understands Einstein. He likes Albert. Einstein likes him too but he is lonely in nature and prefers the self-companion. Most people say the loneliness is the curse of the genius. And if it wasn't so, hardly would we speak of the theories of time of Albert Einstein.

Time is universal and contradictory topic, and that's why it is not surprising that at the time of its publication in February of 1994, Einstein's Dreams became an international bestseller and was received to great popular and critical acclaim. It is now translated in over 30 languages. "It is a book which you leave lying around the house, on coffee tables and toilet tops: the kind you can pick up and start anywhere" Michiko Kakutani The book appears like a series of variations on the theme of time: each story is not connected with the previous and each contemplates on time. As Dennis Overbye wrote in an article in New York Times: "To a physicist time is what clock measures. To most of the rest of us it is irregular – like a current, sometimes swift, sometimes slow, carrying us along." In the worlds dreamt by Alan Lightman, Einstein's cosmic perspective is "scaled" back to a human level, and the worlds of our inner time are projected onto the outside. Together, these 30 stories draw a composite picture of the nature of our experience of time. Ultimately, time seems like an abstraction against which only we remain constant. This...

Bibliography: "Einstein 's Dreams" - Alan Lightman
"New York Times"
"Time" Magazine
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